Hope: May 2013

Table of Contents

1. Hope
2. There Is Hope
3. Hope Deferred
4. Full Assurance of Hope
5. The God of Hope
6. The Prisoner of Hope
7. God Speaks From Above
8. Hope
9. Hope


It is a “good hope” (2 Thess. 2:16).
It is a “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13).
It is a “[living] hope” (1 Peter 1:3).
It is “an anchor of the soul” (Heb. 6:19).
It is our “Lord Jesus Christ” Himself (1 Tim. 1:1).
It is a hope that will never make ashamed (Rom. 5:5).
Our hope is not at all like human hope. I may say, “I hope it will not rain today.” But maybe it will rain, and maybe it will not. That hope is not a sure and certain hope. But our hope is not like that at all. There is no “maybe” in our hope. When we have for our Saviour and Friend, on whom to rest, the GOD OF HOPE, then we have no uncertain ground for our confidence. In very truth, ours is a sure and certain hope. True, we do not see it yet, or it would not be hope. But we do know that we shall find each hope of glory gained.
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God” (Psa. 43:5).
Christian Truth

There Is Hope

From the moment of our birth, hope is a necessary part of our existence, and without it tragedy ensues. The headline news today tells of a famous female singer who committed suicide, leaving two children, the younger being a boy of only ten months. The father took his life a month ago. While we do not know the particulars that led to this terrible tragedy, we may well consider what hope is ours that would keep us focused on the real meaning of life. Do we have reason to give up hope? Are any circumstances so bad that God cannot make it work out for good? Since the beginning, when sin came into our world, God has always set hope before man. He promised that the woman’s seed would bruise the serpent’s (Satan’s) head (Gen. 3:15). This hope has been made secure through the Lord Jesus Christ. He lived the perfect exemplary life of dependence and obedience to God, even unto death. The human race, once doomed to die without hope, now has a bright outlook through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
“Thou Didst Make Me Hope”
In Psalm 22 we read of the thoughts and feelings that the Lord Jesus had towards God as He contemplated being forsaken on the cross. He refers back to the time of His birth when as a babe He trusted in God: “Thou art He that took Me out of the womb: Thou didst make Me hope when I was upon My mother’s breasts. I was cast upon Thee from the womb: Thou art My God from My mother’s belly” (Psa. 22:9-10). There we see complete dependence upon God from His beginning as a Man. Among all the creatures God created, newborn humans are the most dependent on their parents for survival. From His birth, the Lord always trusted in God, and He never ceased trusting God, even in the face of death. He died trusting. He was resigned to whatever answer God gave, and He promised to praise God in company with His brethren who would be the beneficiaries with Him. “Save Me from the lion’s mouth: for Thou hast heard Me from the horns of the unicorns. I will declare Thy name unto My brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee” (Psa. 22:21-22). He felt the awful judgment, yet how perfectly He obeyed in spite of all. The answer to His prayer came in resurrection, and according to the words of the psalm, the corresponding response of praise to God was to be for all who fear the Lord to rehearse with Him. God was bound to honor such faith and obedience. The Lord Jesus has broken the bands of death and given hope to the human race. No circumstance can separate the elect and called from God’s blessing, not even death. The eighth chapter of Romans develops this theme, and in it hope is mentioned seven times. We are saved in hope and have every reason to hope to the end.
“Hope Thou in God”
In Psalm 42 we have another example of how the Lord Jesus kept hope before Him while passing under the waters of judgment. The psalm says, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance” (vs. 5). When a righteous soul is suffering, the question logically arises, Why is it so? This feeling is not wrong in itself, but doubts or distrust in God should never be allowed. When we feel suffering and pain, it is right to pray and groan, but complaining and looking elsewhere for help is wrong. The psalm goes on to recall the enjoyment of God’s blessings, which leads the psalmist to rebuke the despondency and to hope in God. The last verse of the psalm repeats the same words with one small change that seems to make it an expression of resolve to “hope in God,” the ONE “who is the health of my countenance.” The despondency is gone and occupation with the One who is the health of his countenance is everything.
Hope to the End
When the Lord Jesus was delivered up and crucified, He perfectly demonstrated this confidence in God in the face of Satan’s taunts. We read how the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, said, “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him: for He said, I am the Son of God” (Matt. 27:43). This was the ultimate test of fidelity. It is one thing to trust God when things are going well, but this was Satan’s hour and the power of darkness, yet the Lord Jesus never swerved from perfection. The result of this obedience unto death is that God raised Him from the dead; the Lord broke the bands of death and darkness and brought life and incorruptibility to light through the gospel, that we who have fled to Him for refuge might lay hold upon the hope set before us. “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children  ...  pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things  ...  but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God” (1 Peter 1:13-21).
D. C. Buchanan

