A Glimmer of Hope
By Pastor Jurgen Rausch
“25) I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26) the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27) To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28) He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.”
Introduction : A People of Hope.
All over the world people are gathering in places of worship this morning to commemorate the first Sunday of Advent. They do so by lighting the first of the advent candles. That first candle that we lid this morning has traditionally been known as the Candle of Hope. Once again, we are reminded of hope!
In those days, the hope and anticipation of the birth of the Messiah. In our days, the hope of his return, the hope of a better world to come; the hope that resides within us. Resides within us quite literally! We are a people of hope! When all is hopeless around us; when all seems gloom and doom we remain the most hopeful people on earth.
1.The 'Christ in You' of Hope.
Who better to express that, then the Apostle Paul, when he coined the famous phrase: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” – if anything describes us, it is that!
“God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles
the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col 1:26-27
So what does that mean? Let’s unwrap this a little. What does 'Christ in you' mean? 'Christ in you' means Christ in you!
This is to be understood literally. The invisible risen Christ lives in you by his Spirit. Some have suggested that this should mean Christ among you as though he hovers near-by; and while it's true that He is among us it doesn’t go far enough.
The intend behind this phrase is that he actually dwells within us!
“The context requires that we understand the phrase as referring to an inner subjective experience. The mystery, therefore, long hidden but now revealed is not the diffusion of the gospel among the Gentiles but the indwelling of Christ in his people”. Curtis Vaughan, in Expository Bible Commentary.
This is fantastic! Absolutely mindboggling!
Who else would dwell in the hearts of people as Jesus does? Mohamed doesn’t dwell in the hearts of Muslims anymore than Buddha dwells in the hearts of Buddhists or Jehovah in the hearts of Jews.
WE are the only ones who have our living, breathing AND well-meaning Savior dwell in our hearts. There may be claims of other deities indwelling human beings. We certainly know that from the occult, but always with evil and destructive intend. The only one who claims to live inside the hearts of his followers and mean them only good and salvation, is Jesus Christ!
God lives within us in the person of Jesus; just as he dwelt within the womb of Mary for nine months so also spiritually, mystically he dwells in our hearts! Not just for nine months or nine years but for all the years of time!
That’s what Paul called:“Christ in you, the hope of glory”!
2. The Mystery of Hope.
And he was amazed at this as anyone. He simply could not get over the fact that, which was hidden through the ages, that which no one would fathom in their wildest dreams, that which was a mystery and was withheld from them has now become a reality! He calls it a mystery; one that has now been solved: “God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery”
The wording is such that this, which was an ongoing mystery or hidden away, was suddenly made a reality; catching all by surprise and taking their breath away. So new was this, so radical and such a surprise that people, like Paul, were left grasping for words, as the whole world rejoiced!
My friend, Jesus is in you; this is the hope of glory; this is the reason we remain the most hopeful people in the world! Christ literally dwells in us by His Spirit; His fullness resides within us! His presence is readily available to all who seek him and it’s a lifelong reality that will never slip away.
May we never get used to “Christ in Us” or look upon it as an entitlement or see it as a common, ordinary occurrence! May we never lose the wonder of this amazing gift: “the glorious riches of this mystery”!
3. The Riches of Hope
This marvelous mystery of 'Christ in Us' brings with it untold riches!
“The glorious riches of this mystery” what kind of riches?
“Paul’s frequent use of “riches” suggest that Christ had opened the door for him to an inexhaustible treasure of goodness, glory, wisdom and grace; and every time he explores it, he finds something new to take his breath away” Curtis Vaughan in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary.
When he comes, he brings glory. When he comes, he brings goodness. When he comes, he brings wisdom. When he comes, he brings grace.
Inexhaustible treasures of goodness, wisdom and grace! These can be tapped into, unwrapped, lived out and enjoyed. "Christ in us" is not a dormant thing but dynamic, living and ever breathing!
