“The Hope of the Glory of God”     Romans 4:25-5:5      

Easter March 23, 2008

 

SCRIPTURE INTRO:  In this election year, HOPE has been a big theme of one of the candidates.  But political hope, whether it is the liberal or the conservative variety always disappoints.  It’s based on the promises of fallible men.

 

This passage speaks of a greater hope called the hope of the glory of God.

   This is a hope that is based on the promises of God

   and on the great historical event that Christians all around the world celebrate

   this morning—the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

 


INTRO:  One of the dramatic episodes of WWI was known as

the story of the Lost Battalion.  600 American soldiers lost in the Argonne Forrest,

   stuck in a ravine, surrounded by German forces, constantly under fire

   from machine guns, snipers, and mortar shells.

They were out of food, ammunition, and 2/3 of the men had suffered casualties.

 

The officer in command realized that no one knew where they were,

   and if they didn’t make contact with the army command,

   would be wiped out or captured.

So several times he sent platoons to try to break out of the surrounding Germans.

   And every time all the men were killed or driven back.

 

Finally, one night he asked for volunteers to try to slip past the Germans at night.

   Three men volunteered, and when it was dark they set out.

   All the other men were listening—knew this was their last chance.

Then they heard machine gun fire—short time later, two men came back.

   There is no way out—we made it back the other man was killed.

   Despair descended on the Lost Battalion.

 

But what they didn’t know was that the third man wasn’t killed, knocked out.

   When he came to, was able to slip through—back to American lines.

While the relief effort was being organized, this man went back.

   Crept back through enemy line, back into the ravine, back to his battalion.

   They were amazed to see him, thought he was dead.

And then he told them the most wonderful news—help is on the way.

 

Now, I want you to imagine being there, with that Lost Battalion at that moment.

Nothing had changed.  They were still surrounded.  Still being shelled and killed.

   Still without ammunition and food.  Still in danger of being wiped out.

   And yet everything had changed—because they had hope.

Not just a fond wish—O I hope one day to make it back to America alive.

   But a certain hope—Relief is on the way.  We are not forgotten.

   And it was that hope that enabled them to hold on until the end.

 

Without hope people grow weary and die.

   With hope people press on and live.

Let’s take this story of hope and use it to introduce a bigger spiritual picture.

The Bible says that because of sin the human race is

   without hope and without God in the world.” 

Without Jesus Christ the future for every person is dark and hopeless.

All there is to look forward to is a slowly decaying body, death,

   what the Bible calls “the second death” eternity without any hope

   of God’s love and mercy.

 

All people know this hopelessness, consciously or sub-consciously.

   Generally deal with it in one of two ways.

Try fill life with plans, with excitement, with stuff, filling life with activity

   so that they never have to face the truth that their life has no future but the grave.

Or they look for ways to deaden themselves to the weariness of life.

 

If that were the whole story, we would be truly hopeless.

   But it is not the whole story.

Jesus Christ died and rose again to give you hope.

   Not just a generic hope to cheer you up a little bit.  I hope things ok.

 

Instead, he gives you something Paul calls “the hope of the glory of God.” 

   Other New Testament writers describe it in different ways

   a living hope”  1 Peter

   this hope, an anchor for the soul”  Hebrews 6

   the blessed hope”  Titus 2

   hope that is stored up for you in heaven”  Colossians. 1

 

All of these piling up of descriptions of this hope essentially mean the same thing.

Through Jesus Christ you can know for certain that God has plans for your future.

   Wonderful plans.

Even the Bible cannot tell us everything God has planned. 

   It only gives us the outlines and lots of hints that it is something wonderful.

 

If you know Jesus Christ personally, trusting Him,

   you are no longer “without hope and without God in the world.”

   You have a future, you have the hope of glory. 

   That is a fact about you that cannot be changed.

This also means that experientially you have a defense

   against all the weariness and despondency and discouragement that threatens you.

 

Two points: 

   What does the Bible teach about the hope of glory?

   How does the hope of glory help you in this life?


MP#1  What does the Bible teach about the hope of glory?

You need to understand what this hope is so that it means something to you.

   As we have seen, the Bible speaks of this hope many times—

   especially in the New Testament but also in the Old.

What is it?  Is it just the promise that you will go to heaven when you die?

   It is that, but it is much more than that.

   It is the fulfillment of the salvation you have in Christ.

 

When the Bible speaks of salvation, it does so in the past, present, and future tense.

   We’ve studied this before—it’s so important.

 

1.  There is a past tense of salvation

If you ask a Christian:  Are you saved? 

   It would be completely accurate for him to say: 

   “Yes, I was saved when I was 9 years old.  Parents read Bible to me.”

   “Yes, I was saved when I was 18, friend invited to church, heard Gospel.”

 

What does that mean when a Christian says:  I’ve been saved.

   It means that he has been delivered from the guilt and penalty of sin.

   It happened once in the past.  At the time of faith and conversion.

God declared you forgiven.  He declared you right through Christ.  It happened.

 

2.  There is a present tense of salvation.

If you ask a Christian:  Are you saved? 

