Peter, exhorts Christians saying, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (I Peter 3:15). This verse shows us that first of all, we can have hope of eternal life, and secondly, that we should be willing and able to express to others the reason that we have such a hope.
We will say little in this article concerning our willingness and our ability to express to others our reasons for confidence in our salvation. We wish to give thought to the idea of having hope of an eternal home in heaven.
Hope is that which one both desires and expects to receive. That which one desires but has no expectation of receiving it, is not that which one has hope for. Neither is that which one expects, but has no desire for it. One could say that it is desire and faith, for that which one expects is that which he truly believes he will receive. If when asked why we have hope, all we can say is that we have faith, without any grounds for that faith, we have fallen far short in giving them an answer of the hope that is within us. Many are the religions that promise some kind of eternal bliss, but fail in providing sufficient grounds for belief in them. So, what are some of the grounds for the faith that we must have?
First, we can have complete and true faith because the one who has said eternal life awaits is one who cannot lie. Paul spoke of this to Titus when he wrote, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (Titus 1:2). The Hebrew writer said, “That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” (Heb. 6:18). God said so, you can’t get any firmer ground for hope than that!
Secondly, note that the price paid for our eternal home is quite sufficient to provide it. When Jesus told His apostles, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:3), the place was a mansion in heaven. But, where did He go to prepare that place? He went to Calvary’s cross! He paid the price for the sins of man; any man that will take advantage of the offer. The sacrifices of the Old Mosaic law were not sufficient to pay the price. “But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins” (Heb. 10:3-4). But the Hebrew writer had previously said, “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:12). And later he said, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10). Peter writes of the price paid when he wrote, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Peter 1:18-19). Paul said, “For ye are bought with a price…” (I Cor. 6:20). All those in the Lord’s church have been purchased with the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28). The price paid was the life of God’s only begotten Son! Now, you can’t beat that price anywhere!
Thirdly, we can have confidence because we have the incorruptible seed of the kingdom. Just after Peter spoke of the precious blood of Christ having redeemed us (I Pet. 1:18-19), he said, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth for ever” (I Pet. 1:22-23). By being born of incorruptible seed one can be raised incorruptible (I Cor. 15:52) receive an incorruptible crown (I Cor. 9:25) and receive an incorruptible inheritance (I Pet. 1:4). Jesus said that obeying His word is building on a rock (Matt. 7:24-25).
However, since salvation is not unconditional, not all can have true hope. Indeed, God did promise eternal life and God cannot lie. But, God promised eternal life only to those who meet His conditions (Matt. 7:21). Indeed, Christ died on the cross, shedding His blood for the sins of mankind, but the only ones whose sins shall be washed away are those who meet the conditions set forth by God (Rom. 6:3-4; 17-18). This brings us back to the seed of the kingdom. Not all will obey the word of God, but will obey that which they like, that which someone told them, that which they have always heard and on the list could go. They may believe they have eternal life awaiting, but theirs is a false hope, not based on the true seed of the kingdom. True hope comes only when one has studied God’s word for themselves, obeyed the simple gospel of Christ to become one of God’s children, and then lived, worshiped and served in accordance to God’s specified instructions. (Send any questions or comments to: [email protected])
Robert Oliver is a long time columnist for The Sampson Independent.