Getting to Know God Meditations: 29. God of Hope – the theory
Rom 8:24 hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Eph 1:18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,
The Future? As we concluded the previous study we mentioned the future and in a day when the future of this world seems increasingly uncertain, with ever new doomsday scenarios being presented to us, we find the future has a big place in the scriptures, not as a means of escaping the present but as a time (here) of potential blessing, and that going on into a glorious eternity with God where life continues in a dimension that, I suspect, defies our wildest dreams. I feel sorry for atheists who seek to portray their wares, their philosophies, as something good, at times contorting their minds to overcome the picture of gloom that their ‘world by accident’ (“Well of course evolution is purposeful.” Really???) comes up with, and the best that I have read that they can come up with when it comes to after this life, is us being turned into dust that joins the rest of the cosmos. Dust????
The ‘Recent Future’: I think many of us who are Christians tend to take this for granted but we have already considered in small measure the changes that take place when we turn to Christ. Let’s briefly recap them: we are forgiven, cleansed, justified, adopted and empowered. Be quite clear in your mind what each of these mean because they all impact tomorrow! The fact that I am forgiven (1 Jn 1:9) means I do not keep on having to go back over the past with regret. Yes, I got things wrong, yes I lived without the knowledge of God, but that is now all past history and I know differently today. The fact that I am cleansed means the guilt and the shame and even the tainted memories have come under the cleansing hand of Christ, all dealt with on the Cross. He has done it; I am a new creation! (2 Cor 5:17) To be justified means that I have been morally put right in God’s sight; justice has been appeased because One has died for my sins and I have been released from the Court of Heaven to live a new life. The fact that I am adopted means I have been taken into God’s family and remade (Jn 1:12,13) in the family likeness. I am family! The fact is that I am now empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit who came to me and generated fresh life in me in an almost indescribable way when I turned to Christ. All of these truths impact the way I can face today and especially, tomorrow.
The Immediate Future: But how does a believer face tomorrow (literally tomorrow, not the distant future)? What are the things the Bible teaches me that will help tomorrow? They are things that come out of direct teaching lessons that are implied through the way God has interacted with people in the Bible.
- The first thing is that He is there. That is what is behind the whole thesis of these studies. We are not alone in this universe, I am not alone in this universe, God is there.
- Second, He is there for me. Everything about the teaching about Jesus and the salvation he brings, says God is for me. Everything that has happened to me all the years I have known Him tells me He is for me. When I pray, when I read the Bible, those experiences convey this to me – He is here for me!
- Third, He is there with a plan for my life: “The fact is that what we are we owe to the hand of God upon us. We are born afresh in Christ and born to do those good deeds which God planned for us to do.” (Eph 2:10 JBP)
- Fourth, that plan is all about redeeming my life. That simply means He is constantly working to save me from what I once was and from the messes I still manage, sometimes, to get myself into.
- Fifth, that plan means He is there guiding me and leading me into better things.
- Sixth, these things means He is in the process of changing me to be a more loving, more appreciative, more godly, more gracious, and a more Spirit-filled human being.
- Seventh, His grace is there for me every day, the resource of His own Holy Spirit who provides me with everything I need to live a godly and righteous life.
- Eighth, (and we could go on and on), finally let’s say, that grace enables me to overcome all the obstacles and temptations that the enemy would put in my way and enables me to triumph over these things.
Yes, all of these are truth that help me live out tomorrow and the next day here on this earth, and as many days as He allows me to have here. But that makes me add just one more:
- Ninth, and this is the final one, He will keep on working in and through me every single day until I go to be with Him in heaven: “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6)
Hope of Eternity: Now we have entitled this study, the God of Hope, because all we are talking about is what I hope will happen in the time and eternity ahead of this day. Non-Christians use the word hope casually but for Christians it means an assurance of the future. When we say we have hope in Him it means we have total assurance, total confidence in Him for our future. The apostle Paul wrote, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,” (Eph 1:18) and, “faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven,” (Col 1:5) and, “their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— 2 in the hope of eternal life,” (Titus 1:2) and “having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:7) There it is, the hope to which he has called you, the hope stored up in heaven, the hope of eternal life (x2). This is the future after we die and cease our time here, a future with Christ in heaven, a future with no end.
When we are young, death is something distant and almost unreal. The older we get the stronger the reality becomes that death may be just around the corner. When I consider my present age, I realize there are many people who have already died who were much younger than I am now. Death comes when, much of the time, we are not expecting it. But for those of us who know Christ, death and what follows is not something to be feared. At the beginning I referred to the atheist who, in his novels for young people, talks about us ending up as dust in the cosmos. Meaningless! But that is not for you and me. The limited pictures that we are given of the afterlife, suggests an eternity with purpose, an eternity with joy and pleasure and meaning, an eternity with God who we enjoy and who enjoys us. THAT is our destiny. Rest in it, be at peace in it.
And So: The big picture that the Bible conveys is that our time on this earth is not a meaningless blink of time but is a preparation for something to follow that is more glorious. At the risk of making this an over-long study, may I conclude it with something I wrote in a series called ‘Reaching into Redemption’, near the end of that series:
Imagine a cold, rough, harsh street in which you have lived, and in front of you is a great building and you hear a voice calling, inviting you to come in. As you peer in through the open doors you see an interior that is so different to this street outside. You realize you have tolerated this awful street for too long and you long to experience the wonder of what you glimpse inside. Yet you feel unworthy and so simply kneel on the steps, but a voice calls again and bids you enter. In humility you timidly pass through the entrance doors. Inside it is full of light and beauty. A servant comes up and offers you new clothing and you realize all you had worn previously was threadbare, torn and dirty. In a vestibule to the side you are able to change, and you emerge in splendor.
The area inside the entrance doors is enormous and glorious and splendid and there is so much to see. There are so many things to which your attention is drawn, and time passes rapidly as you enjoy and enter in to so much of what is before you. But then the voice comes yet again and invites you to ascend the stairs that lead out of this area, but you hesitate. There is so much here in this room that has become so familiar, there is so much that is good, and you feel there is still so much yet to explore, and so you hesitate. But the voice is persistent, and you know it is a command which you cannot refuse and so you ascend the stairs and pass through the door at the top. Suddenly your breath leaves you because what is before you cannot be described as a room, it is a world, and you gasp at its beauty, and as you glance back through the door behind you, all that you had been experiencing simply looked grey by comparison to the wonder, the color, the brightness before you and, suddenly, you realize that the room below where you had spent so much time, yes, so much more wonderful than the street outside, was but the entrance foyer to this new world.
It is but an illustration, but an accurate one I believe. The street outside was our old life. Entering the doors was our conversion. The time spent in the entrance foyer was simply to start to prepare us for the reality to come. Accurate? But incomplete, for it is but a parable, and parables never tell the whole story. So back to our experience of this ‘entrance foyer’, a place of promises where some are fulfilled and experienced, and some are simply glimpsed at a distance as we gaze up the staircase and catch just a glimmer of what is beyond.
Our past, our present – and our glorious future, if we will but receive it today.