The Christian’s Hope

KEY VERSE: “So shall we ever be with the LORD. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” —I Thessalonians 4:17,18

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: I Thessalonians 1:1-3; 4:9-18

WRITING to the church at Collossae the Apostle Paul spoke of “the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the Word of the truth of the Gospel.” (Col. 1:5) Just what is this hope that so beckons to the Christian—that so motivates, encourages, fires with determination, and urges him to press on in the narrow way, in spite of trials, difficulties, suffering, and even death?

The apostle describes it as a “heavenly calling,” and “the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” and says it will result in a wonderful prize to all who successfully run the Christian course. (Heb. 3:1; Phil. 3:14) One element of this prize, the Apostle John informs us, is eternal life: “This is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.” (I John 2:25) Indeed, this was envisioned by the Creator from the very beginning, for Paul describes it as the “hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.”—Titus 1:2

But the eternal life that this hope holds forth as a prize to its aspirants is of a special kind; it is life on the very highest plane of existence—divine, immortal life, such as possessed only by the great Creator himself and now, since his resurrection, by our Lord Jesus. Although it has always been a part of the Creator’s plans and purposes, knowledge of it has come to light only since our Savior died upon the cross. And it is offered only to the few—his faithful, footstep followers. Paul states it this way: “Be thou partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel, according to the power of God; who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling … according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.”—II Tim. 1:8-10

The Apostle Peter confirms this statement by Paul, saying that there “are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.” (II Pet. 1:4) Since there is no higher form of life in the entire universe than the immortal, Jesus himself describes it as the very crown of life: “Be thou faithful till death, and I will give to thee the crown of life.”—Rev. 2:10, Diaglott

This crown of life is the supreme prize that is awarded by Jesus to his faithful followers of this Gospel Age. Paul wrote, “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. 4:8

A crown is a symbol of rulership; and, indeed, the Lord’s faithful followers of this age will be kings and priests in the heavenly phase of Christ’s coming kingdom. Jesus said, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. … They shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”—Rev. 3:21; 20:6

The purpose of this rulership in the millennial kingdom is altogether beneficent. In that thousand-year day of “restitution” (Acts 3:19-21), “the Spirit and the bride [shall] say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev. 22:17) As the long-promised seed of Abraham, Jesus and his glorified church will bless all the willing and obedient of the resurrected world of mankind with perfect, everlasting, happy life on a restored planet Earth of surpassing glory, beauty, and universal joy!—Gal. 3:16,26,29

This is the hope that resulted in faithful Stephen’s death by stoning. It is the hope that sent the Apostle Paul on long, arduous missionary journeys, and finally imprisonment and death in Rome. It is the hope that led to Peter’s imprisonment and later his martyrdom. And today, it the end of the age, it still inspires and encourages and strengthens the footstep followers of Jesus to continue on in the narrow way!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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