Dr. Charles Franklin DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
December 9, 2012
 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,  training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,  waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,  who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
-- Titus 2:11-14, ESV
Real hope is always realized in the end. We are taught this in Scripture. And, I was reminded of it when I read and watched (and filtered through the foul language and graphic violence of) the Stephen King novella and screenplay, The Shawshank Redemption. That story ends by putting the power of hope on display.
“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.”
-- from a letter from Andy Dufresne to Ellis “Red” Boyd in The Shawshank Redemption
The word “hope” in our everyday language is not as powerful as it should be. To most it conveys the idea of maybe. Will our favorite team win the game? We hope so, which means they might, if they don’t turn the ball over too many times. Will we be able to get what I want for Christmas? We hope so, which means we probably will, if our family took the hint and the store did not run out. “Hope” means maybe, sometimes probably, but never certainly.
“Hope” in the language of the Bible carries more weight. It does not speak of contingencies, or probabilities, but rather certainties. The realization of hope is grounded in the reality of God and His promises. “Hope” appears 144 times in the English Standard Version of the Bible. It is most common in the Psalms (26 times) and commonly refers to the certainty that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. Ironically, the second highest score for “hope” (17 times) is found in Job, the intense book on human suffering, which teaches us that when all the other seeming certainties of life are stripped away, there is certain grace and the hope of redemption with God. The book of Romans tops the New Testament charts (12 times) and teaches that “hope” is part and parcel of our bedrock doctrine of God and His salvation, meaning that a true believer has every “hope” that he or she has been saved, is being saved, and will be saved by grace through faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. “Hope” is the certain gift of God that will never disillusion nor disappoint, no matter how difficult life gets in this present world.
“Blessed hope” is a phrase that appears only once in the Bible, in Titus 2:13, yet it summons to mind all the hope and all the promises that are ours in Jesus Christ. As we celebrate His first advent and look forward to the second, it is a good time to consider the confident expectation of “our blessed hope” in God, which He accomplished, will accomplish, and is accomplishing by His Spirit and by His Son, Jesus Christ.
We can be certain that “our blessed hope” has come.
“Our blessed hope” is Jesus Christ. We can be certain that He has come. As a matter of fact, we could have been certain that He would come to earth even before His first arrival in Bethlehem.
From the day original sin crept in and felled man, separating him from God, God gave us hope. He promised a Savior, a human being, who would crush the curse at great personal cost (ref. Genesis 3:15). God promised this Savior would be more than a mere man, He would be God incarnate, in the person of the Son of God (ref. Isaiah 7:14, 9:6). God promised His birth would take place in Bethlehem (ref. Micah 5:2). God explained the cost the Son of God would pay for the salvation of man, which included betrayal, mocking, cruel crucifixion, and a moment in which God the Father would forsake God the Son, our sin-bearer (ref. Psalm 22, Isaiah 53). And as the pages turn into the New Testament, when Simeon saw the baby Jesus, he spoke for God and declared that all the hopes and horrors of the person and work of the Messiah were certain, they were guaranteed in the Lord Jesus Christ (ref. Luke 2:25-35).
Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so, for all of history tells me so, for the cross tells me so, for the empty tomb tells me so, for hope tells me that it is so. “Our blessed hope” has come, His first advent took place two thousand years ago, and I am as certain of that fact as the fact that I am standing here right now. “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness” (Edward Mote). Yes, “our blessed hope” has come. And, He is coming again!
We can be certain that “our blessed hope” is coming.
I appreciate the beauty of the Appalachians, the Ozarks, and the Ouachitas, but I’ll never forget the first time I drove into the Rocky Mountains. They are so big they are breathtaking. The drive creates an interesting phenomenon, too. Sometimes it looks like you are heading for one giant mountain, only to discover as you drive by it is two mountains, one standing in the foreshadow of a larger mouintain. This is a good illustration of “our blessed hope,” Jesus Christ, Who has come and is coming again.
