Broadcast

Knowing Hope

From the series I Choose Hope

We all hope in something or someone. The question is: Can your hope deliver? In the ups and downs of relationships, finances, family, career - where's your hope? Can you really count on it when life gets hard? Join Chip as he reveals the differences between true and false hope.

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Message Transcript

The apostle Paul would write in 2 Corinthians, “For God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself,” notice this line, “no longer counting people’s sins against them,” and he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation, “for God made Christ who never sinned to be the offering for our sin so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”

What is he saying? This is amazing. He is saying that Jesus was born and from the foundations of the earth, He came to live a perfect life; reveal what God was like; teach and tie all that had happened and all the prophecies of the Old Testament to verify its reality; to do miracles that no one has done, that were verified, even by His enemies; to have eyewitness accounts of over five hundred people that He actually lived and walked upon the earth.

But His mission was: “I am coming to die and I am going to die an unfair death,” being fully human He could die; being fully God He could pay the price for all the sin of all people of all time and He would absorb your sin and mine and the people of all time as the sin offering so God could cover or atone for the sins of people. And He did it on a cross.

The moment He was born, that is game day. That’s redemption. You have already been purchased by God and the price tag was the blood of Christ. Now, are you ready for this? You know what this means? You have been forgiven. You are already forgiven. You can’t earn it, you can’t negotiate it, it’s a gift.

See, when Jesus hung upon that cross – your sin, my sin, the sins of all people – were placed upon Him and when He died, He defeated death and sin and Satan and when He rose from the dead it’s true, He made everyone forgiven. So the gift is free to everyone.

But only those who, by faith, receive the gift have a relationship with God. I didn’t know that. I went to church until I opted out. I never knew that. You are wanted, you are completely understood, and you have a gift.

Some of you, probably the great majority in this room, you have opened it, you have received Christ, there was a day that you realized, My life is not working. Or for some of us it was, My life is working really great and I’m supposed to be happy because of this, this, this, and this and it’s really not. And God showed you that it would be His love and He wanted to give you what money can’t buy, what another person can’t give, what a perfect family can’t deliver, what the best job or going public will never give you: Life and peace and love and purpose.

And so at a point in time, probably the great majority in this room turned from your sin, repented, and asked Christ to forgive you and also come into your life. And it’s called “a new birth,” and you were changed and you’re on the journey. For some, you know what I see with a lot of people is they believe in Jesus, but they have never received Him. It’s sort of an intellectual, “Do you believe in God?” “Yeah.” “Believe in Jesus?” “Yeah.” Have you received Him? Is He the focus of your life? Is He changing you? Are you experiencing Him? And that answer would be, “Eh, probably not.”

The message of Jesus is hope.

Paul says, I am in a personal relationship with God that has so radicalized my life and my thinking that His love, His actual concern has somehow come down inside of me and I just feel compelled to love other people.

And notice what he says, “Since we believe that Christ died for all, we believe also that we died to our old life. That means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become,” look at this, not a religious person, “a new person.” The old you, the old me, the old life is gone; a new life has begun.

It’s an absolute new life. Hope for today, hope for tomorrow, and hope forever. Here’s the big question. It’s a really, really big question. Where is your hope? Not intellectual, okay? In terms of your energy, in terms of your time, in terms of your focus, in terms of your dreams – and I’m not going to ask you to say anything out loud, but if you would just have a private conversation right now, what does your lifestyle, what does your priorities, what would they say? “Life is going to be meaningful and secure and deliver for me because I…” Have a great job? Finally get married? Make a lot of money? My kids are very successful? Right?

Where is your hope? Because this is an amazing offer of a brand-new life, but it has really big competitors.

I remember a young man came to me and he looked to be, I don’t know, mid-thirtyish. And he said, “You’re the pastor?” I said, “Well, I’m one of them.” And he said, “Can I have a quick talk with you? This is my first time here and I just don’t know if you would be comfortable with someone like me coming.” And I said, “Well, gosh, why? Just tell me a little bit about yourself?”