Hope Deferred

The subject of hope occupies a large place in the New Testament, and especially in the Book of Romans, where it occurs fifteen times in the KJV and seventeen times in the JND translation. In this epistle, we are seen as having been redeemed and made fit for the Lord’s presence, yet still as men on the earth, working our way through difficulties, but with the hope of eternal blessing at the end of the pathway. It is important to see that the word “hope” in Scripture does not carry with it any degree of uncertainty as to the fulfillment of that which is hoped for; the only uncertainty is as to the timing of the realization of the hope. This is unlike the general meaning of the word in everyday speech, where hope usually denotes uncertainty in every way about a future event.
The question of our eternal salvation is taken up in the first few chapters of Romans, and the matter is summed up in chapter 5, where we read, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1-2).
In this truth the believer can rest, for he has been justified by faith, has peace with God about the question of his sins, and can “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Scarcely any properly instructed believer would doubt the force of these words and the certainty of them. The work of Christ is complete; we stand before God in grace and have no fear of judgment for our sins. As another has remarked, “It is relatively easy for the believer to leave the matter of his eternal salvation and destiny with God, for we realize that it is entirely in His hands.” We do indeed rejoice in the hope before us.
However, we are not home yet, but rather have before us a hope, and as we read in Romans 8:25, “If we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” The waiting in patience is connected with our faith, for it is in proportion to the strength of our faith that our hope is sustained. (It is noteworthy that the word “faith” is also prominent in the Book of Romans, occurring no less than forty times in the KJV.) If our faith is strong and we are fully convinced of the truth of what God has said, then our hope will be strong as well, and we will indeed wait in patience for the realization of it. However, we are still men and women on the earth, and the trials and sorrows of the way may occasionally threaten to overwhelm our faith and hope.
Hopes Connected With This Life
For every believer, there may well be certain hopes that are connected with this life — certain cherished dreams and ambitions that we would like to realize down here. These hopes can take many forms and, of course, are more strongly felt when we are young. It may be a hope that even a worldly person might have, such as financial success, possessions, fame or power. Such expectations may well still be present in the heart of the believer. However, it may be a hope connected with the things of everyday life — things that are not wrong in themselves. Perhaps there is a particular career that we would like to pursue, or it may be a hope for a marriage partner, and perhaps a family that can, in time, surround us. It may be a hope connected with spiritual things, perhaps for a home, which we would like to use for the Lord. In other cases, there may be a desire to serve the Lord in a particular way, or to see a group of believers going on well in a particular place. All these things may, at various times, take hold of our hearts and engender a burning desire for their fulfillment.
When time goes on and our hope is not fulfilled, our faith is tried. Although we may not give way to the despair that often takes over the man of the world, it is easy for discouragement to come in. We read in Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick,” and we see many people in the world today who are sick in this way. Sad to say, not a few of them are believers, whose hopes in this life have not matured and whose ambitions seem to have been dashed to the ground. Not only discouragement but also bitterness may come in, and perhaps even a feeling (although perhaps unspoken) that “the way of the Lord is not equal” (Ezek. 18:25).
What Is the Answer?