The Old Testament prophets preached the advent of the Messiah as one giant event. There would be sin and suffering, death and resurrection, substitutionary atonement, and a glorious and unopposed reign of the King over His kingdom. What they could not see, but the New Testament apostles could, is that as you drive around the advent of Jesus Christ, it is actually two mountains instead of one. His first advent accomplished the hope of salvation from sin and death for all who believe. Yet the world is still filled with sin and strife, rebellion against God and oppression against man. Where is its end? Where is the glorious, perfect reign of Christ over a sinless, spotless world? That’s the second mountain. “Our blessed hope” is coming.
I hope -- meaning I confidently expect -- that there will be a day when the lion lays down with the lamb (ref. Isaiah 11:6). I hope there will be a day when every knee bows down to the Lord Jesus Christ (ref. Philippians 2:5-11). I hope there will be a day when all of God’s people over all of the ages live in a celestial city which is infinitely more beautiful than the apocalyptic picture of gold streets and pearly gates (ref. Revelation). I hope, which means I am very certain, that “our blessed hope” has come; and, He is coming again to bring these things and others more wonderful than we can imagine! Put your hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, Who has come and is coming again, and put your hope in Him right now!
We can be certain that “our blessed hope” is here, now.
Christ has come, and Christ is coming again. This is “our blessed hope,” past and future. But what about the present? Where is our hope for today?
The text in Titus tells us that “our blessed hope” is “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (ref. vs. 13). We know that the “glory” of God appeared at the first advent, at the birth of Jesus Christ (ref. Luke 2:9). We know that when Christ comes again, His “glory” will fill the new heavens and earth so that there will be no need of sun, moon, and stars (ref. Revelation 21:23). But where is the “glory” of the Lord now, so that we can be certain of our salvation and show others the right path to God?
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever, Amen” (ref. Ephesians 3:20-21). Titus 2:11-14 shows us where “our blessed hope” can be seen now, where by God’s grace and power we can see His “glory in the church” every Sunday and every day.
The glory of God is revealed in the church when salvation is attributed to the grace of God and the work of Christ. There is no hope in works righteousness, this idea that we can get saved and get to Heaven by being good. There is no hope in the man-centered, Finney-esque theology that claims that evangelism and revival are just “the right use of means,” and that salvation gained by such means can be just as easily lost. “Our blessed hope” is in the gospel and the church of people saved by the sovereign choice of God the Father, the blood atonement of God the Son, and the regeneration and indwelling of God the Spirit. Hope is here, now, in salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
The glory of God is revealed in the church when God’s people live godly, holy, Christ-centered lives. When “the grace of God … appears” and is truly accepted by a man, woman, boy, or girl, there is a hope, a certainty that they are really saved. You can tell not merely by what they say, but how they live. I have every hope that a brother or sister is truly in Christ when I see them habitually “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and … live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present.” Hope is here, now, in a true Christian who is “zealous for good works.”
The glory of God is revealed in the church when we live like Heaven is our real home and Christ is our first love. As Tom Petty wrote, “Waiting is the hardest part.” But hope is seen, here and now, in the church full of people “waiting for our blessed hope.” Our hope cannot be in government, in a capitalistic frenzy to fight for money and the stuff money can buy, or in the temporal pleasures of entertainment and sport. Hope is laying up treasure in Heaven through sacrificial giving and sacrificial living. Hope is keeping a short account with God by asking for forgiveness and forgiving others. Hope is loving and living for Jesus in such a way that, no matter what happens in this present life, we keep our hope alive for the infinitely better life which is to come for everyone who truly believes in Jesus Christ.
Yes, Andy and Red, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” And hope is a real thing, realized in past, present, and future for those whose hope is in God and the gospel. On this second Sunday of Advent, on every Sunday, on every day, keep hope alive by living confidently in the faith, hope, love, and peace that are ours through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.