The Blessed Hope
By George C. Needham
Whatever meaning we may put on the prophetic event introduced in the Scriptures as our Lord’s second coming, we must observe that it is frequently specified as a HOPE. Hope implies expectation, the conviction of something unfulfilled, that term alone designates Christ’s Advent as a future thing.
Hope is the opposite of despair. The blessed hope and coming in glory of our Lord Jesus Christ should not be relegated to the regions of mystery. In fifty-three places where hope is referred to in the divine Word, it has special relation to future blessings which are to crown the Christian believer at the appearing of Jesus Christ. A few of these we might examine:
It is a blessed hope. "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). A blessed hope means a happy one. The word refers to inward enjoyment apart from external environment. The expectations implied in such a hope make all present circumstances of trial or depression "not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18).
It is a purifying hope. "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure" (1 John 3:3). The Christians who reckon themselves as
"strangers and pilgrims" here (1 Pet. 2:11) will have little heart to spend their energies on things pertaining merely to the earthly. Their city and their home lie beyond. Their great concern will be to lay up treasures in heaven.
It is a pacifying hope. "Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God" (1 Cor. 4:5). "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and the latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh" (Jas. 5:7-8). In the power of this hope all questions of provocation can be patiently laid aside for the Lord to settle on His arrival. The child of God who is pervaded with this hope will be willing to waive all rights of self-vindication, knowing that his "labor of love, and patience of hope" (1 Thes. 1:3) will not go unrewarded.
It is a comforting hope. "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope." The luster of this hope shines most conspicuously in the consolation it brings to those who are called to part with their loved ones by death. The unbelieving bury their dead without any certain or definite expectation of reunion. For in no human scheme of philosophy is the truth of a resurrection even hinted at. But the Scriptures definitely promise this. "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him." The Apostle Paul, after explaining all this to the Thessalonian Christians, and showing them the immense advantage they had over the heathen who knew nothing about the advent in majesty of Jesus Christ, or of the resurrection, adds finally, "Wherefore comfort one another with these words" (1 Thes. 4:13-14, 18).
It is a glorious hope. "For our [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body…" (Phil. 3:20-21). This hope leaps over time and space to the period when Jesus Christ shall Himself be glorified as King of kings according to the eternal purpose of the Father.
This blessed hope embraces several promised glories:
We shall be with Christ. Not as in death, when we are said to be "unclothed" and "desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven" (2 Cor. 5:2-4). In an actual sense we shall "see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2), and be ourselves like Him, personally and morally.
We shall be beyond sinning. Now we groan for deliverance. Pain and the curse encompass us. The consummation of that hope will bring full redemption to the body.
We shall know as we are known. "Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known" (1 Cor. 13:12).
What Should Be Our Present Attitude?
We ought to be looking for the blessed coming, that is, expecting it with desire! We should be praying for it and thereby seek to hasten it. We should anticipate its consummation by our endeavor of personal faithfulness toward all that it involves. We ought to be loving it!
If we love the seed of Abraham, if we love the burdened brute creation, if we love the Gentile nations who know nothing of a Saviour, we shall joyfully welcome this hope for their sakes also. For it is the hope that shall bring to the Jew his Messiah; to the creature his emancipation from man’s exacting dominion; to mute nature her freedom from thorns and thistles; and to the heathen idolater a knowledge of the true and living God.
To the waiting Bride it will bring the personal presence of the beloved heavenly Bridegroom! And it will bring to the Lord Jesus Christ His Kingdom, Crown and Throne!
– From The Second Coming of Christ, Moody Press.