PROMISES KEPT: HOPE Selected Scripture Verses
Pastor Dennis Bone
It’s been said that hope is not a strategy; and this might be true if you are not a part of God’s people. Hope is an essential part of God’s strategy and if we belong to God’s people we have a certain hope or a sure hope that is based upon God’s strategic and sovereign plan of salvation. This is what our Christian hope is based upon: the certain hope of Jesus Christ our Savior; and this hope is firmly based upon the certain promises of God. As we begin the Advent season this morning we are again reminded of the promises of God; promises made and kept for us because of the coming of His Son Jesus Christ. As the apostle Paul reminds us: “All of the promises of God are ‘Yes’ in Christ,” thus we find our hope and put our hope in Him.
So as we celebrate this first Sunday in Advent I want us to examine the reason for this hope; the realization of this hope and the reality of this hope that we find in the coming of Christ our Savior. The primary Greek word for “hope” in the New Testament means “to anticipate with confident expectation.” Throughout history people have been promised hope by kings and nations; by politicians and philosophers; and by scientists and sociologists; but hope promised by sinners always fails. Hope promised by God through the advent of His Son Jesus Christ will never fail. Our primary text for this morning is found in Galatians 4, verses 4 & 5. The apostle Paul writes these words:
But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.
God takes the initiative to promise hope, and then to provide hope; and it’s a hope that is sure and certain right now, and forever.
This then leads us to the first main point to consider: the Reason for hope. The Psalmist in Psalm 71 nails the essence of hope laid out in the Old Testament when he says: “For you have been our hope, O sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you. And as for me I will always have this hope; I will praise you more and more.”
He is reflecting on the great truth that the reason for hope is grounded first and foremost in God’s sovereign plan. The promise of Advent started with God’s sovereign plan of salvation. Our reason for hope is grounded in God’s promise of a Savior. The reason that we need hope is that we are sinners and we live in a sinful world; thus it would be foolish to look for hope in ourselves or in this world. God has always called people to look outside themselves and their circumstances to Him. God told Adam and Eve this when they sinned in the Garden; and continued this message of hope throughout the Old Testament. Hope was never something they were to have in a person or a leader; or in a religious system, but it was to be in the promises of God.
They were to wait until the time had fully come; the time when this promise first made to Adam and then to Abraham would be fulfilled, as we read about in Galatians 3, when Paul says this good news of Christ’s coming was announced before hand to Abraham, and by extension to all of the Old Testament people. Their reason for hope is the same reason we have for hope. It’s in the sovereign plan of God to keep His promises. This sovereign plan is demonstrated in three ways. First, we see the Word of God reigning over history. By His Word God created; and by His Word He reigns over this creation. As we studied in Psalm 2 not long ago, God is in the heavens seeing what is happening in His creation. He is the sovereign King over His creatures.
As such, He has appointed His Son through whom He created the world, to be the one who will make the nations His inheritance. As Paul tells us in Colossians 1, all things were created by Christ; He is before all things and all things are held together by Him. And it’s through Christ that God will bring reconciliation to the world. This is our hope. Second, we see the Will of God ruling through history. Not only does God reign over history, He rules in it. Nothing happens in history that is not in His will, which is the reason that God’s people have true hope. God does not respond to history; He writes history.
Job’s friend speaks truth to Job when he says, “You will be secure because there is hope; you will look around you and take your rest in safety.” Job may not have felt hopeful, even as we don’t always feel that way due to circumstances, but His hope was in God his Redeemer. As Psalm 130 declares: “Put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He Himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” Our hope is not in the circumstances of history or of our lives; our hope is in the promise of God’s redemption. This is why Paul tells us in Romans 8 that the whole creation waits in hope by the will of the one who subjected it in hope. The whole creation is waiting for Christ; and as Paul says in verse 24: “For in this hope we are saved.”
Our hope of salvation was realized in the first advent of Christ; and the finality or culmination of our salvation will take place at the second advent of Christ. Before we move on to consider this realization and reality of hope, I want us to see a third point about God’s sovereign plan: the Wisdom of God revealed in history.
