Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

 Title: Christ-the Only Hope

Text: “Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth” (Col. 1:4-6).

Scripture Reading: Colossians 1:3-8

The key word in today’s message is “hope.”  And there is also the confidence in the truth, that Christ is the only hope!  This year, 2003, is a year to acknowledge that truth. The claim that Christ is the only hope is a bold claim, because it eliminates all other claims of hope.  It is a timeless claim, because it has been believed for centuries.  It is also a very serious claim, because to believe it is to accept certain responsibilities.

Our scripture reading is Colossians 1:3-8: “We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.”

Heavenly Father, bless our Bible study.  Help us to understand your Word and to take it into our hearts.  Help us to see your greatness and to glimpse your holiness.  And forgive us our sins.  We ask these things in Christ’s name.  Amen.

Our lesson will show that Christ is the only hope for salvation, the only hope for life’s needs, and the only hope for eternity. 

Our intention this morning is to show that Christ is the only hope for salvation.

A mine shaft collapsed and a rescue team was immediately organized to dig out the entombed men before their air supply was exhausted.  As the rescue team approached the doomed miners, they thought they heard a tapping on the rocks.  As they paused to listen, in Morris code came the question repeatedly: “Is there any hope?  Is there any hope?  Is there any hope for salvation?”

The answer to that question is, “Christ is the only hope for a salvation that is desperately needed.”  The Bible says that without Christ people have “no hope” and they are “without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12).  Those who are without Christ have no hope beyond this life, and no hope of spiritual and eternal blessings.  They are spiritually lost, “condemned already” (John 3:18). 

The Bible tells us that condemnation is reserved for the one that doesn’t believeThere are only two kinds of people in the world: those that have everlasting life as a result of faith in Christ; and those that have not believed and as a result stand condemned already.  They are already sentenced (condemned) and are only waiting for the execution of that sentence.  Not tomorrow, not next year, not at age twenty one, not at death, but now, already condemned!  They are condemned, because, without Christ, people are spiritually trapped in sin.

The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful…and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9).  There is wickedness in our hearts which we ourselves are not aware of, so we think that we are better than we really are.  Sin is like a disease of the heart; the heart is sick, and only the Great Physician can diagnose its problems and bring the necessary healing. 

Out of the human heart proceeds all types of sin.  Paul named them in one of his letters: “evil thoughts, murders, adulteries and fornications, thefts, lies, and speaking evil of God.”  The nature of the human heart is to sin and rebel against God and spiritual authority.

People are also trapped in the agonizing results of sin “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).  The outcome of addiction to sin is quite different from that of obedience to Christ.  Payment is the principle by which we become heirs of death.  Sin always pays a wage, and the wage is a harsh one. But just as payment is the principle by which we become heirs of death, undeserved favor is the principle by which we become heirs to eternal life.  Death is earned; eternal life is truly a gift. 

People are trapped in human weakness and despair.  The cry of the apostle Paul was, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24).  Helplessly, Paul throws up his hands and exclaims what a wretched individual a believer is when he has not gained mastery over sin.  He said that he was a wretched man.  Paul recognizes that he is in a helpless state of despair because he cannot rid himself of his desire to sin.  The main purpose of this statement, however, is found in the question “Who shall Deliver me…?” Paul indicates that if he is to be delivered from the mastery of sin that deliverance must come from without. He is unable to live the Christian life by himself. He is incapable of gaining mastery over sin. If Paul is to live a mature and godly life, and to delight in the law of God, the strength to do so must come from outside himself.  Christ is the only hope!

The next point is that Christ is the only hope for salvation divinely provided. 

In Acts we are given the answer to a seeking heart, “What must I do to be saved?” is the question.  “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” is the answer (Acts 16:30-31). The Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior.  Today, there is a lot of confusion at this point.  But Scriptures clearly teach that Salvation is not in a parent’s faith, in religious principles, in a church, in culture, in outward symbols, or in a good life.  Salvation is in a person, Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is God’s provision.  Paul said, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Tim. 1:15).   This is the sum of the whole gospel that Jesus Christ came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.  He came to seek and to find and to save, those who were lost. Jesus Christ is also God’s action. 

It says in 1 Corinthians 15:3, “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.”  The gospel that Paul preached was revealed to him by God.  And the vital truth he preached was that Christ died for our sins. 

And Jesus Christ is God’s gift.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23).   The gift of God is eternal life.  Sinners deserve hell, but saints do not deserve heaven.  We must thank God and not ourselves, if we get to heaven.  It is Christ that purchased it, prepared it and prepares us for it.  He is the living Savior and Lord.

