Eternal Hope

Bible Book: 1 John  2 : 28
Subject: Peace; Confidence; Hope
Series: Certainty In Uncertain Times - 1 John

This message also includes 1 John 3:1-3

We are in the midst of a study of a little book in the Bible called First John. It is a rich epistle written by the apostle John with the intent of encouraging Christians who were living in the first century during some very uncertain and unsettling times, both materially and spiritually. And as we will see in our text this morning, one of the things John wanted to encourage them about was the certainty of eternal hope.

Hope, of course, is vital to experiencing true joy and peace in the midst of difficult times. Yet, most people in our world today, know nothing about the kind of hope the Scriptures present. Most people in our world today know only of worldly hope that is based on superficial and uncertain sources of security.

As one commentator puts it: “For the world, ‘hope’ is a mere wish based on a desire or plan…Biblical hope is not a wish but an absolute future reality guaranteed by the Lord.”[1]

It is that kind of certainty and hope that God offers His children and that John writes about in the verses we read today. Notice what John has to say beginning in verse twenty-eight of chapter two. (Read Text)

From these verses we can learn five important things about the eternal hope we have in the Lord. First…

I. Eternal hope is confident by abiding. (2:28)

There are three key words or phrases in this verse. Those words are remain, appears, and the phrase, not be ashamed. The word translated remain or abide is the same word that was so important to the verses we studied last Sunday. We learned last week that the key to not becoming a spiritual betrayer of Christ and His Church is to remain or abide in Him.

Not only does abiding in Christ keep us from betraying Him but now John says that it also is the key to not being ashamed when Jesus comes again, or in John’s words, when He appears.

As we learned in our study of the Book of Revelation, there are actually two future comings, or appearings, of Christ. The first will be His appearing in the air when He comes to rapture His Bride, the Church, from the earth. And the second will be when He comes to the earth with all His people to set up His millennial kingdom. In other words, when He appears the first time He will be coming for us and when He returns the second time He will be coming with us as we will return with Him to rule and reign with Him here on the earth for a thousand years.

It is that first appearing when Jesus comes to rapture the Church that John has in mind here in verse twenty-eight. And he simply says that if we remain, or abide, in Him when He appears we may have boldness (That word literally means confidence.)…When He appears may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.”

You will remember that we also learned in our study of Revelation that the rapture of the Church will be followed by the judgment seat of Christ before which Christians will stand to give account to the Lord. The Bible describes it this way in 2 Corinthians 5: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10 (NASU)

Now remember that this is not the Great White Throne Judgment that we read about in the twentieth chapter of Revelation. Only those who have rejected Christ will appear at the Great White Throne Judgment; but only believers will appear before the judgment seat of Christ.

By the way, that shoots a hole in any thought that the idea of “once saved always saved” means that a person can be saved and then live any way they desire. No…we’re going to give account one day at the judgment seat of Christ for how we have lived our lives. And John tells us that the key to appearing before the judgment seat of Christ and not being ashamed is to remain, or abide, in Him.

That leads us to a second thought.

II. Eternal hope is clear by right living. (2:29)

The two key words in this verse are righteous and born of Him. Notice that John describes Christ as righteous and says that everyone who does what is right has been born of Him. To do what is right is righteous or right living. But the Bible says in Romans 3: “There is no one righteous, not even one…there is no one who does good,

not even one." Romans 3:10-12 (NIV) That doesn’t sound too encouraging. So how can anyone live righteously? How can anyone achieve right living?

Well, just a few verses later in that same third chapter of Romans the Bible says this: “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” Romans 3:21-22 (NIV)

In other words, although none of us have a righteousness of our own, the righteousness of God is imputed to us when we are born of Him by putting our faith in Jesus Christ. That’s why Jesus made it so clear to a man named Nicodemus that in order for a person to be right with God and inherit the kingdom of God he must be born again. (Reinsert Point 2)

So what John is saying here in verse twenty-nine is that right, or righteous, living is a sign of spiritual birth in a person’s life. Now…does this mean that every person who seems to live right is saved? No, because the Bible makes it very clear that righteousness, or right living, not only includes an appearance of righteousness but an actual righteousness that comes only through faith in Jesus Christ. Without faith in Jesus Christ we have no righteousness and without righteousness we have no eternal hope.

So eternal hope is confident by abiding and clear by right living. Third…

III. Eternal hope is confirmed by love. (3:1)

This has to be one of the premier verses of Scripture in the entire Bible because it speaks of the magnitude of God’s love for us. In fact, in describing God’s love, John uses an adjective that is only used seven times in the entire New Testament. He says, “Look at how great a love the Father has given us, that we should be called the children of God.” 1 John 3:1a (HCSB)

The word translated how great is a word that is used to emphasize the uniqueness of God’s love. In other words, John is saying that the love God has for us is like no other love and that nothing that can be compared to it. (Reinsert Point 3)

In fact, the Bible says that there is no love like the love of God. According to the Bible He loves us with an unconditional, everlasting, and incomprehensible love. And best of all, John says that God has confirmed His great love for us by calling us His children. That is why John uses the title of Father to refer to God in this verse.

