Our Blessed Hope
I Thess 5:9; Titus 2:13-14; Matt. 24:3-42; Luke 21:5-36; I Thess. 4:13-18
We all live in hope. Without hope people give up living and try to shorten their lives or commit suicide. We Christians also live in hope. It is hope that keeps us going on for God. Without hope, we feel like giving up in the Christian life.
What then is hope? — Hope is the expectation of something desired. According to Vine’s expository dictionary the word “Hope” is favourable and confident expectation. It has to do with the unseen future. Hope is the happy anticipation of good upon ourselves – that God will do to us what He has promised.
I. What is our Blessed Hope?
The word “Blessed” means praiseworthy or characterised by goodness. The Blessed Hope then is something for the highest good. Our Blessed Hope is God’s promise of deliverance to us. This has to do with the “glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” and the rapture of the church. (Titus 2:13).
II. Why do we need hope?
Hope, like light, is best seen in the dark. The Word of God tells us of the darkness of the last days prior to the Return of our Blessed Lord. Whereas the people of the world think the world is getting better and better through the process of evolution, through scientific discoveries, but God’s Word tells us that “Evil men and seducers will wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (II Tim
. 3:13). So, contrary to popular opinion, God’s Word warns us that things will get worse. Why? Because people will get worse. “Perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent (or uncontrollable), fierce, despises of those that are good, traitors, heady (reckless) high-minded (puffed up) lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.” (II Tim. 3:2-5)
Indeed the world may seem scientifically more advanced, but in actuality, men’s hearts are unchanged. In fact, men have become worse. The world far from getting better is actually 2
undergoing devolution in anticipation of the “man of sin who will be revealed the son of perdition.” (II Thess 2:3b)
God’s Word tells us of growing tensions and problems in the world. “Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but (cheer up) the end is not yet.” (Matt 24:6) Even when problems start, the end is not yet. “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places. (But notice!) “All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matt 24:7-8) That means there is more ahead. “Many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound the love of many shall wax cold.” (Matt 24:11, 12)
“There shall be signs in the sun and in the moon, and in the stars: and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity: the sea and the waves roaring. Men’s hearts failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” (Luke 21:25-26).
“The heavens will be on fire and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.” (II Peter 3:12.) Truly God’s Word tells us of the darkness that will be in our world in the last days. The word “perplexity” (Luke 21:25) best describes the situation. Oxford dictionary interprets it as “puzzled” or “tied up in knots”. According to the vine’s expository dictionary the Greek equivalent of “perplexity” is having “no way out”. How said for the world, indeed. How to unravel the problem? But cheer up, for the Christian, there is our Blessed Hope.
III. What this Hope means.
The Lord Jesus will come to deliver us. For “the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations.” (II Pet. 2:9) This verse is used in the context of Lot. Believer though he was, backslider though he was, yet God in His mercy reached out to him. God knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation. What a consolation! God will not allow us to be “tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape.” (I Cor. 10:13)
God knows how to get us out. And the way is UP! In Sunday school, we study on the book of revelation and learned about the GREAT TRIBULATION. About the terrible things that will 3
come upon our Earth with the revelation of the Anti-Christ, without the mark of the Beast, “no man might buy or sell”. (Rev. 13:17) How then can the Christian survive?
Can you imagine our God leaving believers behind to suffer under the Anti-Christ? True, there will be some last minute believers after the Rapture, but will God leave all the believers to suffer? Surely not! For the Bible says, “The Lord knows how to deliver the Godly out of temptation!” (II Pet. 2:9) And in I Thess 5:9 “God bath not appointed us unto wrath” and you know that in the time of Great Tribulation how the wrath of God will be poured out on the Anti-Christ and the rest of the world who have turned their back on God. Will the Lord then allow His children to go through Great Tribulation? Praise the Lord! In I Thess 4:16-17, we read that “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout.…” God could not trust anybody else with that. He is coming personally. When you have an important matter to attend to, you don’t just send your deputy. You go yourself to tackle that problem. And we thank God that “the Lord Himself will come with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. And so shall we ever be with the Lord.” Notice the context of these verses. Paul is writing to the brethren that they sorrow not, even as others that have no hope. In other words, Paul is trying to tell us as believers, we have hope.
And what is that hope? The hope is that Christ Himself will transcend the clouds, and come to catch up His saints… and there we will be, forever with the Lord, and so beloved, just think of the tremendous prospects that await us. Caught up to be forever with the Lord!
This is the Rapture, (a Latin word which means to seize & carry away — Living Webster encyclopaedia) not Rupture! When Christ will come and He will snatch us up. This is our Blessed Hope! to be caught up right into the air to meet the Lord. What a glorious meeting that will be. Can you imagine on that day how believers will fly off from the face of the globe wherever they are to meet the Lord in the air. 4
I don’t know over which country, but the Bible tells us we will meet Him in the air. So the Lord Jesus will be like some super-powerful electromagnet, and He will gather all of us from wherever we are to meet Him in the air, to see the Lord! Many times we see drawings of the Lord and we know it is not He. But now we will see Him face to face to see what He really is like!
What a wonderful moment that will be! We shall meet our departed loved ones again those who were Christians transformed. The Bible says the dead in Christ will rise first. They are ahead of us. So we’ve got to see them. On the way up, we will see them. What happens? The Bible says our bodies will be transformed, What tremendous hope. Why? (I Cor. 15:50) tell us that “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold 1 show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed.” That’s what is going to happen to us. Paul goes on to tell us: “This corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal (body) must put on immortality.” (I Cor. 15:50-53) Our bodies are going to be changed, transformed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. This body of flesh and bones cannot take off into space without aid. But praise God, when we are transformed into a super-glorious body like our blessed Lord, after His resurrection, we will be able to take off just like that. Won’t that be something? Whereas people study aerodynamics and try to make bodies of planes – our Lord will simply draw us to Himself – just like that!