First of all, we must realize that as believers in this dispensation of God’s grace, we are not promised anything in this world. Israel’s blessings were earthly, but all our blessings are heavenly, and while God in His goodness to us may give us mercies by the way, we must realize that these are indeed mercies, not blessings. In the past 150 years, the Lord has given much in the way of temporal mercies to some parts of the world, particularly to Western Europe and North America. The result has been that many believers living in these areas today tend to look on these things as being normal and proper for them, considering them part of God’s blessings. The Lord Jesus could say to His disciples, “In the world ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:33), and in His prayer to His Father, He could say, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14). The believer can look back to Calvary’s cross and rest His faith on the work of Christ; he can also look forward to the glory and rest his hope on what God has promised. But he is not promised anything between the cross and the glory, except the privilege of following a rejected Christ and to have His joy fulfilled in them.
When this truth firmly grips the soul, we are freed from the anxieties and frustrations that so often tend to overtake us. We are not to wish for things such as power, money and fame, for “all these things do the nations of the world seek after” (Luke 12:30). However, it is not wrong to have certain hopes connected with life down here. The believer is dead to the world and dead to sin, but he is never said to be dead to nature. Such hopes as a career, a suitable marriage partner, a family or a home are not out of character with Christianity. Likewise, in the spiritual realm, it is quite in order to have a hope of serving the Lord in a particular way, to be used as an instrument of blessing to God’s people, and to see the saints of God go on well and in harmony together. However, in all of these things, we must allow the Lord to shape our circumstances, first of all for His glory, and then for our ultimate blessing. Any object, any hope, that falls short of Christ Himself, even something good in itself, is not worthy of the believer.
God Delights in Our Happiness
In saying all this, we do not want to give the impression that the Lord intends for us to lead lonely, ascetic lives. No, He delights in our happiness and has told us in Psalm 37:4, “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” These desires surely include those natural joys that He has graciously provided for us. But we must allow Him to make that choice for us and not insist on our own agenda.
Our own hopes and ambitions may be very good in themselves, but the Lord’s purposes for us take us to a higher plane, where we live and move in the light of eternity, not merely for life down here. While God desires our happiness, we must remember that happiness is a state of soul, not a question of circumstances. It is in the pathway of His will that we will not only honor Him, but will also be supremely happy. More than this, we will be building for eternity, not for time.
This is true even in spiritual things, where unrealized hopes may be particularly hard to take. No doubt Paul felt it keenly when he had to say, at the end of a strenuous and faithful life, “All they which are in Asia be turned away from me” (2 Tim. 1:15). Yet there is not one hint of discouragement in the whole epistle, in spite of the general decline that was overtaking the profession of Christianity. Paul’s faith remained strong, and he could say, “I know whom I have believed” (2 Tim. 1:12). In more recent years, when a younger brother was occupied with troubles among the saints and wondered out loud, “Whatever is going to become of us?” an older brother wisely replied, “Scripture knows no future for the believer but glory.”
To have cherished hopes that we can happily submerge in the Lord’s will for us is the pathway of joy and blessing, for then our own will is not operative, but rather we say, as the Lord Jesus did, “Not My will, but Thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).
W. J. Prost

