This is the manuscript of a sermon given at Christ Church, Los Angeles, CA, Sunday December 11, 2016.
We are now in a season, a time of the year, that is very important to Christians. It’s Advent, a time or season that is celebrated by most of the Christian world as a time of expectation, for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.
Advent is the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. For Christians it is both the first and second comings of Christ. We celebrate the first coming at Christmas and look forward to His second coming.
The term Advent, is a version of the Latin word adventus meaning "coming". Adventus is the Latin translation of the Greek word parousia (par-oo-see'-ah), which is an ancient Greek word meaning presence, arrival, or official visit. For Christians, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from three different perspectives. In the flesh in Bethlehem, in our hearts everyday, and in glory when Jesus returns.
During Advent we look back and identify with those of Israel that awaited and longed for the arrival of the Messiah that had been foretold to them by the prophets.
Isaiah 7:14 (NKJV)14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
Isaiah 9:7 (NKJV)7 Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 61:1-2 (NKJV)1 "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,
Matthew 1:22-23 (NKJV)22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."
Luke 1:26-33 (NKJV)26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary.28 And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!"29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.30 Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."
Luke 4:18-21 (NKJV)18 "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
We just looked at three prophecies from the of Isaiah. The books of the Old Testament contain many more prophecies about the Messiah which Jesus Christ fulfilled. Some Bible scholars suggest there are more than 300 prophetic Scriptures that were fulfilled in the life of Jesus.
We know that God, in His faithfulness, did send that Messiah in Jesus, just as the Scriptures foretold, so we look ahead, in expectation and longing for the second coming of Christ. During Advent, we’re reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savior’s second coming.
The themes most often used for the four weeks of Advent are Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. All four of these themes are embodied in Christ Himself.
He is the Hope of the World
Matthew 12:21 (NLT)21 And his name will be the hope of all the world.”
He is the Prince of Peace
Isaiah 9:6 (NLT)6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
He is the Fullness of Joy
Psalm 16:11 (ASV)11 Thou wilt show me the path of life: In thy presence is fulness of joy; In thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
He Loves Us
Romans 5:8 (NKJV)8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Hope of Advent
Hope comes first; hope for the lasting peace, joy, and love we can’t find on our own and never will apart from Christ.
Colossians 1:27 (NKJV)27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
If I was to put a title on this sermon it would be ‘The Hope of Advent...Jesus Christ the Hope of Glory.
Hope is defined as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances that we know to be desperate.” It is not a blissful ignorance or wishful thinking but a subversive cheer that refuses to let circumstance triumph over courage, doubt overcome faith, or adversity conquer compassion. This is not easy; it is not our default setting. When we hit brick walls, the first emotion that naturally arises is generally not hope. Hope requires a strength that comes from focusing on a greater vision than what is wrong. We may not have every problem figured out, but we serve a God who loved this world enough to join us in it. We trust that when Jesus said, “Behold, I am making all things new,” he meant it.
H.O.P.E. Hallelujah Overflowing in Praises Eternal
Expectation and Hope
Advent teaches us to not only to expect hope for eternity, but we can expect hope for today. Here’s another prophecy from Isaiah.
Isaiah 53:5-6, 10-12 (NKJV)5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.
We know that prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus was tried beaten and the crucified.
But here's what Paul said about that.
Romans 5:6-8 (NKJV)6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
So you see that the hope of Israel for its Messiah was fulfilled in Jesus although many if not most, missed it. But we, Gentiles, can claim Him as our Messiah too.
Isaiah 42:6 (NKJV)6 "I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness, And will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the Gentiles,
He was talking about the Messiah, Jesus.
Romans 3:29 (NKJV)29 Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also,
What Is Hope?
It is pretty common to hope, right? We hope we get a job. We hope our kids are well behaved. We hope we make enough money to pay our bills. But our human hope implies a degree of uncertainty, things are not sure, they are possibilities but not certainties. In Scripture, however, hope is certain, because it rests in the stability of God. Biblical hope, then, can be defined as, “the confident expectation and desire for something good in the future.” That’s different from the dictionary definition which is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen”.
There is close connection between hope and faith.
The definition we Christians use for faith is;
Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
So hope is an element of faith looking specifically toward the future, while faith encompasses a belief and trust in God for our past, our present, and our future. Hope is essential to our faith.
Hebrews 6:11 (NKJV)11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end,
It doesn’t take long to look around the world, and conclude that we have little reason to hope. We all experience pain and suffering. Peace and safety are hard to come by. Injustice, sorrow, sickness, poverty and violence are all alive and well.
When Jesus came, hope was made possible. The advent of Christ ushers in hope.
John 1:14 (NKJV)14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Remember I said earlier, hope is faith in the future tense. It is at the root of our saving knowledge, understanding and belief in Christ. When we trust the work of Christ on the Cross for salvation, we are saved by faith, as it says;
Ephesians 2:8 (NKJV)8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
And if we believe that Christ accepted the penalty of our sin on the cross and defeated death in His resurrection, we are born into a living hope, a hope in Jesus’ victory on our behalf, no matter the trials and tribulations of this world.
1 Peter 1:3-5 (NKJV)3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
We rejoice in the hope of God’s glory, even in the midst of suffering. In fact, as believers, suffering produces hope, because we know that despite our present troubles, God’s love has been poured out on our behalf in Christ.
Romans 5:1- 5 (NKJV)1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Life may be difficult at times, but our hope is not at the mercy of our circumstances and our perspective is not limited to what is seen. What does it say?
Romans 8:31-39 (NKJV)31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We have hope and can hope because it has been given to us in Christ no matter what is going on.
The Source of Hope
What does it look like to hope, in an earthly sense? When you find yourself hoping for a specific outcome, for a change in circumstances or a favorable result, what emotions are present? Are you fearful? Insecure? Anxious?
