"THAT BLESSED HOPE"
The true child of God is one who looks Backward: and gazes upon the Cross with all its wonders of grace--"the grace of God which bringeth salvation," and the grace of Him "who gave Himself" for us.
He looks Downward: and th sees the rock from whence he was hewn; the hole of the pit whence he was digged; the mire and clay out of which he was taken; and as he looks down realises the power and love of God who has delivered him from the ruin.
He looks Round: and surveys the world which lieth in the power of the wicked one, writhing in its miseries and whirling in its pleasures: and the Church labouring to seek deliverance from it by plans and methods of its own invention.
He looks Upward: and sees the Lord Jesus Christ appearing in the presence of God for him; and he, perfect and complete in that all-perfect One.
He looks Forward, and waits for God's Son from Heaven; and sees in Him the only hope for Israel, for the world, and for the Church of God, and for the groaning creation.
It is Christ and Christ alone who fills this vision. Past deliverances, present mercies, and future blessings all centre in Him. That is why Christ is the sum and the substance of "that blessed hope" (Titus ii. 13).
Ever since the child of God knew the grace of God that brought him salvation, he has been looking for the glory of God to bring him the complete fulfillment of that salvation, and manifest all that is bound up in it.
"That blessed hope" forms part of that salvation which grace brings. It is no supplemental addition, but it forms part of the very foundation on which the Christian stands. It is bound up with the position which God has given him in Christ. It is one of the three fundamental graces with which he is gifted from the very beginning--'Faith, and love, and hope.'
There is no attempt in Scripture to prove the doctrine or fact of Christ's return from heaven. There are no arguments used in order to establish it. The hope is always spoken of and taken for granted as the proper, settled, well-defined possession of the child of God.
The hope is given; and the Spirit of God always refers to it and speaks of it in this way, on all occasions. It is bound up with every Christian duty and every practical precept. It is inseparably associated with every doctrine.
How precious of our God to give His people such a blessed hope.
How happy to know that we are never told or taught to look at death as what we have to wait for; or, at judgment as what we have to look for.
How blessed to know that the one object of our hope is a Person. Not an event; not a change of circumstances not a new condition of things. No! It is only a Person.
And it is that very One who thought of us before the foundation of the world; who visited us in due time; who suffered for us, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God; and to exalt us to the highest place of dignity and glory in union with Himself.
What a blessed hope!
It contains within it everything needed which in present prospect or future possession can make the child of God to be truly blessed. He has all things in this hope.
He is an heir of God; a joint heir with Jesus Christ.
Till the moment of Christ's appearing, it remains a hope; but, then, it will be a possession and enjoyment, and hope will be exchanged for actual possession.
The "things hoped for" cannot be realised till that day. For Christ is their fountain, their source, and their centre; and apart from Him there is no blessedness either now or in the expected future.
All this is why we "wait for God's Son from heaven." The true Christian who understands his position needs no command to "be ready" or to "watch." Such commands are for "servants." We simply "wait" with expectant desire. Our waiting is the spontaneous outcome of the truth as to our standing in Christ. There is no effort in this waiting. If there be effort there must be something wrong. To be real it must be the unconscious action of the new nature. This "waiting" is no condition which we can work ourselves up to; it is no more speculation or curiosity. It is the natural attitude of delivered ones who wait for Him who has delivered them (1 Thess. i. 10).
The first result of this waiting is that it brings Christ into our daily life. This is why it is so blessed and such a blessing. He who has this hope has already "got the blessing" without going anywhere to get it. Ah, and what is of infinitely greater importance--the blessing has got him ! That is where the reality comes in.
In waiting for God's Son from heaven, He necessarily occupies our hearts; He fills our vision. That is why it is called "that blessed hope." And if any ask how is it blessed, we answer:
1. It gives a reality to the future. It places Christ in the centre of the future. He fills it. And as to our own immediate future in this world? Well, He fills that too. All our prospects and hopes find their centre in Him.
2. It gives reality to our life. It does not paralyse Christian service. Those who say that it will do so only show that they know nothing about it. No, it rouses to action and stimulates to effort.
3. It is the source of our comfort. If He be near, then we have little time and less reason to mourn. If He be near, then resurrection is near, and glory is near. That is why we can "comfort one another with these words" which tell of His nearness.
4. It separates us from the world as nothing else can. It does it automatically. We have no need to try and separate ourselves. If this hope fills our hearts it will work the separation itself; and what is more, the world, when it sees this hope in us, will separate itself from us and save us all further trouble in the matter.
5. Hence it is a purifying hope (1 John iii. 3). It is God's own specific for securing holiness of life. And it does it of itself, while we look on and admire the power of that hope which purifies us while we wait. Occupation with a heavenly object makes us heavenly in our character and in our walk.
That is one of the reasons why God has given us this blessed hope In looking for Christ, we must be necessarily be looking to Christ, and be occupied with Him: and it will be true of us as of those to whom it is written, "They looked unto Him and were lightened." All our springs are in Him, all our resources are in Him.
A beautiful illustration of the power of this hope is making us sit more loosely to the things of this world is furnished in the law of the jubilee, Lev. xxv. 8-16.
1. There was liberty proclaimed (v. 10): and we look for true liberty to be proclaimed at His coming. Hence we wait for Him.
2. Possession was given (v. 14): and our possession of the things hoped for will be only at His coming.
3. Reunion was enjoyed (v. 10): and only then shall all who are Christ's be re-united in and with Him.
4. Rest was enjoyed (v. 11). There was no sowing and no reaping. Now is the time for both. But at His coming for us we shall enter into true and eternal rest.
5. True valuation was put upon all earthly possessions (v. 15). According to the number of years from the jubilee, so the value of the land was made higher or lower. If it were near, values went down. If it were distant the values were greater. Even so will it be with us. If we live with "that blessed hope" ever near, the value of all earthly things will be low. And, in proportion to the nearness will be the value set upon them. If we regard the coming of our Lord as in the far distant future, we shall set a high value on earthly things. But if we regard it as near and imminent, then we shall realise the power of "that blessed hope" in diminishing their value, and in making them to be the little things they really are (2 Cor. iv. 17, 18).
Source: THINGS TO COME, A Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. VIII, No. 3, September 1901, pp. 25, 26.