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What Is The Blessed Hope?

November 29, 2012 6 comments

Titus 2 came up in my recent Bible readings, and in a brief online discussion concerning what the Blessed Hope is.  Titus 2:13 is the key verse in reference to the “Blessed Hope”:   waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Often, though, online websites or audio series, particularly those that emphasize the pre-trib rapture, lose the focus: declaring that the blessed hope is the pre-trib rapture event itself, or things particularly associated with the rapture event.  Examples include this audio series (part A of the second series), and this article, which says: “Titus chapter 2 is an amazing chapter because it tells us that the rapture of the church is our ‘blessed hope’, in which we are to do the following while we wait on His return.” That article goes on to focus on what we are to do while waiting for His return, and that “the Blessed Hope is a means by which God uses it to prepare us and purify us as we wait. It is not simply a ‘get out of jail free card’, it is a refining tool of the Lord to make us ready on a daily basis. After all, death is a reality for over 250,000 people a day every day around the world, with lots of them being bible believing Christians.”

Yet such a view, with emphasis on the pre-trib rapture, misses the overall emphasis and what Titus 2:13, the Blessed Hope, is about: Christ Himself, and His appearing.  Teaching about the rapture and its timing is fine enough in its place, including discussion of the various scripture references to the rapture and indirect scriptural evidences for a pre-tribulational rapture.  Far too often, though, careless ideas creep into our doctrine, as with such statements about “the rapture of the church is our ‘blessed hope'” in which the focus is on us rather than on Christ Himself and His return.  Then too, the posts at rapture forums often focus on the great desire to escape from this life, to be raptured away – again a self-focused view.  Certainly our motives in this life will always be mixed at best, and even when we first come to Christ the primary reasons are indeed selfish.  Yet as Spurgeon often said, too often people have selfish motives for desiring Christ’s return in their lifetime: to escape their present circumstances, and/or to avoid the experience of physical death.  Let us instead keep our eyes on our Lord, truly desiring Him above all else, whatever our circumstances: Philippians 1:21, For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Another consideration is that the vast majority of believers meet the Lord at death.  Only a relatively few will actually be living at the time and caught up, to meet up with those who have been resurrected (1 Thess. 4:17).  From that perspective, the blessed hope for those who die before Christ’s return, is to meet Him at death.  The full, final perspective, of course, includes all  the events at the Second Coming, especially the bodily resurrection: those already physically dead as well as those of us still living, all awaiting our glorified bodies.

In closing, some great observations from Spurgeon, in this message:

What is that “blessed hope”? Why, first, that when He comes we shall rise from the dead, if we have fallen asleep, and that if we are alive and remain, we shall be changed at His appearing! Our hope is that we shall be approved of Him and shall hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Also from Spurgeon, sermon #2509:

what is the blessed hope of the children of God—they are looking for the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ from Heaven! As they look back by faith, they see their Lord upon the Cross and then they see Him in the tomb—and then they behold Him risen from the grave. The last glimpse they catch of Him is as a cloud receives Him out of their sight. He has gone into Glory, but Believers have not forgotten those angelic words to the disciples, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into Heaven.” So we expect Him to come. And when He comes, then is to be the time of our highest joy!  Even though we are now called the sons of God, “it does not yet appear what we shall be.” Our glory, our full bliss, is as yet concealed, “but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like He, for we shall see Him as He is.” So, Brothers and Sisters, our hope is that when Christ shall come, we shall be perfected—that then we shall be rid of every sin and shall become holy even as He is holy, pure even as He is pure!