Our next point is that Christ is the only hope for salvation personally received. 

What are we to do?  How are we to respond?  Upon hearing “the hope of the gospel,” which is Christ, we are to believe Him.  We are to acknowledge the truth of Christ; accept the facts of his life, death, and resurrection; and trust ourselves to Him in personal surrender.  John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”

Several years ago an air force sergeant moved to Sherman, Texas.  He and his family were saved before they were transferred to another base.  He said, “We came to Sherman so poor, we are leaving so rich.”  Christ is the only hope for salvation, and: Christ is the only hope for life’s needs. 

Paul spoke of the hope of the gospel “that has come to you…and is bearing fruit and growing…among you” (Col. 1:6).  Wherever the gospel is preached, it will bring forth fruit to the honor and glory of God.  Christ touches lives now and transforms them.  He gives power to live now, not just for heaven. 

Many testify to what Christ is doing in their lives today. I can say that He is the one who gives me joy, and I spend most of every day in His Word.  I love Him with all my heart and I am excited about heaven and being with Christ and worshiping God.

J.B Phillips, in his book God Our Contemporary, has a chapter entitled “The inadequacy of Humanism” in which he describes secular humanism as a bleak and cruel creed.  It denies the Christian faith and the need for any moral or spiritual authority outside humanity.  Humanism restricts life to this earth: it denies God and says there is no life beyond this one.  So it offers no hope to the severely handicapped, and no power to guide and strengthen someone defeated by emotional conflicts.  It has nothing to offer for the crisis of life.

Secular humanism would have been useless some time ago, when in one week’s time two families lost teenage sons, and it would be useless to a man whose mother died in her sleep, to the family of a five-year-old girl who died of a brain tumor, and to the wife whose husband was killed in military service.  Secular humanism had nothing to say.  It was cold and cruelly silent. 

But Christ was not! Matthew 11:28 says, “come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden.”  John 10:10 says, “I am come that ye might have life; and…have it more abundantly.”  And Philippines 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” 

Christ is the only hope!  And, Christ is the only hope for eternity.

The hope of Christ is an eternal certainty and it points beyond life now to life forever.  Colossians 1:5 speaks of “the hope that is stored up for you in heaven.”  We look forward to the happiness of heaven; it is an expectation of future glory that is well-grounded in the Word of God. 

Perhaps the hope which we look forward to the most is the hope of His returnHe personally promised it in John 14:3 where He said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” The angels divinely announced it in Acts 1:11 when they spoke to those who watched Christ ascend to heaven:  “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”  Paul the apostle victoriously described it in1Thess 4:16.  “…For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first.”  Jesus is personally, powerfully, and suddenly coming again.  This time He will come in all His glory, and those who are raised from the dead will be changed by having their bodies made fit for heaven, and they will meet Him in the air.  Those who are alive and belong to Christ will then be raptured to join Christ and to welcome Him.  This is hope!

The hope of Christ is also the hope of the resurrection.  We are told that Christ has abolished death, for it says in 2 Tim. 1:9-10, “He destroyed death, and through the Good News he showed us the way to have life that cannot be destroyed.”  And resurrection is also promised in 1 Corinthians 15.  It’s a great chapter and it presents the resurrection as a central doctrine of Christianity that affirms that God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day. Without the resurrection, the apostle Paul declared, Christian preaching and belief are meaningless (1 Cor. 15:14). The resurrection is the point at which God’s intention for Jesus becomes clear (Rom. 1:4) and believers are assured that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.  So significant is the resurrection of Jesus that without it there would be no church or Christianity, and we would still be in our sins (1 Cor. 15:17).  Death is not the end for the believer, because Christ is our hope.

Finally, the hope of Christ is the hope of deliverance from judgment. 

Hebrews 9:27 says, “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”  There are no exceptions concerning God’s judgment. There is no reincarnation; every person gets one chance to prepare for God’s judgment.  Christ bore our judgment at the cross.  Though judgment is certain, in Christ we need not fear because we have passed from death into life.

Christ is the only hope. 

What a bold yet wonderful claim.  Do we believe it?  Then we must proclaim it, share it, and testify to it everywhere we go.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the Bible.  What a blessed assurance that Christ is the only hope; that we don’t have to come to You in our own goodness or by loving others or by being baptized or by belonging to a church.  We can come to You just as we are, with our sin, and through faith in Jesus Christ our sins are forgiven and we are washed clean.  Christ is the only hope for salvation!  Father, thank You for Jesus.  You are a great God, and we love You and trust You.  Bless each of Your children, who are present today.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.


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