The Christian Hope | Ben Carlson

by | Sep 12, 2023 | Practical Theology, Systematic Theology

 

Introduction

The final destiny of the redeemed is glorious. We read about it in many New Testament passages which speak about the Christian hope. What are believers ultimately looking forward to? What are the eyes of their hearts set upon? What are they waiting to receive? Below are seven things having to do with this hope that every believer in Christ possesses.

 

1.) The hope of Christ’s glorious return

1 Corinthians 1:7: “. . . as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,”

Titus 2:13: “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,”

The Christian hope can be boiled down to just one thing: the confident expectation of the second and final coming of Jesus Christ. Throughout our pilgrimage on earth, the eyes of our hearts are fixated on the Day of the Lord; on the Parousia; on the moment when we see the risen and exalted Christ coming back to earth riding on the clouds of glory. He is our blessed hope, and therefore, our constant prayer in this life must be, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

But the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior is not all that we hope for. We also await the glorious blessings He will bring to us on that day.

 

2.) The hope of receiving the fullness of eternal life

Titus 1:2: “in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began”

Titus 3:7: “so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

Jude 1:21: “keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.”

Christians have the hope of experiencing eternal life. What is eternal life? It is life without death, life without sin, and life without any hindrances to worshiping and enjoying God. In essence, it is living in the full favor and pleasure and glory of the Triune God forever and ever without end.

We have eternal life the very moment we believe in Christ (John 3:36; 1 John 5:11). As Christians, we, in a sense, will never die. The gospel has made us spiritually alive. The Spirit of God has regenerated us. The power of sin and death has been broken in our lives. We have been given the saving knowledge of God, and the indestructible life and blazing light of Christ are now in us. But the full enjoyment of that blessed life awaits a future day when Christ returns. Only then will we be clothed in blessed, sinless immorality. And only then will we see and know God face to face. But our hope is firmly fixed upon the promise of eternal life that the Father has made to us and the Son has secured for us (1 John 2:25).

 

3.) The hope of reaching the state of glorification

Romans 5:2: “. . . and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

Colossians 1:27: “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

The plan and purpose of God in eternity past was to bring this world and everything in it to a state of glory where perfect harmony and order would characterize the universe and where God’s attributes would be on full display for all to see. Although our first father, Adam, failed in his task to take dominion over this good world and transform it into a glorious world, Christ, as the second and last Adam, has succeeded. Right now, He is turning the old creation into the new creation, but when He returns, He will transform the current state of things into an eternal state of unshakable order, unending peace, immutable righteousness, and pure blessedness.

And we have been given a joyful and confident hope that we will be caught up in this renewal and regeneration of the cosmos. Glorification is in our future. We look forward to the day when we will behold and marvel at the majesty and excellency and perfections of God shining all around us. And we look forward to the day when we will perfectly reflect the righteous attributes of our Savior in our bodies and souls forever (2 Thessalonians 1:10).

 

4.) The hope of partaking in the resurrection of the dead

Acts 23:6: “. . . It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.”

Acts 24:15: “having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.”

Romans 8:23: “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

The blood of Christ has spiritually redeemed and resurrected us to new life, but we haven’t experienced the full application of this blessing yet. We still live in frail and sinful bodies of death, but we don’t look forward to redemption from our bodies; instead, we look forward to the redemption of our bodies on the last day![1]

Our hope looks past death and even looks past our bodiless existence in heaven to the time of the resurrection of the dead. Then our souls will be clothed with our bodies again (2 Corinthians 5:1-5) but not with bodies of death. Instead, our lowly and sinful bodies will be transformed into perfect, sinless bodies which will fully reflect the holy character of Jesus Christ. As Philippians 3:20-21 says, “20But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.” On that day, our Savior will swallow up death for all time (Isaiah 25:8). And as we rise to die no more, we will sing with no qualifications, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).

 

5.) The hope of hearing the public pronouncement of our righteousness

Galatians 5:5: “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.”

