A Sure Hope
“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.” (Hebrews 6:19)
That which anchors our souls in this turbulent world is the blessed hope we have in Christ, causing us to look “for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life,” standing, as it were, upon the tiptoe of faith. Here God the Holy Spirit tells us that that hope is both sure and steadfast, because it is altogether in Christ.
1. We are assured of the hope of glory by Christ’s entrance into glory as our Forerunner (Heb. 6:20).
After his resurrection from the dead, the Lord Jesus Christ ascended up into heaven and entered into glory, not for himself, but for us, as the Head and Representative of God’s elect, for whom he suffered, bled, and died upon the cursed tree. He entered into heaven as our Forerunner, took possession of it in our name, and now appears in the presence of God for us (Heb. 9:24). Our Redeemer’s representation of us in glory is so real a representation and so absolutely secures our entrance into glory with him that we are said to be already seated together with him in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6).
2. The prayers and preparations of Christ for the future glory of his people assure us of the hope of glory.
Our Savior has gone to heaven to prepare a place for us (John 14:2). He says, “In my Father’s house are many mansions,” abiding houses of wealth, places filled with peace, joy, and happiness. “If it were not so, I would have told you.” If heavenly glory were nothing but a dream and vain delusion, he would have told us. He would not deceive us with a false hope. “I go to prepare a place for you.”
Yes, our all-glorious Savior has gone to heaven, the Father’s house, to prepare a place for us, his beloved friends. Yes, heavenly glory is a kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the world by the purpose and decree of God, and prepared for us by our Savior’s sin-atoning death. Yet, it required another, fresh preparation by the bodily presence, blood atonement, and gracious intercession of Christ. He is there now preparing a place for chosen sinners. This is his particular business in heaven. He is preparing a place for us!
One great part of that preparation is our Savior’s intercession to God on our behalf. Christ, our great High Priest, is making intercession to God on behalf of his elect, redeemed people. He is praying for the salvation of those who yet believe not (Heb. 7:25), and praying for the non-imputation of sin to his erring people (1 John 2:1-2), the spiritual unity of his church (John 17:21), the preservation of his elect (John 17:15), and the eternal happiness of his saints in heaven (John 17:24).
When our place in heaven is perfectly prepared for us and we for it, Christ will come to take us home to glory. — “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3). Sickness is the voice of our Beloved calling us home. Death is the car he sends to carry us home. Our departed brothers and sisters in Christ, our friends and companions in the kingdom of God are already there, at home with Christ in the Father’s house.
3. The hope of glory is born in our souls by the effectual call of God the Holy Spirit.
The apostle Paul admonished Timothy to “lay hold on eternal life,” to look for it, expect it, anticipate it, and believe that he would enter into it at last. The basis for his admonition was, “whereunto thou art also called” (1 Tim. 6:12). Like Timothy, every believer has been called to eternal life and glory in Christ. Therefore, we are exhorted to “walk worthy of God, who hath called (us) unto his kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2:12). And we are assured that “the God of all grace, who hath called (us) unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus” (1 Pet. 5:10) will bring us safely home to glory at last. Those whom he has called, he will also glorify. We are called to glory. And we shall enter glory by the grace of God. “I will,” therefore, “take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord as long as I live.”
4. The hope of glory, which we have in Christ, is a good and lively hope, because we have the earnest of the Spirit (2 Cor. 5:5; Eph. 1:14).
The Holy Spirit has been given to us in regeneration as the earnest, the down payment, the first installment, of our inheritance in glory. We are sealed by him until the day of our full redemption and entrance into everlasting glory. As surely as God has given us his Spirit, the earnest of our inheritance in regeneration, he will also give us the fullness of our inheritance in Christ in glorification. The Holy Spirit, and eternal life by his grace and power, is a well of living water in the hearts of God’s saints springing up into everlasting life in glory (John 4:14).
5. It is this hope of glory which we have in Christ that fills our hearts with desires for glory with Christ (Psa. 27:4).
In this tabernacle of flesh we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with the perfection of everlasting glory in the presence of Christ, that mortality might be swallowed up of life (2 Cor. 5:1-4). As we begin to apprehend the glory that awaits us, we desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better than anything we can experience in this world (Phil. 1:23). We choose rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord, than to go on in this weak and sinful frame of flesh (2 Cor. 5:8). Our “hope of glory” is a matter of unquestionable fact, plainly revealed in Holy Scripture. As soon as we depart from this world, we shall be with Christ in glory. Those who die in Christ are truly blessed of God from the moment of their death and forever. John Gill wrote, “The angels stand around their dying beds waiting to do their office; and as soon as the soul is separated from the body, escort it through the regions of the air to heavenly bliss.” Lazarus, as soon as he died, was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom (Lk. 16:22). The penitent thief, on the day that he died by Christ’s side, was carried with Christ into Paradise (Lk. 23:43). All who have died in faith are now in heaven. And, if we are born of God, if we live by faith in Christ, as soon as we die, we shall be with Christ in glory! Therefore, those who die in faith, die in happiness, knowing that they are going to a city whose Builder and Maker is God (Heb. 11:3). They are confident that as God has guided them in life with his counsel, he will at the end of life receive them up to glory (Psa. 73:24). We sometimes sing, “Say, sinner, will you meet me, on Canaan’s happy shore?” Answering, “By the grace of God, I’ll meet you, on Canaan’s happy shore!” Can any sinner in this world be confident of such grace? Can I reasonably expect eternal life and glory with the Son of God? Can I be certain that Christ is in me, the hope of glory. Indeed, I can. It is written, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” — “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” Therefore, I say, “Yes, by the grace of God I’ll meet you on Canaan’s happy shore!”