That’s also why the Bible refers to Christians as the adopted children of God. The apostle Paul spoke of that adoption in the eighth chapter of Romans. He said: “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans 8:14-16 (NASU)

Of course, we know that God loves all of humanity, even those who are not His children. You say, “Pastor, I thought all people were the children of God.” No…all people are the creation of God but not all people are the children of God. Only those who put their faith and trust in the only begotten Son of God become the children of God. And it is that unique love of God for His children that serves as one of the foundations of our eternal hope. (Reinsert Point 3)

And then John adds a phrase that might at first seem irrelevant. He says: “The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know Him.” Another confirmation of our eternal hope and that we are indeed the children of God is the fact that the world doesn’t recognize us as belonging to it. In fact, just a few verses later John says that not only does the world not recognize us but we should not be surprised if the world hates us. (verse 13)

Jesus said it this way: "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:18-20 (NIV)

So the fact that the world does not recognize us or honor us or welcome us or love us should not be a reason for us to be discouraged in our faith; but on the contrary, it should strengthen our faith because it is a confirmation that we are indeed the children of God.

So eternal hope is confident by abiding, clear by right living, and confirmed by the love of God. Fourth…

IV. Eternal hope is consummated by Christ. (3:2)

John begins this verse by simply affirming that we are indeed God’s children now. Our salvation and relationship with God is not just something to look forward to in the future but it is a present reality as well as an eternal hope. We are right now the children of God! But as wonderful as that reality is John says, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. In other words, as awesome as it is to be a Christian now in this present world we haven’t seen anything yet because the best is yet to come.

The apostle Paul expressed this same truth in his first letter to the Christians in Corinth. He said: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)

I am reminded of a businessman who makes his living on the road. Most weeks he lives out of a suitcase flying from one airport to another and from one city to another. Without exception, before he leaves town he always says to his two sons: “You boys be good and when I come back I will bring you something.” Of course the boys always ask him what he plans to bring them. But he always answers: “You will have to wait and see!” (Reinsert Point 4)

If you are like me you probably wish that God would have written volumes about heaven and what it’s going to be like. But the for the most part He simply says: “You’ll have to wait and see!”

But even though we don’t know a lot of the details about heaven John tells us something we can know for sure here in verse two. He says: “We know that when He appears (Remember he is talking about when Jesus comes to rapture Christians from the earth and take us to heaven.)…We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him as he is.”

Those were not hollow words for John. Think about it. John saw Jesus both as He was and as He is. John saw Jesus as He was in His earthly body throughout His earthly ministry. But He also had the joy of seeing Jesus as He is in His resurrected and glorified body. And in that body John saw Jesus ascend back to heaven with the glorious promise that one day the whole world will see Him as He is.

And that we will! We will see Him with our very own eyes. We will see Him as He is. But not only will we see Him as He is, the Bible says that we will be like Him. We will be like Him in the glory and splendor of His resurrected body. The apostle Paul said it like this to the Christians in Philippi: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Philippians 3:20-21 (NIV)

We will not only be like Him in body but we will be like Him in thought, word, and deed. We will be like Him in character, conduct, and conversation. We will be like Him in holiness and sinlessness. In fact, Romans 8:29 says that God’s plan from the very beginning for those He knew would be saved was to conform us to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. And that is why the Bible goes on to say in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that we are in the process of being transformed to the image of Christ right now. And on the day that we see our Savior face to face that transformation will be completed and we will be like Him and with Him for eternity.

If that doesn’t fill your heart with eternal hope and make you want to shout I don’t know what will. But finally, John says that…

V. Eternal hope is characterized by purity. (3:3)

John simply says here that the thought of seeing Jesus as He is and becoming like Him one day should not only give us the joy of eternal hope but should have a purifying effect on our lives today. In other words, it should make a difference in the way we live now. As we fix our hope on Christ and look forward to the day that we will be with Him and fully like Him in the future, it should be our goal in life now to be more like Him everyday.

That’s why the apostle Paul said in the third chapter of Philippians that his goal in life was to forget what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead and pursue the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.

So let me ask you this morning:

Is that your goal in life?

Are you confident about the future because you are abiding in Christ?

Is it clear by the way you live your life that you are abiding in Christ and have the hope of Christ in you?

Are you living in the assurance of God’s love for you today?

Are you becoming more and more conformed to the image of Christ in preparation for seeing Him face to face one day?

When you stand before Him at His judgment seat, will you be able to stand there unashamed?

Do you have this eternal hope we’ve talked about this morning?

Let’s bow our heads.

Let me ask you this: Do you know for sure that you will stand before the judgment seat of Christ with believers or will you appear before the Great White Throne judgment with unbelievers? What does your relationship with Christ today say a bout your relationship with Christ in eternity?


[1] John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1-3 John (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2007), 106.