By Femi Aribisala
What are the returns that God expects from His investment of Christ in our lives?
Paul says the hope the believer has in Christ Jesus does not disappoint. (Romans 5:5). In Jeremiah, God says: “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11).
But what precisely is the hope of the believer in Christ? Peter enjoins us that we should: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks (us) to give the reason for the hope that (we) have.” (1Peter 3:15).
So, what is this hope that we have? If according to Jesus it has been given unto us to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, then we must know the hope that is laid up for us in heaven.
For this reason, Paul prayed for the Ephesian church: “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:17-18).
In short, what is the harvest that God wants to reap in the believer? What are the returns that God expects from His investment of Christ in our lives?
Dividends of righteousness
The glory of God’s inheritance in the saints is Christ’s righteousness. The hope that the believer has in Christ is the hope of righteousness: “We through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”
The crown that God has prepared for us is not of gold, or riches, or wealth. It is a crown of righteousness: “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8).
The born-again Christian is not yet fully righteous. We sin, repent, and sin again. Nevertheless, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us now by faith. But the time will come when Christ’s righteousness will be imparted to us. Then, we will be sinless, exactly like Christ.
If you ever see an unbeliever with anything, know that that thing is worthless. If he has money, wealth, property, position, education, fame; know that it is because those things have no value in the sight of God. God will never give anything of value to the unbeliever.
God will never give anything that pertains to his kingdom to those who belong to the kingdoms of this world. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.
One of the main things that differentiate a believer from an unbeliever is that the unbeliever has no hope, while the believer has hope. When a man feels rejected and dejected, it is because his hope is in things and not in God. When a man is depressed, know immediately that his hope is not in God.
The psalmist asks himself: “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” (Psalm 42:5).
The bible reveals that the unbeliever has no hope. He is: “Without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:12).
Even where an unbeliever is said to have hope, his hope is hopeless. The unbeliever certainly hopes for many things, but this hope is vain. It comes from the figment of his imagination and not from the promise of God.
He hopes for what he desires, most of which never come to pass. Even when they do, they are soon terminated. He dies and leaves everything behind. Therefore, his hope is illusory. Indeed, his hope is hopeless. It is hope that will soon be cut off.
But there is a hope that can never disappoint. That is the hope that is in Christ which laid up for the believer in heaven.
The bible says: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).
Let no one deceive you. The eye has seen money, houses, lands, and property. The ear has heard about wealth and riches. Everything that man has made, or will ever make, comes through the hearts of men. Indeed, everything man-made comes from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, ensuring that it has the good and the evil in it simultaneously.
The airplane is a wonderful means of transportation; it can take you from Cape to Cairo and from Buenos Aires to New York. It can also fall from the sky and kill you. Electricity is a wonderful tool; we use it to light appliances and power all kinds of gadgets, but it can also shock and kill.
But the blessing of the Lord, it makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it. (Proverbs 10:22).
The hope in Christ is beyond human imagination. No man in his right mind presumed to be sinless, even for one hour. No mere mortal could ever presume to be a partaker of God’s divine nature.
That is the reason why eternal hope had to be revealed to us by the Lord himself, for we would never have known it otherwise. The central feature of the Christian hope is based on the promise of the Lord himself. It is the good news we never expected. It came by hearing the gospel and it is exclusively the work of God.
It does not come from our industry or self-exertion. It does not come by sacrifice or by penance. It does not come from savings and investment. It comes through the completed work of Christ. It comes by the indwelling and in-working of the Holy Spirit. It is God that works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13).
When God saved the Israelites from Egypt, what they were hoping for was different from what they encountered. They expected a life of eating, drinking, and being merry. But going through the wilderness, God humbled them and suffered them to hunger. He gave them manna to eat instead of pounded yam. Therefore, they were soon disappointed and wanted to return to Egypt.
Similarly, today’s Christians are being wrongly socialised to hope for the good life in this world. Many are hoping to get married, have a family, and have a good job because of their faith in Christ. In effect, Christians are being socialised to no longer be believers. We are being socialised to hope for the vanity of vanities. (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
Paul says: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19).