   He could say—I am being saved. 

Philippians 2 says:  “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”

 

Now, we have to be careful with this language, can lead to misunderstanding.

   There have been branches of the church that have taught that you slowly

   earn your salvation over your lifetime by being good—that’s not right.

Remember, you have been saved.  Justification has happened and can’t be reversed.

 

Present tense of salvation means you are being delivered from the pollution of sin

   and it’s power over you.  Being made more and more like Christ.

   This is what the Bible calls sanctification.

It’s like walking through a house that has had a fire, and the fire is out—

   but there is a big mess to clean up.  Lots of carpet to rip up, lots of repairs.

The fire of guilt is out—you’ve been forgiven, but life is still a mess.

   Present tense salvation is making you a better person.

3.  And then there is a future tense of salvation.

If you ask a Christian:  Are you saved? 

   It would be completely accurate for him to say:  I will be saved.

   Romans 13  our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”

Every day salvation getting closer.

 

And what is this salvation?  It’s deliverance from the very presence of sin.

As long as live in this life, this world, sin is unavoidable.

   It’s in us and around us.  We feel and see effects in world in minds and bodies.

   It affects us as individuals, our relationships, human society, and the creation.

 

But a day will come when we will be saved from the presence of sin.

   It will be completely eradicated and you will become a glorious person,

   perfectly reflecting image of God in your unique way.

On that day you will really become the person you were created to be.

   This is the hope of glory, future tense of your salvation.  I will be saved.

   Bible calls it glorification.

 

Now, let’s focus on this doctrine of glorification.  This is what Easter all about.

   This is why Jesus rose, so that we could have this life

 

What happens when a believer dies?  His soul goes to heaven to be with Christ. 

   It is very comforting to know that when believing loved ones die,

   when we die we will be with the Lord.  “To be absent from the body . . .”

What happens to our bodies?  We are buried.

 

Even though our bodies decay and turn to dust—

   Christians from New Testament times onward have said that our bodies are

   sleeping, that we are resting in the grave. 

We talk about laying a person to rest in the grave.

   Is that because Christians are uncomfortable with death—

   don’t want to talk about burial and decay. 

No—it comes from our belief in the doctrine of glorification.

 

When we talk about a Christian resting in the grave it means that we

   believe there is something much better than heaven.

In fact, it’s so much better that believers who are in heaven right now,

   are longing for it.  They are saying, How long, O Lord?

 

And what is that great thing that is even better than heaven? 

   It’s our final glorification, which will happen on the last day, resurrection.

   Glorification is the ultimate and final deliverance not only from the presence

   of sin but from all its consequences.

 

You might say:  But isn’t heaven perfect? 

   There is no sin there.  Souls of believers are happy there.

But there is a sense in which heaven right now is not perfect.

   This is the reason: 

Death is a consequence of sin.

   Dying and going to heaven does not deliver you from death.

   Your body is still here on earth turning to dust in the grave.

 

The final consequence of sin has yet to be destroyed.

   Reason Bible calls death “the last enemy” will be “swallowed up in victory.”

That glorious victory will occur on the last day of this old world’s history

   The bodies of believers will be raised immortal, incorruptable

   and as complete persons, body and soul, they will be transformed

   into the glorious likeness of Jesus Christ.

   “We will bear the likeness of the man from heaven.”

We will be so glorious and shining with power and beauty that Bible says

   believers will be “co-heirs” with Jesus Christ and will reign with Him.

 

What will we reign over?

   As a result of our glorification, all creation will be made new.

   new heaven and a new earth—all the beauty and potential restored

Most beautiful tree, mountain, stream ever seen

   just a shadow of the beauty of the new earth.

   Bible just gives us hints and rumors of this place.

 

Finally, Jesus Christ Himself will be fully glorified.

Began to be glorified when he rose from the grave,

   further glorified when he ascended into heaven.

   final glory when he becomes “the firstborn among many brothers”

God will not be satisfied until His church, His Creation, and Christ are glorified.

   That is glorification and that is the hope of glory.

 

How does the hope of glory help you in this life?  Just pie in the sky by and by?

   No, very helpful.  Very much connected to reality.


MP#2  How does the hope of glory help you in this life?

The hope of glory gives you a defense against hopelessness.

When you become a Christian you are not lifted out of this world.

   The Christian life is not life in a magic circle.

   You don’t enter it and then nothing happens to you

   You live in this world, wrestling with sin and the effects of sin.

 

Perhaps some of you have been through some long years of struggle.

Maybe you’ve been fighting with a particular sin—addiction, thoughts, relationship

   Maybe you have a child who has wandered from the faith, lots of grief

   Maybe you have long-term marital difficulties or financial difficulties, or work

   Maybe you have a physical illness, faced difficult death of a loved one

 

These are things you prayed about, wept about, searched Scripture

   shared with fellow believers, pleaded with God, had lots of ups and downs.

This has become a spiritual battle for you.  Devil comes and suggests to your mind:

   There’s never going to be any change in your life, it’s hopeless!

   Things are not only not better, they’re worse!