Full Assurance of Hope

“We are saved in hope,” says the Apostle in Romans 8:24, thus connecting us with God’s glorious future. There is not the slightest uncertainty inferred in these words; just the opposite. We can anticipate the resurrection, when our poor bodies will share in the eternal redemption obtained by Christ, even as now we have that redemption made good in the soul. It may be well to notice that Scripture uses the word “salvation” in three ways:
1. As in Ephesians 2:8: “By grace are ye saved through faith” — that is, complete deliverance from guilt and from the dominion or reign of sin.
2. “Work out your own salvation,” as in Philippians 2:12 — that is, work out your own deliverance, in the power of God's willing and doing (verse 13), from the numerous difficulties that beset the path of the saint. Work it out into practical result.
3. “Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Rom. 13:11); then the poor body will be fully delivered from the effects of the curse and, ransomed from the grave, will be fashioned like unto the body of His glory (Phil. 3:21).
It is in this latter view of salvation that we are said to be “saved in hope”; it is not a peradventure, but “we are saved,” even as to the future. So certain is the truth of a present and future salvation that in this very chapter (Rom. 8) the Apostle says, “If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by [on account of] His Spirit that dwelleth in you” (vs. 11). The hopes which God presents are all certainties, simply because He is the Promiser; man’s hopes are all uncertainties, because man is the promiser.
Diligence Unto the End
Those Hebrews who had disowned and broken with Judaism and embraced the Christian profession are looked at (in the epistle specially addressed to them) as on their way to heaven, but they are traversing the wilderness, battling with its difficulties, while sustained by priesthood and corrected and disciplined by the Word of God (see Heb. 4:12-16). The world is the place where the activities of faith are displayed. Thus it says, “We desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end” (Heb. 6:11). Diligence is urged upon the saints in view of their blessed future, and this is to be maintained till “the end” of the pilgrim path. Rest and glory will be entered upon and enjoyed when He comes. His love we have now; His glory and inheritance we shall share at His coming.
Full Assurance
Do we have the full assurance of this “hope”? We may have “full assurance of hope” because the One who is coming is loved and known as the “purger of our sins.” One cannot suppose that the truth of the coming of the Lord will be welcome to persons who have not broken with the world. So many are attempting to do what Jesus says cannot be done: “Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24). If I am not giving all diligence to add such as virtue and knowledge to my faith (2 Peter 1:5-10), I am “blind, and cannot see afar off,” and have “forgotten” that I “was purged from [my] old sins.” That is, my condition is practically judged by the glory before me and the grace which purged away my sins. These are the two grand tests of all spiritual condition — the cross and the glory.
The Refuge
How safe and calm one may be amidst the rough tossing of this world! One can ride over its angry billows, sustained through every storm by the anchor which has been cast “within the veil” and “hope” which has entered there. No storms or tempests ever sweep over that scene — the unclouded presence of God. And our hope — the sure and steadfast anchor of the soul — has entered there.
Have we fled for refuge to that hope set before us? Notice that this is not the fleeing of the sinner to Christ, but of the saint. It is he who has fled from his corrupt nature, from self, and from the world, who has “laid hold upon the hope set before him.” Are you seeking to better your condition in the world — to establish your name and family in the scene of the Saviour's dishonor? Do not His position and aspect towards the world determine yours? Accept, then, “His cross” as your portion here. All your blessings are spiritual and are in Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 1:3).
His Path, Promise and Oath
To “lay hold upon the hope” supposes energy of faith. The joy set before the Lord sustained Him; for it He endured the cross and is now set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12:1-2). If His path is set before us, so also His joy is set before us — being with Him and like Him.
But as if it were not enough for God to come into the midst of our sorrows and trials and sustain our hearts with promises of rest and glory and blessing, He would establish our souls in divine certainty by His promise and oath. His unchangeable purpose to bless us with Christ has been confirmed by His oath.
Thus the ground of “full assurance of hope” is the word and oath of God. In other words, it is not the poor, tried, perplexed heart casting his eye within or around to discover if he has this assurance; rather, God has written it down plainly, so that faith may take it up and the man go on his way rejoicing.
Adapted from Words of Truth

