Community Group Study Notes
- Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
- When we talk about hope, what are some of the typical ways we use that word? How does the New Testament speak differently about hope?
- How does our past hope and our future hope transform what our present hope is?
- Interact with this statement: when you know God better, you will know true hope. How are these things connected? What does true hope look like in your life?
- What is one action step you can take in response to what you heard on Sunday?
Every human being has something common to all of them. Inside of every human being everywhere, there is some sense of or some idea of hope. It's in everybody. Now, the hope typically looks like this. When we talk about just this general hope that we all talk about in humanity, it generally looks like this. Maybe a young lady says, "I hope one day I'll have a boyfriend," or a young man says, "I hope one day I'll have a girlfriend," or maybe, "I hope one day that I'll be married." When married, it may be, "I hope one day that we'll be able to have children and that we hope that the children will be healthy," or maybe moms hope for kids that turn out okay, however they define that. Grandmas, you want kids that turn out okay, however you define that. Some people hope for a future that's better relationally or that's better emotionally or that's better financially.
Some people hope that they can secure a job. Some people hope that they had clean water. Some people hope that they had sanitary living conditions. You see, everybody's got this idea of hope within them regardless of their state, regardless of where they're from, regardless of their background. There's something inside that leans into an idea of hope, but this hope that I'm talking about right now, that I've just illustrated, has something in common. It's uncertain, you see, because the young lady may not get the guy as her boyfriend. The young man may not get the gal as his girlfriend. You may or may not get married. People may or may not secure a job. People may or may not have a better financial future than they have right now. Moms may have kids or may not be able to. Moms might have kids that didn't turn out okay. Moms might have kids that weren't healthy when they were born. There are still villages without clean drinking water and without sanitary living conditions.
You see, the hope that we talk about kind of in culture, in humanity, that is common to all of us is this. We all have access to this uncertain hope. See, the hope that I'm talking about right now really could be defined as an uncertain wish that my future will be better, an uncertain wish that things will be different in the way that I hope that they'll be. You see, when we talk about hope as believers in Jesus, we're talking about something fundamentally different. It's different in type and it's different in essence than that kind of hope. There is one similarity, certainly. That is that hope is something that we can't see or else it wouldn't be hope. It's something that unfulfilled as yet or else it wouldn't be hope. I mean, even the apostle Paul acknowledged that very fact when he was writing in Romans chapter eight. He said this, "But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?"
That's common to everything. Even in this hope that I just described that's so uncertain, we know that to be true. When believers talk about hope, when the New Testament writers talk about hope, though there is a commonality in the fact that hope is unseen and maybe yet unfulfilled, at least in our minds, I want you to know that the substance of the hope that the New Testament writers talk about is solid. It's certain. It's secure. It's not some wish upon a star kind of idea. It is actually something that is significantly more secure. In fact, it's built upon the foundation of God's own personhood. The writer of Hebrews actually refers to it as an anchor. That's how secure it is. Listen to what it says in Hebrews six, "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." This is the nature of the hope that we are talking about here.
Now, as we move in or continue to study what we have been studying in the book of Ephesians chapter one, Paul is writing to a group of people who are young in their faith and a group of people who maybe are struggling in terms of understanding hope. Now, if you've been tracking with us, and maybe you haven't. Maybe you're a guest today. Maybe you've come because mom said, "You come or we don't go to dinner," or whatever. We're glad you're here, but ultimately what we started a few weeks ago was looking at Ephesians chapter number one. What happens early in Ephesians one is Paul begins just to worship. He's just coming apart at the seams, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who's blessed us with every blessing in the spiritual realm in Christ." That's what he's talking about.
Then, he starts to unpack what it looks like to experience that blessing of a new identity being in Christ. He's like, "Man, this is absolutely incredible. You're chosen. You're loved. You're adopted. You're forgiven. You're indwelt. This is the blessing of what it means to be in Christ." Paul's just worshiping as he starts Ephesians chapter one. Then, tucked into that, he actually talks about the new purpose that we have as believers. It's not just about ourselves anymore and just fulfilling our own desires. We were actually designed for the praise of God's glory. We were designed in our lives that when we are in Christ that we will put God on display for a world that desperately needs to see him.
