We are talking about hope in our message series Hope Restored. One definition of hope is an “optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one's life.” A more biblical definition of hope is “an expectation of something good in the future.” This something good is always connected with God and His Kingdom, not just with ourselves.
Today, I’d like to talk about two kinds of hope that we need to have. The first is hope for this life, the 80 or 90 years that we may have on the earth. What does this kind of hope look like? What good does this hope expect?
John 10:10 (ESV) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Jesus first of all refers to Satan as a thief who seeks to steal from us, kill and destroy us. Now, that expectation certainly does not provoke hope in our hearts. But Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly. Other translations say that Jesus came that we might have an overflowing life or a rich and satisfying life. Jesus came that we might have hope for an abundant life, a life overflowing with God’s goodness. True goodness in life comes only from God. The second kind of hope has to do with eternity, the life that we enter into after we die.
John 3:16 (ESV) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Again we see two options, one which leads to hope and one that leads to hopelessness. The first option, for those who do not believe in Jesus is to perish, to spend eternity without God and under God’s judgement. The second option is to have eternal life and spend eternity in God’s presence. Only those who have this eternal hope can have genuine hope in this life.
If you have this eternal life as a believer, God wants you to be overflowing with hope every day of this life. When your eternity is secure, nothing in this life can take away your hope in God. My message today is entitled “Seal the Deal.” God wants you to have an assurance of your eternal salvation, so that you can have hope in God’s plan for you in this life. He wants you to have hope in His goodness no matter what circumstance you may find yourself in.
2 Peter 1:3 (ESV) His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,
When you are saved, it’s not just about going to heaven one day. In this verse, circle the phrase all things. God’s power has given each believer everything they need in this life. Nothing that you need to live a godly life is lacking. How do you access everything you need in life? Through knowing Jesus, the one who called you to believe in Him. To know Jesus is not just to know about Him, but to build your relationship with Him. Now let’s go into a little more detail about how we can grow in our knowledge of Christ.
2 Peter 1:4 (ESV) by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
This is an amazing verse that is very important in growing in God. God has given to us His precious and very great promises. Where are these promises located? They’re written down for us in God’s Word, the Bible. Most of the promises in God’s Word are conditional promises. We’ve already talked about a famous one in John 3:16. This promise says that if we believe in Jesus, we will have eternal life. As we fulfill the condition of the promise, in this case to believe in Jesus, then we receive the reward, eternal life.
The verse we just read says that through the promises we partake of the divine nature. What that means is that the divine nature of Jesus who lives inside of us through the Holy Spirit controls us more and more. In other words, we become more and more like Jesus in our attitudes and actions. Peter goes on to say in …
2 Peter 1:10 (ESV) Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
In the verses between verse 4 and 10, Peter gives a list of qualities that every believer needs to add to their faith. Qualities of goodness, self-control, love and a number of others. These qualities are all fruit of the Spirit, that make us more like Jesus. The growth of these qualities in our lives is not automatic. We must be diligent to put these qualities into practice. As we do that, we make our calling sure, we confirm our calling or salvation.
You see, as believers, we have a responsibility to work with God to see our lives transformed. This verse then ends with another promise. If you practice this qualities in your life, it says you will never fall away from God. On the contrary, the next verse tells us what is in store for those who put these promises into action in their lives.
2 Peter 1:11 (ESV) For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Verse 11 is now talking about the wonderful eternity that God has in store for those who make their calling sure in this life. We seal the deal by putting God’s promises into practice.
How do God’s promises help us grow in God and in hope? God’s promises always involve something good happening to those who fulfill their conditions. As you put God’s promises into action and see the blessing that results, how will that impact your life? You will grow in hope and in faith for the future, both in this life and the next.
Not only will you grow in hope for yourself, but you will grow in hope and faith for others. Becoming a believer is just the first step in a lifetime of walking with God. You must put your faith into practice in order to grow in God. Now, let’s talk some more about the importance of God’s Word in which are His promises.
2 Peter 1:19 (ESV) And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,
The prophetic word that this verse talks about is the whole of God’s Word the Bible. The fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection confirms the Bible as God’s truth. God’s Word is a light that illuminates and guides our lives as we pay attention to it. It is there to teach us until Jesus returns again, and the new day of eternity dawns.
