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"Hope, Part IV" by Romans
Tonight, we are continuing with the 4th installment in our Series on the word, “Hope,” as we find it in the Word of God. You may know that either because you are counting, or because you have seen a scroll going by with tonight's title, “Hope, Part IV.”
Philippians 1:20: “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.”
Paul seems to not want, here, to be caught in the same trap of self-assurance that the rambunctious Peter did on the night before Jesus' crucifixion. Jesus plainly told all the disciples in Matthew 26:31, “All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. Peter boldly declares “Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” Peter, however was resolute. We read his response in the next verse: “Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee.”
How did that go? Not too well... The Apostle Paul warns us in 1 Corinthians 10:12: “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Even as Jesus said he would, Peter did deny Him three times. Look, again, at Paul's words in contrast: “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed...” It is not that we don't have faith, but we are, after all, flesh and blood. Jesus said of that fact in Matthew 26:41: “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Jesus offered that observation when He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, and found the disciples fast asleep. Aside from various physical weaknesses, we often experience things that surprise and disappoint not only family members and friends, but also ourselves when we see what we are capable of as we respond to an unexpected circumstance or provocation.
Matthew Henry writes of Paul's words: “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed:” “Because it would turn to the glory of Christ, where he takes occasion to mention his own entire devotedness to the service and honour of Christ: According to my earnest expectation and hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, etc. Here observe, (1.) The great desire of every true Christian is that Christ may be magnified and glorified, that his name may be great, and his kingdom come. (2.) Those who truly desire that Christ may be magnified desire that he may be magnified in their body. They present their bodies a living sacrifice (as we read in Romans 12:1), and yield their members as instruments of righteousness unto God. They are willing to serve his designs, and be instrumental to his glory, with every member of their body, as well as faculty of their soul. 3.) It is much for the glory of Christ that we should serve him boldly and not be ashamed of him, with freedom and liberty of mind, and without discouragement: That in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness Christ may be magnified. The boldness of Christians is the honour of Christ. (4.) Those who make Christ's glory their desire and design may make it their expectation and hope. If it be truly aimed at, it shall certainly be attained. If in sincerity we pray, Father, glorify thy name, we may be sure of the same answer to that prayer which Christ had (John_12:28): 'I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.' (5.) Those who desire that Christ may be magnified in their bodies have a holy indifference whether it be by life or by death. They refer it to him which way he will make them serviceable to his glory, whether by their labours or sufferings, by their diligence or patience, by their living to his honour in working for him or dying to his honour in suffering for him.”
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible says of Paul's words, “According to my earnest expectation and my hope,.... These words are so placed as that they may refer both to what goes before and what follows after; and the sense be either that the apostle had earnest expectation and hope, even a strong confidence of his salvation, or deliverance from his confinement; and also of his having an interest in the prayers of the saints, and that hereby a supply of the Spirit would be given him; for as he knew and was sure that his God would supply the wants of others, he had great reason to believe he would supply his own; and especially since he had been told by Christ that his grace was sufficient for him: or as in connection with what follows; he had a full persuasion that he should not be put to shame on any account.”
And then Gill's says of Paul's words, “that in nothing I shall be ashamed; not of his hope, neither the grace of hope, which makes not ashamed; nor the object of hope, Christ Jesus; nor the thing hoped for, eternal life and happiness, or any of the above things about which this grace was conversant; nor of his reproaches and sufferings for the sake of Christ and his Gospel, which he esteemed as an honour to him, as jewels in his crown, as chains of gold about his neck, and as great riches; nor of the Gospel which he preached, so as to retract and deny it, drop the whole, or conceal any part of it, lay down his profession of it, or cease to preach it:”
Let's move forward to the next time we see “hope” discussed.
We read in Colossians 1:3: “We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;”
The Barnes' Commentary writes of this: “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven - That is, “I give thanks that there is such a hope laid up for you.” The evidence which he had that this hope was theirs, was founded on the faith and love to the saints which he heard they had evinced. He fully believed that where there was such faith and love, there was a well-founded hope of heaven. The word “hope” here is used, as it often is, for the thing hoped for. The object of hope - to wit, eternal happiness, was reserved for them in heaven.”
The Sermon Bible asks of this, “Now what was the hope, this hope laid up for them in heaven? It was the hope of their being presented hereafter holy, unblamable, unreprovable, before the Lord. It was in their hearts no mere perchance, no venture in the unknown, no wavering "it may be so." True, the full-blown flower was yet to come, but the plant was already rooted and growing. Christ their Hope was already their Life. He was theirs now, as well as to be theirs then; so they had the hold of a deep and lawful assurance on their coming glory.”