He said, “Well, I just got out of prison last week.” I said, “Okay, tell me a little bit more.” He said, “Well, I was in prison for murder one. And I got out early for good behavior.” But he said, “That whole experience, what I realized was my whole old life was not what God wanted and I have met Christ personally and He has really transformed my life. But I realized, I’m a felon and I’m a murderer and I just wanted to tell you up front. I didn’t want someone to find out and someone come to tell you, ‘You’ve got a murderer running around!’”

I said, “Oh, no. We’ve got liars, we’ve got fornicators, we’ve got affair-ers, we’ve got crooks, we’ve got people with sexual addictions, we have people that are narcissists – no, no – you’re going to fit right in!” But we are forgiven! And we are new and we are on a journey.

In fact, I said, “The apostle Paul was a murderer and Moses was a murderer and I don’t mean to diminish it, but God forgives. This isn’t like a try-hard, self-righteous, clean-up-your-act. This is a total transformation of the living God coming and taking up residence inside you and you build a relationship and little by little, He transforms your life.”

But here’s the deal. That has been true for two thousand years, but the challenge in the first century is the same challenge that we have. There is so much, there is so much competition to take your heart and to take your hope and to put it someplace else that won’t deliver.

The apostle Paul is going to give a warning to this little church that he loves, that he is tight with, he has told his life story. We learned in chapter 1 that he is going to be executed, but he chooses joy. He says, “Circumstances can’t shake me.”

We learned that there has been a lot of difficult time and he chooses that, “I am going to be a loving person no matter what,” in chapter 2. And then chapter 3, he says, “I’ve got hope! Whether I die or whether I live, I’ve got hope.” And now to this little group that is being persecuted and some false teachers have come in, he says, “I want you to make sure your hope is the kind of hope that delivers.”

The apostle Paul has contrasted false hope with his past success, education, status, wealth, and personal morality with the true hope of love and joy and peace and purpose found through an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

He makes it really clear: I don’t have it all together, it doesn’t mean I’m perfect in this life, but I am pursuing this relationship with Christ because He is my hope.

And so just to give you a picture because some of this Bible stuff, if you’re like me, I didn’t grow up reading the Bible, I didn’t grow up understanding or following Christ. Let me just give you a picture of, when he says, “My hope is not in these things,” you might say, Well, gosh, he was a loser. Why would he? No, no, no.

The apostle Paul is described by Will Durant, who wrote a complete history of mankind, secular historian, as the greatest single intellect in the entire first century. If I was giving, he was the rising star in Judaism. If I was introducing him today, if it was the apostle Paul today I would say, “Paul came from a prestigious family, he went to a prestigious prep school, he did his undergraduate at Stanford, he did his MBA at Harvard.

On the side, he went to Wharton School of Finance. He did a little extra work in his area in MIT in post-grad work. Along with that, what he did was he was morally the finest person anyone has ever met. His wife and family are just wonderful.

Because of this, he has become very, very wealthy and would hold the kind of job of the

CEO. That’s this guy in his day. Wealth, power, success, education. And the world says, “If you can somehow, someway get all that, you’ll be happy and secure,” and what do we know? Am I saying those things are bad? No. But they are a bad hope. Right?

If your hope is in your marriage and your partner dies, it’s not so good. If your hope is in your kids and someone goes left of center and they are drunk and your kids are gone, it’s not good. If your hope is in money and you lose it, it’s not good.

Those things can be rich, wonderful things in our life. But what you can accumulate or achieve or possess or find apart from Christ will always, at some point, disappoint you. And, so, his plea – this is this pastoral heart of Paul. His plea is: Put your hope in that that is going to deliver real life.
And, so, he gives this warning and a command. And then he gives them a couple reasons way. He says, the command is, “You must live out your hope every day.” This isn’t just a religious experience, this isn’t intellectual. You have to live out this hope every day.

