Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 7, 1963
NUMBER 27, PAGE 1,11-13

Christ And The Christian's Hope

Eugene Britnell

"For we are saved by hope." (Rom. 8:24) "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling." (Eph. 4:4) "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts; and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." (1 Peter 3:15)

Can you picture a world without hope? What would it be like? Hope is a part of life. The farmer plants in hope of harvesting. The merchant buys in hope of selling. Parents rear their children in hope. Young people live in the hope of establishing a good home and being successful in life. And the Christian lives and labors in hope.

I. What Is Hope?

"Desire with expectation of obtaining what is desired, or belief that it is obtainable. 2. Trust; reliance. 3. Cround or source of happy expectation; hence, good promise; as, a land of hope." (Webster)

"Hope (elpis), in the New Testament favorable and confident expectation. It has to do with the unseen and the future. (Rom. 8:24-25) Hope describes (a) the happy anticipation of good (the most frequent significance), e.g. Titus 1:2; (b) the ground upon which hope is based, Col. 1:27; (c) the object upon which the hope is based, I Tim. 1:1."

"In the New Testament three adjectives are descriptive of hope; 'good,' 2 Thess. 2:16; 'blessed' Titus 2:13; 'living,' 1 Peter 1:3. To these may be added Hebrews 7:19, 'a better hope,' i.e., additional to the commandment, which became disannulled (v. 18); a hope centered in a new priesthood." (An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W, E. Vine, pp. 232-233.)

We hope for something which we both desire and expect. Before we can expect a thing, our hope must have a true and reliable basis, which, for the Christian, is the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Timothy 1:12)

II. Some False Hopes

Just as there are many bodies, many faiths, and many baptisms, all contrary to the scriptures, there are many hopes in the religious world. Any "hope" other than the one hope is a false hope. We shall now examine some false hopes:

1. Many people hope for annihilation or that life will cease at death. This grows out of the belief that man is wholly mortal. The Bible teaches that man continues to live after this life in the flesh, and that the soul of man is immortal, (Luke 16:19-31; 1 Thess. 4:13-18)

2. The "Jehovah Witnesses" hope to be among the 144,000. "Who, and how many are able to enter the Kingdom Revelation limits the number to 144, 000 that become a part of the Kingdom and stand on Mount Zion." (Let God Be True, p. 121) The Bible teaches that the kingdom or church was established by Jesus on the first Pentecost after his resurrection and "whosoever will" may enter it today. (Acts 2; Rev. 22:17) Revelation 7:9 pictures a "great multitude which no man could number" as the saved, and Revelation 14:4 describes the 144,000 as "they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins." This shows the Witnesses' interpretation of Revelation 7:4 to be erroneous.

3. The Jews' hope is a national hope, or belief that they are a chosen race. John warned them by saying, "And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father; for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." (Matt. 3:9) Jesus said to the Jews, "If ye continue in my words, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31-32) "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly.... But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly." (Rom. 2:28-29) "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Gal. 3:26-29) This proves that both Jews and Gentiles are to he saved in the same way in this the Christian dispensation.

In this connection, we should mention Paul's reference to the "hope of Israel." Upon his arrival in Rome, Paul called the chief of the Jews, and, among other things, said unto them: "For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain." (Acts 28:20) The "hope of Israel" which Paul preached was not Israel's hope. If so, why was he persecuted and imprisoned by the Jews? God made a threefold promise to Abraham — a land, a nation, and a spiritual blessing (Christ and the church). (Gen. 12:1-3) God fulfilled these promises. (Josh. 21:43-45; Acts 13:16-46; Gal. 3:8, 26-29)

4. Those who believe and teach the doctrine of Premillennialism hope to reign with Christ on the earth for one thousand years. They claim that God did not fulfill his promise to Israel, and that they will be gathered to Palestine during the "millennium." But God did fulfill his promise. "And the Lord God gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. And the Lord gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them, the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass." (Josh. 21: 43-45)

Premillennialism is false because: (a) Christ's kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36); (b) the kingdom-or church-was to be established in the lifetime of those whom Jesus taught (Mark 9:1); (c) the kingdom was to come with power (the Holy Spirit) which came on Pentecost (Acts 2); (d) Paul said that he and the Christians at Colosse to whom he wrote were in the kingdom (Col. 1:13-14); (e) Christ is now reigning on David's throne (Acts 2:29-36); and (f) when Christ returns he will end his reign and deliver the kingdom up to God. (1 Cor. 15:24-25)

5. Many hope to be saved in denominationalism. They may both desire and expect it but it is a false hope for it has no foundation in the Book of God. Denominations were built by men. The Bible says: "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." (Psalms 127:1) "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up," said Jesus. (Matt. 15:13) Jesus is the high priest over "the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man." (Heb. 8:2) My friend, it does make a difference who built the institution in which you hope to be saved. Jesus said, "Upon this rock I will build my church." (Matt. 16:18) He did not promise to build churches! He is the head and saviour of the one body. (Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23; 1 Cor. 12:20) Denominationalism is division and division is sinful. Jesus prayed for the unity of all believers. "That they all may be one; as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." (John 17.21) The Lord adds the saved to his church, the one body. (Acts 2:47)

