Vol. 1 - No. 4 

April, 1982

Jesus Christ: The Hope of The World

by Robert L. McDonald

 The one truth which incited the heart of the apostle Paul and fired his zeal in the furtherance of the cause of our Lord was the hope to be found in Christ. Before the Messiah came, the Jews had longed for his coming, even though they rejected him, they had this expectation. But they had no real hope of eternal life.

One truth emphasized in the New Testament is for Christians to have hope. "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Philippians 1:27) Regarding the hope of the Christian in prospect of being like Him, the beloved John wrote, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."(1 John 3:1_3) There is no doubt but those early disciples had hope in Christ. This leads to the sobering question, "Why is there hope in Christ?"

The ancient world knew sin and by the first century was as morally degraded as one could imagine. The problem of the world was not only being so immoral but not being conscious of it. The world did not know its sin! Epictetus said, "Our weakness is in necessary things." Seneca wrote, "We hate our vices and love them at the same time ... We have not stood bravely enough by our good resolutions; despite our will and resistance we have lost our innocence." Persius, the Roman poet pungently wrote, "Let the guilty see virtue, and pine that they have lost her forever." The ancient world knew moral helplessness too well.

Christ came telling man the error into which he had plunged and pointing out the right way to live and the power to do it. "For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost." (Matthew 18:15) "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." (1 Timothy 1:15) To do so, man had to be taught the right way to live. (2 Peter 1:3, Titus 2:12)

Without Christ, man flounders in a world of sin. He has no real standard of righteousness any better than the other person, for every man does that which is right in his own eyes. That has always been the weakness of the world and it will be until the end of time. As man opens his eyes and embraces the truth which came by Jesus Christ, he has hope of moral victory. He learns to conquer sin, being victorious instead of defeated.

Christ came to the world in an age of the most terrible personal insecurity. Tacitus, the Roman historian wrote of the history of the first century by saying, "I am entering upon the history of a period rich in disaster, gloomy with wars, rent with seditions; nay, savage in its very hours of peace. Four emperors perished by the sword; there were three civil wars; there were more with foreigners, and some had the character of both at one ... Rome wasted by fires; its oldest temples burned; adultery in high places; the very capitol set in flames by Roman hands; the defilement of sacred rites; the sea crowded with exiles; island rocks drenched with murder; yet wilder was the frenzy in Rome; nobility, wealth, the refusal of office, its acceptance, everything was a crime, and virtue was the surest way to ruin. Nor were the rewards of the informers less odious than their deeds. One found his spoils in a priesthood or a consulate; another in a provincial governship, another behind the throne. All was one delirium of hate and terror; slaves were bribed to betray their masters, freedmen their patrons; and he who had no foe was betrayed by his friend." (Histories, 1,2)

In Christ, man has hope which is unknown to the world. There is established such a union that none of the circumstances mentioned by the historian can separate one from Him. The apostle Paul wrote, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? ... Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." (Romans 8:35,37)

In the book of Revelation, the inspired writer gives an insight to the perils of Christians. He wrote of the devices of Satan, the opposition by civil governments and the devilish work of pagan priests. All of these resisted the truth as taught by the early saints of God but their opposition could not come between the friendship which had been established with Christ. Man may experience disappointments, persecution and trouble in this life, but there is a relationship known and maintained which makes him conqueror over sin, giving him hope.

Death has always been man's feared foe. We live in a world that experiences death and sorrow. Each of us at times will experience the grief as the result of a visit by the grim reaper and in time will come to personally know him. Realizing that death is sure, man has long sought a hope for a life beyond the grave. Without God, there is no hope!

In Christ, there is a better life on this earth. How could man possibly improve the life of the Christian? He is so wonderfully blessed in this life with not only material things, but a fellowship with God and the righteous of the earth. How good and pleasant it is to be able to humble oneself in prayer to the Almighty and draw the strength from such a close communion. But more than this, there is hope to spend an eternity with God and all of the redeemed of the ages. "The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death."

(Proverbs 14:32) On that glorious day, when time is no more, the dead will be raised and those in Christ will be caught up in the clouds to be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) In this, there is comfort to the faithful Christian. This is our hope.