See, this is what we've learned. Really, in the first 14 verses of the book of Ephesians, that's what Paul's doing. He's worshiping. He's talking about this idea of our new identity. He's talking about this idea of our new purpose, but then he stops and he begins to think about the people to whom he's writing. He just prays for them. He just thanks God for them, and he begins to pray for them. What exactly is Paul praying for them? Well, I'm going to show you today that, at the core of what Paul's praying, is that he's praying that they would understand not only when he was worshiping in the first 14 verses, helping them understand their new identity and their new purpose, but now he wants them to understand a new idea of hope.
You see, this is really important because the people to whom Paul is writing in the ancient world, they struggled with this idea of hope. It was a real hopeless time in the ancient world. It was not a place where they had a lot of hope. In fact, when I was reading one professor, Dr. Snodgrass from North Park Seminary, he said there were three words that kind of described the ancient world: fate, determinism, and despair. I thought, "That's encouraging." That's kind of where they found themselves, fate, determinism, and despair. They didn't feel like they had any hope to make a change, to move up in the world in their mind. They were born into what they were born into. They were going to die where they were going to die.
It was going to be what it was going to be. Life was hard. In fact, it was so difficult that they had a bleak outlook on life itself. One of the more famous epitaphs that were written in the early centuries, particularly in the time of Paul, that could be seen on both Greek and Roman graves was an epitaph that was four phrases long. Here were the phrases, "I was not. I was. I am not. I don't care." Some people you'd want to hang out with at a party. That's a really kind of bleak, bleak outlook. Paul's writing to people where hope is hard to come by because despair is so front and center. Aren't you glad the Bible is just so blase and irrelevant for our generation? Certainly, in our generation, we don't ever seen despair and hopelessness put on display in full force. Right?
We don't ever see everybody just leading with despair and hopelessness, whether it's on the news or whatever. It's just all over us all the time, violence and division, art that becomes very degraded and grotesque. Why? Because people are coming from a sense of bleakness and of hopelessness. This is really important for us to grab ahold of because as Paul writes to these new believers in a culture that doesn't experience a lot of hope and where hope is hard to come by, by the Holy Spirit, we are now being able to say, "Okay. God, speak to us about this. Help us to get a different sense of what we're talking about when we talk about the idea of hope," because this, what the New Testament writers talk about, is a different idea than what the rest of the world talks about when they talk about hope. It's a new kind of hope.
As Paul begins to pray for them, I want you to note what he says. I'm really going to spend the majority of my time in two verses. We're going to unpack two verses today, but there's going to be a lot there. You're going, "Two verses, we ought to be out of here in like three minutes." Have you been here before? You probably haven't because it's not going to be three minutes. I'll be done in like six hours. You're here for six hours, so buckle up. I'm kidding. We'll be done in good order, but I want to make sure that we understand what he's saying in these two verses. Here's what it says in Ephesians one verses 18 and 19, "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope." Then he outlines kind of three aspects to this, "The hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe."
Now, I want to take those kind of one at a time because this hope that Paul's talking about, listen carefully, is all-inclusive. It's a hope that actually includes everything. It covers the entirety of the timeline. Paul, what he just addresses right here, talks about a hope that goes all the way into eternity past, that runs all the way into eternity future, and that has an effect on our right now living. That's what I want us to be able to see because when we talk about an idea of hope, sometimes it's too fanciful for us, and we just get lost in it. Paul's talking about a hope that impacts our past, a hope that impacts our future, and a hope that impacts our present. I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't want to hear about that. This is a message for all of us, and it's a very specific word from God for all of us.
Let's unpack those one at a time. Here's the past hope: God's calling. This is the past hope that we see when begin to read our text. The past hope that we have has to do with God's calling. What am I saying when I say that? Well, I want you to look at the text itself. Notice what it says again in verse 18, "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you." Now, this word call right here is actually the same root word, and forgive the Greek lesson for a moment, it's the same root word that Paul uses when he begins to introduce the idea of his people being a chosen people. If you go all the way back into verse four, which we covered a couple of weeks ago, here's what it says in verse four, "For he chose us in him before the creation or the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight."
