Hope and the Gospel
1. Last week we looked at the marvelous hope we have in Christ:
• The Hope of Glory
• The Hope of His Coming
• The Hope of Resurrection
• The Hope of Meeting Loved Ones in Glory
• The Hope of Our Calling
• The Hope of Being Like Him
• The Hope of Heaven Itself
• The Hope of Rewards and eternal inheritance
2. This morning we want to look at another aspect of our hope: that it is actually part of the gospel message itself!
a. Paul states here that this hope which was laid up for them in heaven they heard… and they heard it in the word of the truth of the GOSPEL!
b. This hope is part of the good news… part of the message we are to preach to the lost.
c. Today we want to look at that one fact and some of its implications.
This Hope (objective) Is Part of the Gospel
A. The Hope of Heaven = the expectation of believers
1. Notice that in verse 5, Paul states that the Colossians heard about this hope IN the word of the truth of the gospel!
a. In other words, whoever preached the gospel to them (Epaphras) told them much MORE than simply, “Jesus died and rose again.”
b. The presentation of the gospel message they heard included our Christian hope: our hope of heaven… our hope of resurrection, etc.
c. This is all PART of the gospel… not an adjunct to it.
d. One cannot really tell the gospel message without mentioning the glorious future hope for those who believe in Christ!
e. It is only reasonable that if we are going to ask folks to believe on Christ and align themselves with One who was despised and rejected of men on earth… that we let them know about the glorious hope we have for the future!
2. For someone to make an intelligent decision to believe on Christ and entrust one’s eternal destiny into His care, it is incumbent upon the one preaching the gospel message to INFORM the person as to what that eternal destiny IS! That is our hope!
a. Of course, a person could get saved WITHOUT hearing very much about this great hope in Christ.
b. He may not have heard of the rapture… or of the heavenly city with streets of gold… or of the Bema Seat and the crowns that will be given… he may never hear of the mansion (dwelling place) that Christ is preparing for believers in heaven… he may not know about the inheritance that awaits him and is reserved for every believer in heaven…
c. He may not know any of this. It is not a requirement in order to be saved.
d. However, consider HOW the gospel was preached in the New Testament. The apostles didn’t pare it down to the bare minimum. They preached the WHOLE counsel of God for men to hear.
e. In this passage, Paul informs us that when the Colossians heard the gospel, they were informed of the great hope that is laid up for them in heaven!
f. When the apostles preached the gospel, they wanted people to know the ADVANTAGES of being saved…
g. When the apostles preached the gospel, they wanted people to know what they were being saved UNTO…
h. This hope has a motivating factor built in…
i. If I thought that getting saved – obtaining eternal life meant living forever in a body like mine… in a world like this… struggling against sin, disease, and the world forever, I would have said, “No thank you! Let me die!”
j. But to know that one day all tears will be wiped away… all sorrow and suffering will be over… no more sin… no more violence… no more disease… just perfect bliss in the presence of our loving heavenly Father – that would interest me… and anyone else who hears such a message of hope.
k. Remember, the word gospel means “good news.” All of this is good news! Don’t leave it out of the gospel!
l. Of course, this takes time to teach the whole counsel of God… and in our culture we want everything instant… even instant conversions.
m. Far better is it to take a little extra time with a person teaching them… showing them in the Scriptures… weeks, months, years if necessary — than to pressure a person into making a quick decision for Christ… when he is not ready… when he really wants to know MORE…
n. This is the way Jesus preached the gospel in His day too.
• He included all kinds of people as His disciples.
• Not all disciples were true believers… not all disciples were saved.
• The term disciple is different from believer. A disciple means a “student.”
• Many students enrolled in Christ’s teaching ministry. They sat and listened.
• Many loved what they heard – stuck with it – and in time BELIEVED and were saved.
• Other disciples learned for a while… decided they DIDN’T like what they heard… rejected it and departed. (John 6:66)
o. This will always be the case in the local church as well.