The God of Hope

The very title here attached to the name of God proclaims Him as the source of all hope. Hope is one of the chief sustainers of life, at least for the children of God. They know God in His love, they enjoy His care, His peace, yet they cannot do without hope as given by Him. When brought to receive salvation in and by His grace, they began to see this world in a new light. They perceive and experience that this world is a mass of ruins, the fruit and result of man’s sin and disobedience. They do not charge God with the ruin. How could they? A true, living God, perfect and holy, cannot be the author of the misery and suffering we are so well acquainted with. The depravity of man’s imagination can alone conceive such a thought. A believer acknowledges that, as a member of the human race, he is for his part responsible for the present state of things. Far from complaining of God’s ways, he sees God’s merciful intervention in the wondrous gift of His Son, sent to be the propitiation for our sins. “Herein is love,” says the Apostle John, and how rightly!
But by His propitiation at the cost of Himself, His life and His blood, the Son did not restore things as they were in the short day of man’s innocency. Rather, He saves man for the better paradise of heaven, the paradise of God, where nothing can be spoiled or ruined, while He left the ruin and the suffering in the world as it is, reminding man of his hopeless fall. Generation after generation has been brought to feel it, and by the very feeling of it, some have been led to turn to the Saviour.
Divinely Warranted
The believer feels in his body, no less than the unbeliever, the sufferings of the present time, and far more in his spirit. Yet he rejoices, and even exults. How can this be? “Not only so, but we rejoice [or, boast] in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Rom. 5:3-5). The Christian hope has received from the love of God a pledge that cannot fail, even the Holy Spirit, “and if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies because of His Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Rom. 8:11). Thus the Christian hope is divinely warranted.
Faith and Love
In Scripture, hope is bound up with faith and love (1 Cor. 13:13), thereby showing, inasmuch as faith precedes hope, that there can be no hope without faith — faith in the gospel as now preached on earth. If earth has been the scene of man’s fall and has witnessed the entrance of sin into the world and of death by sin, the earth has also witnessed that mighty work of the cross in virtue of which God has exalted His Christ to be a Prince and a Saviour. And by these two things, of which earth has been the witness — sin on the one hand and redemption on the other — all the questions concerning eternity have been settled in the life that is present — settled for blessing or for woe — for blessing to those who have received God’s testimony concerning His Son; for woe to those who have rejected it.
A Good Hope
By receiving this testimony, a man becomes a Christian, and by being a Christian he is entitled to blessing in this life and in the next. Among his blessings down here is hope, “good hope,” because God-given, and given jointly with everlasting comfort. It is also a “blessed hope,” directing the eye of faith to the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. In that glorious appearing every believer has an immediate interest. We shall be with Him then, His companions. How does this prospect move our hearts and influence our daily life and conversation? “With the Lord!” — it is not glory and bliss without Him. If it could be, it would never satisfy us, nor would it satisfy Him, who redeemed us to Himself at the cost of His own life. Nothing short of seeing the fruit of the travail of His soul could satisfy Him, and He will see of that travail when He has us with Him in His glory. “The glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them” (John 17:22).
A Living Hope
It is a “living hope,” as Peter writes, founded upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and “unto an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away.” It was given to Moses to have a full survey of Canaan from the top of Pisgah. He contemplated from thence the goodly land, the land flowing with milk and honey. It must have been to him a delightful sight by reason of His deep love to God’s people. He was sure God would make it good to Israel, and He could anticipate their joy and share it. Yet that inheritance was corruptible and it soon faded away. We have a better sight than Moses. The door of our hope opens heavenward, as did the window in the ark. From thence we can survey our inheritance, “reserved in heaven for us,” and we are “kept [for it] by the power of God.” No failure can come in here, no power can be anything like a match for the power of God, who has both it and us in His keeping.
Like Christ
There is yet one feature attached to our God-given hope, and, one can say, the brightest. It will be unspeakably blessed to be with Christ, His companions and His joint-heirs in the day of His power, but is there anything equal to being like Him who is the very effulgence of God’s glory? Yet God has predestinated us to be conformed to the image of His Son, and, of course, His purpose stands good forever. Faith may and does reckon upon it with full assurance. How will this part of our hope be fulfilled? By the adoption, “the redemption of our body,” as we read in Romans 8. The adoption, the redemption of our souls we have already; we cry, “Abba, Father.” We are now children of God as much as we shall ever be. But there is yet in us what we have inherited from the first Adam — a mortal body, a body of humiliation, of corruption. And we know that flesh and blood, as our body is at present constituted, cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption. How then shall we be delivered from this mortal, corruptible body? By an act of power of the Redeemer of our souls, “for  ...  we also look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself” (Phil. 3:20-21).
Seeing Him As He Is
But it is not by power only that we shall be conformed to Christ. The Apostle John declares, “Beloved, now are we children of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when [or, if] He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” Being like Him is consequent upon seeing Him as He is. Wondrous sight! The disciples saw Him after His resurrection, saw Him when He ascended up, but they did not see Him glorified on high (except Paul) and were not like Him. They and we await the resurrection of those that are Christ’s at His coming. Then shall we all be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Rapturous sight! Now, even where faith is most in activity, we only see in a “dim window obscurely,” but then face to face, “as He is.” The consequence will be that we shall reflect His beauty and His glory, so that He will be glorified in His saints and marveled at or admired in all them that believed. Observe, it is said, “In them.” Were it said, “By them,” it would not necessarily be that they were “like Him.”
May the comfort of that purifying, sanctifying hope fill the souls of all those who love His appearing and long to see Him in His radiance! “The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 15:13).
Adapted from The Bible Treasury

