Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hope vs. Consolation

by Ken Harvey

God has providentially placed a few recent circumstances in my life to make me consider the reality of death. As many of you know, I’ve experienced the loss of two loved ones this past year. God has also used His Word through recent messages from Nathan Busenitz, Pastor Whitcomb and Upward to help me properly interpret my experiences and to further consider death and hope. While I’ve learned many different lessons, I would like to address one in particular: with all of the death, suffering and persecution in this world–followed by ensuing judgment–our hope should not be set on the things of this world!

What then do I hope for? Do I hope for a cessation from difficulty, tiredness, frustration from sin and disappointment in myself and others? There is nothing Christian about hoping for an end to hardship. Sometimes I want to be merely consoled with the thought of going to heaven. Left at that level, my “hope” is selfishness veiled in Christian lingo.

As wonderful as being in heaven will be, our message of hope is more than consolation. Our true and final hope should not be to leave this world behind while it is still in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19), a world where the mass majority of the people are godless and heading towards hell (Matthew 7:13-14). True hope is believing that the full glory of God will be revealed; true hope is knowing that all sin, pain, suffering and death will be destroyed forever; a true hope is trusting that everyone acknowledge the greatness of God. We are “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

There are plenty of other passages that can guide our thinking on this topic (1 Corinthians 15:19-28; 2 Peter 3:13; Romans 8:17-25; Ephesians 1:16-23). We should long for the triumphal return of Jesus when all of the promises of God will be fulfilled, when His kingdom will be established forever, and when, without the hindrance of sin, we will be able to see His attributes on display. Human history is moving toward a day when Christ will return and set things in order. “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

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