The Blessed Hope
The true child of God is one who looks backward and gazes on the Cross with all its wonders of grace—“the grace of God which carries with it salvation” (Titus 2: 11), a grace made known in the One who loved him, and gave Himself for him (see Gal. 2: 20).
The believer also looks downward and sees the pit from where he was dug, the “miry clay” (Ps. 40: 2) out of which he was taken, and, as he looks down, he understands a little the power and love of God which has delivered him from that ruin.
Furthermore, he looks round, and surveys the world which “lies in the wicked [one]” (1 John 5: 19), writhing in its miseries and whirling in its pleasures—and misguided Christians labouring to seek deliverance from it by plans and methods of their own invention.
Again, he looks upward, and sees the Lord Jesus Christ appearing “before the face of God” (Heb. 9: 24) for him, and he, perfect and complete in that all–perfect One.
Lastly, the true child of God also looks forward and waits for God’s Son “from the heavens” (1 Thess. 1: 10) and sees in Him the only hope for the Assembly of God, for
, for the world and for the groaning creation. Israel
Thus it is Christ and Christ alone who fills the Christian’s vision. Past deliverances, present mercies and future blessings all centre in the Lord. That is why Christ is the sum and substance of “the blessed hope” (Titus 2: 13).
Ever since the child of God knew the grace of God that brought him salvation, he has been looking for the glory of God to bring him the complete fulfilment of that salvation, and to manifest all that is bound up in it.
“The blessed hope” is a component of the salvation which grace brings. It is no supplemental addition, but it forms part of the very foundation on which the Christian stands. It is bound up with the position which God has given him in Christ. It is one of the three fundamental graces of faith, hope, and love (see 1 Cor. 13: 13) with which he has been given from the very beginning.
There is no attempt in Scripture to prove the doctrine or fact of Christ’s return from heaven. There are no arguments used in order to establish it. This hope is always spoken of and taken for granted as the proper, settled, well–defined possession of the child of God. The hope is given to us, and the Spirit of God always refers to it and speaks of it in this way. It is bound up with every Christian duty and every practical precept. It is inseparably associated with every doctrine. How gracious of our God to give His people such a blessed hope!
How happy to know that we are never told or taught to look at death as what we have to wait for, or at judgement as what we have to look for. How blessed to know that the one object of our hope is a Person. Not an event, not a change in circumstances, not a new condition of things. No, it is a Person. And it is that very One who thought of us before the foundation of the world, who visited us in due time, who suffered for us “[the] just for [the] unjust” to “bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3: 18), and to exalt us to the highest place of dignity and glory in union with Himself. What a blessed hope!
This hope contains within it everything needed which in present prospect or future possession can make the child of God to be truly blest. He has all things in this hope: he is an heir of God, a joint heir with Christ Jesus (see Rom. 8: 17).
Until the moment of Christ’s appearing, it remains a hope, but then it will be a possession and enjoyment, and hope will be exchanged for actual possession. The “things hoped for” (Heb. 11: 1) cannot be realised until that day, for Christ is their fountain, their source and their centre, and apart from Him there is no blessedness either now or in the expected future.
All this is why we “await his Son from the heavens” (1 Thess. 1: 10). Our waiting is the spontaneous outcome of the truth as to our belonging to Christ. There is no effort in this waiting. If there is effort there must be something wrong. To be real it must be the unconscious action of the new nature. This waiting is not a condition which we can work ourselves up to. It is the instinctive attitude of those who know the One who has delivered them “from the coming wrath”.
The first result of this waiting is that it brings Christ into our daily lives. This is why it is so blessed and such a blessing. He who has this hope has already ‘got the blessing’ without going anywhere to get it. Ah, and what is of infinitely greater blessing—the blessing has got him! That is where the reality comes in. In waiting for God’s Son from heaven, He necessarily occupies our hearts and fills our vision. That is why it is called “the blessed hope”. And if any ask how it is so blessed, we answer:
It gives reality to the future. It places Christ in the centre of the future. He fills it. And what of our own immediate future in this world? Well, he fills that too. All our prospects and hopes find their centre in him
It gives reality to our lives. It does not paralyse Christian service. Those that say that it will, only show that they know nothing about it. No, it rouses to action and stimulates to effort.
It is the source of our comfort. If He is near, then we have little time and less reason to mourn. If He be near, then resurrection is near, and glory is near. That is why we can “encourage one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4: 18), words which tell of this nearness.
It separates us from the world as nothing else can. It does it automatically. We have no need to try and separate ourselves. If this hope fills our hearts it will work the separation itself, and, what is more, the world, when it sees this hope in us, will separate itself from us and save us all further trouble in the matter.
Hence it is a purifying hope (see 1 John 3: 3). It is God’s own way for securing holiness of life. And it does it of itself. Occupation with a heavenly object makes us heavenly in our character and in our walk.
These are some of the reasons why God has given us this blessed hope. In looking for Christ we must necessarily be looking to Christ and be occupied with Him and it will be true of us as of those of who it was written “they looked unto him, and were enlightened” (Ps. 34: 5). All our springs are in Him, all our resources are in Him.
If we live with the “blessed hope” ever near, the value of all earthly things will be low. In proportion to that nearness will be the value we set upon them. If we regard the coming of the Lord as in the far distant future, we shall set a high value on earthly things, but if we regard it as near and imminent, then we shall realise the power of “the blessed hope” in diminishing their value, and in making them to be the little things they really are.
May these things be real with each one of us! There is a day coming when our hope will be realised. “Blessed are those bondmen whom the lord [on] coming shall find watching” (Luke 12: 37).