Friday, February 12, 2016

Declare Good Theology: Part 5 – Our Hope His Appearing – Titus 2:13

Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Chris. (ESV)

I’ve been writing about Titus 2:13-15 in reverse order as I looked at all the good theology that is in these verses. Now, I’m back at the beginning. If you look at the theology revealed in these studies, you will begin to see why we have hope, a very blessed hope. Paul says that our hope is in the appearing of Jesus. As at other times, I ask the question of why and what. What exactly is our hope and why is it wrapped up in Jesus’ appearing? With a short perusal of verses about hope, it becomes evident that a book could be written on this one topic just as with other points of good theology. Hopefully this will suffice to help understand hope somewhat better.

Our Hope

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Heb 11:1 NIV). 

In our current English language, hope is usually expressed as a wish, a confident feeling, or a chance that something good is going to happen (Encarta Dictionary). From a Christian perspective, hope is better defined in conjunction with faith. Paul said, “Hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?” (Rom 8:24 NASU) Christian hope eliminates wishful thinking and feelings that come and go. It is based on the sure Word of God. We have not seen or fully experience what we hope in or for, but we have God’s promise that these future events are not just good chances. They are as solid as if they had already happened even though they are in the future. When Jesus appears it will no longer be hope because it will be a reality.

No Disappointment

And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Rom 5:5 NASU)

The result of justification through Jesus Christ is peace (Rom 5:1). Even though we have tribulations and troubles, instead of creating despair and depression, they produce godly character and hope (Rom 5:3-4). Is this hope for a better life in this world? No, it is a hope in eternal life with God. The more troubles we see in the world, the more we know that it will all be rectified when Jesus comes back. The peace that we have with God will be realized not just in our hearts but also in the world. 

Renewed World

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Rom 8:20-21 NKJV)

That rectification of the pain and misery in this world will be accomplished because of God’s firm promise. One aspect of hope that we are waiting to see is the new heaven and earth. Science tells us that everything is slowly decaying, some things faster than others. God tells us that there will be a day in the future that this corruption will end. The new heaven and earth will last for eternity. But this will not happen until our adoption as children of God will be completed. We will experience the incorruptible eternity when our bodies are resurrected or we are changed at Jesus’ appearing (1 Cor 15:53). 

Faith and Love

For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God's people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News. (Col 1:4-5 NLT)

The hope of our salvation produces in us faith and love. Again, faith and hope are intertwined for Christians. This hope is founded on God’s promise of what He has waiting for us in heaven. If we follow Jesus’ teaching to lay up treasures in heaven (Matt 6:19-20) then we will recognize that we will never be able to do that unless we have first responded to the Gospel by faith in Jesus Christ. When we accept the Gospel, we will recognize that just as we must love God, we must love one another (Matt 22:38-39) and thus, we lay up treasure in heaven where God is keeping our salvation save and secure (1 Peter 1:4-5). When Jesus appears, all this will be revealed and He will get the Glory (1 Peter 1:7).

His Appearing

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me! (Job 19:25-27 RSV)

How is it possible that Job, a contemporary of Abraham, could have expressed such a hope in the appearance of his Redeemer as well as his own resurrection? He didn’t have any parts of the Bible for it hadn’t even been started. He may have heard the oral traditions about creation, the flood, and Babel.[1] The only possibility is that God revealed it to him. He had a better knowledge of God than his three friends (Job 42:7). 

When Job spoke these words, he was deathly ill (Job 2:7-9), ostracized by society (Job 30:1), castigated by his friends (Job 4 – 25). What a tremendous statement of faith and hope! Shouldn’t we be more like Job in this respect? We have all the promises of Scripture (2 Cor 1:20) proven by the resurrection of Jesus. When we are faced with insurmountable troubles, whether physical, emotional, or any other, we can meditate on Job’s statement of faith. The worst this world can do to me will not prevent me from seeing Jesus face to face in the flesh on this earth (Rom 8:38-39). It will be a restored, perfect earth, not like we have now (Rev 21:1). We will be standing without the frailties of mortal bodies but with immortal bodies (1 Cor 15:53-54). There will be no more pain or sorrows (Rev 21:4). Our sin nature will be forever gone; we will have no desires to sin and no more temptations (Rev 21:27). Best of all, Jesus will be there in all His glory and we will never be out of His presence (Rev 21:23). 

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:2-3 NASB)

This future hope of our resurrected bodies and eternal life in heaven it sure. However, there is much that has yet to be revealed. We can speculate that being like Him, we may be able to suddenly appear inside a locked room (John 20:19, 26) because we will be living and functioning in the heavenly realm and not just in the physical. We may be able to come and go anywhere we want in an instant (Luke 24:31). We may be able to eat and enjoy physical food (Luke 24:41). 

All of this is interesting to think about, but if we are not purifying ourselves now, then we are violating His intention for us before we receive immortal bodies. John said that everyone who has this hope purifies himself. If this hope is not driving me toward an ever-increasing life of purity, something is dreadfully wrong with my faith.

For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. (Mark 8:38 ESV)

In the same way that a person who is not working on becoming pure should consider why, anyone who doesn’t have the hope of Jesus’ appearing should also question why. This world is full of people who would not say they are ashamed of Jesus or His words but in practice, they are because they don’t believe. They don’t believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). They don’t believe that Jesus really claimed to be God as He did in John 10:27-30 and other verses. They don’t believe that Jesus’ death on the cross paid for their sins (Rom 5:6-10). They don’t believe what Jesus said about the need to repent (Luke 13:3). When they say that Jesus was only a good man, a wise teacher, or a prophet but deny He is God in the flesh, they are in essence ashamed of Him. None of the promises of hope will be available to them when Jesus appears. They may think they will be saved by the sincerity of their belief, in their religiosity, or their personal goodness, but as Jesus told those who were following Him only because He was healing people, “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 8:11-12 NIV).

If you are hesitant about wanting Jesus to return right now, examine yourself to find out why. Is there something in your life that is more important? If so it is an idol and you need to repent. If you simply don’t believe, then you need to repent and believe in Jesus. Turn all the things people don’t believe in the previous paragraph into things you do believe, and you will be saved.

[1] Fausset's Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Job,” (Seattle: Biblesoft, 2006), Electronic Database.

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