The question has often been asked as to why the early church grew so rapidly. The answer, I believe, is quite simple. The Christian religion is a religion of hope. Hope was something many of that day did not have. Hope is more than wishful thinking. It is defined as “desire with expectation of obtaining what is desired”. You may desire something, whatever it may be, but realize the chances of ever having this desire come true is not realistic. The desire may be there, but you cannot hope for them. Expectation alone is also not hope. Most of us expect sickness to come from time to time, or expect to pay taxes, etc. We expect these things in life, however there is no desire for them, therefore we do not hope for them. Where there is desire and expectation there is hope, and such hope is necessary for us to live the Christian life successfully.
What the Christian hope is not:
It is not the “hope” that we are going to Heaven. Have you ever been asked, “Are you going to Heaven?” and your reply is “I hope so”. We can know if we are going to Heaven or not, no hoping about it. In 1 John 5:13 we read, “I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” If one knows he has eternal life he knows he is a Christian and thus going to Heaven.
What the Christian hope is:
It IS the promise of Heaven with all the good things that are there. We ought to desire it, and we ought to expect it. If we don’t, we have no hope. Many Christians just desire Heaven but don’t expect it. If you don’t expect it, you are not diligent or don’t believe the promises of God. The basis of our hope is that we are children of God. The reason for our being children of God is God’s love. 1 John. 3:1 reads, “See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children”. We became God’s children by being born again. John. 3:3 says, “Jesus replied, Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again; he cannot see the kingdom of God”. No one except a child of God can have this hope of Heaven. Those with whom we come in contact in our everyday lives that cannot call themselves children of God are without hope. The Apostle Paul tells us, “At that time you were without Christ, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). We know from scripture that Heaven is a prepared place because Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms, if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself so that where I am you may be also.” Heaven is prepared only for those who summit to Christ and become children of God.
Purity is a must
We know that as a Christian, we must keep ourselves pure and the hope of Heaven purifies our hearts. 1 John. 3:3 reads, “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” The stronger our hope, the purer in heart and life we will be. Likewise, the purer in heart and life the stronger our hope will be. Purity in the life of every Christian is necessary before we can have hope of “appearing with Christ in glory”. The hope of Heaven should cause us as Christians to rejoice. Matt. 5:12 tells us, “Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in Heaven.” The Christians hope is based upon the promises of Christ, and he has promised us Heaven if we obey him. Our hope depends upon the strength of our desire, and how badly we want to go to Heaven. It is also based on the strength of our expectation, and our faith in God who has promised us a place in Heaven if we have lived the kind of life we should. The Christians hope is worth more than the entire world, do you have it