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The Christian's Hope

by Robert Garrett

According to 1 Corinthians chapter 13 verse 13 there are three basic and eternal attributes necessary to the child of God, that is: faith, hope and love.  We want to make a brief study of the prophetic nature of the Christian’s hope. But in doing so, I am going to read a multitude of Scriptures.

First of all, Romans chapter 15 verse 13.   May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

See, our God is a God of hope.  He instills hope in his children.  And we should overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.   And in Romans five verses one and two: Therefore since we have been justified through faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

So our hope is because we have been justified and we are standing in the grace of God. But this hope, the hope of the glory of God, this is a glory that God shall impart to his children.

Now our hope is tied up in the return of our Savior Jesus Christ. In Titus chapter two verse 11 to 13: The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

So because we are in Christ, saved by his grace and we are denying the ungodliness and worldly passions, we are trying to live upright and godly lives in this present age, we are sustained by a hope. We wait for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.  And In Colossians 3:4 we read that when Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. See this word glory, how it appears in so many of these verses concerning our hope?

And in Philippians three verses 20 to 21 it says our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.   Such a wonderful hope we have that these lowly bodies of ours that are subject now to cancer and diabetes and all kinds of illness and even death will be transformed and made like his glorious body.

And in 1 Thessalonians chapter four verse 16 to 18 tells us that the Lord himself is going to come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

So this is our hope to be caught up to meet the Lord and be with him forever. And verse 18 tells us: encourage each other with these words.

Now this second coming of Christ is synonymous with the coming of the kingdom of Old Testament prophecy.  The kingdom comes with the king.   We read in 2 Timothy chapter four verses one to four:  In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.  For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

Now Paul is giving this charge to Timothy. He says in view of his appearing and his kingdom, that is, because Christ is coming, because his kingdom is coming, we must be faithful. Preach the Word. There is going to be much false teaching about Christ, false teaching about morality, about salvation, about everything in the Bible and false teaching about the kingdom as it was prophesied in both the Old Testament and New Testament. This must be counteracted by faithful preaching of the Word.

Now I repeat. The second coming of Christ is synonymous with the coming of the kingdom of Old Testament prophecy. The kingdom comes with the return of the King.

Now what is going to happen? That is, what will happen with the return of Christ, the return of the King? Well, there is a number of things that will take place.  First of all, there is something that we often call the rapture and that is simply a word that means catching up.   1 Thessalonians chapter four verse 16 to 18.  We have already read that earlier.  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

 

We will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. That is the first thing that takes place with the return of the Lord Jesus. The second thing that takes place will be the wedding in heaven.  We are taken into heaven. We are with the Lord there and in Revelation 19 verses six through eight says: Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.  Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.  Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)

Now after the wedding is after we are married to him we will always be with him and wherever he goes we will go. And so the third thing that takes place now is that Jesus returns to this earth with his Church.  Jude verses 14 and 15 says that:  Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone.”

And in Revelation 19 verses 11 to 16: I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no-one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.  The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  This is a reference, you see, to the Church, the bride of Christ, that we will be coming with him and here we are called the armies of heaven.

Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.  On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.  The next thing that we read there is that the armies of the beast are destroyed. Now according to other prophecies too numerous for us to go into here, these armies are gathered there in the land of Israel to try to destroy Israel. But Christ comes down and destroys them.

So we reads in Revelation verses 17, 18 and 21:  And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in mid-air, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.”  The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

The next thing that takes place is that the beast and the false prophet are taken alive and cast into the lake of fire.

Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army.  But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshipped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulphur.

The next thing that takes place is that Satan will be bound for 1000 years.  We read in Revelation 20 verses one to three: And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.  He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.  He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations any more until the 1000 years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.

The next thing that takes place is the first resurrection and the 1000 year reign of Christ. We read that in Revelation 20 verses four to six where he says:  I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

We pause here to ask you who are listening to this: Which resurrection will you be in?  Surely you would want to be in that first resurrection.

Now thousand year reign of Christ is going to be the fulfillment of a vast number of prophecies. We mentioned just a few. In Luke chapter one we have the words of the angel Gabriel speaking to Mary concerning the son that she was going to bear. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever.  His kingdom will never end.

Now the house of Jacob is not the Church. The Church had not yet come into existence when those words were spoken. The house of Jacob can only refer to the physical genetic descendants of the man Jacob, that is, the nation of Israel.   Christ is going to reign over them during this 1000 years.

And this was prophesied in Isaiah chapter nine verses six to seven.  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

 

Isaiah also spoke of the restoration of Israel in Isaiah 11 verses 11 to 12 and there are many other prophecies of that.  Let me read this one.  In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea.  He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth.

Then in Isaiah chapter 11 verses six to nine we read of changes in nature. Nature itself will be changed. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest.  They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

And this is confirmed for us in Romans chapter eight verses 21 to 23 where we are told that the creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.  What does he mean by the creation? It means just that.  This old world that we live in with its animals, the wolf and the lion and the goat and so on. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope  that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

There he speaks of a hope that the creation itself has, that it would be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. And what is that freedom? He goes on to say that we know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

See, when our bodies are redeemed that will be at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. That will be the glorious freedom of the children of God when our bodies are transformed and made to be like his glorious body, the creation itself will also be redeemed and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

Then in Ezekiel 34 he goes on to speak of the very same thing. And we don’t have time to read that now, but you can read it from verse 25 to 31.

We have a very beautiful passage in Hosea chapter two where God is speaking of the nation of Israel, where he speaks of Israel as his wife, a wife who had sinned against him and who had committed adultery and gone astray, but now he is going to call them back. And he says:

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.  In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master’.  I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked.  In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety.  I will betroth you to me for ever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD.

Of course, that awaits the repentance of that nation and that will take place at the time of the Lord Jesus’ return.

And so in Amos chapter nine verses 13 to 15:  “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the ploughman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills. I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the LORD your God.

So these things, these few prophecies that we have reviewed, they are all part of the Christian’s hope, the things that God has promised to his faithful children. Therefore we wait for him with eager expectation.

And Hebrews 9:28 tells us that Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

Are you waiting for him?  Have you been redeemed by his blood? If you have, then you can look forward with eagerness to his return because he is bringing salvation to those who are waiting for him.

-Robert Garrett lives in Louisville, KY

 

 




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Philippians 4:13