The Prisoner of Hope

There are two leading principles in the soul of the Christian, which make God the special object. These are “faith and hope.” There is a marked distinction, and yet an intimate connection, between these two principles. Faith takes what God has given; hope expects what He has promised. Faith rests in holy tranquility in God’s statements about the past; hope goes forth in active longings after the future. Faith is a recipient; hope an expectant. Now, it will be found that in proportion to the vigor of faith will be the vigor of hope. If we are not “fully persuaded that, what [God has] promised, He [is] able also to perform,” we shall know but little of the power or energy of hope. If faith is wavering, hope will be flickering. If faith is strong, hope will be strong also, for faith imparts strength and intensity to the expectation. The patriarch Abraham was a happy exemplification of all this; his “faith and hope” were truly “in God.” Circumstances added nothing to him. He had been promised the whole land of Canaan, where he had not so much as to set his foot on; he had been promised a seed like the stars of heaven or like the sand by the seashore when as yet he had no child. Everything within the range of mortal vision argued against him, but the promise of “the Almighty God” was quite enough for the man of faith. “The God of glory” had called him from the baseless city of man to the well-founded city of God.
The Stronghold
But Zechariah 9:12 tells us, “Turn you to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope: even today do I declare that I will render double unto thee.” This verse presents the believer as the recipient of grace and the expectant of glory; as one safely lodged in a “stronghold,” but yet as “a prisoner of hope”; as one in the enjoyment of perfect peace, yet also living in the hope of better things. Let us look closer at these two points.
There is only one thing that can render the soul happy in looking forward into the future, and that is the knowledge of God’s redeeming love in giving His Son to be a perfect sacrifice for sin. The sinner must get at the other side of the cross before he can happily or peacefully look forward; we can only study prophecy with a purged conscience. It is when we know, through the Spirit, the value of the sufferings of Christ that we can joyfully contemplate the glory that is to follow. That grace which brings salvation must first be received before “the blessed hope” can be enjoyed.
The Evangelist and the Teacher
All this leads us to see the distinction between the work of the evangelist and that of the teacher. The evangelist has to convey a simple message concerning an accomplished work, which work must be the basis of the guilty sinner’s peace. He is privileged to stand in the midst of a ruined world and to offer salvation to all who will believe the Word concerning the cross. It is important that evangelists clearly understand the nature and limits of their work and the terms of their commission. It sometimes happens that preachers of the gospel mar their work by intruding upon the province of the teacher. They think it incumbent on them to press upon the attention of people the fruits that result from the reception of the gospel, but this is, properly speaking, the work of the teacher, who has to do only with those who have passed under the hand of the evangelist. The teacher has no more to do with sinners than the evangelist has to do with saints. Of course, we may sometimes see the gift of an evangelist and a teacher developed in the same person. Where they are thus combined, great care is needed not to confound them in their exercise.
The teacher should not only press upon the believer his responsibilities; he should also instruct him in the nature of his hope and expound to him the book of prophecy, according to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. The evangelist has to speak of what God has done; the teacher, of what He will do. The former calls for the action of faith; the latter, for the action of hope. The former points to the stronghold; the latter speaks to the prisoner of hope. If these things are confounded, the effect will be very harmful. The enemy of souls may often work much mischief by leading the unregenerate to exercise their intellects on the subject of prophecy. The devil will endeavor either to suppress or corrupt the truth of God. For ages he succeeded in keeping the church of God from the precious doctrine of the coming of the Lord. Now that attention has been awakened on the subject, he is maliciously seeking to nullify it by causing unhallowed lips to proclaim and teach it, or by causing Christians to differ about it.
