Our Blessed Hope
It is important all believers have a practical understanding of a Christian’s “blessed hope.” The “blessed hope” is an invaluable tool for living in a world where Christians are being increasingly persecuted and even killed for their faith. It is the perfect antidote for fear and a necessary ointment for everyday doubts in the minds of believers. Before I discuss how the “blessed hope” can be incorporated into the life of every believer, I prefer to elaborate how this theme is taught in the Bible.
Several Biblical authors have written on this theme. It is worthwhile to examine their teaching on this important topic. I will present the New Testament Scriptures, as they will paint an adequate picture for us to grasp. There are also Old Testament writers, who have addressed this topic, but time and space will not permit discussion of these scriptures in this article.
The book of Hebrews is a good place to begin this teaching. Hebrews 6:17-19 reads as follows:
In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
The author of Hebrews describes it is impossible for God to lie and His plans do not change over time. The scriptures preceding the above quotation outline the covenant God made with Abraham. Abraham lived a very long life and never realized the promises of that covenant, yet he lived in the hope God’s promises would someday come to pass. That hope never died in his life. God extolled Abraham for his faith in these covenant promises. When Abraham’s life came under fire from trials and tribulations, he maintained his faith. The author of Hebrews explains the hope God has set before us is an ‘anchor of the soul….sure and steadfast.’ This hope is certain and unchangeable – made possible only through the sacrifice Jesus made for all sinners as an eternal high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. He laid down his unblemished, sinless life and poured out His precious blood on Calvary’s cross to make real and certain the ‘blessed hope’ God has given to each of His children. This hope is not wishful thinking, like the hope the world offers. One may wish to win a lottery or become a millionaire, but the world’s hope is elusive and seldom realized. The hope God provides is certain. One can take it to the bank. It will come to pass. Nothing a believer does can void that hope. But, like Abraham, it is a promise that can only be apprehended when a believer leaves this world and obtains his glorified body and inheritance. It takes faith, like Abraham, to make this hope real in a believer’s present life – because he has not yet seen it. The author of Hebrews describes hope as ‘an anchor of our soul,’ which enables the believer to weather the storms of life, which will inevitably buffet him. This hope has produced the power to face torture and execution even by decapitation by many Christians in recent times.
The Apostle Peter has written about this “blessed hope.” He has described it as a ‘living hope in 1 Peter 1:3-5.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Peter explains this living hope is obtained when one is “born again“ – saved through faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He describes the hope as an imperishable inheritance that will be obtained in the “last time.” This refers to the end of our earthly life – at the coming of Jesus to redeem His children from this wicked world. Additional scriptures will paint the rest of the picture shortly. Peter, once again, has described this hope as certain and already secured by Jesus Christ, who has caused us to be born again. When Peter wrote this letter, the believing church was under tremendous persecution and many were being martyred for their faith. He encouraged them with the ‘living hope’ that made it possible for these believers to suffer and give their own lives, if necessary. Their inheritance was imperishable, undefiled and awaited their arrival to glory.
The Apostle to the gentile church, Paul, has written of this “blessed hope” in several of his last letters. Titus 2:12-13 reads as follows:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
Paul has personified the grace of God as Jesus Christ, who came to bring salvation to all men. He points out that Jesus has instructed us to deny worldly desires and live righteously. He implies this is possible by apprehending by faith the “blessed hope,” which will occur at the glorious appearing of Christ Jesus. Worldly riches pale in comparison to the eternal inheritance a believer can now only apprehend by the “blessed hope.” The important lesson from this scripture is that the ‘blessed hope’ can only be fully apprehended at the rapture of believers by Jesus Christ.
Paul approached the end of his life shackled in an underground dungeon. He was cold, depressed and the world system could offer him nothing but martyrdom. Days before his beheading he penned these amazing verses in 2 Timothy 4:6-8.
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
What fitting words to be placed on a tombstone! Paul knew his death was imminent. His thoughts were fixed on the “blessed hope” – the crown of righteousness the Lord was about to reward him with. He proclaimed he had fought the good fight and finished the race – keeping the faith. He implied he did so by keeping his mind fixed on the “blessed hope” during all his trials. Paul explains he will attain to his reward at Christ’s appearing – the rapture. He further notes that all who long for that appearing (faith in the blessed hope) will acquire that reward also.
Finally, the youngest of the 12 Apostles, John, touched upon the theme of our “blessed hope” in the latter part of his own life. He wrote in 1 John 2:28 – “Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.” John describes here and in adjacent verses that holiness and righteous living in this world is directly related to a believer’s daily apprehension of the “blessed hope.” The spiritual confidence of a believer is tied inextricably to the fact that all these promises are to be realized when Jesus Christ returns for His church. Spiritual inheritance is only then tangible. Until that time it is a blessed hope – apprehended by faith alone. God is so pleased by the faith of His children, acted out in their worldly lives. Several verses later John pens the final verses for our study (John 3:1-3):
See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called the children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
John explains, the full picture of one’s glorified state cannot be realized in this life. But the faith and imagination of a child pleases God. Is must be sufficient now to realize when the rapture of the Body of Christ occurs, a believer will receive a glorified body like that of Jesus Christ, and will see Jesus is the fullness of His deity. This hope should empower a believer to be pure and holy in this life.
In conclusion, at least 3 Apostles seem to be in agreement about apprehending the “blessed hope” in the life of every believer. A believer grasps that hope by faith, and the process enables the seed of righteousness to sprout forth and grow into a living picture of the Creator and Redeemer for all the world to see. This process of sanctification is perfected at the appearing of our Savior, Jesus Christ. A new body, unblemished by the sin of this world, coupled with an eternal inheritance will then be realized in the fullness God has planned for every believer. Oh, what a glorious “blessed hope“ to ponder and fix one’s faith upon!