Rev. Ross Mahan, Pastor
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Savior.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, 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 Savior 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. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
- God has revealed His grace to the world in the person of His Son. Jesus Christ is the grace of God. Divine Grace brings salvation and teaches us to put away sin and to live a godly life in this present world. The grace of God transforms the hearts of sinners by the new birth. Godly living is the foundation of Christian culture. Theology determines culture. What a man believes will determine how he lives and how people live will shape the culture of a family, church, or nation. Culture is simply theology in action. It is theology externalized. A change in culture takes place because of a change in the underlying beliefs of the people. To change a culture you must change its theology. This is what has happened in our nation. A pagan and ungodly belief system has entered our nation through the media, seminaries, universities, and the government and changed the hearts of our people and the culture. The answer is repentance and a return to God’s Word. The grace of God guides us by the past. We look to the Scriptures for the church’s doctrine and practice but we also listen to the wisdom of our Christian forefathers. The Christian life is lived in the present as we learn to trust in God to provide our needs (Mt. 6:31-34). We are guided by the past, we live in the present, and we look to the future. The return of Jesus Christ is the hope of the Christian. There is a Day of Judgment coming and the Lord tells us to prepare for it (Heb. 9:27). We live each day Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. Let’s examine the hope of the Christian.
- The reality of Christian hope. The word Hope describes how we view the future. Circumstances may be bad in our life. We may be on a battlefield or a sickbed but the worst condition any man can be in is to be without hope. Man needs hope to live in the world. Webster’s Dictionary defines hope as desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment. Hebrews says: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). Now faith means we are confident of what we hope for, convinced of what we do not see. Hope is connected to faith. Faith in Christ is the ground of our hope. God creates faith in our hearts through His Word and teaches us to hope in His promises. Hope is the object of our faith. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost (Rom. 15:4, 13). Christian hope is invisible, we can’t see it. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth 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). Christian hope is the return of Jesus Christ in glory. Even though life on this earth is going to end one day Jesus our Savior has promised to take us beyond this life into eternity.
- Our life on earth is temporary but hope is eternal for hope is based on the promises of an eternal God. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal (II Cor. 4:17,18). Hope is like an anchor in the soul of man that connects us to God’s steadfastness. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable (I Cor 15:19). Jesus spoke many times about His return. For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels (Lu. 9:26). Christ came to earth the first time as a suffering servant to satisfy justice and redeem the souls of men by His blood. But He will return the second time in majesty as King of kings and Lord of lords. On that day every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of; God the Father. When Christ appears He will judge the world in righteousness. That day will mark the end of time. He has promised to take His people to Heaven to be with Him. So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation (Heb. 9:28).
- At our Lord’s ascension the angel predicted His return. And while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven (Acts 1:9-11). The hope of Christ’s return comforts the child of God when he stands at the grave of a believing loved one. We grieve when the people we love die. Our hearts are sad and we weep, but we do not grieve like the world. The world has no hope. The unbeliever doesn’t understand death. He has no idea where he is going when he dies. But we know. Jesus promised us we will see our loved ones who have died in Christ some day. The God of truth has promised it. His Word will come to pass. This is why the Christian is not afraid of death. We are sad but we do not despair when our Christian brethren die. We know they are with the Lord and are not gone forever. We will see them again in glory. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words (I Thess. 4:14-18).
- The reason for Christian hope. In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began (Titus. 1:2). Our hope is built upon God who cannot lie. God has established a covenant with us. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of His purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, He confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor of the soul firm and secure (Heb. 6:17-18). We rest upon God’s promise. Edward Mote was a pastor and hymn writer born in London on 21 January 1797. His parents managed a pub and often left Edward to his own devices, playing in the street. He was trained as a cabinet maker and worked in London for many years. Later he became a Christian and entered the ministry and was pastor at Rehoboth Baptist Church in Horsham, West Sussex for 26 years He was well liked by the congregation in Horsham and they offered him the church building as a gift. Mote replied “I do not want the chapel, I only want the pulpit; and when I cease to preach Christ then turn me out of that” One day he started to write a hymn on a piece of paper he kept in his coat pocket and after jotting down a few lines a friend asked him to pay a visit on the wife of a friend who was on her deathbed to pray with her and perhaps sing a hymn. At the woman’s home after praying with her, the husband couldn’t find a hymnal so Rev. Mote took the paper from his coat pocket and shared the words he had written. You’ve heard them before.
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.
On Christ the solid rock I stand All other ground is sinking sand.
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.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.
- Jesus is our hope (I Tim. 1:1). He gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto Himself a peculiar people. His death reconciled us to God. His resurrection assures us that one day our bodies will be resurrected from the grave. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (I Pet. 1:3). Apart from Christ there is no hope. This was the condition of the Gentiles before Christ. Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world (Eph. 2:11-12). God placed us in Christ when we were baptized. 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 (Gal. 3:26-27). Not only are we in Christ but Christ is in us. Paul described the Gospel as a mystery hidden in the past that now is made manifest to the saints. 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). The mark of a true Christian is waiting for Christ’s return.
- The response to Christian hope. How should a Christian live in light of Christ’s return? Jesus told His disciples to watch and be ready for His return. But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch (Mk. 13:32-37). The grace of God prepares us for His return by teaching us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world. The Apostle John wrote: Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure (I Jn. 3:3). The return of Christ is a godly motive for true holiness. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, (II Pet. 3:11). Only the power of the gospel can create holiness in our hearts and lives.
- To the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints (I Thess. 3:12-13). Hebrews tells us: Without holiness no man shall see the Lord (Heb. 12:14). Preparing for the Lord’s return requires a faithful use of the means of grace. It is walking with God each day in the light of His Word, cleansed by the blood of Christ (I Jn. 1:7). We also prepare for the Lord’s return by completing the work God has given us to do. The Lord has a vocation for each of us. The Parable of the Talents describes the child of God working and preparing for the Lord’s return. As we work in our vocation and as we invest our time, talents, and resources into the Kingdom of God and the mission of the church in the world, Jesus said we are laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Mt. 6:20-21). At the end of his life Paul, knowing that he had completed the work God had given him wrote these words: I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing (II Tim. 4:7-8). Finally, preparing for Christ’s return means proclaiming the Gospel to the nations of the world. Rev. 7:9 tells us that there will be people from every nation, tribe, and language in heaven. Therefore may the Lord prepare us for His return that we may rejoice in hope, steadfast until the end awaiting His appearing.
When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh may I then in Him be found;
Clothed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.