- Published: 12 December 2010
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Among unthinking fundamentalists of today there is the idea that the hope of all believers of all times is the second coming of Christ. This is only partially true. There are great multitudes who have a hope that is not connected with the second coming.
The first real intimation of this is in Job 14. There a time is given for a hope to be realized. It is when the heavens shall be no more (or, become un-sewn, unstitched). This immediately takes us back to the Revelation, chapter 20, and the scene of the great white throne. We also run into the same thing when we read of the dying malefactor and the promise of paradise. Evidently there will be myriads who will be raised at least a thousand years after the second coming, and they will pass on into the new earth. They will not ascend into the heavens, neither will they have access to the New Jerusalem. Nevertheless, they have a hope, but it is not connected directly with the second coming of Christ.
Then in the special ministry of Paul to us Gentiles (after Acts) we find another hope and the time of that hope. It is when Christ is manifested, not on the earth, but in the heavens to principalities and powers. It is the place where the unique spiritual blessings will be enjoyed by those of the dispensation of the mystery. There is every reason to believe that this is before the second coming.
There may be some connection in that Christ is manifested in the heavens first and there crowned, later to be manifested to the earth dwellers with many diadems, as King of kings and Lord of Lords. It is also true that the hope of the ones who go on into the new earth is distantly connected with the second coming in that it occurs after the thousand years has been completed and all enemies put down.
Of course the hope of all these is Christ manifest in all His glory. This can only come after resurrection, for the natural man could never survive such a sight. The risen and ascended Christ will be the object of adoration of all peoples that belong to Him, regardless of what family or dispensation they may be a part.
Outside of Christ there is no hope, no life, no resurrection, no prize, no crown...nor anything good that we could mention. The one object of the believer is to see Christ and be like Him. The greatest need of the Christian is to know Him.
At the time God tabernacled on earth in flesh and among men, Israel did not know the time of her visitation and millions of them then living did not believe on Him. They did not have, nor will they have, a part in the kingdom with Him. Even the religious leaders of the times were to find themselves cast out and sinners and publicans entering in.
Today very few Gentiles know the time of their visitation, that the salvation of God has been sent to them. And millions of Christians will not enter into the blessings of the church. There is a parallel. If we could only get people to see it!
There is a blessed hope. It can be entered upon by simply believing what God has said. The only hindrance: the world, the flesh, and the devil.
For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. This passage has puzzled many in the past. Was Paul unsaved? Paul is rejoicing that Christ is preached, even tho in contention. And he also knows that all this coupled with their prayers will secure his release from bonds. That is his salvation. But he does not stop here, but adds that Jesus Christ has a definite part in it, too. And all this, he is pretty sure will work out in his release. Note how different this is from his attitude in 2 Timothy where he says that the time of his departure is at hand. Note that Paul believed in prayer, and how many times he speaks of it. The great power of prayer is not known today as it should be. And sometimes we underrate the supply of the Spirit of Christ.
According to my earnest expectation and my hope, According often has the shade of meaning expressed by our words in harmony with. Note this usage in the first chapter of Ephesians. Using this expression enriches the meaning of the passages. And remember that Paul's hope was to be manifested with Christ in glory (Colossians 3:4). And that can be our expectation and hope.
That in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. Look in your concordance and note the number of times Paul uses this word ashamed. Paul was a workman that needed not to be ashamed (2 Timothy 2:15). Paul was not ashamed of his chain. In fact, with the guard and the chain, he was enabled to speak boldly, for he had the protection of the Roman empire. Wonder what his Jewish enemies thought of that! Paul had had a long service for the Lord. Many heard him. So then, if he died in prison, it would be as a martyr and Christ magnified. If he lived and was released from Prison, still the Lord would be magnified. Paul was confident of this.
For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. He is repeating the idea above. If he continues to live, it will magnify Christ. If he dies, it still will magnify Christ, that is, be gain.
But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor: yet what I shall choose I wot not. He feels that if he were to live in the flesh, it would be the result or fruit of his labor. Note the word wot. He is not declaring or telling them what he would really choose, life or death. He did have a desire to die and be with the Lord. Then note how he decides which is the better.
For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and be with Christ; which is far better: For him and his desires, it would be far better for him to depart (die) and be with Christ. Notice departure in 2 Timothy 4:6. Especially note the great love Paul had for the saints at Philippi. He loved them, and said so.
