Rejoicing in Our Hope
“[There is] hope of the everlasting life which God, who cannot lie, promised before times long lasting.”—TITUS 1:2.
BY WAY OF REVIEW
Why do we know that there is joy in heaven when one of the anointed maintains a life course of integrity?
How is the realization of the hope of the other sheep related to that of the anointed?
To see our hope fulfilled, what “holy acts of conduct” and “deeds of godly devotion” must we manifest?
1. How can the hope Jehovah has given us help us to endure?
JEHOVAH is “the God who gives hope.” So said the apostle Paul, adding that Jehovah can ‘fill us with all joy and peace by our believing, that we may abound in hope with power of holy spirit.’ (Rom. 15:13) If our hope abounds in us, we will be able to endure any situation that may arise, our hearts filled with joy and peace. As with anointed Christians, such a hope will prove to be “an anchor for the soul, both sure and firm” for other Christians. (Heb. 6:18, 19) Our hope is something we can cling to during the storms of life, something that will help us not to drift into doubt or lack of faith.—Read Hebrews 2:1; 6:11.
2. What two hopes are to be found among Christians today, and why are the “other sheep” interested in the hope the anointed entertain?
2 Christians living at this time of the end focus their attention on one of two hopes. The remaining members of the “little flock” of anointed Christians have the hope of immortal life in heaven as kings and priests with Christ in his Kingdom. (Luke 12:32; Rev. 5:9, 10) The far more numerous “great crowd” of “other sheep” share the hope of living forever on a paradise earth as subjects of the Messianic Kingdom. (Rev. 7:9, 10; John 10:16) The other sheep should never forget that their salvation depends on their active support of Christ’s anointed “brothers” still on earth. (Matt. 25:34-40) The anointed will enter into their reward, but the hope of the other sheep will just as certainly be fulfilled. (Read Hebrews 11:39, 40.) First, let us examine the hope set before the anointed.
THE “LIVING HOPE” OF ANOINTED CHRISTIANS
3, 4. How do anointed Christians undergo “a new birth to a living hope,” and what is that hope?
3 The apostle Peter wrote two letters to anointed Christians, whom he called “the ones chosen.” (1 Pet. 1:1) He provided details of the wonderful hope granted to the little flock. In his first letter, Peter wrote: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for according to his great mercy he gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance. It is reserved in the heavens for you, who are being safeguarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last period of time. In this fact you are greatly rejoicing.”—1 Pet. 1:3-6.
4 The limited number of Christians chosen by Jehovah to be associated with Christ in the heavenly Kingdom government undergo “a new birth” as spirit-begotten sons of God. They are anointed with holy spirit to become kings and priests with Christ. (Rev. 20:6) Peter states that this “new birth” opens up to them “a living hope,” which he calls “an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance” reserved for them “in the heavens.” Small wonder that the anointed ‘greatly rejoice’ in their living hope! The realization of that hope, however, depends on their faithfulness.
5, 6. Why must anointed Christians do their utmost to make their heavenly calling sure?
5 In his second letter, Peter exhorted anointed Christians to ‘do their utmost to make their calling and choosing of themselves sure.’ (2 Pet. 1:10) They must exert themselves to develop such Christian qualities as faith, godly devotion, brotherly affection, and love. Peter stated: “If these things exist in you and overflow, they will prevent you from being either inactive or unfruitful.”—Read 2 Peter 1:5-8.
6 In his message to the spirit-begotten elders in the first-century congregation of Philadelphia in Asia Minor, the risen Christ said: “Because you kept the word about my endurance, I will also keep you from the hour of test, which is to come upon the whole inhabited earth, to put a test upon those dwelling on the earth. I am coming quickly. Keep on holding fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.” (Rev. 3:10, 11) Were an anointed Christian to become unfaithful, he would not receive “the unfadable crown of glory” promised to the chosen ones who remain faithful until death.—1 Pet. 5:4; Rev. 2:10.
AN ENTRANCE INTO THE KINGDOM
7. What wonderful hope did Jude mention in his letter?
7 About the year 65 C.E., Jesus’ half brother Jude wrote a letter to his fellow anointed Christians, whom he addressed as “the called ones.” (Jude 1; compare Hebrews 3:1.) He had intended to write them a letter centering on the glorious hope of salvation that Christians called to God’s heavenly Kingdom “hold in common.” (Jude 3) Although he had other urgent issues to address, at the conclusion of his short letter, he referred to the wonderful hope shared by anointed Christians, writing: “Now to the one who is able to guard you from stumbling and to set you unblemished in the sight of his glory with great joy, to the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, might and authority for all past eternity and now and into all eternity.”—Jude 24, 25.
8. In line with Jude 24, what indicates that there is joy in heaven when one of the anointed proves his integrity?
8 Certainly, faithful anointed Christians want to be safeguarded against individually stumbling into destruction. Their Bible-based hope is that Jesus Christ will resurrect them from the dead, allowing them to appear in spiritual perfection before the presence of God with great joy. When one of the anointed dies faithful, it is with the sure prospect of being “raised up a spiritual body,” resurrected “in incorruption . . . , in glory.” (1 Cor. 15:42-44) If there is much “joy in heaven over one sinner that repents,” imagine the joy in the heavenly courts when one of Christ’s spirit-begotten brothers finishes a life course of integrity. (Luke 15:7) Jehovah and the faithful spirit creatures will rejoice along with the anointed one then receiving his reward “with great joy.”—Read 1 John 3:2.