And you feel weary, despondent, discouraged.  You want to give up.

 

Virtually every place you see Christians dealing successfully with

   the hopelessness and weariness of life, especially long-term struggles,

   you see them finding strength by remembering the hope of glory.

You have to do the same thing. 

Four examples:

 

1.  Many of you have heard of Joni Earekson Tada, maybe read her books.

   As a teenage girl she broke her neck in a diving accident,

   paralyzed from the neck down.  That has been her life.  It’s hard to imagine.

And yet in this condition she has done great things—

   huge heart for handicapped people.

 

What has sustained her?  Certainly the presence of Jesus Christ, daily walk.

   But also the hope of glory.  This is what she wrote in one of her books:

“I can scarcely believe it, I with shrivelled, bent fingers, atrophied muscles, gnarled knees, and no feeling from the shoulders down, will one day have a new body, light, bright, and clothed in righteousness—powerful and dazzling.  Can you imagine the hope this gives someone spinal cord-injured like me?  Or someone who is cerebral palsied, brain-injured, or who has multiple sclerosis?  Imagine the hope this gives someone who is manic depressive.  No other religion, no other philosophy promises new bodies, hearts and minds.  Only in the Gospel of Christ do hurting people find such incredible hope.”

 

How do you face the physical breakdown of your body?

How do you age gracefully? 

How do you handle the doctor’s words:  It’s malignant?

   Certainly the presence of Christ—and the hope of glory.

   Jesus Christ died and rose in his body so that we can have glorified bodies.

 

2.  There is a man in the Bible we don’t know much about.  Name Asaph.

   He was a poet and hymn writer.  One of his most interesting Psalm 73.

 

He looks at his life, its full of troubles and trials, seem to be financial.

   He looks at ungodly, unbelievers—no struggles healthy bodies, wealth, successful

   And the unfairness of it bothers him so much, he almost lost his faith.

This is how he put it:

   My feet had almost slipped

   “Surely in vain have I kept my hands pure. 

   In vain have I washed my hands with innocence.

   When I tried to understand, it was oppressive to me.”

 

Tempted to give up on godly life, reasoning it out made head hurt.

Until I entered the sanctuary of God, thinks about future God has for him.

   “You hold me by my right hand, You guide me with your counsel,

   and afterward you will take me into glory.”

The hope of glory gave this man strength.

 

How do you face life when it seems unfair?  You’ve done right, hurting.

   It will be the hope of glory.

Why do I expect anything different in this old world.

   God has something great planned for me.  This life is not the end.

   There is a great future for all of God’s children. 

 

Then Paul explains how he held up under all of this and not become hopeless.

   “We do not lose heart . . . For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for

   us an eternal glory that fall outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is

   seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is

   eternal.”

 

3.  Third example, book mentioned several weeks ago—on book table.

Man named Armando Valladares—22 years in Castro’s prisons.

   Became a Christian soon after he was arrested,

   while witnessing the execution of Christians who would shout out—

   “Long live Christ the King!” before being shot.

Christ can give my life dignity.

 

He determined that he would resist.  Never give in.

   In any way possible, he would present the truth about what was going on.

Entire 22 years an attempt by Communists to crush his spirit.

   You will have to read the book—brutality is mindboggling.

Over and over, they tried to crush his hopes.

   All your family and friends have turned against you.

   You are forgotten.  The Revolution is victorious.

   Accept it. 

 

The title of his book is a fascinating one—“Against All Hope”

   From Romans 4:18  Abraham, against all hope, in hope believed.”

It was ultimately that hope—hope in God’s promise—hope of glory

   made him never lose hope. 

   Knew that even if body beaten and killed—he would rise again.

 

How do you hold on over the long haul?

   Where do you find strength for situation, relationship, person never changes.

   As you look, it doesn’t seem that it will change. 

The hope of glory—like Abraham, like Armando Valladares

   my ultimate hope is not this world, but the resurrection and the world to come.

   That doesn’t make me check out—but work harder and more fearlessly.

Why should you despair?  Why should you give up? 

   You shouldn’t.  God has great things planned. 

   Resurrection is the proof.

 

When you tempted to hopelessness.  When you feel you are growing weary.

   Don’t faint, don’t give up.  Remember the hope of glory.  Hold on to it.

   Find some passages of Scripture that speak of it and hold on to them.

   Don’t get too wrapped up in your immediate circumstances and struggles.

   Remember the big picture.

   You will be saved.  God has wonderful plans for your future.

 


CONC:  Easter is a great time for our hope to be renewed.

The resurrection proves that our future is a great one.

   Even though we go through hardships now—sorrows and griefs

   there is a great salvation that God has planned for us.

 

Old hymn says:

 

Jesus lives and so shall I

Death!  Thy sting is gone forever!

He who deigned for me to die,

Lives, the bands of death to sever,

He shall raise me from the dust:

Jesus is my hope and trust.

 

Is Jesus Christ your hope and trust?  Can you say, Christ in me the hope of glory?

   Lift your eyes beyond your present suffering to the glory that will be revealed.

   And the God of hope will fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him,

   And you will overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.