Tim Johnson, editor
October 14, 2001
Christian's Blessed Hope"
My family vacationed in the western part of our country several years ago, visiting the Grand Canyon and driving up the California coast. We visited the Sequoia National Park in California and saw the giant sequoia redwood trees. Near the particular tree named the General Sherman tree, there is a "slice," weighing several tons, from a sequoia that died. Sequoias not only grow to be enormous, they live for a very long time. While a tree is alive, its age can only be estimated, but once it dies and is cut crosswise, its age can be more accurately determined. According to the plaque fastened to this monstrous piece of wood, the tree from which the "slice" had been cut was approximately 2,400 years old when it died.
I don't know how long ago that tree died, but let's assume for the sake of ease that it died in 1990. It follows that this particular sequoia sprouted and began growing in approximately the year 410 B.C. As I looked at this tree "slice," I began to think of all the Biblical and secular history it had spanned during its lifetime. The Jews had recently rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem under Nehemiah's leadership when this tree was a seedling. By the time it had attained the average height for a Sequoia redwood (in about 80 years) Alexander the Great had already begun his conquest of the known world. It lived through (although on a different continent) the entire inter-testamental period, the life of Jesus and the period of history covered by the book of Acts. It was thriving in America when Europe was plunged into the dark ages and still growing when Columbus set foot on the new world. It saw the beginning of our country and the struggles which have transpired in the United States. Who can say how many people were born, lived and died while this majestic giant stood quietly in the forest?
Sequoias live so long because they are well protected from the natural enemies of trees. Their root systems make them able to withstand long periods of drought. Their bark is actually fire-resistant, helping them to survive forest fires, and contains a chemical called tannin which repels insects and pests. But, despite all these natural advantages, even sequoias eventually die.
I felt very small and insignificant standing next to these giant trees. And yet, for all their beauty, great size and age, they are not the crown of God's creation. Man is. We are made in the image of God, given a soul which will not die, that is, pass out of existence (Genesis 1:26). God sent His Son to die on the cross, manifesting His great love, not for giant sequoias, but for sinful men. We do not live in this world even as long as the average sequoia, but God has made preparations for our future. Our destiny, however, will be determined by our short stay in this world. Where will your soul spend eternity?
by Allen Dvorak
The apostle Paul described the hope of the Christian as blessed (Titus 2:13). Oh, the bliss and happiness of this hope that delight our souls as we press onward and upward in the service of God! What yearning it stimulates within us all as we anticipate the glory in which we shall be privileged to share over there! This hope becomes even more meaningful to us as we remember that it is a singular and unique hope (Eph. 4:4). Our God does not provide two hopes: it is one.
The Value Of The One Hope
Because the hope offered by Jehovah is one, it has greater value. Its value is also seen in Hebrews 6:19, where the write described it as "both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil." Our hope is sure because it is safe and certain. It is steadfast in that it is firm and well grounded. It is the hope of being in the presence of God, because Christ has gone before us to clear the way, as a scout blazed the trail through the wilderness in the days of our pioneer forefathers. He cleared the way through death and took His own blood as an offering for our sins. The hope of the Christian is truly a valuable hope because it extends to the next life (I Cor. 15:19).
The Basis Of The One Hope
"Christ in us" is the hope of glory, according to Colossians 1:27. Paul affirmed that the Lord Jesus Christ is our hope in I Timothy 1:1. To learn that Christ is the essential basis of our hope and that there can be no hope without Christ, read Ephesians 2:11,12. There, Paul shows that to be without Christ is to be without hope. Apart from Him there can be no basis for expecting the blessings of this great hope.
The Foundation Of The One Hope
Peter praised God because He had begotten believers again unto a living hope "By the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (I Pet. 1:3). You and I were not there to witness the resurrected Christ with Peter and the others, but there is ample credible evidence that Jesus arose from the grave to generate strong faith. That faith is the "substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1).
The Essence Of The One Hope
"For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it" (Rom. 8:24,25). Desire and expectation, the dual elements of hope, are seen in this passage. Desire plants the seed of hope, which is then nourished and sustained to fruition by our expectation of receiving that for which we hope.
The Object Of The One Hope
The faithful Christian hopes for the second coming of Christ. Paul said he looks for (awaits) "that blessed hope, and glorious appearing" of Christ (Titus 2:13).
God's child also desires and expects his own resurrection. He is assured that, should he doe before Christ returns, he will be among those raised at Christ's coming (I Thess. 4:13-17), even before the living are changed and caught up to be with the Lord forever.
Being like Christ is also part of the Christian's hope. He hopes that when he shall appear, he "shall be like Him," for he shall see him as he is. It is not yet manifested what we shall be, but it is enough to believe that we can be like Christ.
The follower of the Lord also hopes for salvation. He has the hope of salvation as his helmet for protection in life's battle (I Thess. 5:8). That salvation for which he hopes is the final deliverance, after passing from this world into the next world. Paul said that it is nearer than when we believed (Rom. 13:11).
That final salvation involves eternal life, another part of the Christian's hope. The faithful child of God lives "in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began" (Titus 1:2).
Eternal life, the ultimate end of all that for which the Christian hopes, has its location in heaven. "We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel" (Col. 1:3-5).
The Advantages And Accomplishments Of The One Hope
"For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by which we draw nigh unto God" (Heb. 7:19). That the hope of the Christian is better than any hope held by the faithful of former ages can be seen in what they present in what they present hope can achieve. It saves (Rom. 8:24,25) in that it motivates to faithfulness. It anchors the soul (Heb. 6:17-20). It promises the life to come (I Tim. 4:8). It causes the Christian to purify his life (I John 3:1-3). It gives him rejoicing (Rom. 12:12) and confidence (Heb. 3:6; Rom. 5:3).
In view of what the Bible says concerning that one hope of the child of the Lord, surely we can have no doubt that it is a blessed hope.
By Bobby L. Graham