“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope” (1 Timothy 1:1).
Paul did not always acknowledge Jesus as Lord, or as his hope. Looking back on those days he speaks of himself as the chief of sinners who thought he ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus. He persecuted the church of God, and when Stephen, the first martyr, was stoned to death, the witnesses laid down their clothes at his feet (Acts 7:58). He was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious (1 Timothy 1:13).
At the same time he advanced in his own religion, and so far as he knew, he kept the commandments of God (Galatians 1:13,14). He was self-righteous and hated the gospel of the grace of God, which is always the case with those who are endeavoring to please God by their own goodness and works. What caused the change in his life? What caused the self-righteous Pharisee, who loved his religion and hated the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and all who belonged to Him, to change so dramatically?
He saw himself in the presence of God! He found out that he was a sinner and that his own works could not save him. The only way of true blessing for anyone is to find just what he is in the presence of God—a lost, helpless, hell-deserving sinner—then to confess his sins in true repentance and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. He who does that finds forgiveness of sins, new birth, eternal life, an inheritance in heaven, everlasting security in God our Savior, and a blessed hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).
Now Paul bowed at the blessed feet of our Lord Jesus Christ, and owned Him as his Lord and his God. With Mary, the mother of Jesus, Paul owned Him as “God my Saviour” (Luke 1:47). With Thomas, he could say, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). To Titus he could write of Him as “God our Saviour” (Titus 2:10,13).
Through all his trials, Paul’s eye was fixed upon the Lord Jesus Christ, his hope. Amid all the hopelessness and despair of these trying days, is the Lord Jesus Christ your hope? Not some creed or religious profession, but the one bright star of cheering light shining out in this world’s midnight darkness.
“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). Christ died for our sins, He was buried, but He arose again the third day for our justification. He now sits at the right hand of God, where He ever liveth to make intercession for us, and from where He shall come to receive us unto Himself, that where He is, there we may be also.
This is what differentiates Christianity from every religion in the world. Every other religion is just a system of dead works, or of moral teachings and philosophies, propounded by a teacher who is now dead. Christianity is a vital relationship with a living Person, our Lord Jesus Christ, on the throne of God. We have a living hope because the Lord Jesus laid down His life for us on the cross, and after completing the work of our redemption, took it up again, now no more to die. All who believe on Him are united to our Living Head, in everlasting relationship. “Because I live,” He says, “ye shall live also” (John 14:19). The living Lord Jesus, on the throne of God, is the evidence that our sins, which were laid on Him, are forever put away and that the life we have in Him is everlasting.
Our hope in the Lord Jesus Christ is not only a living hope, but it is also sure and steadfast. It rests not upon some failing foundation on earth, but its foundation is within the veil, even in heaven itself, where the Lord Jesus has entered for us, and so we have this hope as an anchor of the soul (Hebrews 6:17-20). Things on earth change, decay, and pass away, but the things in heaven are eternal. We see the Lord Jesus, who went to the cross to bear our sins and God’s judgment due to us, crowned with glory and honor and seated on the throne of God. There is our security. There is our peace. There is our hope.
When we see our Forerunner there, we understand His words in John 5:24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” Seeing Him on the throne of God enables us also to realize the force of John 10:27,28: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.”
The living Christ has gone before us into the glory, but we look for Him to come again and take us to be with Himself there. Blessed hope! “The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:11-14). It is for His coming glory we look. It is for His coming we wait. It is Himself who is our blessed hope. We do not look for death. We look for Him.
And He may come today. Perhaps today the sorrows and trials and pains and disappointments and failures and sins of our pilgrimage way, may be ended by His awakening shout as He calls the sleeping saints from their graves and takes us all up instantly to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51,52). Then we shall be forever with Him and like Him (1 John 3:2,3).
In solemn contrast to the living, sure, and blessed hope of the child of God who is saved by faith in Christ, is the awful condition of those who will not trust Him. Ephesians 2:12 tells us, “Ye were without Christ … having no hope, and without God in the world.” Solemn word of God! All who are without Jesus Christ as their Savior are without hope, without God!
May we be faithful and earnest in pointing men to the only Savior and hope, while we await His coming, the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ—our hope!
—F. L. French, adapted.