[And here is the conclusion of my notes; I guess I will see what is left when it has been edited and re-written. ]
To our second point, let us consider the nature and certainty of this hope. So look down again at verse 5:
5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel
This hope is certain: that is a where and a what. The certainty of the hope is tied to its location: it is a heavenly hope. Everything here upon earth is temporary; it changes; it decays:
Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher
Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.
Eccl. 1:2. Nothing in this world is stable, secure, eternal. It is a vanity, a breath and then it is gone like mist on a cold morning. The most certain things on this planet are temporary, shifting things. Even mountains wear down; even billionaires and kings die.
If it is here, it can be found, broken, stolen. To store one’s treasure here, to count on an inheritance from this world is to be disappointed; we need a better, safer place:
Matthew 6:19–20 (NASB95)
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
20 “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;
You may have noticed that I didn’t finish Jesus’ sentence; we’ll come to the end of his statement in a moment. For now, notice this: here on earth, our treasure, our hope is insecure. It may be lost: decay and trouble will assault our treasures. My family went to King Tut’s treasure: here were the possessions of an unimaginably wealthy, powerful man. They had been buried in vault for centuries. And now they were on display, in protected rooms, with monitored light and humidity and temperature, because light and air were a danger to this treasure.
Tut gathered his treasures for what he thought was a heavenly journey; but all his treasury remained in his tomb. His treasure is in constant threat of theft and decay.
But our hope is not like that: it is in heaven. As Peter writes:
1 Peter 1:3–5 (NASB95)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
We have a hope, an inheritance, which cannot decay or be stolen, an inheritance which is kept by God — reserved in heaven.
And here is where you must stop as you think of this treasure. You might be thinking the inheritance, the hope, the treasure is some mansion, or the streets of gold or the gates of pearl. Those are merely decorations and ornaments; they are paper about the present — both those things are not the treasure, they are not our hope.
Think again. Paul said that you have heard of that hope in “the word of truth, the gospel”. The gospel is not that you get a large house and gold pavement. Think again about the gospel.
What is there in the Gospel? You may say that the gospel is that my sins are forgiven, that I will not go to hell. There is life without end, without decay, without death. Yes, there is all of that. There are great and glorious, outrageous promises and goodness in the forgiveness of sin.
This forgiveness of sin is an unimaginable, audacious blessing. Listen to Psalm 41:4
As for me, I said, “O Lord,, be gracious to me;
Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.”
That is dumbfounding: not forgive me because I have made things right; not be good to be because I have been good. David prays, heal me, forgive me, because I have sinned. We may have become used to hearing such things being around church — and if we have, then our ears have grown dull. We don’t ever deserve to say such a thing. But that is precisely what is involved in this word or truth, this good news:
Colossians 2:13–14 (NASB95)
13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,
14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
There is good news! You were an enemy of God, and God took his claim against you and fastened those claims to Jesus who bore our sins in his body on the tree: the claim against us was nailed to the cross! Now that is glorious.
But our hope is even greater than that: our hope is greater than the most perfect of environments; our hope is greater than a resurrected body and a conscious cleaned from sin and shame; there is something even better — and it was right there in verse five: a hope in heaven.
Our true and supreme hope is the reason why we are forgiven and cleansed and brought into a beautiful place. Imagine a man or a woman preparing for their wedding day: we have a special place, we wear special clothes, we have a special party, we go on a special trip: all of those things are marvelous, but none of them are the point of the wedding. We have and do all those things because there is someone we seek.
The gospel involves forgiveness, and resurrection and life everlasting, but those things are all less than the great point and glory of the gospel, those things are all less than the real hope. Turn over to verse 25 of chapter 1 because you must look at these words:
Colossians 1:25–27 (NASB95)
25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God [that is the word of truth, the gospel]
26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, [that mystery is what you have heard — and what is it]
27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Listen to those words: our hope is “Christ in you”. Paul calls it “the hope of glory”. Your hope, your treasure is not the wedding dress, the wedding cake, the honeymoon — it is the bridegroom. Our hope is secure because our is the Lord himself. Paul says here that our hope is a hope of glory and he defines it as “Christ in you.”
Calvin wrote of this verse, “he calls Christ the hope of glory, that they may know that nothing is wanting to them for complete blessedness when they have obtained Christ.” If we have Christ, we have all.
We sing that song, All I have is Christ — but to have Christ is to have all: “all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.” 1 Cor. 3:23.
Our hope is Christ, it is a hope of glory, a heavenly glory, a glory of the age to come. As Peter says in 1 Peter 1:7, that our faith, tested through fire, like a suit of armor battered and ravaged, will prove true at the last, and it will “be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
And now the third point, which will make the other points even more clear. Our hope creates a destination, a direction: it is a compass point which draws along the entire rest of our life.
Paul has said that our hope is in heaven, our hope is “Christ in you, the hope of glory”.
What I wish to finish with is just the hint of something. We know our duties as Christians to have greater faith, to have greater love. We know that love fulfills the law. We know that love is the bond of unity. And Paul has told us that our faith and love are somehow sustained by hope. We also know that our hope is in heaven. And so we can sometimes think that we can just hope to go to heaven; and we will struggle along and try to not be too bad, to do our best and hope it works out.
But Christ does not intend that for us. Take a look at chapter 3. In verse 1, Paul says the we are to seek the things above — where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Then look at verse 2, he says we are to set our minds on the things above — that is in heaven: seeking and setting our minds on something sounds very much like hoping. We are to be hoping, hoping on Christ who is above, who is at the right hand of God.
Then in verse 3 Paul says, that we have died and our life is hidden with Christ in God. So our life is not our own. Like Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “For I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ live in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me.”
And now in verse 4 of Colossians 3 we see our hope stated plainly, in large, unmistakable letters:
When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then we will be revealed with Him in glory.
There is our hope. That is why we put to death what is earthly — we give it up because we are straining for something better. There is our hope. That is why hope produces faith, because faith gives substance to our desire in hope. That is why we can love, because we are becoming like Christ as we strain forward, fixing every thought upon Christ.
Our heavenly hope is Christ, himself.
He will “present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach — if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast and not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you have heard.” Col. 1:22-23.