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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 39 - Titus 2:13 - The Blessed Hope Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius




The Blessed Hope.


"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."-Titus 2:13.



     A Christian looks backward, and gazes on the cross with all its wonders of grace, 'the grace of God that bringeth salvation' (verse 11), the love of Him 'who gave Himself for us' (verse 14); he looks downward, and realizes the hell from which he has been plucked by the power and love of God; for he has been 'saved by His mercy' (verse 3,5); he looks round, and surveys that world from which he has been taken, with all its ungodliness and worldly lusts' (verse 12); he looks upward, and sees Jesus sitting at the right hand of God, loving and pleading, shedding down 'the regeneration' and the Holy Ghost (verse 3,5); he looks forward, and sees the promised glory; he sees the day of his Lord's appearing (verse 13). He is 'full of eyes, before and behind;' his eyes of faith and hope turn in every direction, and pierce the inner and upper circle, into which the eye of sense cannot penetrate.

     It is to the forward look of the saint that our text turns us. We are here told what he is 'looking for,'-what he has been looking for ever since he knew 'the grace of God that bringeth salvation' (see 1 Thessalonians 1:9, 10). For a knowledge of this 'grace' is presupposed. This 'free love' was preached to him; he heard it; drank in the good news; was saved in so doing; and as a saved man, 'delivered from the wrath to come,' he desires to see Him face to face, who has thus brought him salvation. Having 'tasted that the Lord is gracious,' he 'looks for that blessed hope.'

     He is a man with 'a hope;' with a 'blessed hope.' Not a hopeless man in a hopeless world; but one who has a hope, and who holds it fast, and knows that he shall not be put to shame. He is 'saved by hope;' this hope which he has, is to him salvation. In general, 'hope' or 'the things hoped for' refer to the future inheritance and kingdom, as the land of promise was to Abraham a hope, and here it possibly has this meaning; as in 1 Peter 1:3 we are said to be 'begotten again into a lively (or living) hope,' which 'hope' is the incorruptible inheritance.

     This hope is not only sure but blessed. It contains in it everything which, both in present prospect and future possession, can make the saint 'blessed.' All things are his; he is an heir of God, and a joint heir with Christ. It is a 'blessed' hope in every sense and aspect. In it is wrapped up 'joy unspeakable and full of glory.'

     This 'blessed hope' is to be entered on at 'the appearing of the glory of Him who is the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ.' Till then, the 'hope,' however sure and blessed, is simply a 'hope.' The 'things hoped for' cannot, till that day, be realized; for of all of them He is the center and the fountain. Apart from Him there is no blessedness, either now or in the expected future. Is that future precious and bright to us because it contains Him? He is 'the blessed one,' and things or scenes or persons are blessed only as connected with Him. Thus we 'look for that blessed hope' (the hope promised); and we look for the appearing of the glory of Christ.

     The attitude of a Christian man, then, is that of 'looking for' this hope and this appearing. It was so in the primitive age certainly. It ought to be so still. The reasons for doing so are not less strong than formerly; nay, they are stronger than ever. Let us note some of these reasons.

     I. Our Lord's command.-Once and again He has said, 'Watch' (Matthew 25:13); 'Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning' (Luke 12:35); 'Be ye also ready' (Matthew 24:44). How often does that word watch appear in our Lord's discourses! How urgent was He in regard to this duty! He foresaw the coldness and slumber that would steal over His Church, and He repeated the earnest word, 'Watch.' He knew how great the temptations to be heedless, to sit down contented, without thinking of that duty at all; how much also would be lost by thus falling asleep and forgetting His advent; and He spoke with a voice meant to be heard to the end of time, 'Watch.' That voice is still speaking to us; not less loudly, but more loudly than at first; for the lapse of ages (like the valley and cliffs of earth repeating sounds) but increases the voice, and prolongs as well as loudens the reverberation. Watch, then, watch; for in such an hour as we think not, the Son of man cometh.

     II.  The day of His advent is uncertain.-The times and seasons are kept secret by God. Of that day and hour knoweth no man. The event is no secret; but the time is one of the great secrets of God; which nor man nor angel knoweth. It was always a secret; it is so still. Certain signs and dates have been given as connected with that great day; but these all tend to keep up the uncertainty, not to remove it. They who use them for dispelling that uncertainty, use them amiss. The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 'Behold, I come quickly.' 'Behold, I come as a thief.'

     III.  The world is growing old.-It is now eighteen centuries and more since our Lord bade us watch; and this is a long period in the lifetime of the world. Days and years and ages have passed over her. The things that were spoken of as near at the first must be much nearer now. Grey hairs are on its head. Its youth and manhood are gone by. The apostle warned us, 'In the last days perilous times shall come.' Our Lord compared the latter age of the world to the days of Noah and of Lot. Let us, then, be watching. The night is far spent; the day is at hand; let us be looking for that blessed hope. Watch! for it may be that these days of ours are the last of the last days.

     IV.  This looking will greatly profit us.-It is no speculation, no prying curiosity, no presumptuous irreverence. It is a meek and reverent obedience to the Master's precept. In many ways it profits us.

     (1.) It gives greater reality to the future.-It shows us Christ as the center of that future,-the man Christ Jesus, as Him round whom all its scenes revolve. At present faith realizes Him in absence; but when He comes again, His glorious person shall be like the sun in the firmament, which cannot be hid. Do your prospects all center in Him?

     (2.) It separates us more from the world.-It keeps us in mind of a coming Christ, and so makes us feel the necessity of living more separate from the world, that we may be ready to meet Him when He appears. 'Behold, I come quickly,' ever sounding in our ears, is a great deterrent from worldliness, either the grosser kind or the more refined. Yes, the thought of Christ's coming is fitted to make us holy men.

     (3.) It makes us zealous.-It does not paralyze; it rouses and stimulates. If the Master be at hand, how much in earnest should we be! how eager to get His work done while yet there is time! They who think He will not come for many an age, may loiter or be at ease; they who believe Him near, must be up and doing. Work and watch!  Watch and work!

     (4.) It comforts us.-If Christ be near, we have little time left to mourn. If He be near, resurrection is at hand, and the day of reunion with our friends is at hand. If He be near, the glory and the kingdom and the New Jerusalem are near, and with them the everlasting joy. 'Comfort one another with these words.' Let looking to Jesus remove all doubts, and let looking for Jesus dispel all sadness. He comes to gladden us! He comes to glorify us, and to be glorified in us. Let our consolation abound. The Lord is at hand.