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No Hope Or A Living Hope

by Julius Hovan

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

 

Welcome to this broadcast of Words of Life. What a blessing it is for us to come into your home or maybe your car radio or however you are listening. We are glad you have turned in today and listen to the words of encouragement that we will bring to you.

A man by the name of Bruce Larson has written a book My Creator, My Friend.  And he tells this story. He says a man is going through the state of Kentucky, here in America, and he was interested in seeing some of the countryside and so he took one of the county roads, little country roads to go out into some of the rural areas and he came to a town that they had a sign that said: No Hope, Kentucky. Well, he drove around in that little area and he looked for a church and there was a sign and there was a lovely white structure and the sign outside said this. The No Hope Baptist Church.

Now I have not searched out whether that is true or not even though I live in Kentucky and I could probably find that out. The story is interesting. Do you have hope?  Or no hope? What a difference it makes. It is so tragic that many people claiming to be God’s people, claim to be Christians, are not living a life that is full of hope.

I don’t care if you use the various denominational phrases—Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Church of Christ, whatever it might be—if you have no assurance of hope, the onslaught of evil and error all around deals us a terrible blow and our future has been wrecked. Our hope has died and despair grips our hearts in the present time. We live in pessimism and gloom dominates our thinking, our speaking and our lives. Think about that.
Well, I want to offer you a contrast this morning for the New Testament Church in whatever town it might be, even in No Hope, Kentucky. That church, if it is a Bible believing church teaching the Word of God, it can give a vibrancy of hope.

Our text for this broadcast today is in the book of 1 Peter chapter one and I would like to begin reading with verse three. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ  who, according to his great mercy, begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And he has brought us into an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled that fades not away. And it is reserved in heaven for you. You who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  Oh, therein you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you are put to grief in manifold trials, the purpose being that the proof of your faith more precious than gold that perishes, though it is proved by fire, you may be found unto the praise and glory and honor at the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom not having seen yet you love him.  On whom you believe, yet you rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory. And what is the result? Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

I want to center on that verse that speaks to us of hope. I don’t know your situation this morning.  It would not surprise me if some listener to whom I am speaking is in a place of despair and sadness and trouble and heartache and sees no hope for solving whatever the problem might be.

The apostle Peter, under the inspiration of the Spirit is able to provide us some hope. It is hope that is living. It is lively. It is undying.  It produces a life full of hope, hope which is alive. Those words just try to describe that hope to us.

He counts our blessings in the third verse and on down through the rest of that passage. And we find there good hope. Hope is the air we breathe when we are born again into the kingdom of God.

A man by the name of Dr. Frank Steele insisted that the Church, the Christian especially, should never use the word despair in reference to us. Despair is the condition of having no hope.

Listen to the words from the book of Ephesians chapter two verses 12 and 13 that address this issue.  You were at that time separated from Christ. You were alienated from the commonwealth of Israel. You were strangers from the covenants of the promise having no hope and you were without God in the world. But now notice that next little three letter word, B U T.  We are going to jump into a whole new world now. But now in Christ Jesus you that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ.

Oh, we are far off in despair. We are in a situation that provides hopelessness. But in this passage of Scripture we learn that Jesus has come and to say to us, regardless of your circumstances, for the believer there is hope. The bleakest and darkest of days have light for the followers of him who is the light of the world.

I would remind you this book of 1 Peter was written to Christians in the first century who were scattered because of their faith and they were undergoing great persecution and abuse. We can have a life of hope today. And the fact is that in our world today thousands of Christians are being persecuted, many are being slaughtered for their faith. Where is their hope?  Well, it goes well beyond this life on into eternity beyond the grave.

Let me speak to you as we think of hope today.  Let’s think of the variety of our hope if we are part of the family of God.  We have a veritable smorgasbord of delicacies that are offered to God’s hungry, needy people.  He refers to great mercy. He refers to our new birth.  Somebody referred to that as the land of beginning again.

Is there some listener today who says: Oh, if I could just go back 20 year or 50 years or one year? If I could go back and start from there and do it all over, the land of beginning again.

Well, my friends, you cannot do that, but you can do what God offers you here. He offers you a new life. He offers you new hope. He offers you something that you can find nowhere else, a living hope to be sure, is available to us.

In addition to that he refers to the resurrection of Jesus. He refers to an inheritance that is incorruptible and is reserved in heaven for each one of us.  He speaks of the protection, of the power of God.  He speaks about faith worth more than gold. He speaks about this unexplainable and glorious joy.  He talks about the salvation of our soul. He refers to the return of Jesus and the time when the saints of God will be snatched out of this world and reunited with believers who have gone on in death.

My friend, do you not see that list of hope contained in this passage of Scripture? It is there.  And it can be yours if you will come to God in faith.

One Christian said to another Christian: How are you getting along? Oh, I am doing fairly well under the circumstances.  Well, I am sorry you are under the circumstances.   God wants you to live above the circumstances where he can bless you and satisfy your heart and meet every need of yours for now and into eternity.  This variety of blessing tells us that we do not need to be hungry for hope when such a menu is available to help us. The variety of hope, your situation is not unique. Someone else has faced it before.  And it is likely that God helped them through and out of that situation.

Now they will be returned from the variety of our hope to the validity of that hope. Maybe you re asking the question: Are you sure? Preacher, can you give these words out and be sure they are true? Can we count on these words?  Well, the good news is yes. If God says it, that settles it. The uncertainty of the promises of God causes many of us to be paralyzed with fear to live our lives in doubt and defeat. And this doubt, our service to God cannot be very much when we are living without hope, living in doubt.