Notice in verse 17, “Brethren, join in following my example and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.” Look, three words, “example,” “observe,” and, “pattern.”

What he basically says is, I was with you. My whole life changed. The test of where your hope is is not what you think and not what you say. The test of where your hope is is your behavior and your conduct. What do you do with your time, your energy, and your money and your relationships?

He says, I gave you a pattern of transformation. Make sure you stay on that path. You live out your hope every day. And then he gives us two reasons. Reason number one is a really negative one, because apparently, there were some people that were professing to be followers.

They intellectually said or believed they were followers but they were saying this but their life was not even close. And, so, this is a warning.

Reason number one is because false hopes deliver tragedy – if you want to jot a word down. Notice he is brokenhearted, “For many walk whom I often told you and tell you now, weeping, that they are, one, enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose food is their appetite, whose glory is in their shame, and they set their minds on earthly things.”

These people profess that their hope is in Christ, but they have become enemies of the cross.” In other words, they are going to find it somewhere else. That means they are undermining that Jesus did.

Their end is destruction. And this is a word that, yeah, they say this but their hope isn’t in Christ. And so they are going to end up apart from Him forever. In fact, he goes, “What you see is, what are their motivations?” This word here for, “Their god is their appetite,” or, literally it’s their stomach. Actually, it is used in other parts in the New Testament as sexual organs. In other words, sensuality, how much can I get? Greed and sex and power.

He says, “That’s their god. That’s their appetite. That’s what they want.” Which reveals their hope isn’t in Christ. And then with sorrow, he just, “They glory in their shame.”

Do you realize that an awful lot about sex has nothing to do about sex and has everything to do with power and manipulation? And you know what? That ain’t new. This was written a couple thousand years ago.

And he says at the heart of it is how you think. What does it say? “Who set their minds on earthly things.” And he’s not saying it’s wrong to set your mind on what you need to get done. He’s saying: Setting their minds on: what can this world now deliver as hope?

Brings tragedy. Some of you already know that, don’t you? You thought when you found Mr. Right or Miss Right and now it ended in divorce. Some of you have thought, Man, it’s going to be in work and I’m going to do this and I’m going to climb the ladder and I’m going to…

And for some it didn’t work and you realize, and for others, it did work. I’ve got a handful of friends that are just extraordinarily wealthy in money, and who are some of the saddest, loneliest people I have ever met because what they lost were the things that matter – their family, their friends, their integrity. Now, they are back on the track and God has been gracious. Let’s get to the good news.

The second reason to put your hope in Christ is that true hope delivers transformation. He is going to say there is a reorientation.

Don’t think that Christianity is: Got to be a nice person, go to church now and then, and maybe go on a mission trip. No, no, no, no, no.

This is about: He came down! It’s a wonder. It’s a mystery. He understands. He has already forgiven you. There’s a brand-new life! So He has got a plan and a future for you. Embrace it! Go for it!

And then he says why. Here’s the root. The root is: our citizenship; our real home is in heaven. We are going to live forever, not just in time – “from which we eagerly await for a Savior,” notice the focus. That’s what I am looking forward to. It’s an eternal perspective. The Lord Jesus Christ who will do, who will transform the body of our humble state – if you had, I would have you circle that and underline that – “who will transform,” the word is morph. It’s a word that means to be absolutely in substance changed from the inside out.

That’s the evidence of true hope. And he says not only does that happen spiritually and emotionally and in this life, but a day will come where your actual body will be transformed by Him. And how does He do it? By the power that He has to subject all things unto Himself. We started with the wonder of a God who speaks these galaxies into existence and now He says that same power to subject all things, a day will come for those who put their hope in Christ. And He says this: You will be transformed and I have prepared a place for you, and we will be together forever. So live your life like what is true about Me is true, and that heaven is real and eternal values will really pay off and it will not only produce the kind of life you have always dreamed of today, but it will be an anchor for your soul when you face the greatest difficulty that we will all face one day. And that’s death. And He is saying it has been overcome.