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“. . . if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven” (Colossians 1:23).

HOPE IS ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL TRAITS WE CAN POSSESS. Without it, we languish, but with hope, almost no obstacle can keep us from our goal. And one reason the gospel of Christ is the greatest of all messages is that it offers the greatest of all hopes. In Christ there is the prospect of a perfect, eternal relationship with God when our lives right now have run their course.

Unfortunately, the hope of the gospel is often misrepresented in modern evangelism. Rather than the forgiveness of sins and the restoration of a right relationship with God, the point of the gospel is often said to be the diminishing of injustice and suffering in the world. Even worse, some say the gospel is about “health, wealth, and happiness” — as if God’s primary intent in the sacrifice of His Son was to provide us a path to prosperity and earthly comfort.

Make no mistake, the Christian will help anyone who is suffering, if he can. In the words of C. S. Lewis, “[The gospel] does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were those who thought most of the next.”

But the gospel is not about our secondary problems; it’s about our sin. Fixing that problem, the gospel offers the thing we need more than anything else: eternal fellowship with the God who made us.

In an age like ours, we need to grasp anew the grandeur of the gospel’s hope. We must cherish it for the treasure it is, maintain it at all costs, and reach forward to it every day. Our beloved brother Paul had his priorities straight: “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13,14). May heaven mean no less to us than it did to him.

“God speaks to the crowd, but his call comes to individuals, and through their personal obedience he acts. He does not promise them success, or even final victory in this life. The goal of the adventure to which he commits them is in heaven. God does not promise that he will protect them from trials, from material cares, from sickness, from physical or moral suffering. He promises only that he will be with them in all these trials, and that he will sustain them if they remain faithful to him” (Paul Tournier).

Gary Henry — +

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