Hope and the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven
Our Christian hope is based on the purpose and character of God and the demonstrated faithfulness of Christ in His death and resurrection. Our ultimate hope is eternal life in restored relationship with Him in His kingdom, which we will experience as reality finally in the restoration and redemption of all things. We understand this will be a physical reality in the new creation. Until then we live in the tension of the now and the not yet.
Jesus had a clear understanding of what he was on earth to accomplish and of the cost. We grieve over our sins and the hardness of our hearts and resist evil because we do not wish to offend God whom we have come to love through His gracious work in us. We hunger for His righteousness, as this is what saves us at two levels. Firstly the righteousness of Christ applied to us and secondly the righteous life which pleases Him.
The gospel of the kingdom offers real hope for the way people are to live together and organise life. It addresses and answers the problems of our life together. As we grow in our understanding of the reign of Christ among us and submit to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and understand His law, we see that it is comprehensive and encompasses all the interaction of human beings. Thus after times of large scale conversion or when the influence of Christianity is spread deeply in society one sees widespread benefit at many levels.
Our hope is not a romantic idealism or a woolly vagueness about the future. We hope for what is real and should to some measure be real among us. We are called to live here and now for God, continuing to fulfil the creation mandate[ii] and as a prophetic witness of Christ for those separated from Him. We are called to pray and to work for God’s will to be done on earth. To the measure that this is not real or understood among us it is a cause for weakness, discouragement, disobedience and idolatry. It is important to hope, but hope in something unrealistic and unobtainable is a cruel illusion and breeds cynicism.
We do not believe an immediate utopia or that by our work we will gradually bring it into existence. There is a future time for the restoration of all things known only to God. We live in the tension of the now and the then. As Jacob discovered in his dream, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven”.[iii]
We need to demonstrate that we are people of a greater hope. Amid our own frustrations and fears we should demonstrate the life of faith lived in the context of the coming kingdom.
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