• There will always be folks who attend church here… with interest… for a while.
• They may believe the facts of the gospel… intellectually and think they are saved… but eventually, they hear something from the Word that turns them off – and they depart.
• It is not that they lost their salvation. They never had it! They were disciples… students for a while… but ultimately rejected the message.
• Others will attend church for a while because they too are interested… curious.
• God will be working in their hearts, attracting them to truth and to Christ.
• They may want to hear MUCH taught from the Bible before they are ready to receive Christ as their personal Savior.
• It is my conviction that if God is NOT working in their hearts, all the altar calls and pressure-type evangelism in the world isn’t going to produce LIFE in those folks.
• It is also my conviction that if the Lord IS working in their hearts… HE will continue to draw them to Himself… and to convince them of the truth.
• It is our job to continue TEACHING the whole counsel of God… and inviting men WITHOUT pressure to receive Christ along the way.
• Just two simple facts (Jesus died and rose again) may not be enough for some folks. They may want to hear MORE before receiving Christ.
• They may want to hear some good REASONS to be saved… like our glorious future hope of heaven… and being with the Lord Jesus forever… His coming again…
• The Colossians heard all that when the gospel was presented to them.
• They were told what they were being saved UNTO…
• They were told about the hope of glory… which is the hope of the believer… our expectation for the future…
B. The Fear of Hell = the expectation of unbelievers
1. While it is not stated in this verse, it IS stated elsewhere that when the apostles preached the gospel, they not only include the hope of future glory — they also included the horror of future Divine wrath!
2. The apostles preached the whole counsel of God. They told folks what they could expect if they received Christ (the hope of glory)… AND what they could expect if they rejected Him (eternal condemnation!)
3. The apostles told their listeners what their future held for them… if they were saved… and if they remained lost… either heaven or hell.
4. The same gospel that promises heaven also threatens with hell! BOTH are part of the gospel message.
5. In fact, before a person can ever understand the “good news” – he must first be confronted with the bad news: he is condemned and on his way to hell!
a. Rom. 3:10 – there is none righteous… no not one! Bad news!
b. Rom. 3:12 – there is none that doeth good!
c. Rom. 3:23 – The bad news is that ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God. That’s pretty bad news – news that nobody wants to hear… but it is part of the gospel message!
d. Rom. 6:23 – the wages of sin is death – including the second death… that’s bad news too.
e. Rev. 20:12-15 – those who reject the gospel will one day be raised up in bodies suited for eternity – and will be cast into the Lake of Fire forever! A place of eternal torment.
f. Rev. 20:10 – The torment never ends…
g. Even mentioning this Bible truth is anathema in most circles today. It is a fundamental Christian doctrine that is under attack today… and no wonder – it is part of the gospel!
h. Nobody wants to hear what God has to say. They would prefer to listen to men… men who do not know God or His Word.
i. They want to hear nice things… that God would never send anyone to hell… that God is too loving for that…
j. They want to hear that all religion is good and that there are many ways to heaven… and they are in fact hearing that in many churches today – sadly.
k. But that is NOT the gospel. The gospel is clear:
• Mat. 7:13-14 – There is a heaven and a hell… a way that leads to life everlasting and a way that leads to everlasting destruction…
• MANY will end up in eternal destruction and condemnation; FEW will enter into eternal life…
• John 14:6 – And Christ is the ONLY way… the exclusive way…
• Apart from Christ there is no hope… nothing but eternal condemnation.
