Where is your Blessed Hope?

by Mike Ratliff

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11:14 ESV)

The following is a quote from a sermon by John MacArthur titled ‘The Undying Faith of Christians Facing Death’ in the context of Matthew 24.

“There are false Christians today in the world, there were in the past, there will be in the future. The world is always full of false Christians. There are more false Christians than true ones. I’m afraid to say there may be more false prophets than true prophets. They’re certainly more false representatives of Jesus Christ than true representatives of Christ. But as things get worse, as persecution escalates. The false are going to fall away, they’re going to fall away for reasons that He gives us here. “False prophets will lead them astray,” verse 12, “because of iniquity being increased, their love will grow cold,” they’ll hold on to their sin. The world as it moves is going to get worse and worse and worse. The world’s evil is going to escalate and escalate, we’re seeing it in our own culture today. And people love their sin and as their sin is legitimized, as their sin is normalized, as their sin is legalized they’re going to cherish their sins more openly and more publicly and they’re not going to be interested in the things of Christ and suffering for the cause of Christ.”

That statement really shouldn’t have surprised us. It didn’t me. I’m really not very good at this apologist stuff in that I get discouraged very easily as I research the doctrine, sermons, and what is said by false prophets, and so-called christian leaders. Over time, I need to get away from it and rest in my Lord for awhile and get refocused on where my hope really lies. These jokers talk a lot about ‘vision’ and ‘hope’ and ‘transformation’ et cetera, but it doesn’t take very long to see that they are looking for all that from within. They see the potential to be within themselves to do it all. Their hope is in themselves. They may throw God and Jesus around a lot in there sermons, but the focus is all about what they can do and how God has to bless them because they are doing or because they have developed and are pursuing their vision

Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. Let’s unpack this passage and be encouraged together in the Lord. The way the translators of the ESV worded this passage by using “For” tells us that this is a continuation of thought or an explanation of what point came before. Therefore, we look back. In Titus 2:1-10 Paul said:

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. (Titus 2:1-10)

Here we have the Christian lifestyle lived out in the context of applied sound doctrine. It is a masterful statement of the proper way Christians should live in this fallen world. Then He gives us the Gospel basis for this in vv11-14. Here is the Greek for vv11-14:

᾿Επεφάνη γὰρ ἡ χάρις τοῦ Θεοῦ ἡ σωτήριος πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις, παιδεύουσα ἡμᾶς, ἵνα ρνησάμενοι τὴν ἀσέβειαν καὶ τὰς κοσμικὰς ἐπιθυμίας σωφρόνως καὶ δικαίως καὶ εὐσεβῶς ζήσωμεν ἐν τῷ νῦν αἰῶνι, προσδεχόμενοι τὴν μακαρίαν ἐλπίδα καὶ ἐπιφάνειαν τῆς δόξης τοῦ μεγάλου Θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὃς ἔδωκεν ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, ἵνα λυτρώσηται ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἀνομίας καὶ καθαρίσῃ ἑαυτῷ λαὸν περιούσιον, ζηλωτὴν καλῶν ἔργων.

Here is a word-for-word translation of vv11-14:

Appeared for the grace of the God deliverance to all men instructing as child us, that having denied the irreverence and the worldly desires, sobermindedly and rightly and reverently we might live in the now age, awaiting the blessed hope and appearance for the splendor of the great God and deliverer of us Jesus Christ, who gave himself on behalf of us, that he might redeem us from all lawlessness and might clean to himself people special, jealous of good works.

This is the theological basis for the way real Christians should live as God has commanded. It is because the grace of God (χάρις τοῦ Θεοῦ) saves and instructs us to live in a new way. No one can truly claim to be a genuine Christian, a recipient of this saving grace, without also being a pupil of God’s training grace. This causes us to rejoice in our changed lifestyles. We see the atonement through the eyes of the truly redeemed not as simply students of theology. Because Christ gave Himself on our behalf, we become a people zealous for good works and the μακαρίαν ἐλπίδα, “blessed hope” becomes precious to us. What is this μακαρίαν ἐλπίδα? Paul gives us the answer in the following phrase, “καὶ ἐπιφάνειαν τῆς δόξης τοῦ μεγάλου Θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ.“ That is, our blessed hope is the appearance of the splendor of the great God and deliverer of us Jesus Christ. Amen! What true believer doesn’t anxiously await to be united with the Lord forever. I yearn for this day after day. This is my blessed hope. Is it yours?

I heard a sermon once in which my pastor at that time was preaching about the death of believers. I actually heard him stop in the middle of his sermon and pray for God to not take him to Heaven yet, because he wasn’t ready. He still had a lot more stuff to do. I lost a lot of respect for that man that day. It wasn’t long after that that I got a job in another city and we moved. He moved on as well to a much larger church in another state. It was just a few years later that he had to leave the ministry. The last I heard, he was real estate agent. Where was his blessed hope? Where is yours?

