IS THERE ANY HOPE?
PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH 15 NOVEMBER 2020
Scripture: Jeremiah 29:11, Hebrews 11:1, 1 Peter 1:3-5, Titus 2:11-14, Romans 5:1, Romans 8:18
We live in seemingly hopeless times where so much is happening - pandemic, riots, protests, fires, and a nation divided. "Is there any hope" for the future? When will it ever end? In this sermon we will discover that Christ is our hope even when all hope is gone.
There is Hope for the Hopeless
Years ago an S-4 submarine was rammed by a ship off the coast of Massachusetts. It sank immediately. The entire crew was trapped in a prison house of death. Every effort was made to rescue the crew, but it ultimately failed.
Near the end of the ordeal, a deep sea diver, who was doing everything in his power to find a way for the crew’s release, thought he heard tapping on the steel wall of the sunken sub. He placed his helmet up against the side of the vessel and he realized it was the Morse Code. He attached himself to the side and spelled out in his mind the message being tapped from within.
It was repeating the same question. The question was, from within, "Is...there...any...hope?"
The popular preacher Chuck Swindoll wrote these words…”We can live several weeks without food, days without water, and only minutes without oxygen, but without hope – forget it.”
Is there any hope? Do we feel kind of like those sailors in the sunken submarine, trapped and just waiting for the end?
This has been quite the year, hasn’t it? A lot of things that are just messed up. Everything seems to be going from bad to worse. And it would be easy probably for any of us and many of us to lose hope. In fact, statistics say that depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide are greatly on the rise.
We’ve also seen how people are very angry. Protests and riots almost daily. Sickness, lockdowns, and quarantine. And a country greatly divided. Is there any hope for the future… for our world today?
There are two scriptures that come to mind.
The first one is Jeremiah 29:11 - “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
And the second one is this Hebrews 11:1 says - What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.
So what does Christianity offer that the world can't? One word- HOPE! Hope of salvation. Hope of a new beginning. Hope of freedom. Hope of life beyond this struggle. Hope of Heaven. Hope of a God who cares. Hope to overcome. Hope that transcends difficulties and disease. Hope that defeats persecution and tribulation. Hope that gives us the strength to stand because we are not alone.
Through Christ we can have hope even when things seem hopeless!
Christianity offers the world a genuine hope. Please turn in your Bibles to... 1 Peter chapter one.
What hope does this world offer you beyond this life?
In 1 Peter 1:3-5 (NIV) it says...3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
What has God given us? What has He given us according to His great mercy? “New birth into a living hope.” Now I want you to think about that. As a believer and follower of Jesus Christ scripture teaches that we are new creatures, new creations – the old has gone, the new has come. We've been reborn. What is different? We are forgiven, saved, given a second chance, a new beginning, a new life
Now we have hope. Hope of what? Immediately we think of heaven, right? And that's what he indicates next – “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade... kept in heaven for you.” The inheritance that this world gives you will perish, spoil and fade... it won't last. One day it will all be gone and you can't take it with you... you can't enjoy it forever.
Before we had no hope of heaven. If we did, we were deceived. Now we do. Now we have hope beyond this life, if we know Jesus Christ.
But something else. Think of life before Christ. Did you have any hope? If we did, it was hope within ourselves – hope based on nothing solid – something we controlled by our decisions. What about your life was hopeless? Was it your downward spiral of sin and addictions? Was your life continually falling apart as you continued to be your own worst enemy? If you had one word to describe your life before Christ, would it be hopeless? I am sure it was for most of us. What is different today? Is it hope?
You know the Bible talks about Faith as a Shield. Think of that. How many of you need that shield when facing temptations and trials? How many of you need God's power when you are really struggling just to hold on and you're just about ready to give in?
Christianity gives us genuine hope that this world cannot provide!
What hope does this world give you to be free from guilt and sin?
Let's turn over to... Titus 2:11-14 11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
What does God's grace teach us? To say “No”! You mean I can say “no” to sin? Yes! In this “present age” I can live a godly life, self-controlled, and righteous? Yes! You mean I don't have to follow my worldly passions and desires? Yes! You have hope because of Christ, because the grace of God teaches us to say “No” to sin! God’s grace means I am not hopeless, that God has not given up on me yet. Nor has He given up on you.
The Bible says that those who follow Christ by obeying His commands will know the truth and the truth will set them free. You want freedom? Follow Jesus and obey.
The world says, “You are nothing more than an animal. You can't help what you do. You were born that way. You're a man and men are just like that. You can't expect to think differently or act differently. Why put yourself through that? Just be who you are.”
You know what, I'm glad that I have hope to be more than what I am! Through Christ and His Holy Spirit, I can overcome the desires of my sinful nature and rid myself of my old sinful man! That's scriptural folks, not some watered down soft religion that sounds more like what the world offers. Do we believe that Christianity offers something more, something better?
Freedom from sin! Hope of salvation! And Eternal Reward!
We have hope of life after this life is over – we have hope of heaven!
We have hope of overcoming sin – being freed from sin!
And finally, we have hope of being able to endure any trial or tribulation!
What hope does this world give you during times of suffering?
More vices to ignore the pain? More ways to escape and not deal with it?
But what if pain has a purpose? What there was good that could be gained through suffering?
Romans 5:1-5 says…5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
What does suffering help us learn to do? Persevere. It teaches us to hold on, to trust, to keep on believing. It tests our faith and makes us stronger. What does persevering create? Character. You think of all the times that you had to stick with it. All the times you've had to be patient. You didn't enjoy it at
the time, did you? But, truth is – most likely, it made you a better person. It helped you grow. When we persevere in the faith, trusting in God even when it's hard, He develops in us character. And what does character produce? Hope. Hope that God IS FAITHFUL! Hope that we will make it through!
Hope that this has a purpose! Suffering ultimately results in hope! Why? Because of our faith and relationship with Jesus Christ. Not only that, but our suffering isn’t even worth comparing to the end result if we continue to trust in Jesus.
Paul says in Romans 8:18, 24-25 - I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. [Verses 24-25 say] For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
We have a hope beyond our suffering. How can what the world provides give you that?
There are many that are asking the question – When will this ever end? I’ve asked that question myself. For some it seems like the end of world (as we know it). And they don’t feel fine. I think it’s all a question of where you place your hope. If your hope is in the government, politicians, the economy, money, or the weather, you have to know that you’ll be easily disappointed. If you put your hope in progress and the evolution of the human race, then I fear you will soon find out the hard truth. If you put your hope in friends, family, or even yourself, you’ll eventually be let down.
Or even if you put your hope in the Church or in religion, you will face discouragement and disappointment as not everyone acts Christ-like.
But those who put their hope in the Lord will renew their strength. You will find a refuge, an anchor for your soul. If not for Jesus, all hope would truly be gone.
No one who knows what can happen at sea would go to sea in a vessel that carried no anchor, even though it were the greatest and most modern liner afloat, for circumstances might arise when the hope of the ship and all her company would depend, not on the captain or the crew, the engines, the compass, or the steering gear, but on the anchor. When all else has failed there is hope in the anchor.
During this stormy time in our country, in our lives, do you have an anchor? Have you anchored yourself to the rock of Jesus Christ? Let Him be what gets you through the storms of life.