6. The consequences of rejecting Christ — or ignoring Him… putting Him off… are immeasurable… eternal… and irreversible.
a. The Lake of Fire is an eternal place of torment…
b. Jesus spoke of it more than anyone else in the Bible.
c. Acts 17:20-31 – When the apostles preached the good news they included this bad news. God commands all men to repent…FOR He will JUDGE the world one day!
d. II Pet. 3:3-10 – in the last day men will MOCK and ridicule the concept of Divine judgment – just as they did in the days of Noah… but judgment day is coming whether men believe it or not.
e. God is dead serious about the consequences of rejecting the salvation offered by His Beloved Son.
f. The hope offered in the gospel message is like a beautiful diamond. The ugly and painful consequences of rejecting Christ – eternal torment in the lake of fire – is like the black velvet backdrop to a diamond… that brings out all the glitter and shine of the diamond.
g. The bad news of eternal condemnation must be understood and believed BEFORE the good news of salvation can be appreciated…
h. BOTH are part of the gospel message. Each part serves its purpose.
i. Some will be saved simply on the hope of eternal life.
j. Others will be saved by fear… (Jude 22-23)
7. Thus, this aspect of the gospel includes a sense of URGENCY…
a. There is no urgency about the gospel if we consider only the glorious promise of eternity in heaven…
b. The urgency enters in when we consider the following:
• We could die and face eternity at any moment…
• There is no second chance to be saved after that…
• Apart from Christ there is nothing but condemnation in the Lake of Fire.
• That is what gives a sense of urgency to the message.
c. For that reason Paul writes: NOW is the accepted time; behold NOW is the day of salvation! (II Cor. 6:2c)
d. On the one hand, we don’t want to RUSH people into making a decision when they are not ready; on the other hand, we don’t want to encourage people to POSTPONE it needlessly either!
C. The Concept of Salvation (from what; to what)
1. Don’t try to pare the gospel down to its bare minimum! That seems to be the emphasis today… perhaps so as not to offend anyone.
2. Consider the meaning of the word SAVED… it implies BOTH aspects… the hope of glory and the fear of condemnation.
a. If a person is told he needs to be saved he naturally would ask, “Saved from what?” The answer is part of the gospel: saved from eternal condemnation!
b. That same person would also likely as, “Saved UNTO what? Where will I end up?”
c. That too is the gospel – the Colossians heard about the hope of glory IN the gospel message they heard.
d. It is NOT wise to strip the gospel down to a few facts and to plead with men put pressure on them to make a decision based on ignorance.
e. That kind pressure might lead to a lot of decisions… but not likely many true conversions.
3. The gospel message… and God’s plan of salvation includes BOTH the positive and the negative… both the hope of glory AND the horror of hell.
a. We have not adequately presented the gospel unless BOTH elements are presented.
b. Folks need to know what they are being saved FROM and what they are being saved UNTO.
D. The Gospel Is Broader Than the Two Facts Found in I Cor. 15:3-4
1. Mark 1:1-2 – the gospel is about Jesus Christ…
a. He IS the good news. Everything about Christ is good news.
b. He is the Son of God who became a Man. That is good news!
c. He revealed the Father. That’s good news.
d. He brought grace and truth. That’s good news.
2. Acts 20:24 – the gospel is about God’s grace…
a. Grace isn’t mentioned directly in I Cor. 15:3-4…
b. A person will never understand the facts of the gospel or have any context in which to place those facts unless we spend time explaining to him the amazing grace of God!
c. It sometimes takes time for this concept to really sink in.
3. Rom. 1:16-17 – for therein is the righteousness of God revealed.
a. The righteousness of God is also part of the gospel message – though not directly mentioned in I Cor. 15:3-4.
b. In explaining the gospel it is wise to explain to folks how a righteous God cannot simply brush sin under the rug. He has to deal with it in a righteous fashion – which is exactly what He did at the cross!
4. Eph. 6:15 – it is called the gospel of PEACE. We were enemies of God – and through the gospel message we have made peace with God!
a. Rom. 5:10 – we were enemies of God and were reconciled by the gospel!
b. Rom. 5:1 – being justified by faith we have peace with God.
c. Truly the concept of enemies making peace with God is part of the glorious gospel message.
