The Christian Hope

KEY VERSE: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” —I Peter 1:3

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: I Peter 1:3-9, 13-21

BY NATURE, we desire the good things of the earth, just as does all mankind; but as followers of Jesus we are admonished to set our “affection on things above … where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God.” (Col. 3:1-4) So we might do this, the Lord has given us many precious and revealing promises pertaining to heavenly joys which serve to awaken in us a desire for them.

The natural, fleshly mind has no desire for heavenly things. This was true of the disciples prior to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. They heard Jesus say to the young ruler that if he would sell all that he had, and give to the poor, and become his follower, he would have “treasure in heaven.” Peter, suggesting to Jesus that insofar as possible they had complied with these conditions, asked him, “What shall we have therefore?”—Matt. 19:21,27

Since the disciples expected Jesus to establish a powerful government in which they would have a share, they did not understand what he meant by “treasure in heaven.” One of those treasures will, of course, be the honor of joint-heirship with Jesus in the heavenly phase of the messianic kingdom, but the disciples did not realize this at that time, so Jesus’ reference to heavenly treasure doubtless seemed vague to them.

Jesus realized the inability of his disciples to understand spiritual or heavenly things, and to set their affections upon them. It was much the same with Nicodemus, to whom the Master said, “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?”—John 3:12

Nevertheless, Jesus did lay the foundation for a later understanding of spiritual things when the Holy Spirit would come upon his disciples. On the eve of his crucifixion, Jesus said to Peter, “Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.” Peter had no idea of Jesus’ meaning, as his question indicates—“Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.”—John 13:36,37

Jesus then explained where he was going, and indicated when the disciples would have the privilege of going to the same place and being with him. He said to them, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.”—John 14:1-3

To this Jesus added, “Whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” But Thomas disagreed, saying, “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (vss. 4,5) No, the disciples at that time were incapable of understanding the heavenly promises Jesus made to them. But how different it was after they received the Holy Spirit! Then Peter wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you [margin, or, for us], who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”—I Pet. 1:3-5

Throughout the age the patient waiting for the Lord’s return has tested the faith of all the Lord’s true people. Paul wrote, “Yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” (Heb. 10:37) Actually, that ‘little while’ turned out to be more than eighteen hundred years.

In his letter to the brethren at Thessalonica, Paul speaks of the “patience of hope.” We quote, “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.” (I Thess. 1:3) Faith works, and love labors, if supported by a patient and rejoicing hope. If, through impatience, our hope fades, we will lose our zeal for the service of the Lord.

May we continue to set our affections on things above, and with full faith in God’s promises, continue to rejoice in hope.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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