9. How is entrance into the Kingdom “richly supplied” to faithful anointed ones, and how does this hope affect the anointed yet on earth?
9 In the same vein, Peter wrote to anointed Christians that if they make their calling sure by their faithfulness, “there will be richly supplied to [them] the entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 1:10, 11) Their entrance into their heavenly reward will be “richly supplied,” their Christian qualities reflecting radiantly. That it is “richly supplied” may also suggest the superlative degree of blessedness that these who have exerted themselves in the race for life will enjoy. They can look back on their faithful life course with hearts full of exultation and gratitude. This prospect undoubtedly gives the anointed Christians yet on earth strength to ‘brace up their minds for continued activity.’—1 Pet. 1:13.
“THE BASIS OF HOPE” FOR THE OTHER SHEEP
10, 11. (a) What hope is set before the other sheep? (b) How is the realization of the earthly hope related to Christ and to “the revealing of the sons of God”?
10 The apostle Paul wrote of the glorious hope of the spirit-begotten “sons of God” as “joint heirs” of Christ. Then he mentioned the wonderful hope that Jehovah holds out to the unlimited number of other sheep: “The eager expectation of the [human] creation is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God [the anointed]. For the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will but through him that subjected it, on the basis of hope that the creation itself also will be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God.”—Rom. 8:14-21.
11 “The basis of hope” for mankind was given by Jehovah when he promised deliverance from “the original serpent,” Satan the Devil, by means of the promised “seed.” (Rev. 12:9; Gen. 3:15) That “seed” was primarily Jesus Christ. (Gal. 3:16) By his death and resurrection, Jesus provided a solid basis for mankind’s hope to be set free from enslavement to sin and death. The realization of this hope is related to “the revealing of the sons of God.” The glorified anointed ones are the secondary part of the “seed.” They will be ‘revealed’ when they share with Christ in destroying Satan’s wicked system of things. (Rev. 2:26, 27) This will bring salvation to the other sheep who come out of the great tribulation.—Rev. 7:9, 10, 14.
12. The revealing of the anointed will have what glorious benefits for mankind?
12 What relief will come to human “creation” during the Thousand Year Reign of Christ! At that time, the glorified “sons of God” will be further ‘revealed’ when they act as priests with Christ, administering the benefits of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice to mankind. As subjects of the heavenly Kingdom, human “creation” will begin to experience deliverance from the effects of sin and death. Obedient humans will gradually “be set free from enslavement to corruption.” If they remain faithful to Jehovah throughout the Millennium and during the final test that will come at the end of it, their names will be permanently written in “the scroll of life.” They will enter into “the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Rev. 20:7, 8, 11, 12) A glorious hope indeed!
KEEPING OUR HOPE ALIVE
13. Upon what is our hope founded, and when will Christ be revealed?
13 Peter’s two inspired letters contain much to help the anointed and the other sheep to keep their respective hopes alive. He pointed out that their hope is not founded on their works, but on Jehovah’s undeserved kindness. He wrote: “Keep balanced and set your hope completely upon the undeserved kindness that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 1:13; ftn.) Christ will be revealed when he comes to reward his faithful followers and execute Jehovah’s judgments upon the ungodly.—Read 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10.
14, 15. (a) To keep our hope alive, on what must we focus our attention? (b) What counsel did Peter give?
14 To keep our hope alive, we must focus our attention and center our lives on the coming “day of Jehovah.” That will bring the destruction of the present-day “heavens,” or human rulership, and “earth,” wicked human society and its “elements.” Peter wrote: “What sort of persons ought you to be . . . , awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah, through which the heavens being on fire will be dissolved and the elements being intensely hot will melt!”—2 Pet. 3:10-12.
15 The present “heavens” and “earth” will be replaced by “new heavens [Christ’s Kingdom government] and a new earth [a new earthly society].” (2 Pet. 3:13) Peter then gave straightforward counsel, based on the fact of our “awaiting,” or keeping our hope alive for, this promised new world: “Hence, beloved ones, since you are awaiting these things, do your utmost to be found finally by him spotless and unblemished and in peace.”—2 Pet. 3:14.
WALKING IN LINE WITH OUR HOPE
16, 17. (a) What “holy acts of conduct” and “deeds of godly devotion” should we manifest? (b) How will our hope be fulfilled?
16 Not only must we keep our hope alive but we must also live in harmony with our hope. We should pay attention to the sort of person we are spiritually. “Holy acts of conduct” involve our ‘maintaining our conduct fine among the nations,’ by our moral rectitude. (2 Pet. 3:11; 1 Pet. 2:12) We must have ‘love among ourselves.’ That includes doing all we can to maintain the unity of our worldwide brotherhood even among those in our local congregation. (John 13:35) “Deeds of godly devotion” are deeds that confirm our close relationship with Jehovah. This involves the quality of our prayers, as well as our daily Bible reading, deep personal study, family worship, and an active share in preaching the “good news of the kingdom.”—Matt. 24:14.
17 Each of us wants to be the sort of person Jehovah approves of and will save when the present wicked system is “dissolved.” We will thus experience the realization of our hope, the “hope of the everlasting life which God, who cannot lie, promised before times long lasting.”—Titus 1:2.
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Anointed Christians undergo “a new birth to a living hope”
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Keep the hope alive in your family