The Christian’s Place
The remedy for both these dangerous evils is the simple understanding of the Christian’s place, as a prisoner of hope. The Spirit of God has spoken of the church’s destinies for the purpose of comforting the prisoner, by giving him a well-grounded hope. The believer, resting on the blood of Christ, is privileged to look forward to “the morning without clouds,” while already knowing that he is accepted in the Beloved. Thus, the believer is a prisoner of hope. His faith reposes on the cross; his hope feeds upon the rich pastures of God’s prophetic record. His spirit travels over a course of which the cross is the starting-post and glory the goal.
The two points are inseparable. It is only when we find it sweet to look back that we also find it sweet to look forward. We must see our names in the book of life before we can understand our title to eternal joys. To the unregenerate soul the future is unspeakably dreadful, for prophecy conveys a twofold message. It tells of judgment to the man who is yet in his sins, and it tells of eternal life to the man who has believed in the Son of God. Hence, to the former, it speaks of complete shipwreck; to the latter, the glorious consummation of all his hopes.
Waiting for the Adoption
Every prisoner longs for the day of release. The walls of his prison-house do not engage his attention; rather, he groans and sighs for deliverance. Just so should it always be with us. We should unceasingly “groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” “We,” says the Apostle, “that are in this tabernacle, do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.” Here is the proper language of a prisoner of hope. Doubtless, we feel the sorrow and trial of our present position; yes, “we groan, being burdened.” Nevertheless, the putting off of the earthly tabernacle would not perfectly remedy the case. To be unclothed as to our spirits would not make us perfectly happy. Some Christians err in their thoughts on this subject, thinking that the moment the spirit escapes from its prison house, it enters into perfect bliss. But nothing but his being clothed upon with his house which is from heaven can fill up the measure of the believer’s joy. Until then, whether he is imprisoned in the tomb or is in a body of sin and death, death and mortality hold sway, so far as the body is concerned. When he appears in his resurrection garments of glory and beauty, death shall have been swallowed up in victory, and mortality swallowed up of life. To speak of perfect bliss, while the spirit is unclothed and the body mingled with the dust, is a contradiction.
With Christ, Which Is Far Better
There are, I believe, only four places in the New Testament where the state of the unclothed spirit is spoken of, and none give a full description of that state. When contrasting it with our present painful and trying condition, the Apostle says, “It is far better.” Yes, truly, it is “far better” to be away from a scene of strife and turmoil, but this does not constitute the summit of blessedness. How very differently the Holy Spirit speaks of the resurrection state! The glories connected with it will constitute the very consummation of the believer’s joy and blessedness; until then, he is but a prisoner of hope. The patriarchs, the prophets, the apostles, the noble army of martyrs — all our beloved brethren who have gone before us — yea, and the Master Himself — all wait for the morning of resurrection. Every scattered member of the flock of Christ must be gathered into the heavenly fold before the festivities of the kingdom can commence.
Thus we see the vast importance of being rightly instructed as to the nature of our hope. When we know what we are hoping for, we are able to give an answer, for a man’s life is always influenced by his genuine hopes. If a man is an heir to an estate, his life is influenced by the hope of inheriting it. If we knew more of the power of the Spirit as “the earnest of our inheritance,” instead of disputing about the time or manner of our Master’s arrival, we should, as “prisoners of hope,” be eagerly looking forth from our prison windows and saying, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”
C. H. Mackintosh, adapted

