Sun. a.m. 7/5/98



TEXT: Col. 1:21-29

INTRO: Where there is no hope there is no life! The absence of hope causes the soul to wither and die. The essence of the Gospel is HOPE! That Christ would come to earth and die for our sins demonstrates that God has hope in us, and for those who have hope in Christ there is salvation.

We will not go forward spiritually without hope in our soul. The tragic truth is that there are so many people adrift on the sea of life with no hope or satisfaction. They don't even realize that Christ's life will bring them hope and that He is available right where they are at.

ILLUS: The Amazon River is the largest river in the world. The mouth is 90 miles across. There is enough water to exceed the combined flow of the Yangtze, Mississippi and Nile Rivers. So much water comes from the Amazon that they can detect its currents 200 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean. One irony of ancient navigation is that sailors in ancient times died for lack of water... caught in windless waters of the South Atlantic. They were adrift, helpless, dying of thirst. Sometimes other ships from South America who knew the area would come alongside and call out, "What is your problem?" And they would exclaim, "Can you spare us some water? Our sailors are dying of thirst!" And from the other ship would come the cry, "Just lower your buckets. You are in the mouth of the mighty Amazon River." The irony of ancient Israel and the tragedy around us today is that God, the fountain of living water, is right here and people don't draw from Him.

The world desperately needs to know that there is hope for the future, that death does not end everything. The soul that is full of hope is full of life.

PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that we have a great hope in Christ, and this hope is Christ's entrance into our soul. We will move in the direction of our hopes, be sure they are placed squarely in Christ!

I. THE PAST 1:21

A. Enemies 1:21a

1. Paul begins with our past, at a time when we were enemies of God, and thus without hope!

a. All those who have failed to accept Christ as their Lord are enemies of God!

b. We are enemies of God until the day we are saved!

2. With no hope in Christ a man or woman will oppose God and live only for self.

3. Tragically, many people aren't even aware that this relationship of being enemies doesn't have to continue!

a. Christ paid the price to end the warfare!

b. No one has to continue being God's enemy.

ILLUS: Canada and the United States have long been the best of friends, justly proud of the undefended border between them. It has not always been so. During the War of 1812, between the United States and Britain, the Americans crossed the border and destroyed York, modern day Toronto. The British retaliated by burning Washington, D.C. Finally, on December 24, 1814, representatives of the two countries, who had been meeting in Belgium signed the Treaty of Ghent, which agreed on the details of an armistice.

Unfortunately, the news of the peace was delayed, and, on January 8, 1815, unaware of the armistice, the two armies met in the Battle of New Orleans. More than 2,000 men lost their lives in a totally unnecessary battle, because they were ignorant of the peace treaty.

4. God has beaten the real enemy, sin, and for those who want to know the war can be over and they can enjoy real freedom, freedom from sin's slavery!

B. Evil 1:21b

1. Paul states in the second part of this verse that we were enemies of God in our minds and it was evidenced by our behavior.

2. Without hope in God our behavior demonstrates that our only hope is in ourselves!

3. It is quite tragic spiritually that so many today are trying to find spirituality in many weird places when they already possess the knowledge to experience it in Christ!

4. Christ has already been given to us, we don't have to live as enemies of God anymore, we can access the true riches of His life if we choose to.

a. While Christ is available and free, so many turn to their own efforts to save themselves and end in failure!

b. The greatest wealth of spirituality is already available, why continue to do things your own way?

ILLUS: For many years Hetty Green was called America's greatest miser. When she died in 1916, she left an estate valued at $100 million, an especially vast fortune for that day. But she was so miserly that she ate cold oatmeal in order to save the expense of heating the water. When her son had a severe leg injury, she took so long trying to find a free clinic to treat him that his leg had to be amputated because of advanced infection. It has been said that she hastened her own death by bringing on a fit of apoplexy while arguing the merits of skim milk because it was cheaper than whole milk.

5. Things are not hopeless with Christ!


A. Emancipated! 1:22

1. In Christ this hope really comes alive, we are not only made better, but we are made perfect!

a. "without blemish and free from accusation--" Paul states here!

b. If this doesn't give hope, nothing will!

2. We are set free from:

a. Sin's penalty

b. Sin's power

c. and one day - even Sin's presence!

3. This is not just a simple matter of taking someone who is evil and slowly making them better, it is a matter of being transformed in a moment into a child of God!

a. The word Paul uses here, "reconciled" (Greek - "apokatallasso") literally means to "change from that of enmity to that of friendship" with God.

b. This is why hope is so powerful, it is not just a false hope that maybe we will be better, it is a real hope that we are now perfect in Christ!

c. Of course, this is our legal standing with God, the actual standing often needs to move up to the legal standing!

4. For those who put their trust in Christ there is real hope for a future, for those who reject Christ there is no hope for tomorrow!

ILLUS: Other men see only a hopeless end, but the Christian rejoices in an endless hope. -- Gilbert Beenken

5. This hope is real, and it nourishes our soul as well as encourages us on to live up to what we are declared already in Christ.

B. Established 1:23

1. Here comes the secret to this hope in Christ being vibrant throughout our life, "IF you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the HOPE held out in the gospel."

a. We must become "established" in this hope!

b. We do this by "continuing in our faith"!

c. The present experience of hope is that we will need it a lifetime.

