Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 12, 1956

"One Hope"

Robert H. Farish, Lexington, Kentucky

"Even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling." (Eph. 4:4.)

This series of articles is dealing with the theme, "The Unity of the Spirit." The reader is urged to read again, Ephesians 4:1-6. The subject of this paper is the 'One Hope.' While there exists hopes many with reference to temporal, material things, yet there is singleness in Christian hope. There is one hope.

What is the one hope — the hope of the Christian? The apostle answers this question in 1 Peter 1:3,4. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you..." The inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away is the Christian's hope. This is in harmony with such expressions as this in Titus 1:1,2. "Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before times eternal." Here Paul states that eternal life is the object of the Christian's hope. Titus 3:7, "that, being justified by his grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Eternal life in heaven constitutes the Christian's hope.

Having learned that heaven is the Christian's hope, let us go back to the text. Did you notice that the apostle said, "even as also ye were called in one hope." Why did the apostle put the word "even" before this unit and not before others? Have you ever given it any thought? The Holy Spirit did not say even as there is one Spirit nor did he say even as there is one body — the word "even" is only used before hope. I submit that there is greater unanimity of thought with reference to hope than of some of the other unities. People trying to justify or excuse the varied and conflicting bodies frequently exclaim, "Oh, we are all headed for heaven, we are just going different ways." But the apostle said that there is one body and one Spirit "even" as also ye were called in one hope of your calling." Yes, my friends, the Holy Spirit declared that there is one body even as there is one heaven. Just as sure as there is one true heaven, there is one true church. The same universal unity of thought that prevails with reference to the one hope is required with reference to the church.

The universality of the hope of the Christian's calling is u remarkable and significant thing. The idea of a future life, incorruptible, undefiled and unfading, could not have originated out of nothing. "The idea could not have been so universally held, had there been no basis for it." "The skeptic should attempt to explain how such an idea originated — how it gained such wide spread and deep seated acceptance." If there be no future life then what reason can there be for our existence. Can anyone think that the few and fleeting moments of happiness that we experience here constitute the design of life? When we consider how our lives are spent ere an infinitesimal fraction of the knowledge of the earth has been gained — or frontiers explored — or heights scaled or depths fathomed, we do not question future life. Is it possible for one to consider limitless space and at the same time reject the idea of eternity? Eternal life of happiness remains the one hope of the Christian — that is his heritage.

Material things have been so emphasized and so much thought has been directed along the lines of material progress that the masses have failed to look at the unseen things. The need of elevating our vision is urged in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 5:1. "Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying yet our inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." "For we know that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Our light afflictions working for us more and more an eternal weight of glory is here conditioned on our looking not at the things which are seen but at the things which are not seen. Paul points out that the seen things are temporal but that the things which are not seen are eternal. Look about you, my friend, everything you observe with your physical eye is temporal. Its duration is spanned by time but the things not seen are eternal, they cannot be measured.

Heaven is the great unseen objective. Hope reaches beyond time into eternity. Romans 8:24, 25, "For in hope were we saved: but hope that is seen is not hope: for who hopeth for that which he seeth? but if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." Ponder this from Hebrews 6:17-20, "Wherein God being minded to show more abundantly unto the heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel, interposed with an oath; that by two immutable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong encouragement, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us: which we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and entering into that which is within the veil; whither as a forerunner Jesus entered for us, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." The 'one hope' which is the anchor of the soul is not cast into the depths of the sea but is within the threshold of heaven itself. The one hope is sure and steadfast. We can learn about the 'one hope' in the gospel "because of the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens, whereof ye heard before in the word of truth of the gospel." (Col. 1:5.) Also note Colossians 1:23, "if so be that ye continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast and not moved away from the hope of the gospel which ye heard, which was preached in all creation under heaven ...."

Paul tells us to whom eternal life will be rendered in Romans 2:6,7, "Who will render, to every man according to his works: to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life." Remember that the one hope is unto an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away. But for whom is the inheritance? Romans 8:16,17, "The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him." Here the Bible tells us that the children are the heirs — children are heirs and as such can expect to share in the inheritance. If you are truly a child of God you have the one hope. How important then it is for us to be sure of our status before God. Are you His child? Let us test our relationship to God by His standard, the New Testament. Consider this reading soberly: Galatians 3:26,27, "For ye are all sons of God, through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ." Friends, notice Paul's lesson. He contrasts the status of those in covenant with God under the faith with those under the law of Moses. He speaks of their former condition under the law as that of wards — and in the fourth chapter he likens them to bondservants. But now under faith we are related to God as children. The apostle further states that the sphere or location in which we are sons is Christ Jesus. In Christ Jesus we are sons. He then tells us how to get in Christ Jesus, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ." In Christ you are a child, the child is an heir — has hope. Do you have grounds for hope?

Consider John's comments on hope: 1 John 3:2,3, "Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is. And every one that hath this hope set on him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." Do you have the hope? If so, you are purifying yourself. John says that hope has that effect on everyone who has it.