5. Eph. 6:19 – Paul speaks of the mystery of the gospel.
a. Paul speaks here of the relationship of the mystery – the revelation of the church which is His Body…
b. The good news preached today can include a reference to the fact that those who believe are made new creations IN Christ!
c. Believers today not only have the future hope of glory – but have the ineffable privilege of being united with Christ NOW… as a member of His body…we in Him and He in us!
d. This was a mystery in ages past… and this truth is also related to the gospel of God’s grace in this age…
e. If the gospel is good news about Christ – then it must include what Christ is doing NOW… in this age…
f. Today, believers are fully accepted in the Beloved… baptized into the Body of Christ… treated as full grown sons… and seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
g. Of course folks don’t need to know all this IN ORDER to be saved… but it is part of the good news concerning Jesus Christ.
h. This truth may be just what it takes to woo someone who is sitting on the fence… to woo them over to receive Christ personally… they may sense a need to be a PART of something genuine… pure… everlasting…
6. II Cor. 4:4 – But most often it is called the Gospel of Christ.
a. In other words, it is a message about the Lord Jesus Christ.
b. That would include who He is; what He has done; what He has said.
c. It would include the virgin birth; the incarnation; His sinless life; His substitutionary death on the cross; His resurrection; His ascension to heaven; His enthronement at the right hand of the Father; His high priestly ministry; His headship over the Body; the blessed hope of His coming again; His future Kingdom…
d. The gospel is all about HIM… His grace; His mercy; His love; His holiness; His truth; His righteousness; His justice; His purity; His church; His indwelling LIFE; His judgments; His forgiveness — the gospel is the good news about Jesus Christ.
e. Everything about Christ is good news.
f. It could take a long time to preach all the good news there is in the Scriptures about Jesus Christ.
g. To try to boil it down to the two (albeit infinitely important) facts about Christ in I Cor. 15:3-4 does not do justice to the glorious gospel message.
h. So we just keep on preaching Christ… and praying that God would open the understanding of folks here to the importance of the gospel message… and that the LIGHT of the glorious gospel of Christ would shine unto them…
This Hope (subjective) Is the Result of the Gospel
A.)Begotten UNTO a Living Hope (I Pet. 1:3)
1. Those who have been born again have been born INTO a new realm.
a. This new realm is characterized by a living hope…
b. The resurrection of Christ is that which gives the believer great hope… a confident expectation that one day we too will be raised from the dead!
c. This hope includes our objective hope – the inheritance described in the following verses.
d. But it also includes a subjective hope… it is a LIVING hope… as Wuest called it: “it is actively alive…an energizing principle of divine life in the believer.”
e. The person who has been born again has been born into the spiritual realm – where the hope of glory reigns.
f. The normal Christian breaths in an attitude of expectation of good from his heavenly Father…
g. The RESULT of the gospel message is that it puts hope in the hearts of those who were formerly “without Christ and without hope.”
h. This is just what Paul tells the Colossians in 1:23 – the HOPE of the gospel… the hope that the good news engenders in the regenerated heart!
i. Cf. II Thess. 2:14 – The Thessalonians were called to the obtaining the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the Christian hope – and one that we are called TO BY MEANS OF the gospel.
B. Hope Residing in Us (I Pet. 3:15)
1. The HOPE that the gospel message produces in our hearts also provides opportunity to present the gospel to others.
2. Peter notes that in a world with 6 billion people – most of whom have no bright hope for tomorrow – when they come in contact with a person of great hope – it will spark an interest in them.
3. Some will ASK you about that hope…
a. Peter is addressing the believer and exhorts him to sanctify the Lord in his heart. (set Christ apart as LORD in your heart.)
b. When Christ is in that special place in our hearts – when He has all the preeminence in our lives, it will SHOW…
c. When Christ is on our mind and heart… we will be people of great HOPE… our affection will be with Christ – on things above… and we will be rejoicing in the Lord… gladly anticipating His return… and our hearts will be full of the hope of glory.
d. People will notice that we are different.
e. Some will ask you about that hope that is so evident in your heart.
