Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Glorious Hope


Reading: Revelation 19:1-10

Someone has said; “the last thing to lose is hope”. Without hope there is no life. You can live seven days without food, three days without water, three minutes without air, but less than a second without hope. What then is hope? Hope is the joyous expectation of the future. It is the basis on which life and even resurrection are hinged. What is the Christian’s hope? We shall discuss a number of issues that constitute the blessed hope of the Christian.

In John 14:1-3, Jesus Christ promised that He is going to come again personally to receive His own unto Himself. Christians over the Centuries have reacted to this statement in various ways. The Church in Thessalonica was so enthused by the teaching on the Second Coming of Christ that they abandoned their works and waited for the Lord’s return. Paul had to write them a letter urging them to be busy so that the Lord would meet them working.

The Christian hope is that Christ will personally come again. The Bible gives us a number of reasons why every Christian should be enthused by the idea of Christ’s Second Coming.

When He comes to take us, we shall be made to be like He is. 

We shall shade off the shackles of sin, the shackles of mortality, and corruption. In First John 3:1-3 the Bible writes: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”  One look on Jesus will suffice for whatever problems we have encountered in this world. When He comes we shall see Him as He is, and be like Him. This hope should urge us on to work and keep ourselves away from sin. We should keep ourselves pure for we are expecting our Lord and Master. Each time I travel, on the day of my return, my wife keeps herself ready for my return. So should the Church be.

When Christ comes, we shall be manifested in glory with Him. 

No Christian living today has as yet reached glory. We are waiting for that great day, when faith shall turn to sight; when it will not be reading of glory but being in glory. Paul urged the Church in Colossae to look forward to this event in the following words:  Colossians 3:1-4: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, and sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth; For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”  Paul is saying to them, look up and be like the Eagle. The eagle does not eat worms; it is looking for something better. It is the hope of being like Christ whenever He comes which exercises the purifying effect. Because I hope to meet Christ, because I know that I shall be like Him; because He is the object of my affection, I purify myself even as He is pure.

When Christ comes, he will be manifested even before those who nailed Him on the Cross. 

Dr. Ironside, commenting on Second Thessalonians 1:5-11 says:
“He is coming back to the earth that rejected Him, and all His saints are coming with Him, not, of course, to take up human conditions here in the world again; but in resurrection bodies to appear with Him before the astonished eyes of those who still reject Him.” 
His coming shall be the triumph of truth over falsehood; triumph of good over evil, and triumph of light over darkness. I place my hope on His Second Coming because He will bring victory with Him.

Our redemption today is but the first fruit, the foretaste, the fore-shadow of the real thing – we shall come to our full redemption which includes glorification and sanctification when He comes. I am longing for a time when I no longer see as through a mirror, I am longing for when I shall know even as I am known; I am longing for when I shall have no unanswered questions for then I shall know all things and plainly too. Yes, that hope shall only be fulfilled when Jesus comes and I rise in glory with Him. Paul writing to Titus says:  Titus 2:11-14: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,  teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,  looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” We are to be pure because we have been redeemed, purchased unto God by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. We are to be pure because we no longer belong to the world, or to sin, or to ourselves; we belong to God. We are His own possessions. Because we belong to God, we are living in expectancy of the appearing of our Great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We long to see Him who has redeemed us. We no longer belong to the world but as citizens of heaven we desire eagerly to enter into the full experience of what heavenly citizenship means.

Once we talked in our discussion group, and asked for Jesus to come quickly, one of our sisters who was then engaged to be married in a few weeks, shouted: “Let Jesus delay His coming till after my wedding, I wish to experience marriage before going to heaven.” This statement underscores the expectancy of every woman engaged to be married. She does not want anything to stand in the way of the consummation of her love to the man she loves. Love is exciting. The glorious hope of the Christian is to see the Lord come when He takes the Church to be His bride. The hope of the Christian is the “Marriage of the Lamb” when faith shall be translated into sight, when our love for Christ shall be brought to its consummation in that happy day.

The passage we read from Revelation 19:1-9 at the beginning of this talk describes for us how God Himself is rejoicing over this event, how all creation is expecting this event and how you and I shall rejoice in resounding Alleluia when He comes. It is the Lord who is the object of our hope; and whether His coming be near or far, the glorious fact of His person and the certainty of our union with Him is the ground and the incentive for our holy living.

When sometimes you think of the things happening around us, you get disturbed. When you think of air pollution, spread of AIDS, diseases and death, I want you also to think of the promise of God, that He is making a “New Earth and New Heaven”. Peter in Second Peter 3:11-15, described it this way:
“Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation — as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you.” 
 It is our hope that He comes soon and when He comes He will bring with Him all that we have been discussing.

Christ wants to return. He longs to reign. It is His right. Then why does He wait? He is waiting for you and me to complete the task He gave us. He is waiting for us to do what he has told us to do. Many a time, He must say to Himself as He sits there “How long, I wonder, are they going to keep Me waiting? When will they let Me come back? How soon can I return to earth to sit on My Throne and reign?”

When Jesus was asked in Matthew 24:3, what is the sign for your return? What is keeping Him from returning? What is keeping us hoping? His answer is in verse 14: “This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.”

Dr. A. B. Simpson once wrote:
“The work of missions is the great means of hastening that end (the return of Christ). The work of the Holy Ghost through the Church was chiefly intended to gather out from all nations a people for His name, a bride for the Lamb. Until the whole number of His elect shall have thus been called and gathered home, He cannot come. We know that our missionary work is not in vain, but, in addition to the blessing it is to bring to the souls we lead to Christ, best of all, it is to bring Christ Himself back again. It puts in our hands the key to the bridal chamber and the love that will hasten His return. What a glorious privilege? What a mighty incentive. Do we long to see Him in His glory and to meet our loved one once more? Then we shall work with redoubled energy to spread the Gospel, to tell the story and to evangelize the world, and to prepare the way of the Lord”

The Blessed Hope is not deliverance from tribulation; it is not even the Rapture itself; it is the Epiphany, the outshining of the glory of our Great God and Saviour. If Titus 2:3 is any guide, the Blessed Hope is not a secret coming of Christ; it is not the resurrection of the dead; it is not the transformation of the living; it is not the catching up of the Church; the Blessed Hope is the glorious Epiphany of our Lord Himself, which occurs at the end of the great Tribulation.

Are you ready and waiting for it or are you working to make it happen soon?

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