By Pastor Roy Lange
This is the season again that we are looking forward to another new year. A New Year is always important to us because it tells us that time is still moving on, there is still another day of grace, and there’s still another opportunity to accept God’s own Son as personal Savior. And, yet, we are still looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. At any moment our Lord may make His glorious appearing and these are the days that were not prophesied in the Old Testament. It was never foretold that the Lord would appear to catch us away prior to the great Tribulation and prior to His Kingdom rule; but one thing is very certain: He will appear!
Now we know that our hope is in a person, like our salvation. Our salvation is not in a formula, but in a person, in Christ. If we have Christ, then we are accepted, we are in Him. We can have Jesus Christ by accepting what He accomplished for us on Calvary’s cross, having died for our sins, was buried, and rose again.
Now, then, it was provided by Him; it is His salvation. In Ephesians 2 it states that one time we were a people having no hope and without God. The word in the Bible that’s used “without God” would be pronounced “atheist,” “theist” being “God” and “a” being “against” or “having no god.” And there are people today who still have no god; they have no hope; and as a result, they do not fully realize, neither can they comprehend the joy that our salvation brings. So there are two classes of people: people with a hope, and people with no hope.
Now what does that mean, to have no hope. That means the living God, provided salvation as a free gift, but the gift was not received. Now it speaks of this as “laid up for you in Heaven,” as referring to this hope. So our hope is in a person and is laid up for us in Heaven. We will experience it in total reality when the Lord Jesus Christ comes back and catches us away. For the time being we’re sent here, as though it were in foreign territory, to represent the God of Heaven, to represent the One who loved us and died for us on Calvary’s Cross. In Hebrews the sixth chapter, it says we have an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast, like an anchor that can hold a great ship when the anchor sets in the earth and holds steadfast. Now we have an anchor of the soul, so we’re not in despair; we’re secure; we’re tied to the One Who loved us and gave Himself for us.
Yet, we have a better hope. Israel had a great hope, too, and their hope was in Christ, and our hope is in Christ. But we have an expectation that someday we’ll be with Him in the glories forever and ever. You know the Word of God on occasion uses double superlatives. We’re told that’s not the best way in the English language to express ourselves with double superlatives, but yet, in God’s Word a double superlative has been used on several occasions. He speaks in I Corinthians 12, “but covet earnestly the best gifts.” And, yet, with all these wonderful gifts and all these marvelous things that people could do during the Pentecostal days, he says, “yet show I unto you a more excellent way.” Now if the first way was excellent, how could something be more excellent? And, of course, the answer is because it supersedes, it’s much better, it’s far beyond. The more excellent way was described in the next chapters that as members of the Body of Christ we have something excellent, but much more excellent. We live in the best time in all history as far as the Word of God is concerned. Even as we look on a map of the world, notice the regions were Christ is somewhat recognized, how they seem to fair better, how they seem to get along. Oh, in some cases, even persecution, that’s true, and it’s difficult. But God seems to honor His people. He seems to have a way of caring for them. There is just an urgency to come to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Yes, this hope is even referred to as a purifying hope. Just because we have this hope we have something to live for, and, if necessary to die for. I’ve been at quite a few funerals during my ministry over 40 years here at the Forest Park Bible Church, and one of the things that I’ve noticed when someone passes or dies, when he knows the Lord Jesus Christ and where family members know the Lord Jesus, there is considerably more sorrow than in other situations. I think it must be because God’s people love each other and there is a closeness, there’s a warmth and a fellowship that is expressed by no other community of people. But at the same time with this deep and heavy sorrow, it’s not like a sorrow of those that have no hope, but it is because of the sorrow of warmth and care and love. Yes, there’s something special about having that blessed hope. It’s not only something in the future, but it’s something right now. Day-by-day we know that we’re not alone, that Christ is there. He sent His Spirit, which is the Spirit of Christ, even to live in us. For He will never leave us nor forsake us. Yet this hope is laid up for us in heaven according to Colossians 1:5, and in Hebrews, again, as an anchor of the soul. In Hebrews 7 he speaks of “the better” and that it is a purifying hope. But, yet, we are mindful of many of the folk in this world who have no hope and are without God.
Now what does God have for us in this world? We are to personally represent Him until He comes. We are to carry on. We are to share the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to live for Him Who loved us and gave Himself for us. So there is in Scripture no attempt to prove Christ, no attempt to even prove God the Father, and no attempt to prove the Holy Spirit, but they are proclaimed. They’re announced. They’re very sure. When one accepts Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, he comes into a certain assurance. He comes into the knowledge that he has God living in him. Then as he begins to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, this hope becomes a personal hope, a new hope, and a day-by-day hope. It’s about as new as it was the day before. It becomes sweeter as the days go by. So we thank God for this new year. We thank God for the opportunities, the privilege of representing the God of Heaven, the One Who gave Himself for us, the One who loved us, and the One who died for us.
It is the Lord Jesus Christ who says, “according to My earnest expectation and My hope.” What I think He is referring to here is “The” Hope. There’s a difference between having the Hope and hoping. We’re not just hoping; we have that hope, that expectation. It has the idea of a considerable, confident expectation; that’s exactly what we have, a considerable expectation. In Romans 15:4 he says, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” You see, God does not want us to be in despair. We sometimes create a condition of despair in our lives, but He does not want us to be in despair. He wants us to have full assurance that we have the Lord, that we are not alone, and that we’re in Him. So seeing then that we have such a hope, we use plainness of speech. In I John 3 he says, “and every man that hath this hope, purifieth…”; you see, that means cleanses himself, even as he is pure. When one accepts Christ, he is accepted by Christ. In God’s sight he is pure. Yet, moment by moment there is a purifying process in our daily walk. We want to be careful not to frustrate the grace of God. We want to be careful to be well pleasing in God’s sight. We want to be careful to have the right message that God would have for us to proclaim and to live the right kind of life. So it is a purifying hope. Then he says that our personal faith and righteousness is in Christ. It’s not in what we have done or could do, but it’s what He has done.
So we have a living hope. It’s something right now. It’s not pie-in-the-sky and the sweet by-and-by like someone has used the cliché, but it is right now. We benefit from the Lord Jesus Christ because of this hope. He speaks of the blessed God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ which, according to His mercy, hath begotten us again to a lively hope. The word “begotten” is associated with the word “born” or we’re born again into a lively or a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. That’s the bottom line. If Jesus Christ were not raised from the dead, we would have no hope and we would be without God. Yes, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, even God, is our hope. He’s our consolation. When we have Him, we have the Hope. We are accepted of Him.
Now it’s good to accept the Lord; that’s very important. But it’s better to know that we have been accepted in Him; we are accepted in the Beloved One. So, we have a hope that is beyond expectation, but we’re looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior when He descends here to catch us away to ever be with Him. From all the pain and turmoil, and all the trouble that this world is experiencing, yet, we have a hope. We’re not alone. That hope is in a person and that person is Christ.
We hope and trust that you will have a very happy new year; but even better than that, a joyful new year, a joy that the Holy Spirit can produce in your life. So, we thank God for Jesus Christ, and for what He has done, but let’s not just rest in happiness. Happiness is things based upon happenings, with ups and downs, and one can break under happiness. But when there’s joy, there’s something sure and steadfast, an anchor of the soul.
We wish you a Happy New Year and a great day in the Lord Jesus Christ.