4. Peter exhorts us to be READY to give an answer when someone asks about our blessed hope!
a. Now in context here, the one asking is not necessarily a person who is hungering after truth.
b. It is more likely a critic… even a persecutor!
c. Nevertheless, the point is this: when Christ is the Lord of our lives, we will be demonstrating through our lives this LIVING HOPE… and others will become curious.
d. They may ask us to DEFEND (give answer) that hope…
e. Regardless of what their motive is in asking (whether they are seeking truth – or seeking to criticize) – we should consider this a great opportunity to speak up for the Lord and share our hope with them… tell them the good news about our Savior!
f. So sanctify the Lord Jesus in your heart – and be ready to defend this great hope!
5. The gospel message is a message all about hope.
a. It produces hope in our hearts. (begotten again UNTO a living hope)
b. And that hope in our hearts provides opportunities to tell others the good news about Christ…
c. The gospel presents us with hope… fills us with hope… and causes us to overflow unto others with hope.
This Hope Is NOT Found in Another Gospel
A.)They Heard Paul’s Gospel “Before”
1. Paul states that the Colossians heard the gospel he preached BEFORE they heard something else. (but before what?)
a. Epaphras brought the true gospel message to Colosse. He heard it from Paul (vs.7-8)
b. This was the gospel of the grace of God – a SAVING message!
c. It came to them in the Word of the truth… it was communicated from God to the apostles… and it made its way to Colosse.
d. They were taught the TRUE version of the gospel first. (vs. 6c)
e. After that, others came, claiming to have the gospel of God’s grace, but it was a bootleg version… an imitation… a fake gospel. It was not the grace of God in truth. It was a gospel of error.
2. Some time subsequent to the time they heard the true gospel, they heard ANOTHER message… from the false teachers who sought to undermine the teachings of the apostles.
a. Part of the purpose of this epistle is to warn the Colossian believers against a “new message”… this new teaching that was being infiltrated into the church.
b. This new teaching included an amalgamation of Jewish traditions and legalism, angel worship, pagan asceticism, and Greek philosophy.
c. This strange mixture later developed into what we know as Gnosticism.
d. It was heretical teachings that Paul felt needed to be exposed for what it was: another gospel… or teachings ADDED to the gospel.
e. The original message they heard was contained in the “word of the truth of the gospel.” This new message was not found in the word of truth… it was not part of the gospel the apostles preached.
f. This new message was not the original… it was added to the gospel… it was a perversion of the gospel… it was invented by men.
3. Paul warned the Corinthians of another gospel. (II Cor. 11:3-4)
a. Some folks actually believed in this other gospel… but it didn’t save them. Those who trust in a false gospel end up in the Lake of Fire forever!
b. It doesn’t matter how sincere they were in their beliefs; it didn’t matter how strongly they believed; or how much energy and effort they put into their faith… or how many believe it… how faithful they are in practicing it…
c. Faith that rests upon the wrong foundation does not save.
d. Paul states clearly that there is only ONE true foundation: Jesus Christ! (I Cor. 3:11)
e. Another gospel is like snake oil being sold by a charlatan. They make all kinds of claims (cures cancer, baldness); they have a whole host of testimonials as to how well it worked for me; they have slick videos, nicely printed literature, they might even have a popular celebrity endorsing their views;
f. Snake oil does not really cure cancer or baldness. Neither does “another gospel” save.
g. But snake oil is not nearly as dangerous as another gospel.
• With snake oil you won’t be seriously hurt… just your wallet… and your ego when you realize you’ve been had!
• With snake oil, the proof’s in the pudding. Just rub it on… and you will know soon that it does NOT take away baldness or cancer. You can find that out in a hurry.
• However, with the gospel, the ultimate proof is not to be realized in this life… but when we stand before God… and it is too late to make any changes then.