Alexander MacClaren shares this with us in an article he titled, “THE GOSPEL-HOPE.” In it, he writes, “The New Testament has much to say about hope. Christianity lays hold of it and professes to supply it with its true nourishment and support. Let us look at the characteristics of Christian hope, or, as our text calls it, the hope of the Gospel, that is, the hope which the Gospel creates and feeds in our souls.
I. What does it hope for?
The weakness of our earthly hopes is that they are fixed on things which are contingent and are inadequate to make us blessed. Even when tinted with the rainbow hues, which it lends them, they are poor and small. How much more so when seen in the plain colourless light of common day. In contrast with these the objects of the Christian hope are certain and sufficient for all blessedness. In the most general terms they may be stated as ‘That blessed hope, even the appearing of the Great God and our Saviour.’
“That is the specific Christian hope, precise and definite, a real historical event, filling the future with a certain steadfast light. Much is lost in the daily experience of all believers by the failure to set that great and precise hope in its true place of prominence. It is often discredited by millenarian dreams, but altogether apart from these it has solidity and substance enough to bear the whole weight of a world rested upon it. That appearance of God brings with it the fulfilment of our highest hopes in the ‘grace that is to be brought to us at His appearing.’
“We describe the blessedness which is to be the result of God’s appearing as being the Hope of Salvation in its fullest sense, or, in still other words, as being the Hope of Eternal Life. Nothing short of the great word of the Apostle John, that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, exhausts the greatness of the hope which the humblest and weakest Christian is not only allowed but commanded to cherish. We hear, for example, of the hope of Resurrection, and it is most natural that the bodily redemption which Paul calls the adoption of the body should first emerge into distinct consciousness as the principal object of hope in the earliest Christian experience.
“Believers ‘wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.’ The moral likeness to God, the perfecting of our nature into His image, will not always be the issue of struggle and restraint, but in its highest form will follow on sight, even as here and now it is to be won by faith, and is more surely attained by waiting than by effort. The highest form which the object of our hope takes is, the Hope of the Glory of God. This goes furthest; there is nothing beyond this. The eyes that have been wearied by looking at many fading gleams and seen them die away, may look undazzled into the central brightness, and we may be sure that even we shall walk there like the men in the furnace, unconsumed, purging our sight at the fountain of radiance, and being ourselves glorious with the image of God. This is the crown of glory which He has promised to them that love Him. Nothing less than this is what our hope has to entertain, and that not as a possibility, but as a certainty. The language of Christian hope is not perhaps this may be, but verily it shall be. To embrace its transcendent certainties with a tremulous faith broken by much unbelief, is sin.
What the hope of the Gospel is and does for us.
We cannot do better than to lay hold of some of the New Testament descriptions of it. We recall first that great designation ‘A good hope through grace.’ This hope is no illusion; it does not come from fumes of fancy or the play of imagination. The hope which is through grace is the full assurance of hope, and that full assurance is just what every other hope lacks. In that region and in that region only we can either say I hope or I know. Another designation is ‘A lively hope.’ It is no poor pale ghost brightening and fading, fading and brightening, through which one can see the stars shine, and of little power in practical life, but strong and vigorous and not the least active amongst the many forces that make up the sum of our lives. It is most significantly designated as ‘The blessed hope.’ All others quickly pass into sorrows. This alone gives lasting joys, for this alone is blessed whilst it is only anticipation, and still more blessed when its blossoms ripen into full fruition. In all earthly hopes there is an element of unrest, but the hope of the Gospel is so remote, so certain, and so satisfying, that it works stillness, and they who most firmly grasp it ‘do with patience wait for it.’ Earthly hopes have little moral effect and often loosen the sinews of the soul, and are distinctly unfavourable to all strenuous effort. But ‘every man that hath this hope in Jesus purifieth himself even as He is pure,’ and the Apostle, whose keen insight most surely discerns the character-building value of the fundamental facts of Christian experience, was not wrong when he bid us find in the hope of the Gospel deeply rooted within us the driving force of the most strenuous efforts after purity like His whom it is our deepest desire and humble hope to become like. On the one hand, we have ‘joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope.’ Our faith breeds hope because it grasps the divine facts concerning Jesus from which hope springs. And faith further breeds hope because it kindles joy and peace, which are the foretastes and earnests of the future blessedness. On the other hand, the very opposite experiences work to the same end, for ‘tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope.’ Sorrow rightly borne tests for us the power of the Gospel and the reality of our faith, and so gives us a firmer grip of hope and of Him on whom in the last result it all depends.”
We next encounter the word, “hope” in Colossians 1:23: “If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.”
