“An ethic of hope pervades the New Testament” by J.I. Packer

“‘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.’ –Romans 15:4

Living between the two comings of Christ, Christians are to look backward and forward: back to the manger, the cross, and the empty tomb, whereby salvation was won for them; forward to their meeting with Christ beyond this world, their personal resurrection, and the joy of being with their Savior in glory forever.

New Testament devotion is consistently oriented to this hope; Christ is ‘our hope’ (1 Tim. 1:1) and we serve ‘the God of hope’ (Rom. 15:13). Faith itself is defined as ‘being sure of what we hope for’ (Heb. 11:1), and Christian commitment is defined as having ‘fled to take hold of … this hope as an anchor for the soul’ (Heb. 6:18–19).

When Jesus directed His disciples to lay up treasure in heaven, because ‘where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’ (Matt. 6:21), He was saying in effect, as Peter was later to say, ‘set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed’ (1 Pet. 1:13).

An ethic of hope pervades the New Testament.

It is an ethic of pilgrimage: one should see oneself in this world as a stranger traveling home (1 Pet. 2:11; Heb. 11:13).

It is an ethic of purity: everyone who really hopes to be like Jesus when He appears ‘purifies himself, just as He is pure’ (1 John 3:3).

It is an ethic of preparedness: we should be ready to leave this world for a closer relationship with Christ our Lord at any time when the summons comes (2 Cor. 5:6–8; Phil. 1:21–24; cf. Luke 12:15–21).

It is an ethic of patience: ‘if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently’ (Rom. 8:25; cf. 5:1–5, where the Greek word for ‘patience’ is translated ‘perseverance’ to bring out its nuance of stubborn persistence in face of pressures).

And it is an ethic of power: the hope gives strength and confidence, energizing effort for running the race, fighting the good fight, and enduring the ‘light and momentary troubles’ (2 Cor. 4:17) that still remain before we go home (Rom. 8:18; 15:13; 2 Tim. 4:7–8).

Though the Christian life is regularly marked more by suffering than by triumph (1 Cor. 4:8–13; 2 Cor. 4:7–18; Acts 14:22), our hope is sure and our mood should be one of unquenchable confidence: we are on the victory side.”

–J.I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993), 183–184.

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Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, Hope, J.I. Packer, Jesus Christ, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Sanctification, The Church, The Gospel, Union with Christ, Worldview

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