God has revealed His plan throughout Old Testament history, not through the wisdom of this world but through the wisdom of His Scripture. God has given sinful people His revelation pointing people to Christ. Jesus told us this when He said that all of the Law, Psalms and Prophets point to Him. And Paul tells us in Romans 15:4: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” The hope of the old covenant and the new covenant is Christ; and it’s this promise of hope kept that we see realized in the coming of Christ at His first Advent. This brings us to the second main point to consider: the Realization of Hope.
In the first three chapters of Galatians Paul has laid out how God’s sovereign plan has been fulfilled in Christ. This is the gospel of God that he is called to preach; and it’s the only gospel. Our hope is in Christ alone, not in the law, for the promises of God are received by faith. The law was designed to point out our sin and to lead us to Christ. Now in chapter 4 Paul explains God’s providential process in fulfilling His promise. Verse 4 begins: “But when the time had fully come, God sent forth His Son.” There was a set time in history when this Messianic hope would be realized, and it would be at the appropriate time and according to God’s sovereign timetable. Advent was perfectly timed.
The first point in this providential process is the coming of God’s Son – thus the word “advent” which means coming; and this coming was a result of being sent by the Father. God the Father is the one who planned this promised coming; and He would keep His promise. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.” This was the start of the process that was already pre-determined by God the Father.
This hope for Israel and hope for all the nations was realized in the person of Jesus, who many times reminds us during His earthly ministry that He was sent by His Father to do His Father’s will.
“When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.” So we see a second point: this providential process involved a supernatural process, in the conception of God’s Son. The promise of hope was fulfilled through a virgin birth, as Isaiah prophesied: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Mary asks the angel, “How can I have a child when I’m a virgin?” The angel answers, “The power of the Most High will overshadow you, so that the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” In order for God to keep His promise to us the divine became human. Our reason for hope is that God became like us in order to save us.
Thus we see a third point: the process of God keeping His promise is realized in the incarnation of God’s Son. This means that God became flesh and dwelt among us. As Paul says here in Galatians 4, Jesus was born of a woman and born under the law. As sinners we had no hope apart from God becoming man. Paul explains this in Romans 8 when he says: “For what the law was powerless to do because of our sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.” And as we read in Philippians 2: “Jesus being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped . . . taking on the nature of a servant . . . and appearing as a man.” Our reason for hope is because God sent His Son to be born of a woman and born under the law.
And it was this realization of hope in the first advent of Jesus Christ, some 2,000 years ago, that He accomplished for us who are Christians the reality of hope. The reality of hope is when a person experiences God’s saving purpose provided to us in the advent of His Son Jesus Christ. We experience true hope by faith in Jesus Christ.
This purpose is found in the words of the angel to Joseph in Matthew 1: “Mary will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” The reason for hope is in this purpose for Christ’s coming, as Paul tells us in verse 5 of Galatians 4: “To redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” Hope is not real until first we have experienced the redemption of sins. People can hope for anything yet their hope may have no basis in reality. Christian hope is based on the reality of God’s saving purpose in Christ. It’s not some religion that man made up or philosophy that might be true, but it is God keeping His promises.
Redemption is Christ taking our sins upon Himself, so that we who believe in Him are forgiven of those sins. Paul puts it this way in Ephesians 1 saying, “In Christ we have redemption in His blood; and the forgiveness of sins.” Christ redeemed us from the law by becoming a curse for us upon the cross. The purpose of the cross is to give sinners hope; not hoping that we can be good enough to reach God, but in knowing that Christ is good enough to get us to God. He is our hope. Second, we experience true hope in the adoption as sons. Redemption leads to our adoption into the family of God as His children. The reality of hope is when we are given a new status before God. Paul is echoing the words of Apostle John who said: “To all who received Christ, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”
Later in I John we are reminded that because of the great love that God the Father lavished upon us in Christ, we are right now children of God; and what we will be has not yet been made know but will be when Christ appears at His final advent. We shall be like Him because we will see Him as He is. So third, we experience true hope in the guarantee of glory. The reality of hope now in Christ brings us as Christians the reality of certain hope forever. As Paul says in Colossians 1: Christ in us is the hope of glory.
So as we begin this Advent season let us rejoice in this sure hope we have in God’s promises kept; for this hope does not and will not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us, because through Jesus we are His children now and forever.
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