The word μακαρίαν is the accusative, singular form of  μακάριος which, in the context of the Christian describes being especially favored: “blessed, happy, or privileged.” It should be understood by Christians that we are blessed now and yet we have an enormous prospect of future consolation and reward from God and thus are able to face the present with courage and hope.

The word ἐλπίδα is the accusative, singular form of ἐλπίς which, in the Christian context, describes solid assurance. This assurance or hope is directed toward the future. This hope is strengthened by Sacred Scripture, by the work of Jesus, and by God’s present gift of the Holy Spirit to believers.

Those who do not have God in their lives are without hope (Ephesians 2:12).

Soli Deo Gloria!

16 thoughts on “Where is your Blessed Hope?

  1. Mike:
    I relate to what you state about false teachers. It grieves me to see so many people get so far from anything biblical and most importantly from the true Gospel.

    A elderly close friend of mine is nearing death and there is a part of me that envies her. Not in the sense of her current suffering. But in the sense that in a short time she will be in the presence of our beloved Jesus Christ forever and forever. She will become part of the church at rest while we remain a part of the church militant….

    We must continue the fight here. It is getting harder and harder. Mike, thanks for your courage, boldness and grace. When I get discouraged I can come to your blog and not feel so alone…

  2. Dear Mike,

    Going through a document box I ran across a letter I had written 16 yrs ago to my baby girl. At the time I had only truly been a born again Christian for about 6months, but in case something happened to me I wanted to be sure my baby would understood about Jesus. I wrote the following:

    “God has blessed our family with a legacy of Grace. The one thing I pray for you without ceasing is that you will ask God for Jesus Christ to come live in your heart and allow the Holy Spirit to lead your life. This is the only key to everything there is in life. I pray and hope that through my example you will have knowledge and wisdom in the Lord and will understand the wonderful fullfilment that is yours to be had.”
    Now, 16 yrs. later I can report that God has graciously given my daughter salvation through her faith in Christ alone and has grown her in wisdom and discernment. Praise God for His tender mercies and thank you for reminding us of our blessed hope!
    Joyful and rejoicing in His overwhelming goodness, charisse

  3. A timely study for me Mike. Last night I was just having a bit of a starting to fear this horrid world. Mainly I can get a bit fearful of its horrors in relation to my children growing up.In everyday life we tend to get on with our own lives not thinking about it, but pop into the local shop and there are mens magazines with pornographic front covers, not even on the top shelf, for my children to see. Go to someone elses house and you can’t control what they have on their telly, just music videos are enough to make you want to run for the hills. Pop down to the video store for a weekend film and blood spattered, horrific pictures are everywhere.But these verses are a good reminder of where my focus should be.In fact God is, of course, much much more capable of looking after my children than me and they are his, not mine. He chose that they should be born into this time, that they should live in this city with these shops, and have these neighbours and friends with those televisions. My role is to live my life for the Lord and trust Him to take care of the rest.
    He is so so kind. I am glad of your continued obedience to Him Mike. Be encouraged yourself, because your studies are a big part of how God speaks to this fellow slave, who you have never met, who lives thousands of miles away in another country.
    : )
    Fiona.

  4. Thank you Wendy. I too get discouraged in the battle at times. That is when you see me get deeper into the Word and less into the apologetics stuff. I believe my ministry is to the Body of Christ while others on the CRN team definitely have the gifts to go toe to toe with the apostates day after day. I can do it for awhile, but that is not my gifted area. God has me focused more on the side of ministering to, warning, and teaching of His sheep. I talked with Ken about that. He has no issue with me focusing this way. He sees the need for both emphases there. There are times when I read some of the things those guys write about and it is just amazing. Ken told me that the Biblical exegesis I do is ignored by the apostates. They are so hardened against the truth that they do not listen. That was when I realized that I should focus on ministering to you and the rest of the sheep.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  5. Amen Charisse and what a gracious and wonderful God we serve who answers prayers like that. What a blessing it is when our children are given the gift of faith!

  6. What you described Fiona is just as it is here in the USA too. Yes, this sin sick world is going down the toilet and the visible church is no help because their Jesus is not real. He is contemporary and relevant and phony. The real Jesus is outside of culture not part of it and is, therefore, not contaminated by it. That is why He was in the world, but not part of it when he walked the Earth and stood out like He did. We are called to be the same as you said very well in your comment. Someday, we will be all brought together by our Lord and it will be a glorious reunion and I look forward to that with great anticipation.

  7. Hi Mike
    I just loved this post – I always get so encouraged and feel myself drinking deeply when you focus on the Lord and away from the rest that is going on.