Gill's Exposition of the Bible says of, “and be not moved away from the hope of the Gospel; the hope of eternal life and happiness, which as set before us in the Gospel; which that gives a good and solid ground and foundation of, in the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ; and is the instrumental means, in the hand of the Spirit, of begetting to it, and of encouraging and increasing it: the law gives no hopes of eternal life to a poor sinner; it works wrath, and ministers death; there is nothing but a fearful looking for of judgment by it; but the Gospel encourages to hope in the Lord, from the consideration of rich mercy and plenteous redemption in him; and this hope of the Gospel is an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast, and not to be let go; this confidence and rejoicing of the hope is to be kept firm unto the end:”
Alexander MacClaren writes, “The hope of the Gospel is the one thing that we need. Without it all else is futile and frail. God alone is worthy to have the whole weight and burden of a creature’s hope fixed on Him, and it is an everlasting truth that they who are ‘without God in the world’ also ‘have no hope.’ Saints of old held fast by an assurance, which they must often have felt left many questions still to be asked, and because they were sure that they were continually with Him, were also sure of His guidance through life and of His afterwards receiving them to glory. But for us the twilight has broadened into day, and we shall be wise if, knowing our defencelessness, and forsaking all the lies and illusions of this vain present, we flee for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us in the Gospel.”
Colossians 1:27: “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:”
Gill's Expositon of the Entire Bible writes of, “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory; this is to be connected with all that goes before: Christ is the riches of the Gospel; the riches of the divine perfections, which the Gospel more clearly displays than the works of creation or providence, are all in Christ, the fulness of them dwells in him; and this is the grace the Gospel reveals, that he, who was rich with all these, became poor to make us rich; the rich promises of the Gospel were all made to Christ, and are all yea and "Amen" in him; the rich blessings of it are all in his hands, righteousness, peace, and pardon, the riches both of grace and glory; the rich treasures of its divine truths are hid in him...
“and he is the substance of everyone of them: Christ is also the glory of the Gospel, inasmuch as he is the author, preacher, and subject of it; it is full of the glory of his person, both as the only begotten of the Father, and as the only Mediator between God and man; it is the glass through which this is seen: moreover, the glory of God in him is expressed hereby; the glory of his wisdom and power, of his truth and faithfulness, of his justice and holiness, of his love, grace, and mercy, and every other perfection, is eminently held forth in the Gospel; as this is great in the salvation and redemption of his people by Christ, which the Gospel brings the good news of; add to this, that that glory which the saints shall have with Christ, and will lie in the enjoyment of him to all eternity, is brought to light in the Gospel. Christ is also the mystery of the Gospel; he is one of the persons in the mystery of the Trinity; the mystery of his divine sonship, of his divine person, being God and yet man, man and yet God, and both in one person, and of his incarnation and redemption, makes a considerable part of the Gospel: and Christ, who is the sum and substance of it, is "in" his people; not only as the omnipresent God, as the author of the light of nature, as the Creator of all things, in whom all live, move, and have their beings, but in a way of special grace; and the phrase is expressive of a revelation of him in them, of their possession of him, of his inhabitation in them by his Spirit and grace, particularly by faith, and of their communion with him, in consequence of their union to him; and being so, he is the ground and foundation of their hopes of glory. There is a glory which the saints are hoping for, which the glories of this world are but a faint resemblance of; which is unseen at present, and which the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared unto; what is eternal, and which Christ has entered into, and took possession of; and what will greatly consist in beholding his glory, and in everlasting communion with him; this through grace saints have a good hope of, and are waiting for, and even rejoice at times in the hope of it; of which hope Christ is the foundation; for not only the promise of it is with him, but the glory itself is in his hands; the gift of it is with him, and through him; he has made way by his sufferings and death for the enjoyment of it, and is now preparing it for them, by his presence and intercession; his grace makes them meet for it, his righteousness gives them a title to it, and his Spirit is the earnest of it, and the substance of it will be the fruition of himself.”
1 Thessalonians 1:3: “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;”
Matthew Henry writes, “The apostle not only mentions these three cardinal graces, faith, hope and love, but also takes notice, (1.) Of the object and efficient cause of these graces, namely, our Lord Jesus Christ. (2.) Of the sincerity of them: being in the sight of God even our Father. The great motive to sincerity is the apprehension of God's eye as always upon us; and it is a sign of sincerity when in all we do we endeavour to approve ourselves to God, and that is right which is so in the sight of God. Then is the work of faith, or labour of love, or patience of hope, sincere, when it is done under the eye of God. (3.) He mentions the fountain whence these graces flow, namely, God's electing love: Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. Thus he runs up these streams to the fountain, and that was God's eternal election. Some by their election of God would understand only the temporary separation of the Thessalonians from the unbelieving Jews and Gentiles in their conversion; but this was according to the eternal purpose of him who worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will. Speaking of their election, he calls them, brethren beloved; for the original of the brotherhood that is between Christians and the relation wherein they stand one to another is election. And it is a good reason why we should love one another, because we are all beloved of God, and were beloved of him in his counsels when there was not any thing in us to merit his love. The election of these Thessalonians was known to the apostles, and therefore might be known to themselves, and that by the fruits and effects thereof - their sincere faith, and hope, and love, by the successful preaching of the gospel among them.”