Or we might serve a little bit, but, at best, it is a mediocre service. Peter points to the validity of our hope. And how does he do that? By calling attention to the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

Our birth to living hope is based on this critical event of the resurrection of Jesus. Listen to me carefully. The heart of the Christian faith is the resurrection from the dead on the third day of Jesus Christ the crucified Son of God. It is that which distinguishes the Christian religion from all other religions.  Every other hero of any other religion is not alive today.  They died long ago and are still buried. And what a sad sight that is to be sure. But for us this resurrection is proof, first of all, of God being completely satisfied with what Jesus accomplished at Calvary. God’s demands were met perfectly. You see, God demands that we just be absolutely perfect.
You say: Well, preacher, I am out of that. I can’t do it. You are exactly right.  Neither can I.  But listen to the 21st verse of that 1 Peter chapter. He says this. For through him are believers in God that raised him from the dead and gave him glory. Why? Raised him from the dead. Why?  So that your faith and your hope might be in God.

What good news we can have faith and we can have hope. Paul wrote to the Romans in chapter four. He—that is, Jesus—was delivered over to death for our sins and raised to life for our justification.
My friends, God has taken care of past, present and future.  God invites us through the person and work of Jesus to be brought back into a place of glory, to be seated at the very right hand of God. And that is where Jesus went as proof that God was satisfied with his sacrifice at Calvary. The proof of God’s complete satisfaction comes and brings us hope.

The pledge then of our own resurrection, the Bible says: As in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.  That whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 15, which time does not give us enough of to read this morning. You read it on your own about the resurrection of Jesus. If he is not raised, there is no hope for anybody.  But Paul says in the sixth chapter of 1 Corinthians, verse 14: God has both raised up the Lord and will also raise up us by his own power.  We don’t need to have hope just in this life. But this hope takes us on into eternity.

I would remind you that the Word of God says it is appointed unto man once to die and after that there is going to be a judgment. What kind of hope do you have regarding that Day of Judgment when we stand before God and stand there waiting for his reward or for his judgment upon us? And so here is the proof of God’s satisfaction. Here is the pledge of our own resurrection.  And here is the pattern of what we will experience in that day.

In the book of Philippians we have the words again. The apostle Paul. And they are exciting words, indeed. He closes that chapter, chapter three, verses 20 and 21, listen tow hat he says as we think, again, of what God is anxious to do for us.  Our citizenship is in heaven. That is interesting, isn’t it? And we wait for our Savior to come from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. That same Jesus, you remember.  What is going to happen when he comes? He will fashion anew the body of our humiliation and he is going to conform it to the body of his glory according to the working whereby he is able even to subject all things unto himself.

I often use this verse of Scripture when visit with the folks in the nursing home who are on the bed, will never arise again, who never will have the hope of even walking or enjoying much of life. And I remind them of the hope contained in this verse of Scripture.  Oh, what a hope it is indeed.  I hope that your hope is growing brighter as you think of what God wants to do for us through the person and work of the Lord Jesus.

This body humiliates us. We grow old and weak and our legs don’t support us and our mind doesn’t function right. We can’t see as well.  That is the kind of body we live in. It is on the downhill slide, my friends.  But, oh, there is hope beyond this weakened body to the great blessings of God in Christ Jesus.

We have a variety of hope. We have the validity, the sureness of this hope. What about the value of it as we close this message today? This great hope which has been validified by the resurrection of Jesus should be cherished because of its practical value to us.  In times of sickness we have  hope of healing. In times of suffering we have hope that the suffering will pass. Times of pain and loss—and they can be many and varied—we can have hope beyond that. We can have comfort when we have lost a precious loved one and we are in bereavement.  There is the great value of the Christian hope. We have hope beyond this time, beyond this veil of tears through which we are all walking.

Maybe it is a time of financial loss for you. There is hope beyond that, the Word of God teaches us. It holds us up when we have those times of opposition and persecution.
What else can you hold on to today?  What is going to solve the problems that you are facing? Who else can offer a dying world any hope? We are going to elect a president here in a year or so in America. We are looking for a man who can please offer some kind of change for that which is good, though the good news is there is hope, but the bad news is politicians or people will not provide the cure to what we need. It is found only from God and his Son the Lord Jesus Christ. Hope. Hope or no hope, which will it be? To be without hope is, indeed, a most pitiable situation.

God, knowing that, has provided us with a living sure hope in Christ. A great variety of provision that meet every need of ours he has supplied all of that. He has validated the hope that we have by the resurrection of Jesus. If he can raise Jesus up, he can do anything that we need. Oh, what a valued possession is hope in Christ Jesus.

It is my understanding the most southern point of South Africa was once called the Cape of Wrath. That was before any ship had rounded the cape and survived going through those rough waters.  After the first ship triumphed over the waters, the name was changed to the Cape of Good Hope. Through his triumph over death Christ has changed every place, the places of wrath and fear and changed them to good hope. Let us proclaim the message to people who are in hopeless situation. You open your heart and your mind and you bring it in. It is as free as the grace of God, but you have to exercise your will to place your trust in him.

The great hymn says: My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ and his righteousness. May God bless you as you seek hope in the Christian faith in the Word of God and in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Thank you for tuning in today and may God bless you is our prayer.

 

Julius Hovan is minister of the Bohon Church of Christ, Bohon, KY

 




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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10