6. Many hope only for what they can experience and enjoy in this life. The worldly and materialistic people of our day do not look beyond this life. Like the rich fool of Luke 12, their philosophy is "take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." Paul affirms that this would be an acceptable code of conduct if the dead rise not. (1 Cor. 15:32) But the dead will be raised, and thus he declared, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." (1 Cor. 15:19) This Christian recognizes that he is only a pilgrim and sojourner in this land, and that he is to "abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul" and look for the "city which hath foundation, whose builder and maker is God." (1 Pet. 2:11; Heb. 11:10)

7. The hope of many people is based upon their belief in the pope of Rome and the "infallibility" of the Catholic Church. Since the Bible does not authorize the office of the pope nor the system of Catholicism, this must be classified as a false hope; it has no true foundation. Jesus Christ, not Peter, is the foundation of the church. "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. 3:11) Peter himself declared that Christ is the stone upon which the church, God's "spiritual house" is built. (1 Pet. 2:4-8; Acts 4:11, 12) Jesus Christ, not Peter, is the head of the church. "And he is the head of the body, the church...." (Col. 1:18) The Catholic Church is not infallible; neither does it have any authority in religion. Jesus Christ has all authority. (Matt. 28:18) "Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ ...." (Eph. 5:24) The church, the body of Christ, must hear Christ, who is its head, in all things. The church has no authority.

8. Many people believe that they possess eternal life in this life, and thus they cannot properly appreciate the true hope. This is true of those who teach the impossibility of apostasy. Jesus taught that we would receive eternal life in the world to come. (Mark 10:30) Paul taught that the harvest comes after a life of sowing, and that "in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." (Gal. 6:7-9) The Hebrew writer warns in these words: "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it." (Heb. 4:1) In the first statement used in this lesson, Paul affirms that we are saved by hope, but he then proceeds to show that if we possess eternal life in this life it could not be by hope. Hear him: "For we are saved by hope; but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why does he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." (Rom. 8:24, 25) Commenting upon these verses, R. L. Whiteside said:

"Christians are now subject to vanity, the bondage of corruption; but they hope to be 'delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.' (verses 20,21) In this hope we are saved. In salvation, which is a process and which began at conversion, faith guides and hope stimulates us to patient endurance. The whole process is carried on in an element of hope, and culminates in our full deliverance into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. 'But hope that is seen is not hope: The word see frequently means to possess, to enjoy, to suffer, to experience. That is true even in our everyday speech. We see a good time; we see much sorrow; we see much pain. We experience these things. A person does not hope for what he sees — that is, for what he already has or experiences. If our redemption were already complete, if there were nothing yet to be desired or expected, there would be no hope. But we desire and expect a glorious future, and this hope for full deliverance from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God causes us to be patient during our period of waiting. Without hope we would not endure — we would not strive. Hope anchors our soul to the eternal world. Hope lost, all is lost." (Commentary on Romans, pp. 184, 185)

III. The Christian's Hope

Just as the "one faith" is comprehensive and embraces many things, the "one hope" involves many promises, desires and expectations. It is obvious that these things are inseparable, each one being dependent upon and connected with the others.

1. The Christian hopes for (both desires and expects) God's providential care. While it is true that in some ways God blesses all men alike (Matt. 5:45), he has made certain promises to his faithful children which are not applicable to all men. God cares for his own! "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." (Psalms 37:25) "Let your conversation (manner of life) be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have; for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what men shall do unto me." (Eccl). 13:5,6) "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things (material blessings) shall be added unto you." (Matt. 6:33)

From a reading of such passages as Acts 2:44,45; 4:32-35; 11:27-30 and 1 Timothy 5:16, we see God fulfilling this promise as he instructs Christians — both collectively and individually — to supply the necessities of life for indigent saints, which they did. Therefore, the Christian need not be anxious about the needs of this life, for his hope is in a loving Father who knows his needs and is able to provide for him.

2. The Christian hopes to be raised from the dead. Why does he hope (both desire and expect) to be raised from the dead? Here are some reasons:

A. Man's universal desire to live again. There is evidence of this throughout the history of man. Whether it be Job, the Egyptians, the American Indians, or men of our time, all men have shown a desire to live beyond this life. What does this prove? That which is universally true of men of all ages must be of divine origin; it is an innate desire; God placed it there. Since God compliments every natural desire which he placed in man (eating, sleeping, hearing, seeing, companionship, etc.), he will satisfy this one.

B. It is suggested by nature. The God of the Bible is the God of nature. (Acts 14:17) "For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease." (Job 14:7) Job had seen this of a tree, and he reasoned that if God would do that for a tree he will do the same for me! Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (John 12:24) "But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body." (1 Cor. 15:35-38) These inspired writers were drawing lessons from nature on the immortality of the soul of man.

C. The resurrection of Christ. Jesus was raised from the dead and became the "firstborn from the dead" and the "firstfruits of them that slept." (Col. 1:18; 1 Cor. 15:20) Study care fully First Corinthians 15:12-22, and note with me the honesty and logic of the inspired apostle's argument:

1. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ was not raised.