Next we find hope mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 2:19 : “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?”
The Sermon Bible says, “The Thessalonian Christians were peculiarly the Apostle’s hope, being regarded by him, not simply as a conspicuous part of the reward in glory which was in store for him, but also his hope in connection with his present earthly work. Their conversion, their steadfastness in the faith, was largely that on which he built his hopes, under God, of the further progress of the Gospel in Europe. He hoped that yet increasingly from them would sound out the word of the Lord. They were, further, his joy, inasmuch as in their conversion and consistent Christian conduct he saw the evidence that his own labour had not been in vain in the Lord. They were a credit to him in the sight of God and men. Hence, amid all his sorrows, he felt that in them he could find his joy. They were even more to him. They were his crown of holy boasting, for they would prove at last his wreath of victory, his chaplet of ceaseless rejoicing.”
Albert Barnes writes, “For what is our hope - That is, “I had a strong desire to see you; to assist you; to enjoy your friendship; for you are my hope and joy, and my absence does not arise from a want of affection.” The meaning, when he says that they were his “hope,” is, that their conversion and salvation was one of the grounds of his hope of future blessedness.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”
Albert Barnes writes of, “That ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope - That is, evidently, as the pagan, who had no hope of future life. Their sorrow was caused not only by the fact that their friends were removed from them by death, but from the fact that they had no evidence that if they still lived, that they were, happy; or that their bodies would rise again. Hence, when they buried them, they buried their hopes in the grave, and so far as they had any evidence, they were never to see them again. To prevent this, and to mitigate their sorrow, the apostle refers them to the bright hopes which Christianity had revealed, and points them to the future glorious re-union with the departed pious dead. Hence, the world without religion is destitute of hope. It is just as true of the pagan world now as it was of the ancient pagans, that they have no hope of a future state. They have no evidence that there is any such future state of blessedness; and without such evidence there can be no hope.”
And lastly for this evening, let's take a look at 1 Thessalonians 5:8: “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.”
Paul makes an allusion to the whole Armor of God which he wrote about later, and in greater detail in Ephesians 6. But be aware that it is mentioned here before Ephesians 6. According to scholars, and I have to take their word for it, 1 Thessalonians was Paul's very first epistle. Unlike Ephesians 6:17 where Paul calls our head protection the Helmut of Salvation, here he refers to this helmut as “the hope of salvation.”
Albert Barnes writes, “The Hope of salvation - The idea is, that a well-founded hope of salvation will preserve us in the day of spiritual conflict, and will guard us from the blows which an enemy would strike. The helmet defended the head, a vital part; and so the hope of salvation will defend the soul, and keep it from the blows of the enemy. A soldier would not fight well without a hope of victory. A Christian could not contend with his foes, without the hope of final salvation; but, sustained by this, what has he to dread?”
Alexander MacCLaren writes, “Take the helmet. We might perhaps more accurately read receive salvation, for that salvation is not won by any efforts of our own, but if we ever possess it, our possession is the result of our accepting it as a gift from God. The first word which the Gospel speaks to men and which makes it a Gospel, is not Do this or that, but Take this from the hands that were nailed to the Cross. The beginning of all true life, of all peace, of all self-control, of all hope, lies in the humble and penitent acceptance by faith of the salvation which Christ brings, and with which we have nothing to do but to accept it. But Paul is here speaking to those whom he believes to have already exercised the initial faith which united them to Christ, and made His salvation theirs, and to these the exhortation comes with special force. To such it says, ‘See to it that your faith ever grasps and feeds upon the great facts on which your salvation reposes-God’s changeless love, Christ’s all-sufficient sacrifice and ascended life, which He imparts to us if we abide in Him. Hold fast and prolong by continual repetition the initial act by which you received that salvation. The last word to be said is, Live in frequent anticipation of that perfect future. If that anticipation is built on memory of the past and experience of the present, it cannot be too confident. That hope maketh not ashamed. In the region of Christian experience alone the weakest of us has a right to reckon on the future, and to be sure that when that great to-morrow dawns for us, it ‘shall be as this day and much more abundant.’ With this salvation in its imperfect form brightening the present, and in its completeness filling the future with unimaginable glory, we can go into all the conflicts of this fighting world and feel that we are safe because God covers our heads in the day of battle... And when the battle and the noise of battle are past, the helmet will be laid aside, and we shall be able to say, ‘I have fought a good fight, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.’”
This concludes this Evening's Discussion, “Hope, Part IV.”
This Discussion was originally presented “live” on September 20, 2017.
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