• A false gospel will NOT get you into heaven. It will condemn you to the Lake of Fire forever! A fearful prospect!
h. This new teaching that had made its way into the church at Colosse was DIFFERENT from the message they heard before… in the gospel the apostles taught.
B.)A False Gospel Produces a False Hope
1. One of the dangers of a false gospel is that it produces a false hope in its followers.
2. Notice that Paul states that the hope he preached (the genuine hope that is laid up for believers in heaven) is founded on TRUTH.
a. At an accident scene a person is severely injured, and we try to comfort them by saying, “It’s going to be all right.” However, we don’t KNOW it is. Those words may have no basis in fact whatsoever. It may NOT be all right! Such words though well intentioned are meaningless.
b. This false hope may be well intentioned…
c. This false hope may actually be believed by the one presenting it… and by the one hearing it… but their faith in this hope does not affect reality one bit.
d. This false hope may actually help the person cope better in the present…
e. This hope may make them all FEEL better.
f. However, any hope that is not based on TRUTH is a false hope… and in the end will be proven to be false… and it will result in great disappointment… those hopes will be dashed.
3. This is exactly what the false teachings at Colosse did… The false message and false teaching at Colosse would have had two effects:
a. For the believers, it would have given them a false hope:
• By practicing certain ascetic practices (2:21 – touch not, taste not, handle not) they would be right with God. A false hope!
• For other believers they created a false hope by hoping that the Greek philosophy (2:8) could make them better people – holy in God’s sight. It did nothing of the sort.
• 2:16 – Others wrongly hoped that either by the foods they ate or holy days they kept or did not keep, that they would therefore be more sanctified before the Lord. It was a false hope!
• 2:18 – Others had hoped that by means of visions or angels they could get closer to God. Those too were false hopes.
• All of these false teachings created nothing but false hopes – which would be dashed at the Bema seat!
• They would have great hopes of rewards at the Bema – but those hopes would be dashed! There is no reward for following error!
b. For the unbelievers the stakes were even more dangerous!
• By listening to and receiving a false gospel they might have hopes of heaven throughout their whole life… but end up in the Lake of Fire forever!
• This is exactly what the false religious systems of today create: a false sense of hope of heaven!
• Nothing could be more dangerous.
• It is far better for a man to have NO church… NO religion than to be enticed by a false one.
• At least with NO false teaching folks are often more OPEN to the gospel. They don’t have any preconceived ideas about God or salvation.
• Nothing is more difficult than trying to present the gospel message to someone who has all their hopes resting in a false gospel…
• When they have this sense of a false hope… a false security… they are usually NOT open to even hearing the gospel. They assume that things are fine with God… because my priest, or minister, or Rabbi said so!
• But when folks stand before God, no such excuses will be accepted. No one can say to God, “But my church told me that salvation was by works… they told me that God was too loving to send anyone to hell… they told me I didn’t have to worry about eternity!”
• To which God will reply, Perhaps THEY told you all that… but why didn’t you listen to ME? You listened to their word, why didn’t you listen to MY WORD?
• Matt. 7:21-23 – Many will stand before God with all of their excuses. Jesus said that NONE of those excuses will suffice.
• In that day their false hope and false sense of security will be stripped away forever. They will stand naked, exposed, and condemned before a holy God… with no hope in that day.
1. Paul was thanking God that the Colossians had a genuine Christian hope of future glory with Christ… and that they had Christ in them in the present.
2. This glorious hope was part of the gospel message…
3. Do YOU have such a hope of glory? You can… Christ died for you and rose again… and by simple faith you too can be RESCUED from eternal condemnation – and be brought INTO this glorious hope… a heavenly hope… with the Lord Jesus Christ forever!
4. Won’t you come to Him in simple faith today?
5. Whether it is the allure of heaven or the fear of hell, or BOTH… each one is a Biblical motivation to come to Christ.
6. And He invites you to come today: Come unto Me…