2. If Christ was not raised, then our preaching is in vain.

3. If our preaching is vain, your faith is vain.

4. If your faith is vain, you are yet in your sins.

5. If he be not raised, and you are yet in your sins, there is no hope beyond this life.

6. If no hope beyond this life, the dead have perished and we are of all men most miserable.

7. But if Christ be raised, then we shall be raised. (verses 20-22)

D. The many witnesses. Jesus appeared unto a great number of people on different occasions after his resurrection. They talked with him, ate with him, and one even examined his hands and side. (Mark 16:9; John 20:27,28) Paul writes that he "was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures. And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time." (1 Cor. 15:4-7)

There are only two ways to impeach their testimony: They were mistaken, or they lied. But were they mistaken concerning his identity? No! "To whom he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." (Acts 1:3) Did they lie? No! Many of these witnesses were put to death for believing and preaching the resurrection of Christ.

Would men die for a cause which they knew to be false? The Holy Spirit of God which was to reveal truth (John 16:13) has also testified of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

E. The three grand memorials. Three of the most honored and practiced memorials of the world and the Christian religion are based upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

1. The Lord's day. "And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came to the sepulchre at the rising of the sun ...Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week." (Mark 16:2, 9) "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread...." (Acts 20:7) John declared, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day." (Rev. 1:10) Thayer says the term means: "Of or belonging to the Lord....relating to the Lord, the day devoted to the Lord, sacred to the memory of Christ's resurrection, Rev. 1:10." (Thayer's Lexicon, p. 365)

2. The Lord's Supper. Jesus instituted his supper while on earth, but it was not to be observed until the kingdom came. (Luke 22:17-20) As we noted before, the disciples in Troas came together to break bread or observe the Lord's supper. In First Corinthians 11:26 we read: "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come." But if the Lord was not raised from the dead, he is not coming again! He proved himself to be the son of God by his resurrection. (Rom. 1:4) So, if he be not raised, the Lord's supper has no significance whatsoever.

3. Baptism. Baptism is connected with the burial and resurrection of Christ, and apart from those facts it would have no meaning. "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Rom. 6:4) If Christ be not buried and raised, how could we be buried and raised "like as Christ was raised up"? What meaning would baptism have? How could we obey from the heart "that form of doctrine"?

If one denies the resurrection of Christ, he must then explain why multiplied millions of people during the past 1900 years have observed the Lord's day and obeyed the commands to be baptized and break bread. This would be as difficult as explaining the resurrection!

3. The Christian hopes for immortality. He believes what the Lord has revealed. "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:3) "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." (2 Cor. 5:1) "To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life." (Rom. 2:7) Read First Thessalonians 4:13-18.

4. The Christian hopes for eternal life. "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began." (Titus 1:2) We must recognize that eternal life is conditioned upon our obedience and faithfulness. (Hebrews 5:8,9; 2 Peter 1:5-11)

IV. Reasons For The Christian's Hope

1. God's promises. (1 John 2:25)

2. God's immutable oath. (Heb. 6:17-19)

3. God's eternal interest in us. (Eph. 3:10,11; 2 Tim. 1:9)

4. We are God's children. (Psalm 103:13; 1 John 3:1)

5. Christ is our hope, "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." (Col. 1:27)

Hope Is The Christian's Anchor

"Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul...." (Heb. 6:19) As the Christian sails the old ship of Zion through a sea of sin, temptation, disappointment, doubt and apostasy, he gets storm-tossed (Eph. 4:14) and is in danger of losing his spiritual equilibrium and sense of true values and directions. It is then that he needs to drop anchor, bring the object of his faith (Christ) and his eternal home (heaven) into clear focus again and say with Paul as he was about to be shipwrecked, "I believe God"; being fully persuaded that "the Lord is not slack concerning his promise." It is then that he can sing: "We have an anchor that keeps the soul, steadfast and sure while the billows roll; fastened to the Rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love."

VI. Hope And Righteous Living

"And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (I John 3:3) "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." (Heb. 12:14) "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lust, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." (Titus 2:11-14) "And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind...." (Rom. 12:2)

We cannot hope to be saved unless we live as God has instructed. We might desire to be saved, but we cannot truly expect to be while living contrary to the will of God. John says that every Christian that "hath this hope" must purify himself. He cannot hope to be saved unless he does.

VII. Hope And Courage

"And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us." (Rom. 5:5) "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38) "Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf." (1 Peter 4:16) The Christian is going to be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12) but because of his hope he accepts such humbly and with courage, for "hope maketh not ashamed.."

My friend, if you are not a Christian, I trust that you will hear the gospel, believe it (John 8:24), repent (Luke 13:3), and be baptized for the remission of sins and into Christ (Acts 2:38; Gal. 3:27) You will then be a Christian; a member of the body of Christ; and you can truly sing:

My hope is built on nothing less, Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus' name.

When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on his unchanging grace;

In every high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood, Support me in the whelming flood;

When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.

When he shall come with trumpet sound, 0 may I then in him he found;

Dressed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne.

This is the Christian's hope!

— P. O. Box 3012, Little Rock, Ark.