    On Thursday last week, I did some research onto the IHOP movement for a sister who does not have a computer (as one of her sisters here has ‘found it’ on our local Satelite TV broadcast by GOD TV). After about 2-3 hours in total of researching all the garbage that it is, I felt drained and robbed of my joy and so full of despair. It made me feel like I was trying to run up a slippery slope that was gradually getting steeper and all I could think of was getting out and resting my all in Him. I had to pick up the Word and drink and I can fully appreciate what you share above.

    We are all called to be watchmen of one sort or another, yes, but we are called more to minister to Him, and focus on Him above all else and for His sake, His glory and His end. When we have tasted of the Lord and seen that HE is good, nothing ever again can satisfy like Him. Nothing. He steadies our ship when the waves are battering against it regardless of what those waves might be – even the waves of discouragement and despair. All we need to do is immerse ourselves in Him, our Blessed Hope and better at that exact moment than to put it off and say, “I’ll do it later”, and give the enemy a chance to get a foot in the door. It is ‘now’ that we need it when it hits us.
    Our joy and our every sustenance is in Him alone. He is a shield about us and the lifter of our heads when we feel we cannot lift them at all. He always hears and answers us (Psalm 3 :3-4) and we can sleep and rest in Him as He sustains us (Psalm 3 :5)

    Psalm 16:11
    You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

    Thank you for this uplifting message.
    Steph

  8. Thank you Mike. I wrote the passage on my refrigerator. I have little ones to train up. But it would be missing the point if it were only the training. Why do we train? Because of the blessed hope we have. Just yesterday my 5 year old said, “I cannot wait to see Jesus.” Oh, to keep that hope throughout life! I have been saddened by the failure of some local places (they call themselves a church) to keep the true hope their focus. I even have been so down I could see how one could loose faith if it were possible, but in me has always been this faith. Thank God my hope is built on Jesus and His righteousness and salvation. I believe, He saves. That is enough to hold me through and to wait for His return. Now to live today for and unto Jesus.

    Blessings!

  9. Hi Mike,
    Thanks for this encouraging article and I am so glad as well when you are feeding the sheep and ministering to us. I too get weary of reading about another false this or that-it is everywhere and constant- and it does get discouraging. It is nice to come here and read about the love of Christ and what He has done for us.
    The last sentence you wrote is so sad. They have no hope- and don’t even know it. I have so many family members and friends who think all is well in their faith as they continue to live as I did for so many years…living lives exactly as they want, not having any desire for church or Christian fellowship or learning what God’s word means or sharing their faith or even trying to exhibit any kind of fruit in their life… but yet somehow Christian. I was reading a quote by Spurgeon the other day and he was talking about Epehsians 3:17…”That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” and he said this: “That He may dwell; not that He may call upon you sometimes, as a casual visitor enters into a house and tarries for a night, but that He may dwell; that Jesus may become the Lord and Tenant of your inmost being, never more to go out.”
    That we would pray for more faith so that Christ would dwell even more richly in our hearts! I think as we know and learn of Him more through His word, we learn we can trust Him and realize we have a most gracious Father that cares for every little part of our lives. We can trust Him with everything concerning us and our love grows for Him. How connected is our faith in Him and our love for Him!
    God bless you!

  10. HOW WONDERFUL! HE is my “blessed hope”! It is so easy to get distracted, not only by the apostasy, but by life in general. What a glorious day that will be to see Jesus…beyond words. I too get encouraged when I read here, the lessons you give AND the comments of others. All over the world here and there, not great numbers, are the remnant. The Lord Jesus Christ and his Word is ALL to them, and someday everyone of the elect will meet each other around his throne….praising the one who bought us for all eternity. NOTHING will hinder us, not our own flesh, anyone elses sin, not death, sickness or fear, nor that horrible accuser of the brethren, Satan. WHAT a day that will be WORTHY IS THE LAMB TO RECEIVE GLORY AND HONOR AND PRAISE!!!!

  11. Stella, Amen! Yes, we may not be in great numbers and seem to be scattered everywhere, but one day we will be gathered together with our Lord and that is our blessed hope and we who really know Him live for that day. Amen!

  12. Praise God for Jesus!
    Praise God for Heaven!
    Praise God for this blessed hope!
    I do not deserve it.
    I surely cannot imagine all that I will experience there in my HOME, but I am so anxious to go.
    He is changing, transforming and conforming me everyday to what He desires through the Word. Making me fit for Heaven.
    I praise Him too for sustaining power, just to live. A close sister in Jesus and I were talking that the things that we have suffered emotionally have taken a toll physically on us, and were it not for the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit sustaining us, no human could go through that!
    Oh what a Saviour, OH HALLELUJAH !

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