God Speaks From Above

The explosion of a meteor over the Ural region of Russia on February 15, 2013, has left an already troubled world somewhat stunned. Many who witnessed it were terrified and screamed that it was “the end of the world.” The huge mass, estimated at more than 10,000 tons, entered the earth’s atmosphere about 1,000 miles east of Moscow, burst into a fireball, and then released a wave of energy that was 30 times as potent as the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. At the time of the writing of this article, they have yet to recover any fragment of the original meteor, but the explosion, which took place at an altitude of 15-30 miles, caused a shock wave that smashed thousands of windows in Chelyabinsk and other nearby cities and injured more than 1,200 people. In addition, a large hole was blown in the ice of Lake Chebarkul, presumably by fragments and debris from the meteor.
Coupled with this event, on the same date a large asteroid streaked past the earth, closer than any asteroid that has ever been seen and recorded in recent years. While it missed the earth by more than 17,000 miles and its size (estimated at 50 meters across) was small, nevertheless the fact that it came so close to the earth and on the same day as the meteor event occurred in Russia has caused widespread concern.
Asteroids and Meteoroids
Asteroids are small rocky bits of debris in space, smaller than a planet, and which usually orbit around the sun. Meteoroids are smaller pieces of debris that usually originate from an asteroid or comet and which also orbit around the sun. When a meteoroid enters the earth’s atmosphere, it is termed a meteor, and if a fragment actually survives the fall through the atmosphere and strikes the earth, it is then called a meteorite.
Most meteors disintegrate as they come through the earth’s atmosphere, forming a streak of light or fireball, commonly called a “shooting star.”
Large meteors have exploded over the earth before, and many smaller ones have struck the earth as meteorites, sometimes causing damage. In particular, a very large meteor exploded over the Tunguska river area in Siberia back in 1908. Although no injuries were reported, the event sparked enough energy to level about 800 square miles of forest. Smaller events have occurred at other times in various parts of the world, and falling debris has occasionally injured people
Significant Events
What makes the events of February 15, 2013, so significant is twofold. First of all, there is the fact that two very unusual events from outer space occurred within hours of each other. Second, this is the first time that damage on a large scale has been done in a populated area and a large number of people injured. To be sure, the area was not heavily populated, and we shudder to think of what could have happened had the event occurred around a large city such as New York, U.S.A., Mumbai, India, or Tokyo, Japan. However, the injuries and damage (estimated at 33 million dollars) are certainly enough to cause real alarm. Moreover, it raises the awareness of the possibility of a future catastrophic event.
Surely all this has significance for this world and for us as believers. While such events have occurred before and thus can be passed off as merely coincidental, it is evident that the Lord is speaking to this world. Events originating within our world and its atmosphere, such as earthquakes, floods, droughts, hurricanes and tsunamis, are bad enough, and man cannot control them. However, phenomena from outer space are totally outside man’s realm and have a special significance. They are meant to be taken seriously.
The Lord has spoken rather loudly to this world in the past few years with serious natural disasters, as well as man-made tragedies such as that of September 11, 2001. As we have pointed out in previous articles in The Christian, these are intended to shake man up and to make him realize that judgment is coming on this world. The events occurring on February 15, 2013, surely ought to have the same impact.
Future Events
During the awful time after believers are called home and the Lord comes, God will begin to deal with this world, and among other events, we read that “there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars  ...  for the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (Luke 21:25-26). While more than one meaning can be taken from these words, surely it is not going beyond Scripture to suggest that some of these signs may originate in outer space. We are reminded in Hebrews 12:26 that the Lord says, “Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.” All that is not according to God’s mind will be shaken, and to the end that “the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day” (Isa. 2:11). God is now giving man a small taste of what is ahead, in order that he may be warned to “flee from the wrath to come.” As Elihu could remind Job, man needs to “hear attentively the roar of His voice” (Job 37:2 JND).
For us as believers, we need not be alarmed at these things, although we should be concerned and burdened for a lost (and increasingly rebellious!) world. We know and belong to the One who created all things “that are in heaven, and that are in earth” (Col. 1:16), and the One by whom “all things subsist together” (Col. 1:17 JND). Not a single event can occur without His allowing it. The universe is not out of control, as some would say, nor is it at the mercy of demonic forces. The One who “made the worlds” is also “upholding all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:2-3), and He is working “all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11). His hand is directing it all, in order that eventually all things, both in heaven and in earth, may be gathered together in Christ.
W. J. Prost


I rejoice in the thought that every setting sun is bringing us nearer and nearer to a world where suns will never set, where we shall walk together forever in an atmosphere of light and glory, and where all the desire, longing and hope of our hearts will be fully met! How blessed to feel that we have such a hope! How wonderful that, while the world around us is following after shadows and walking in a vain show, we know and love the truth — that ours are hopes which will not, cannot deceive.
Sir Edward Denny


What could be worse than to be without
hope? Eph. 2:12
Millions are locked in this perilous state;
Without even knowing what lies beyond
They live for the moment and trust in
blind fate.
It’s clear in the Bible there’s only one way
To satisfy God on the question of sin;
Oh! Trust in the Saviour who died on
the cross; 1 Tim. 1:1
Then heaven’s awaiting to usher you in! Col. 1:27
Now hope changes life from “wishing”
to “sure”; Heb. 11:1
It’s certain that God keeps all promises
He gives life eternal that cannot be
lost  ...   Titus 3:7
It was bought with the price that the
Lord Jesus paid.
This is a hope that rejoices the heart; Rom. 12:12
It anchors the soul and is felt every
hour; Heb. 6:19
It can’t disappoint you because it’s
secure: Rom. 5:5
And it grows as you live in the good
of its power!
L. Perry