Hope for Then and Now (2)
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness… who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever… Romans 1.18, 25
… but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 2 Peter 3.18
Two kinds of people
The Bible teaches that people fall into one of two camps. As we have seen, there are those who, by faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, have entered the Kingdom of God and bask in the light of His truth. Having been redeemed by grace through faith, they fear and love the Lord, and live in thanksgiving before Him, standing in the living hope of knowing God in His glory. Hungry for God, they find through Jesus the truth that sets them free and equips them for good works of love for God and their neighbors.
On the other hand, there are those who, because they suppress the truth and prefer to believe the lie of their own presumed autonomy, live in the darkness of unbelief and sin. They do not give thanks to God for all His many benefits, so they turn from Him to self and things, and become darkened in their understanding and ignorant of their real purpose in life. They cling to false hopes and seek only those changes that promise to improve their material or social wellbeing.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful, through the righteousness of Christ, to help those who are captive to the lie break free from its grip into the glorious truth of God and the living hope of knowing Him, now and forever. We who have come to know the living hope of the glory of God must not allow lesser hopes to divert or distract us from our Kingdom-and-glory calling in Jesus Christ. Instead, let us devote ourselves to bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7.1; cf. 1 Pet. 1.13-17).
And let us focus our hearts on the true and living hope of knowing God and His glory.
Peter explains how this living hope affects the way we conduct our lives (1 Pet. 1.13-17).
When we are fixed on the living hope which is ours in Jesus Christ, we will get our minds in gear for a lifetime of seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (v. 13). We’ll take seriously our calling to glorify God in every area of our lives, expecting to know a measure of God’s glory now, which only enhances our longing for more of it in the days to come. We will not allow the lusts of the flesh and the love of this world to cause us to fix our hope on things, people, or circumstances, for we know that these, as important as they can be, are no solid place to stand for the hope that springs eternal in our hearts (v. 14).
The hope we cherish leads us to seek greater knowledge of the Lord Who gives us such hope, as we grow through His Word and Spirit to refract His character and holiness into the world (v. 15).
In the fear of God (v. 17), as we resist the tendency to love self more than God, we can keep the things and circumstances of our lives from becoming idols. We do not trust in these but receive them with thanksgiving as gifts from the Lord, and we use them as resources for seeking and advancing His rule of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit.
As we grow in the knowledge of God, the false gods of this secular age will hold less and less allure. For the living hope that is growing in our hearts enables us to know joy, satisfaction, and increasing fullness of salvation as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3.10-18).
Know the Lord!
God is working overtime to make Himself known to people. As Paul wrote, God is revealing Himself in all the things He has made (Rom. 1.19), as well as in His Word (2 Tim. 3.15-17). In the blindness of their sin and the foolishness of their presumed autonomy, many people simply will not open their minds and hearts to what God is revealing. Instead, they look to other explanations for the origin and nature of things, the nature of truth, and the meaning of their lives, embracing evolution, relativism, pragmatism, and any number of equally futile notions as they suppress the truth of God and hope in vanities. Rejecting the knowledge of God, they place their hope in created things, and make idols out of the fleeting, crumbling things and circumstances of this world.
Such hope slips away with shifting circumstances and unforeseen eventualities, or leaves people asking at the end of their quest, “Is that all there is?”
But the salvation and living hope that are held out to us through the righteousness of Jesus Christ liberate people to embrace the truth of God, and through that truth, to know the Lord in personal, intimate, transforming ways. This is not a condition to which people arrive because they’re so clever or smart. The Gospel is power, real power, power to break through the darkness of sin, overcome the bondage of unbelief, and shatter the shackles of the lie, so that people may be born again to the living hope that God grants them by His mercy and grace (Rom. 1.16).
And having come to such a hope, we grow in it as we increase in the knowledge of God, seeking as much as we can of His revelation, seeing Him in all His exalted beauty, goodness, and truth, and bringing all our other hopes into line with the living hope of knowing God Himself – now, truly and joyfully, but then, in the fullness of unfathomable joy and pleasure.
Know God and you will know hope. And knowing hope, you will focus your desires, aspirations, and longings increasingly on Jesus and His Kingdom as the defining hopes of your life.
1. How should our living hope help us to organize goals and priorities for the here and now?
2. Can we expect this living hope to be the guiding and focusing hope of our lives apart from growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ? Explain.
3. How can Christians encourage one another to stand more squarely and consistently in this living hope of glory?
Next steps – Transformation: Spend some time meditating on Jesus Christ, exalted in glory. How do you expect to be transformed into that image today (2 Cor. 3.12-18)?
T. M. Moore
Your soul in the Kingdom of God
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.