Volume. XXVII, No. 3
What is Christian Hope?
We are all called Hopefuls because we attend the Hope Bible Presbyterian Church. Our worship bulletin is called ‘Lively Hope’. But do we really know & understand what Christian Hope is, in comparison to secular hope? In the olden Biblical days in Greece and Rome and even in our present modern day, hope is something like an empty bubble, transient and illusory. It is often viewed as faint, feeble and trembling. Basically, when our Lord Jesus came, the word \'hope\' was crowned with glory by the fact of His resurrection. He took away death and brought salvation and eternal life through His propitiatory death on the Cross.
At this time, when the world and maybe our lives are beset by so many problems, there is all the more reason for us to see “the hope which is laid up for you in heaven.” (Col.1: 5a)
TWO ASPECTS OF CHRISTIAN HOPE
#1 - Objective
Hope grounded in truth and fixed on a noble goal is one of the greatest influences in human life. It is the soul’s anchor in the midst of many storms and it helped many missionaries throughout the ages; for example, William Carey in India and Dr. Judson in Burma.
What about hope in the objective sense? The verse from Colossians 1: 5a says it all, “the hope which is laid up for you in heaven.” We must admit that our Christian hope is one which looks far above the world and beyond this present age. This does not mean that Christians do not care for the present age as can be seen by the many good things Christians do – attested to by the history of Christian philanthropy.
The Psalmist in Psalm 121:1 said,” I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills” which teaches us to lift up our eyes above and beyond the hills of the earth, to that faraway land that is “fairer than day” where our Lord Jesus Christ has gone to prepare a place for us. So our hope is the hope which is laid up for us in HEAVEN. Therefore, there needs to be practical godliness for we are meant to be heavenly minded. Our Lord Jesus who is our dearest treasure is there and He Himself said, ”Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
So our hope is in HEAVEN which is the Father’s House and also the place of “many mansions.” What is it like in heaven? I will briefly mention 4 points:
Absence of sin – we shall be as sinless as unfallen angels.
Place of perfect rest – there will be rest from toil, burden, worry, weariness, and from continuous battles with temptation, treachery and frontal assaults from the world, the flesh and the devil.
Place of consummated victory – there we shall wear white robes and wave palms of victory, together with the multitudes in heaven. There, those of us who are overcomers, shall enter into the joy of our Lord.
Place of perfect joy – there we shall not go hungry or thirsty; there will be no sickness, sorrow or death. There, we shall be re-united with our Christian loved ones; there we shall see them in glorified bodies, beautified into the perfect image of Christ, yet retaining those distinctive traits of character and personality which made them so dear to us on earth.
#2 - Subjective aspect of hope
What about hope in its subjective aspect, that is, in its outworking in each of us? The goal of this hope lies in heaven and in the future but the hope itself is a present possession and experience. This hope in us should have a deep influence in our hearts and our lives in three ways:
Such a hope should sanctify the present. What do we mean by this? Christian hope is the highest and the loveliest, compared with ordinary secular hope and it should have a special strong effect on us by making us lead lives which are holy, for 1 John 3: 3 says, “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure.”
Such a hope should be a fountain of joyous effort. Let me ask this question. Can we journey on our pilgrimage to the heavenly gloryland without making a joyous effort to tell the gospel of good news to those who are outside of His kingdom? Many may have the misconception that once we are saved, we can sit back and conveniently forget about evangelisation.
Such a hope should keep us contentedly labouring without any signs of present reward. The verse from Col.1:5 says that this hope is “laid up” or safely secured for us “in heaven”. So this inheritance is kept for us. It will be an all-sufficient reward for our present labours, to hear our names read out at the great Roll-Call in heaven.
Conclusion: The words from the hymn, ‘Heaven came down and glory filled my soul’ by John W. Peterson, encapsulates all we need to know about the true meaning of Christian Hope:
“Now I’ve a hope that will surely endure, after the passing of time;
I have a future in heaven for sure, There in those mansions sublime.
And it’s because of that wonderful day When at the cross I believed;
Riches eternal and blessings supernal From His precious hand I received.”
Bro Ngie Joo Gong