PMW 2022-048 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.Hope

In his letter to the troubled Corinthian church, Paul lists three Christians virtues while exhorting them to a closer walk with Christ: faith, hope, and love (1 Cor. 13:13). This three-fold cord of holy values provides a strong bond of commitment for the Christian, and has tied the Church of Jesus Christ together throughout the ages.

Faith and love are not only beautiful threads knitting together the fabric of the Christian life, but are easily recognized as such. They weave a strong carpet for the Christian walk; they serve as dual strands tugging us forward in our holy calling. And though hope is certainly not a detached thread from the Christian garment, it has been snagged loose and at best is only partially visible to the eye of faith today.

Certainly all Christians are united in recognizing our ultimate, glorious resurrection hope in our heavenly home. We know that the present fallen order is not all that we may expect in our experience of God’s grace. The beatific vision in Scripture encourages us to keep a hopeful eye on heaven above even as we watch our steps in the earth below. And though eternal life in the presence of God is the ultimate hope of the Christian and the abiding consequence of the gospel, it does not exhaust the full significance of biblical hope.

Earthly Hope Encouraged

The Scripture urges us not only to look to our eternal estate in heaven, but also to labor in hope in the temporal realm on earth, knowing that “the earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psa. 24:1). We must remember that this present material order was created by God’s power and for His glory: “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Rev. 4:11). Consequently, a robust Christian faith must also share in a prophetic hope for our earthly future. Unfortunately though, many evangelicals cannot penetrate the cloud of gloom cloaking our present earthly labors; with troublesome nearsightedness we see only the short-term decline of Christianity rather than its long-range revival.

THINE IS THE KINGDOM (Gentry, editor)
Thine is the Kingdom lays the scriptural foundation for a biblically-based, hope-filled postmillennial eschatology, while showing what it means to be postmillennial in the real world. The book is both an introduction to and defense of the eschatology of victory. Chapters include contemporary writers Keith A. Mathison, William O. Einwechter, Jeffrey Ventrella, and Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., as well as chapters by giants of the faith Benjamin B. Warfield and J. A. Alexander.
For more Christian education materials: www.KennethGentry.com

One reason historical hope is so obscured for us is that, as with the news media, so is it with the modern Christian: We tend to focus on the bad news and overlook the good. Of course, we would certainly be naively foolish if we closed our eyes to the many glaring problems in this rebellious world. But to help us overcome this myopia we must exercise the eye of faith. We should look back at the glowing embers of temporal hope that have flared up in history from time to time. These “thousand points of light” gloriously demonstrate the unquenchable fire of an ever burning Christian hope. These historical specimens provide confirmation of the certainty of the prophetic hope of Scripture. They should encourage us in our faith, love, and hope.

Earthly Hope in Scripture

Consider the Old Testament struggle of faith. Childless, aged Abram was called by God to leave his homeland, and “by faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go . . . and he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Heb. 11:8). Why? Why would a weary old man leave home and country? Because of bright prospect of hope in the future! The ellipsis in the preceding citation from Hebrews notes that he was called “out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance.” An earthly inheritance lay before him, for God Himself promised him: “Go . . . to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing” (Gen. 12:1-2). Abram departed his father’s house for a strange land because of a God-revealed hope of a more fruitful earthly future. Due to Abram’s confidence in God’s earthly promise, his name was change to “Abraham” — “father of multitudes” (Gen. 17:5).

And should we today not follow Abraham’s example, trusting in God’s promise regarding our earthly hope? The Abrahamic Covenant not only brought forth a populous nation of God’s people, but promised that in Abram “all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:3c). That is, biblical hope promised that from an elderly, barren man would descend not only a great nation in history, but ultimately the Messiah who would bring blessings “to all the families of the earth.”

Gentry, Craig Blaising, and Robert Strimple present three views on the millennium: progressive dispensationalist, amillennialist, and reconstructionist postmillennialist viewpoints. Includes separate responses to each view. Like no other book, Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond lets you compare and contrast three important eschatological viewpoints to gain a better understanding of how Christianity’s great hope, the return of Jesus, is understood by the church.

This glorious One from Abraham’s loins conquered sin (Rom. 7:24-25), death (1 Cor. 15:54-55), and the devil (Col. 2:15) through his redemptive labors. And on that basis redemptively secured the Abrahamic hope of blessing in time and on earth. For Christ commanded his disciples themselves to go out into an alien and resistant world in order to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). “All the nations” and “all the families of the earth” are to be brought under the sway of God’s covenant love and Christ’s redemptive kingdom.

(To be continued!)


One thought on “HOPELESS HOPE? (1)

  1. Fred V. Squillante June 22, 2022 at 8:21 am

    In my opinion, a big reason for the sense of hopelessness is the rise of dispensationalism. I think you could agree, having come from that framework, that their idea is inherently negative, awaiting the rapture to translate the church, the interruption of God’s plan concerning national Israel, out of the way escaping the great tribulation. They’re looking upward, waiting for Jesus to crack the sky instead of winning souls with the Good News of the Gospel. But dispensationalism isn’t the only problem. I think you have a sense of my stance that the progress of the apostles and Christianity in the first three centuries has been rolled back. And while I agree with you in principle that postmillennialism is the correct way forward, we may have seen the best there is. The way is narrow and there are few who find it.

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