Tim Keller | March 28, 2004
You might say that even though you believe in most of what the Bible says about the ultimate future, it hasn’t changed your life. You really don’t handle suffering or death or other things any differently than other people. Why would that be?
The answer is because it’s not simply the doctrine of Christian hope, it’s not just the cognitive belief that changes us. It’s the experience of hope.
Let’s look at 1) the promise of this experience, 2) the sources of this experience, and 3) how we get it.
Our hopes shape our character and our actions every day. What we think about the future often decides how we act in the present. For example, the early Christians faced serious diseases bravely, because they believed in God’s everlasting love. What truly changes us is not just thinking about hope, but actually experiencing it, which comes from understanding its promise and its sources.
1. The promise of this experience
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul talks about how important it is to feel Christ’s love, not just know about it in our heads. He compares this to a rich person who lives like they’re poor because they don’t use their wealth. This is like Christians who don’t fully accept God’s love. Paul prays that the Holy Spirit will make us strong inside, changing how we see ourselves and how we react to the world. This idea is shown in the deep experiences of people like Blaise Pascal and Dwight Moody.
2. The sources of this experience
The hope Christians have, as described in 1 John 3, is a picture of complete happiness and satisfaction, where we will see God as he really is. This is something we can’t fully understand now. This revelation from God will be a way for him to show us his love, changing us and helping us to develop good qualities like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and gentleness. The Holy Spirit gives us a taste of this future glory, getting our souls ready for the full vision of God.
3. How we get this experience
Prayer is a vital way to build a deeper relationship with God. It takes hard work and dedication, like the steps in the acronym ACTS. The ability to find quiet time to think and pray is a gift from the Holy Spirit, and we’re encouraged to keep going with spiritual practices. The endless love of Jesus, available to everyone, highlights how important it is to understand the truths in the Bible.
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