The Blessed Hope

adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 16 March 2012

 

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ…” (Titus 2:13).

The Apostle Paul had left Titus to serve as a pastor in the island of Crete. It was not an easy work, for many of the Cretans were culturally very materialistic, deceitful and lazy (Tit 1:12). So Paul thought it necessary to write to Titus to encourage him on in his ministry. In his letter he taught him what should be his emphasis in the ministry for various groups of people in the church—the younger men, older men, younger women, older women, servants, etc.

What does Paul want Titus to emphasise to the Cretan Christians? Well, even if you read this letter in one sitting, you cannot miss it. Because the Cretans were notorious for their laziness, Paul wants Titus to emphasise that good works are a necessary part of the Christian life. So Paul repeats over and over again the importance of good works in this letter.

He ends chapter 1 by saying that those who profess to know God and yet have no good works to show are really hypocrites.

He ends chapter 2 by reminding Titus that Christ “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Tit 2:14).

He would end chapter 3 by expressing his desire of seeing the Cretan converts “learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful” (Tit 3:14).

But how should Titus encourage the congregation seeing that they are by nature rather lazy and seem to live only to fulfil the lusts of the flesh? Of course, Christians should have a different attitude. But the old man dies hard, and the new man needs every help available to encourage him on. And what better way to encourage to good work than to reiterate the promises of God?

This is exactly what Paul does at the beginning of this letter and in the middle of chapter two. In fact, Paul’s reference to good works in chapter 2 is really a part of a longer statement that includes a word of promise. Paul is speaking about the Christian life—how that we are saved so that we might live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world as a people zealous of good works (v. 11-12, 14). But what should motivate us in this life of self-denial and good works? Paul says, verse 13—

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ…

This is the wonderful statement of promise we are talking about. This promise may, in fact, be called the blessed hope.

Let’s consider this blessed hope by asking three questions: (1) What is this hope? (2) Why is it a blessed hope? (3) How should it affect us today? 

           

1. What is this Hope?

Paul says, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Now, at first sight, the blessed hope and the glorious appearing seem to refer to two different things. However, note that the Greek word ‘kaiv’ which is translated as ‘and’ may also be translated as ‘even.’ So what Paul says can be read as, “Looking for that blessed hope, [even] the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”

This is the interpretation given in the footnote of the Geneva Bible of 1560, which reads:

Christ is here most plainly called that mighty God, and His appearance and coming is called by the figure of speech metonymy, our hope.

Now, metonymy is a figure of speech in which a concept is called by another name. A modern example of metonymy would be how we often use the term ‘Hollywood’ not to describe the city in California, but to the cinematic industry of America.

Paul is using the term ‘hope’ as a metonymy for the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. And notice how the Lord Jesus Christ is described as the Great God and our Saviour. Some commentators believe that the terms “Great God” and “our Saviour” refer to two different persons, namely the Father and the Son. However, in the Greek (tou` megavlou qeou` kai; swth`ro" hJmw`n), there is only one definite article for the two terms. This suggests, according to a Greek Grammar rule known as Sharp’s Rule, that they refer to the same person. Paul is really speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ as our Great God and Saviour! Here is another proof-text for the deity of Christ.

But in this study we are not so much concerned about the deity of Christ as about the promise about the coming of Christ. This is our hope.

This hope is not an empty wish. It is a firm assurance that what is hoped will come to past. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). Hope is the substance of things not yet, but seen by faith.

But…


2. Why is it a Blessed Hope?

Why is the glorious appearing of our God and Saviour a blessed hope? Well, because the fulfilment of the hope is full of blessedness for us!

First of all, in that day, we shall see our beloved Saviour in all His glory. In that day, He shall be acknowledged as the Great God and Saviour, and every knee in heaven and on earth will bow and declare that Jesus is LORD. Those who love the Lord today will bow in humble adoration with tears of joy, while those who hate Him today will bow with cringing fear and regret.

Secondly, that day will be the day of our resurrection. We shall experience the “fullness of joy” (Ps 16:11) when our bodies raise incorruptible will be joined with our souls made perfect. Our glorification would then be complete. We shall then enjoy and glorify God, body and soul, world without end.

Thirdly, that day will be the day when we shall officially receive the crown of righteousness which Christ our King has reserved for all who loves His appearing. That day we shall not only be vindicated but will also receive the praise and reward of our Lord despite our unworthiness.

Fourthly, that day will see the full number of the redeemed gathered together, never to be separated again by sin and death, never again to be troubled by sorrows and conflict. In that day we shall see our fathers in the faith; we will see our loved ones in the Lord who had gone ahead of us; and we will see our descendants who were yet unborn when we leave for our eternal home.

Fifthly, that day will be the beginning of a new heaven and earth, completely restored. There will be no more thorns to cause pain, no more natural disasters, no more diseases, no more tears, no more sorrows. Work will be pleasant rather than laborious. Love, joy and peace will permeate every aspect of our existence from that day onwards.

Can you see how it is a blessed hope? It is a blessing just to think about. How much more blessed it will be when we come finally to enjoy when our Lord returns again!


3. How should it Affect Us Today?

The promise in our text, we must remember, is not given in isolation. Paul is actually encouraging Titus on how he should minister to the congregation. In fact, the immediate context is his instruction to Titus on how to minister to the servants. Look at verses 9-10—

9 Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; 10 Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things” (Tit 2:9-10).

The sentence in which our promise is found begins in verse 11, with the word ‘for’:  “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men &c.”

In other words, the promise is given in order to encourage the saints to persevere on in godly lives and good works! 

So what should our response be in view of the blessed hope promised unto us? Surely our response must be to live godly lives which are full of good works.

Or more specifically, in the words of our text, let do two things:

First, and negatively, let us deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. We are created in the image of God that we might glorify and enjoy Him. Sin has made us hate God and love unrighteousness. Instead of finding joy in fellowship with God, we began to seek temporary pleasures in the things of this world and the lusts of the flesh. Now, as believers, we have been delivered from the guilt and power of sin, but we have a remnant of corruption that draw us constantly back to ungodly ways and worldly lusts.

But let us, in view of the blessed hope, and the fact that we are heading towards that day, learn to turn away from worldly lusts and all godless attitudes and behaviours. Let us exercise self-denial. If this blessed hope is precious to us, then let us not dampen our pleasure of anticipation by seeking temporary satisfaction for the craving of our soul.

Let us rather, and positively, seek to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.

To live soberly is to live in a disciplined way with self-control. Let us exercise discipline and self-control with the use of our time, our energy, our relationships and our material resources. 

To live righteously is to seek to walk according to God’s commandments. Let us seek to obey God’s commandments in all aspects of our lives. Let us do so out of love and gratitude unto the Lord our Saviour.

To be godly, is to have a godly demeanour and attitude that magnifies our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ in this present world. It is, in other words, to be Christ-like.

Now, given the remnant of corruption in us, the cares of the world, and the influence of sinners and worldliness all around us, it will not be easy to live such a heavenly life. But let us find the strength we need by looking to the blessed hope.


Conclusion

Beloved brethren and children, we have a blessed hope. Christ our beloved King is coming again for us. He may or may not come in our lifetimes, but He is coming and what a great and glorious day of joy it will be for us.

But the journey to that glorious day will not be easy. There will be many discouragements. There will be many trials and difficulties. We will experience many failures. Thank God, therefore, for the blessed hope that He has given us to encourage us to press on. There is an end to all the struggles. And what a glorious end it will be. For the pain and sorrows of our present day is nothing to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in Christ and all united to Him. This is our blessed hope. Amen. W