This makes the Christian life dynamic and makes me be alive, teaching me new things, showing me new riches and helping me live a vibrant Christian life.
That is the nature of “Christ in me, the hope of glory”
“In the Bible, hope is never a static or passive thing. It is dynamic, active, directive and life sustaining. This is everywhere obvious as we read the Word. Look up the word “hope” and you will find reference after reference pointing out the active results of hope in the lives of those who truly have a biblical hope and live accordingly.” J. Hampton Keathley. In other words, a biblical hope is not an escape from reality or from problems. It doesn’t leave us idle, drifting or just rocking on the front porch. If our hope is biblical and based on God's promises, it will put us in gear.
4. The Future of Hope.
And most of all, 'Christ in us' is the basis for the “hope of glory”!
The idea of “glory” has definitely a future tense and reference; it leans into tomorrow; it describes the glory yet to come.
While there is God’s glory displayed all around us in the here and now, ultimately glory refers to the life that is to come:
Ps. 73:24 “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.”
Years ago we used to say “received unto glory” when someone passed away, which comes from this Psalm. When a believer dies, she will be taken into God’s presence, and in His presence she will naturally be surrounded by God’s glory.
'Christ in us' provides us with this happy confidence, this hope of glory yet to come!
As good as 'Christ in us' now is, and as much as we enjoy the benefits of his presence in the here and now, 'Christ in us' is primarily meant to help us lean into the future glory yet to come!
The 'Christ in us' uses his Spirit almost like a deposit of eternal things to come:
“When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession” Eph 1:13-14.
As great as His presence in us is in the here and now, it foreshadows an ever greater and richer presence!
“Already the light has shone. Yet this is but the dawn of the new day which will reach its zenith at the second coming” Herbert Carson.
The amazing presence of Jesus in us is but the beginning of a sunrise whose zenith will happen in eternity. Break out the shades, I say!
“The fact that here and now you have His life within you, affords a firm hope that you will share in that fullness of glory that is yet to be displayed” F.F. Bruce.
Christ in us is the hope of glory, folks! The reality of Jesus in me points me in the direction of an even greater reality.
Fellowship with him that is now spiritual, mystical, invisible and by faith, will be transformed into face-to-face habitation with him in Glory.“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see him face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” I Cor. 13
5. The Permanence of Hope.
This gift of Christ in us will never be taken away from us – as Paul wrote:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Ro. 8:35)
You can find a Christ-follower in a long-term care facility struggling with losing their faculty or sliding into confusion; or in hospitals struggling to recover from sickness, but Christ is still within that individual even if all else is gone! How absolutely amazing!
Ø Your believing grandmother in her demented state is still very much a carrier of Jesus!
Ø Your believing father, frail, shriveled up and a mere shell of what he once was is still a carrier of Jesus.
Ø Jesus in all his fullness dwells in that cancer riddled believer!
You can go bankrupt, you can lose your partner, you can be poor and destitute but Jesus will be your constant companion in life! They can take more and more things from you and leave you with less and less until all you have of your own is a picture on a wall and a chair in the corner but they will never take Jesus away from you!
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Ro. 8:37-39.
So no matter where you go and what happens to you, 'Christ inYou' will be our lifelong reality!
Conclusion: Living 'The Life of Hope'.
As a hope filled people who lean into the future, how is our life different from those who don’t share this hope?
Biblical hope is not an escape from reality nor does it leave us idle or drifting. Instead, it’s active, dynamic, propelling us toward the future.
“The Christian life is a magnificent obsession with an eternal hope, a hope that does not lead to an escapist attitude, but to the pursuit of life on a whole new dimension. It makes you bullish on the potentials of this life as stewards of God. It gives us power to live courageously, to be all God has called us to be in Christ.” J. Hampton Keathley.
So let’s be the people of hope in this world; a people who live as pilgrims in this world yearning for a better world with a value system that affects what we do with our talent, time and treasure!
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