I believe Paul is referring to the time when we will be declared righteous by God before the entire universe on the Day of Judgment. God has already declared us righteous in Christ. The moment we believed in Christ, we were actually and truly justified in God’s heavenly courtroom. There can be no future addition to that justification. It is already complete and perfect in every way because Christ has covered us in His precious blood and clothed us in His perfect righteousness. As John Gill comments, we have our justification not in hope but in hand.[2] It is presently ours.

But our justification, or being accounted righteous in Christ, is still largely hidden and private in this life. We know it in part, and a few others know it in part, but it hasn’t been revealed to the whole creation yet, and we haven’t experienced the full blessing of it yet.

So, when Christ returns, our justification will be fully confirmed. It will be completely unveiled. It will be openly declared. It will be authoritatively announced by God not just to us but to the whole world. We will be openly acknowledged and acquitted and vindicated by the Judge of the Universe before Satan, before his demons, before wicked men, before our friends and family members, before our neighbors and coworkers, before the rich and powerful, and before the angels in heaven. On that day, our names will be read from the Book of Life, we will be placed on the right side of Christ’s throne, we will be shown to be Christ’s sheep, we will hear those blessed words of commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” we will inherit the kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the world, and we will enter into the eternal joy of our Master!

 

6.) The hope of obtaining our heavenly inheritance

1 Peter 1:3-4: “3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,”

2 Peter 3:13: “But according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

As adopted sons and daughters of God, our Heavenly Father has stored up for us a rich and glorious inheritance. It is having a portion and habitation in the New Heavens and New Earth and experiencing all the blessings that come from living in that glorious kingdom.

When Christ returns, He will purify, renew, liberate, and unify the universe. He will bring in a radically new order of existence. He will transform the world into a place fit for His special presence to dwell in for all eternity. All the effects of the Fall will be purged from it. The Dominion Mandate will be accomplished. The Great Commission will be completed. The Garden of Eden will be universally expanded. The world will be filled with righteous worshipers who perfectly reflect the image and glory of God for all eternity. And our inheritance is not only to live there in Immanuel’s Land but to live there with Immanuel, God with us. Christ is our portion and our inheritance. He will dwell with us forever, and we will glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. Therefore, we are to set our hope fully on this gracious inheritance that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13).

 

7.) The hope of experiencing ultimate salvation

1 Thessalonians 1:10: “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”

1 Thessalonians 5:8-9: “8But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,”

Hebrews 9:28: “so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.”

Christ has saved us in the past from the penalty of our sins. He is saving us in the present from the power of our sins, and it is our great hope that He will save us in the future from the presence of our sins. But that is not all He will save us from. Our mighty Deliverer will also save us from all the miseries of this life, from crying and mourning and pain and suffering and dying, for He will cause all these things to pass away. Christ will save us from Satan, for He will cast him into the lake of fire forever. And Christ will save us from the wrath to come on the Day of Judgment, for He will hide us and protect us from the fiery fury of God that will fall upon and consume this evil world.

 

Conclusion

Brethren, our hope is not to be set on the good things that come to us in this life nor even on the good things that will come to us in heaven during the intermediate state. Instead, our hope is to be fixated on the good things we will see, receive, and experience when Christ returns in glory to bring about the eternal state.

We look forward to the full enjoyment of eternal life, final salvation, the universal declaration of righteousness, resurrected bodies, our heavenly inheritance, reaching the state of glory, and most of all, dwelling in the special presence of our great God. This is our destiny! These are absolute certainties that can never be taken away from us!

Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving these promises, for the Father lovingly makes them to us, the Son graciously secures them for us, and the Spirit powerfully gives us a foretaste of them now (Hebrews 12:28). Let us hold fast to this hope without wavering, for He who promised these things to us is faithful (Hebrews 10:23). And let us be stirred up to live pure and holy lives, patiently awaiting the day when Christ comes to bring His (and our) reward with Him (1 John 3:3; Revelation 22:12).

 

[1] The Reformation Study Bible, “Body and Soul, Male and Female”, 10.

[2] John Gill comments on Galatians 5:5.

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Are all sins the same? | Tom Hicks

Are all sins the same? | Tom Hicks

“Is it true that all people are equally sinful? If someone has sinful anger in his heart, but never acts on it, is that person really the same as someone who has sinful anger in his heart and then murders his whole family?”

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