Anxiety challenges hope. We worry things won’t turn out the way we want or even the way we’ve planned. Our hope is shaky because it’s based in an act of our will so it doesn’t have a stable foundation. Our hope is often in another person or a specific outcome. But hope centered in God is sure. It is confident and fully assured because it is rooted in the faithfulness of God, who is the source of hope.
The evidence for that hope is God's provision for us in Christ. We look toward the fulfillment of all His promises in Scripture, because we know that God is faithful. That’s how Jeremiah could say;
Lamentations 3:21-24 (NKJV)21 This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.22 Through the LORD'S mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.24 "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!"
Jeremiah said this at a time that Jerusalem and Judah were in shambles and most of its people taken into exile in Babylon. God had promised that after 70 years they would return so Jeremiah’s hope was in that promise. He knew that God was faithful. God is our source of hope too because we know that He doesn’t change He’s on our side, and He is working things out for our good.
Romans 8:28 (NKJV)28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
How Do We Live Out Hope?
If we know that hope comes from God, why is it so difficult to live out? Why are so many of us, Christians, hopeless?
As we take a closer look at hope, Scripture not only gives us the source of hope, but also the way we can rejoice in hope. We can rejoice in hope because the Holy Spirit makes it possible.
Romans 15:13 (NKJV)13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
When we put our faith and trust in Christ for salvation, He graciously gives us His Spirit. His Spirit is Christ in us, the hope of glory which goes back to our main text for today.
Colossians 1:27 (NKJV)27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Here’s the way it’s presented the the NLT
Colossians 1:27 (NLT) For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.
God has given us hope, but we must abide in Him and His Spirit in us, in order for us to experience and live out hope.
The beauty of the hope ushered in through Christ and made alive in us through His Spirit, is that it gives us the ability to have abiding hope, the kind of hope that goes beyond circumstances and uncertainty. Our hope is not for a certain result or outcome, but in the love of God displayed in Christ on the Cross. This hope is a powerful testimony for those that don’t know Christ.
Our hope sets up apart and we should be ready to give a reason for that hope to point others to Christ.
1 Peter 3:13-17 (NKJV)13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled."15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
So is it ok to hope without proof; for a new job? for a relationship to flourish? for a business deal to succeed? Yes, believers and even nonbelievers do this, however, the believer’s hope is grounded in Christ, no matter and sometimes despite the eventual outcome.
He seems to live in the northern section of Palestine, where he is constantly taunted by enemies who do not share his longings for God. Although he attempts to pray and recall how measureless is God's loving-kindness, he still feels forsaken. Mixed with his longing for the Temple is his remembrance of the constant barbs of his enemies..
Psalm 42:1-11 (NLT)1 As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.
2 I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?3 Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, “Where is this God of yours?” 4 My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!5 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and6 my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you— even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar.7 I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.8 But each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.9 “O God my rock,” I cry, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?”10 Their taunts break my bones. They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?”11 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!
The psalmist is despondent because he cannot make his usual pilgrimages to the Temple. He gains renewed strength by repeating his formula for inner peace or hope - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary
Doubt: A Hindrance to Hope
If faith, which encompasses hope, is "the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen as we read in Hebrews 11:1, the opposite would be that doubt is a feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction.
When Paul wrote in Romans at 4:18 when talking about Abraham;
Romans 4:18 (NKJV)18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, "So shall your descendants be."
He said that Abraham believed against hope, from a human perspective, and believed in hope resting on the character of God. Abraham’s circumstances seemed humanly impossible. The promise of an heir was hopeless in the face of both his and Sarah’s old age and the fact that Sarah had been barren. But when hope rests on God, He does the impossible
Genesis 21:1-3 (NKJV)1 And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had spoken.2 For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.3 And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him--whom Sarah bore to him--Isaac.
Matthew 19:23-26 (NKJV)23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?" 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Our hope is in His ability, His goodness and His faithfulness toward us, His children. We have “full assurance of hope.”
Too often we are afraid to hope for things because we doubt they are possible or we doubt that God will do it for us. Maybe we’ve been let down before by people, we have past wounds and grave disappointments that cloud our ability to hope. Our past experience or present circumstances create looming doubt and disbelief . It is in these times we have to shift our focus from the circumstance which is temporary to the eternal and to the truth of the Gospel. We must draw on truth from God’s Word, truth that affirms His unchanging character and His great love for us displayed in Christ.
Romans 8:18-26,30 (NKJV)18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
So what is the hope of glory that we have because Christ is in us? It is the hope of displaying the nature and character of God. Our hope then is not in ourselves, but in Christ. In ourselves and our own strength we will continue to fall short of God’s glory. But through dependence upon Christ, because He dwells in us, we can now break free from the bondage to sin and failure. Face each new challenge thanking Him that He has given you His Spirit and that He is adequate!
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)16 Rejoice always,17 pray without ceasing,18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
If you’re going through something now or whenever you go through something in the future, there’s HOPE because Jesus came to the earth to dwell among us!
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? The answer to that is in;
Romans 8:35-39 (NKJV)35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The key to this hope is Christ in us. How can we be certain that Christ is in us because if he’s not we may have hope but we don’t have the hope of glory?
Romans 8:9-11 (NKJV)9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
John 1:12 (NKJV)12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
John 3:14-16 (NKJV)14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Here’s how that happens;
Romans 10:8-11 (NKJV)8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach):9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."
This is how we can know that Christ is in us.
Is there anyone here today that wants that hope of glory that you can only have if Christ is in you. If you are here today now is the time to come and to let Him fill you with the kind of hope that I have been talking about...H.O.P.E. Hallelujah Overflowing in Praises Eternal.
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Romans 15:13
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.