Last week we looked at the history of hope in the Old Testament from Adam and Eve to Abraham. We saw how God’s word inspires hope. God gives us promises that inspire hope and commandments that guide us to the fulfillment of this hope. Seeking God’s face, seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness, seeking to please God… these are all expressions of hope. Joyfulness, even when we suffer, is an emotion inspired by hope. Letting go of earthly pleasures and enduring a path of struggle and hardship, like Moses did when chose the way of God over the riches of Egyptian palace life, this is a product of hope. Hope, faith and love are woven together, just as seeking, saving and serving are.
Christian hope reaches toward our inheritance in Christ. The security of our hope in Christ rests in God’s faithfulness. God promises us a great and glorious inheritance with Him forever. Paul’s prayer here in Ephesians 1:17-21 is the launching pad for our lesson on hope today.
15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
This passage contains a mouthful. We will just scratch the surface of it today.
For our focus this morning, let’s ask the question: What is the hope of our calling? (slide)
Looking at what follows that statement in verse 18 we see that our hope is filled with really good things! But before we unpack some of that, look with me at Eph. 4:4. Here we read that we have been called to one hope. In other words, if we do this right, we put all our eggs into one basket. Everything depends on whether this hope is achieved, or not. What if Jesus is not really the Son of God? What if He didn’t really die on the cross and arise again on that Sunday morning? What does that do to our hope?
I hear some Christians say things like: “even if Jesus is not true and the faith is not real, the Christian life is still a good life and that makes it worth it.” Paul, who wrote this letter, didn’t think so. In fact, in an earlier letter to another church he said this about Christian hope. 1 Corinthians 15:19, If only in this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitted more than all men. Or, as some translations say, “we are of all men most miserable.”
This hope is so critical, Christians are either totally right to hope in God, or totally fools. It depends on whether our hope in Christ is true, or not.
Why? Joel Olsteen is wrong. Our hope in Jesus Christ does almost nothing to guarantee a fun and pleasant life here on earth. In fact, Jesus makes it clear that in this world we will have tribulations. And while God certainly cares for us and blesses us and gives us good things here, He does not make earthly blessings the object of our Christian hope. We need to see that. So.. what is the hope of our calling? First, it is not a rose garden in this present world. This is hard for many to accept. I want it all NOW! I don’t want to wait!
Well, dear friends, hope implies waiting. Just as it implies seeking something beyond what we have. Look with me at Romans 8:15-25. Here we see more about what is the hope of our calling.
If our Christian hope is not about having it good in the here and now, what is it? I’m glad you asked! Col. 1:21-27 says these mysterious words…
The hope of the gospel that you must not move from is this: Christ in you, the hope of glory. (slide)
When you are baptized into Jesus Christ, He comes to live and to work in you. He gives us forgiveness of sin, he takes upon Himself the punishment our sins deserve, and he places in us His own righteousness. Christ in you is the ONLY hope of glory. We have NO hope of glory without Him in us. This is a hope that must be maintained and not divided by other hopes.
When we faithfully embrace it, this hope drives us to seeking His kingdom, and His righteousness first. This hope motivates us to work in love as we wait for it’s fulfillment. This hope reaches beyond the grave. There is nothing like it anywhere outside of Jesus Christ.
What is the hope of His calling? When do we receive it? A 5 year old Bible class teacher asked her class, how do we get to heaven? Hands shot up and the teacher called on them one by one to answer. Finally she reached a little boy at the end of the row and she repeated the question: how do we get to heaven? He answered, “You gotta be dead.”
Two other things about hope that we see in our scripture reading in Eph. 1 are these:
The riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, (slide) and
His incomparably great power for us how believe.
Phil. 3:20-21, now back up to verses 7-11.
If you believe that this life is where it’s all at, you are in the wrong church. This church has a hope that brings joy in spite of whatever this life brings. We’d all like it to be a pleasant ride, but we have a hope that will bring us through the storm. We have a hope that keeps us seeking a reward that lasts forever. We have a hope that is worth giving up anything in this life for. It is a treasure awaiting those who wait in hope. We seek not what is seen, but what is unseen. May God grant that our hope in Him flourishes and grows so strong we never ever let it go.