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4. Our Hope is the personal Return of our Redeemer.
“Jesus Christ our hope” (1 Tim. 1:1). Jesus Christ is the believer’s “all in all” (Col. 3:11). He is “our peace” (Eph. 2:14). He is “our life” (Col. 3:14). He is “made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). And, we repeat, He is “our Hope.” But hope always looks forward. Hope has to do with the future. “We are saved in 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). This means that what we hope for is that which we do not yet posses. 33 In Scripture, “hope” is something more than desire or longing: it is a joyous expectation, a definite assurance. Faith is that which lays hold of God’s promises; hope is that spiritual grace which sustains the heart until the promise is “received.” As another has said, “Man was not made for the present, and the present was not intended to satisfy man. ** It is for the future, not the present, that man exists” (W. Trotter).
The Hope of the believer is clearly set forth in Titus 2:13—“Looking for that blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (R. V.). Our Hope is the personal Return of Christ when He shall come back again to receive us unto Himself. Our Hope is to be taken out of this scene of sin and suffering and sorrow to be where Christ is(John 14:1–3). Our Hope is to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and be for ever “with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16, 17). Our Hope is to be “made like” Him, and this hope will be realized when “we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). This is the “one hope” of our calling” (Eph. 4:4). This is the only Hope for everything else has failed.
The hope of Philosophy has failed. Philosophy was the beau-ideal of the ancients. When Greece and Rome were the leading nations of the earth, the goal of every ambitious young man’s desire was to become a philosopher. Philosophers were respected and honored by all. Philosophy set out to solve the “riddle of the universe” and to explain the rationale of all creation. It was expected that philosophy would find a solution to every problem and devise a remedy for every ill. But what were its fruits? “The world by wisdom knew not God” (1 Cor. 1:21). When the apostle Paul came to Athens—one of the principal centers of philosophic culture—he found an altar erected to “The Unknown God” (Acts 17:23). The only place the word “philosophy” is found in the Scriptures is in Col. 2:8, where we read “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Philosophy proved a willo’-the-wisp. Never was philosophy so thoroughly systematized and so ably expounded as it was in the days of Socrates, and never was society more corrupt. The ruins of ancient Greece bear witness to the failure and inadequacy of philosophy.
The hope of Legislation has failed. It was the dream of the celebrated Plato that he could establish an ideal Republic by compiling and enforcing a perfect code of laws. But a perfect Code of Law was compiled a thousand years before Plato was born. God Himself gave to Israel a Code of Law on Mount Sinai—with what results? No sooner was that Law given than it was broken. The children of Israel declared, “All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient” (Ex. 24:7), but their words were an empty boast. The truth is that imperfect creatures cannot keep a perfect law, nor can imperfect men be induced to administer and enforce it. There is not a land in all the world where all the statutes of the State, or nearly all, are rigidly enforced. What then is the use of electing worthy and able legislators and for them to enact righteous laws if their successors refuse to enforce them? The present universal failure to do this testifies to the impotency of Law while it is left in human hands.
The hope of human Government has failed. The Roman Empire experimented for many centuries and tried no less than seven different forms of government, but each in turn failed to accomplish the desired effects, and the last state of that Empire was worse than the first. Everything from absolute monarchy to absolute Socialism has already been weighed in the balances and found wanting. Revolting at tyrannical yokes imposed upon their subjects by the European rulers, our forefathers in this country sought to establish a free Republic, a democratic form of government, a government managed by the people and for the people. What have been its fruits? Are economic conditions in the United States better than those in England or Italy? Are relations between Capital and Labour more amicable and satisfactory? Is there less political corruption in high places, and fairer representation of the oppressed? Is there more contentment and satisfaction among the masses? We fear not. When we witness the methods employed in the average political campaign, when we read through the reports of the police courts, when we behold the strikes and lock-outs in every part of the country, when we peer beneath the surface and gaze upon the moral state of the masses, and when we hear the angry cries of the poor laborer and his half-starved family, we discover that the only hope for America as well as Europe is that our Lord shall come back again and take the government upon His shoulder.
The hope of Civilization has failed. How much all of us have heard of “the march and progress of Civilization” during the past two generations! What an Utopia it was going to create! The masses were to be educated and reformed, injustices were to cease, war was to be abolished, and all mankind welded into one great Brotherhood living together in peace and good will. Civilization was to be the agency for ushering in the long-looked-for Millennium. Any one who dared to challenge the claims made on behalf of the enlightenment of our twentieth century, or called into question the transformation which the upward march of Civilization was supposed to be effecting, was regarded as an “old fogey” who was not abreast of the times, or, as a “pessimist” whose vision was blinded by prejudice. Was not “Evolution” an established fact of science and did not the fundamental principle of Evolution—progress and advancement from the lower to the higher—apply to nations and the human race as a whole, if so, we should soon discover that we had outgrown all the barbarities of the past. War was now no longer to be thought of, for those cultured nations within the magic pale of civilization would henceforth settle their differences amicably by means of arbitration. It was true that the great Powers continued building enormous armies and navies, but these, we were told, would merely be used to enforce Peace. But oh! what a madman’s dream it has all proven. The Hope of Civilization, like every other hope which has not been founded upon the sure and certain Word of God, has also proved to be nothing more than an entrancing mirage, a tragic delusion. The great World War, with all its unmentionable horrors, its inhumanities, its barbaric ruthlessness, has rudely wakened a lethargic humanity to the utter insufficiency of all merely human expediencies, and has demonstrated as clearly as anything has ever been demonstrated that “Civilization” is nothing more than a high-sounding but empty title.
We repeat again, the ONLY hope of the Church is the personal Return of the Redeemer to remove His people from these scenes of misery and bloodshed to be forever with Himself; and the ONLY hope for this poor sin-cursed and Satan-dominated world is the Second Advent of the Son of Man to rule and reign over the earth in righteousness and peace. This is the world’s LAST hope, for every other hope has failed it! We turn now to consider—
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