2. In order to become established at anything one must continue to hold on or act in faith over a long period of time!

a. This runs against the times in which we live, everyone wants everything NOW.

b. But hope will keep alive in us the faith that we must live each day, to continue on in it.

3. Too many people lose their hope too soon, and thus their faith.

4. We would do well to allow hope to help establish us in our faith as each day goes by.

ILLUS: Harvey Mackay in his book Swim with the Sharks tells of the 88 year old President of Japan's largest enterprise, Matsushita Electric, answering an interviewer's questions on the future of his company. The interview went as follows:

Question: "Mr. President, does your company have long-range goals?"

Answer: "Yes."

Question: "How long are your long-range goals?"

Answer: "Two hundred fifty years."

Question: "What do you need to carry them out?"

Answer: "Patience."

5. Paul had demonstrated in his own life this great truth, while always holding out hope, he always held out in faith as a servant of God's.

a. This had established him in faith, for he never lost his hope in Christ.

b. He was able to continue being a servant of God no matter the circumstances of life because his hope kept his faith alive.

c. His hope was not in the things of this world, but in Christ alone.

III. THE PLAN 1:24-29

A. Example 1:24-26

1. Paul is now able to rejoice over any suffering he needed to experience on their behalf because the same hope he had for his own life was the same hope he had for their lives!

a. And so he was able to endure any suffering for them.

b. Even as Christ had also suffered for them.

2. This great salvation was a hidden secret for so long, the secret being that God loved everyone, Jew and Gentile, and that all would have an equal chance to come to Him and find real life!

3. Paul's passion was to see 100% of everyone saved, not just a select group.

a. He would not be happy with anything less than 100%.

b. Do we have the same passion, or are we happy with less than 100%?

c. Since Christ died for all, Paul wanted to see all saved, not just some.

ILLUS: Total quality organizations have an incredibly high goal to do the right thing for 100 percent of the customers 100 percent of the time. Does that seem unrealistic? Isn't 99 percent good enough? Just think what you'd get if 99 percent were good enough in certain areas. No electric service for fifteen minutes each day. 1.7 million pieces of first-class mail lost each day. 35,000 newborn babies dropped by doctors or nurses each year. 200,000 people getting the wrong drug prescription each day. Three misspelled words on the average page of type. 2 million people dying from food poisoning each year. -- Thomas J. Stevinin, People Power, (Moody, 1996), p. 21.

4. We can't afford to be satisfied with less than 100%, too much is at stake!

5. Paul attempted to demonstrate through his own self sacrificing that we need to give it our all.

6. Notice too that Paul by giving all is also showing them an example of hope, we need such examples to promote people's faith in God.

ILLUS: A saint is someone whose life makes it easier to believe in God. -- William Barclay, Leadership, Vol. 8, no. 2.

7. The hope that was missing for the Gentiles for so long because this truth was hidden has been revealed, now anyone can hope in salvation and find Christ.

a. Why turn away such a hope?

b. God desires to have fellowship with us, to be our friend!

B. Enabling! 1:27-29

1. Christ in us is the "Hope of glory"!

2. Paul's hope here is that in proclaiming Christ to everyone he hoped to "present everyone perfect in Christ"!

3. To that end Paul says, "I labor, struggling with all ... energy, which so powerfully works in me." (1:29)

4. He is enabled by God's power and the hope that exists in his soul.

5. Paul understood that hope is the doorway to the soul, and faith enables us to have the power to move forward and share the Gospel of Christ with others.

a. One of the reasons we don't witness much is because we have lost hope that in sharing the Gospel people will get saved!

b. But, it is Christ that enables us to present the Gospel with power that can change the enemies of God to His friends, but we need to allow this hope to enable us to act!

ILLUS: Almost everyone has heard of Mr. Heinz whose "57 varieties" of pickles have distinguished his name. One day after an evangelistic service the speaker turned to him and said, "You are a believer, but with all your energy why aren't you up and at it for the Lord?" Heinz went home in anger. That night he couldn't sleep, however, and at 4 o'clock in the morning he prayed that God would use him to lead others to the Savior. A day or so later at a meeting of bank presidents, he turned to the man next to him and told him of his joy in knowing Jesus. His friend looked at him in surprise and said, "Because I knew you were a Christian, I've wondered many times why you never spoke to me about salvation." That gentleman became the first of 267 converts -- people of different varieties, from all walks of life -- that Mr. Heinz eventually won to Christ!

6. Notice Paul does not say he struggled with all "my" energy, but with "all HIS energy" (1:29).

a. It is Christ that enables us to make hope come alive in our lives, and in others as well.

b. How powerful is this hope in Christ! It resulted in the Gentiles coming into the Kingdom of God, and allowed for Paul to struggle, even suffer, for the hope of the salvation of all those who will put their faith in Christ.

7. Hope is truly a door to the soul, for it opens the door of the heart to receive the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and it invites us to come to Him and no longer be His enemy, but now be His friend!

CONCLUSION: What makes people want to change for the better - HOPE! Without hope the soul would dry up and progress would come to a halt. The greater the hope, the greater the desire for moving forward. How do we progress in our walk with God when we see what we are vs. what we should be? The answer is HOPE! In Christ we have real hope!