"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).
A Condemnatory Circumstance
By Fred O. Blakely
A PURPOSED EFFECT REQUIRES ITS ESSENTIAL CAUSE
"We are saved by hope" (Rom. 8:24).
The hope of reference here is that of the body's redemption "from the bondage of corruption," and our emergence into "the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rom. 8:21, 23). That will take place at the second coming of Christ, when our completed salvation will be brought to us. We, says the Spirit, are to set our hope "fully" on that coming event (I Pet. 1:13, RSV; cf. vv.5-7). In the text of Romans 8, that occasion is said to be the object of our earnest expectation and patient waiting (vv. 17-19, 21-23; II Pet. 3:10-13, ASV).
The salvation referred to in the text of Romans 8:24-that which is effected by our living hope (II Pet. 1:3, ASV)-is salvation from the corruption and pollutions of the present evil world (II Pet. 1:4; 2:20). In other words, it is our sanctification, as willed for us by God (I Th. 4:1-4)-from sin and unto Himself. That is so that we might be for "His own possession," having been purchased by the precious blood of His dear Son (Tit. 2:13-14, ASV).
That salvation is realized by living, life-dominating hope in and expectation of our Lord's second coming, which will bring to an end the defiled mortal order and induct the wholly righteous and eternal one (II Pet. 3:13). So is scriptural hope, which is anchored to "that within the veil," said to be "an anchor of the soul" (Heb. 6:18-20). Thus also does John make his great affirmation concerning Christ's appearing and the use to which our expectation of it is to be put. "Every one that hath this hope set in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure" (I Jn. 3:3; cf. v. 2, ASV).
Vibrant hope in and eager expectation of the Lord's second coming, thus, is God's means for the present spiritual deliverance of His saints from captivity to the world's lusts (I Jn. 2:15-17). That unquestionably is the doctrine of the new· covenant Scriptures. Accordingly, it is said that "the hope of salvation" is provided as "an helmet" in the spiritual armor which they are to wear (I Th. 5:8-9; cf. Eph. 6:17). It should be remembered that it is only to "those who are eagerly waiting for Him" that Christ will "appear a second time" "unto salvation," or bring salvation (Heb. 9:28, RSV, KJV).
In view of that undeniable situation, a condemnatory circumstance concerning the typical churchman of today becomes glaringly evident. It is that, judged by this criterion, it is apparent that he is ensnared by the present evil world. That is simply because the only way set forth by Scripture by which that entanglement can be averted is that of living hope in the Lord's return, and our deliverance thereby from the warfare of faith.
Judged by the general attitude of the contemporary church, the preaching and hymns of the times, the typical churchman is not so dominated by "the promise of His coming" (II Pet. 3:3-4). He comes across to us as very much at home in his sinful body and the present corrupted and cursed world, and frightened and repelled at the thought of Christ's return, rather than delighted and sustained by it.
We submit these considerations to our readers in an attempt to prod them to serious self-examination of themselves. Since, by and large, they do not appear to possess God's appointed means for sanctification, we cannot but conclude they do not have the purposed sanctification. That conclusion is based on the true maxim that one cannot realize a peculiar effect without involvement with its essential cause.
"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).