2 Peter 1:20 (ESV) knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.
God’s Word, from Genesis at the beginning until Revelation at the end, was not men’s ideas written down. It did not come from people’s ideas or interpretations of who God was and how He acted. So, how did God’s Word come into existence?
2 Peter 1:21 (ESV) For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit inspired the writers of Scripture to put into words the truth of God. They wrote down whatever God gave them to write. The Bible was not created by the ideas of human beings. This verse tells us that the writers were carried along by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit revealed God’s truth to them and they wrote it down by His inspiration. That is why we and the Bible refers to it as being God’s Word. We must pay attention to God’s truth as the only light shining in a dark world. We must stay rooted in the truth of God’s Word in order to live in hope for the future.
God’s Word never changes, it has been written and established for all time. God desires for each of us to base our lives on the truth of biblical principles. In today’s world, this is more important than ever. God’s Word applies to every aspect of our lives, not just spiritual matters. As you order your life according to the promises of God’s Word, it brings God’s blessing into your life.
Practically, how can we stay rooted in the truth? Simply read, listen to and apply God’s Word to your life on a daily basis. Much of what we hear through our culture and media is not based on God’s Word. So, we need to be able to discern what is true and what is false. We learn discernment through our study of God’s Word. The Holy Spirit will help you understand God’s Word as you read it.
You learn from God’s Word on Sunday mornings, but you need to apply it to your life during the following week. Being part of a small group during the week is another way to stay rooted in the truth. We encourage everyone to be part of a small group. We hope to have another small group option in the new year as well. Stay rooted in the truth.
2 Peter 2:1 (ESV) But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
It would be nice if everyone and every church that spoke about spiritual things was speaking the truth, but that has never been the case. There are false teachers who teach things that are not true about God and His Word. False teaching is destructive for those who embrace it and those who teach it.
How do we recognize false teaching? We compare it to the written word of God. The Holy Spirit will also alert us to false teaching as we stay rooted in the truth. What is the lure of false teaching?
2 Peter 2:19 (ESV) They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.
A common theme of false teaching is that of freedom, sometimes falsely labeled as God’s grace. False teachers teach that as a believer it doesn’t matter how you live because Jesus has forgiven all your sins. They teach that you are free to do anything in your life, no matter what the Bible says. However, when you live a sinful lifestyle, you become a slave to your sin or corruption. The only way to live in true freedom is to live as a godly servant of Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 2:20 (ESV) For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.
This verse describes false teachers as those who were once saved through knowing Jesus Christ. They had escaped the defilements or sins of the world. Yet, they believed falsehoods and became entangled and overcome in sin, thinking it to be freedom. They had fallen away from faith and were worse of than before they were saved. Why? Because they had known Jesus Christ, but had rejected Him and the truth. The same is true of all who listen to and follow false teachers, who are all around us today. You must guard your salvation against the lies of false teachers.
The gift of salvation is a free gift, you don’t have to do anything to receive it, except believe in Jesus Christ. Salvation is not only free, but it is precious and must be guarded. Our enemy, Satan, uses false teaching to lure those who are not rooted in the truth of God’s Word away from God. We must be alert, we must be on our guard.
Do not assume every teaching you listen to on spiritual matters is true. Even those who claim to be Christian and are using God’s Word, may not be teaching the truth. Oftentimes, false teachers will mix some truth with falsehood in order to deceive people. If you’re not sure if a teaching is from God, check it out in Scripture. As part of the Assemblies of God, you can go to our website at ag.org. On that website, we have position papers based on God’s Word for many of the controversial topics of today. You can also speak to myself or another leader or mature believer in our church. Together, we can discern truth from falsehood and guard our salvation.
God infuses hope into the hearts of every growing believer through His Spirit. God desires for you to make your calling sure by putting your faith into practice. In order to reap the blessings of God’s promises, you must stay rooted in the truth of God’s Word. Finally, we must be on our guard against false teaching that would lure us away from the Lord. But, as we guard the precious gift of salvation, God will fill our lives with hope.
Hope for the rest of our life on this earth and hope for an eternity with Jesus Christ.