In Ephesians 1:18 Paul is praying that ye may know what is the hope of His calling. Naturally our question will be, What is the hope of His calling?
We are prepared by the will of the Father (1:4), the work of the Son (1:7), and the witness of the Spirit (1:13). These form a basis for the prayer, At the beginning of the prayer, Paul asks that the recipients be readied by 3 gifts; the spirit of wisdom, revelation, and enlightened eyes,
The 3 main parts of the prayer are that we may know; what is the hope of His calling, what the riches of the glory of His inheritance, and what the greatness of His power. These all give us a setting for our subject: What is the Hope of His calling?
There was a time when Gentile believers attending the Synagogue had no hope (2:12). What hope there was belonged to Israel. After Acts 10 the Gentiles could by faith through grace share in the hope of Israel. But actually the Gentile believer of that time was without hope,
Even in Acts 28 Paul was in bonds for the hope of Israel, even after he had been preaching to Gentiles for many years. That was Paul's hope.
So there was a time or season when Gentiles were without hope. 'But now' in 2:13 marks the change, and the Gentile believers have had a hope ever since.
But this is God's hope in our text. So what was it? We find calling and hope linked together in 4:4. There must be a close relationship. Colossians 1:27, 'Christ among you (Gentiles) the hope of glory,' shows that ultimately Christ is the hope. And where our hope is marks the place where our calling is. We are called to be in heavenly places where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. We also note in 2 Timothy 1:9 that our calling is a holy calling and is connected with a purpose that goes back before age times. Our choice was also made before age times, before the overthrow (1:4).
Israel had a calling and a hope. But they were connected with a land and a people here on the earth awaiting the coming King of glory. That was when salvation was of the Jews,
But now, after Acts 28:28, salvation is of the Gentiles and there is a new hope and calling. So we dare not confuse the two. We can preach Christ today without any reference to Israel or Israel's covenants, We can preach Christ today without any reference to the earth and the kingdom that is coming.
This hope of His calling was a part of the secret, or mystery, that was hid in God from ages and generations. But it is NOW made manifest to the saints. These saints are members of one body. This secret, the dispensation of the mystery, completed the Word of God. It is the last word.
Our hope? When Christ who is our life is made manifest, then shall we also be made manifest with Him in glory. His calling and our calling have placed us far above all principality and power,
The hope of His calling has such a high spiritual level that there is little historical detail as to how, when, and where it will be completed.
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Notice the apposition here. The great God is the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, God manifest in flesh (1Timothy 3:16).
And where will this appearing be? It will be in glory, Colossians 3:4, When Christ, Who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory. So in glory answers the question, Where? Again we find that Christ, God manifest in flesh, was received up into glory (1 Timothy 3:16). With these witnesses it is no problem to find the place or location of the hope. It is in glory.
But where is glory? That question is also settled for us. Five times we find it mentioned in Ephesians. In the Greek it is en lois epouraniois, and is translated 4 times as In heavenly places and once as in high places.
Before Acts 28:28 this hope and place is never mentioned by such terms. It is mentioned in Hebrews as holiest or holy of holies. The first occurrence in the Bible is in Deuteronomy 10:14 as The heaven of heavens. It was known by the ancients, but no mention of anybody or being in that place except God Himself.
And this place is the hope of the church which is the body of Christ. That hope is so real and so certain that we are said to be, quickened together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. There is where our homeland or commonwealth (citizenship) is (Philippians 3: 20). So we can feel that we are strangers and pilgrims in this world. Our home is not here.
Our life is hid with Christ in God until that day of manifestation when we shall be manifested with Him in glory. And it is now further revealed that there are powers in that place. They are specified as principalities, powers, mights and dominions. And these are made one with the church and Christ head over both making them one family of God. See Ephesians 1:9,10.
However, at the present time, the church is making known the manifold wisdom of God to these powers in the heavenly places. Ephesians 3:10.
Note that none of the foregoing mentions of the hope have anything to do with the personal presence of the Lord on earth, His coming in clouds, and His kingdom on earth. All this was the hope of Israel, God's earth people. And this includes the new earth and the New Jerusalem, which will be on the new earth.
In view of this great hope, we should walk worthy of Christ, worthy of this great calling. And something else, and of great importance, is the fact that there can be rewards, prizes, and crowns for those who are faithful. These are for works, that is, allowing Christ to work out His work today in and thru us. The secret of joy and peace is Christ living in us. If we endure (suffer) we shall reign with Him.