In I. John 3:2 the Bible tells us, when we see the Lord, we shall be like Him. It does not mean that we are all going to look like the Lord Jesus Christ, but I believe all of us are going to have a body similar to His – in that it is a glorified body. Our bodies will be delivered from the bondage of corruption. (Romons 8:21). Paul exhorts and encourages the believers reminding them that whilst in this body, we groan while awaiting deliverance. Just think of the day when we will be delivered from our body. Right now it is through death, but at the Glorious Coming of Jesus Christ, we don’t have to go through death. We will just be transformed like Enoch, in the Old Testament. No more aches and pain, no more physical defects. No need for spectacles, pills pads, crutches, and braces. No more limitations due to time and space. We shall have glorified bodies like our Lord. Imagine flying upwards like the birds, in fact, overtaking the birds, going faster than the planes and beyond where rocket ships go. 5
Can you imagine what will happen on earth? Families will find loved ones mysteriously gone! I am not sure if there will be holes in the ceilings. Most likely not – because of spiritual bodies. Can you imagine a husband with his believing wife gone? Or a wife finding her believing husband gone? Parents with believing children gone! And children who are hard hearted finding believing parents gone. Can you imagine planes without pilots, ships without captains, trains without drivers? Cars, and buses where riders and passengers have disappeared – right before the eyes of the others – because they were Christians. This will be the greatest disappearing trick!
IV. What’s next?
We shall go with Christ to heaven. There, we will undergo the judgement Seat of Christ where believers will be examined for their works and rewarded accordingly. (Rom. 14:10-12). Thereafter our Lord Jesus Christ will be joined to the Church as a Bridegroom coming for His Bride. (Rev. 19:7-10). Christ will then come to earth again with His saints to fight the Battle of Armageddon. (Jude 14; Rev. 19:14)
Beloved, what tremendous prospects indeed! To be caught up with our Lord Jesus Christ. And when will this be? There are 3 main views on this. There are those who believe that the Lord Jesus will come for His Church before the Tribulation. (Pre-tribulation) Some believe Christ will come in the middle of the Tribulation period (mid-tribulation), and some believe Christ will come after the Tribulation (post-tribulation). In our Bible Study, we learned that we believe the Lord will come to deliver His children before trouble starts.
For our Lord to come after the Tribulation is like somebody who is very, very sick and calls for the doctor. But the doctor drags his feet, delays and by the time the doctor arrives, the patient has recovered. What sort of a doctor is that? Too late and no thanks! Can you imagine our Lord coming after all the trouble is over? Dearly beloved, what sort of a blessed hope is that! If you know you have to go through terrific tribulation, through Anti-Christ, before Christ comes, I think we will ask the Lord, “why are you so slow?” Besides the Lord has to come with His saints to fight at the Battle of Armageddon. This Battle is after the Tribulation. And for the 6
Lord to return with His saints to fight at Armageddon presupposes the saints got up before this return. If we believe that Christ comes right after tribulation to take us up and then immediately return with us to earth to fight at the Battle of Armageddon. This view of post-tribulation reminds me of riding in an elevator to the 25th floor. It stopped and the doors opened. But before anyone could get out, it descended again. What unglorious prospects! Besides, where will you place the judgement Seat of Christ and the Marriage of the Lamb?
Now the Second View: those who believe in the mid-tribulation Rapture. The mid tribulationist rapture theory suggests that Christ will come in the middle of the “week” to deliver His saints. Christ will let His saints suffer a little bit. Then they will cry for help and Christ will come. This view is weak because we can then date Christ’s Return when the man of sin is revealed at the beginning of the “week” Whereas God’s Word says: “Of that day and hour knoweth no man” (Matt. 24:36) God bath not appointed us to wrath. God knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation. What kind of a hope is it – if we have to go through the prospect of suffering first?
This morning, If you are an unbeliever, it is best to get right with God and trust Christ. I really believe all that the Bible says about Christ’s Return will come to pass. Some 30 prophecies about Christ’s first coming were fulfilled. What reason has I to doubt the Second Coming? In fact, there are 8 times as much scripture about the Second Coming than the First Advent. May I urge you to believe right away, confess your sins to God. Give up your sinful ways and turn to God for mercy. Tell God you believe Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for your sin and receive Him right away into your life as Saviour and Lord.
If you are a believer, God’s Word says, “Every man that hath this hope in Him, purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” (I John 3:3) Let us as true believers not forsake the “assembling of ourselves together” (Heb. 10:25), “Be alert” (I Thess. 5:2),”Live worthy of God” (I Thess. 5:5,8, “Comfort one another” (I Thess. 5:11), “Edify one another” (I Thess. 5:11), “Provoke one another to good works” (Heb. 10:24), “Forsake sin” (Heb. 10:26), “Steadfast and unmoveable in Christ’s Service” (I Cor. 15:58), “Be patient” (James 5:7), “Repent of backsliding” (I John 2:28) 7
“Suffer for Christ’s sake, where necessary” (II Tim 2:12). You will be glorified and you will reign with Christ.
How do you want Christ to find you when He comes? Won’t it be good if you were preaching a sermon, or giving out a tract, or at Prayer Meeting, or in some spiritual activity for our Lord. But how sad it would be if you are found in the wrong place amongst the ungodly when Christ comes! Are you truly looking forward to our Blessed Hope? Do you long to see Christ face to face? And to meet with loved ones in the Lord again? Are you ready to be delivered from this vile and sinful world? That is our Blessed Hope. Aren’t you excited about it?
Preached: 18 August 2013