This word chose is the same root word for the word called. In other words, what this is doing is it's putting the emphasis not on some general namby-pamby invitation, but it's actually talking about how this is an effectual call that's initiated by God, that God's the one who thought about all of this from the very outset. If you look at your text, it says, "The hope to which he has called you." This isn't something that you did. This is something that God has done. It's a hope of his calling. Paul talks about this idea of calling in a few different places. In fact, a little bit further in Ephesians chapter four verse one, it says this, "As a prisoner of the Lord then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have," what? You've received. In other words, you didn't do this. This is something that God has done.
Notice what he says when he writes to the Thessalonian church. He says, "With this in mind, we constantly pray for you that our God may make you worthy of his calling and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith." Now, Paul wasn't the only person that talked about this idea of calling or God's choosing. Peter talked about it as well. Here's what Peter said in 2 Peter one, "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who has called us by his own glory and goodness. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and your choosing or your election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble." You see, what is so hopeful about these things when we talk about this idea of God's calling? Why is that so hopeful for us? Here's why. Because what God chose to do in eternity past, listen to this, before you ever thought of him, he thought of you.
In eternity past, what God chose to do is that he predetermined he would have a people for himself. He chose us, we talked about a few weeks ago, before the creation or the foundation of the world. This comes from God's own essence, God's own nature. He chose for himself a people. That people, listen to this, when they are in Christ, when they believe the truth of the gospel, they are in Christ, they are now a part of the people of God. What God does is he sees to it that he is going to see that people all the way through to the very end because that has been God's design from the very outset. In fact, he says that to the writer at the church at Corinth. Paul says that. He is the writer of the church of Corinth. He says it to the church.
Here's what he says, "God will also keep you firm to the end so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." Why? "Because God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord." You see, the faithful God who draws us to himself, who created from the very outset in eternity past before you ever thought of him, he had thought of his people. He created for himself a people. That people would be in Christ, would be called to be in Christ. As a result, what God is going to do is he's going to walk that people through. He's going to see that people through, but you can know this. The hope that we have in God is rooted in eternity past because of God's calling. That's an extraordinary thing, but there's a second aspect to this. It's our future hope.
Not only do we have a past hope in God's calling, but we have a future hope, which is God's glorious inheritance. I know those are big words, and you're writing them down going, "Okay. What are we talking about? What are you saying?" Let's look at the text again as we continue on in verse number 18. We talked about the hope that we have of the calling of God, but it also talks about the hope of the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people. Now, leave that there for just a moment. When we first read this and we talk about this idea of inheritance, I know your proclivity is the same as mine. We read that by going, "My inheritance. We're going to get a great inheritance. Right? This is going to be incredible because of being in Christ we've got a glorious inheritance." By the way, that's absolutely true. In fact, Paul just a few verses earlier said that, but that's absolutely true.
I want to make sure you understand what this verse says. The riches of whose glorious inheritance? Say it with me. The riches of whose? His glorious inheritance in his holy people. You're going, "Wait just a second. Are you saying that this not talking about our inheritance, but it's talking about God's inheritance?" Yeah, that's what I think the construction of the Greek, which is a bit complex in this sentence, that's what I think it's aiming at. Now, when we read a little bit earlier in a few verses prior to that, we realize that not only does it talk about inheritance, but it also talks about God's inheritance. What is God's inheritance? His people. That's his inheritance. In fact, back up just a few verses into verse 13 and 14, which we kind of looked at this last week. He says, "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation."
Let me just pause there for a second. Listen carefully to me wherever you are. The gospel of your salvation is that God has loved you even before you ever loved him. Even though you and I have sinned and come short of the glory of God, God, in his great grace and his extraordinary love and mercy, sent his Son who willing came, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, went to a cross to die in your place so that your sin would not be your judge. Instead, Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, died in your place to take upon him the just and the holy and the righteous wrath of God. Instead of it being aimed at you, Jesus said, "I will take it upon myself so that those who this wrath is deservingly for can put their faith in me, be found in Christ, and now be reconciled to God," not because of what we've done but because of what he's done. When we hear the message of the gospel of salvation, that's what we're talking about.
You may or may not have heard that before. Maybe you're a guest. Maybe this is new to you. I just want to remind you that's what we're talking about. When we sang that Jesus stood by our side and stood in our place, that's what we're saying when we say that. "We also were included in Christ when we heard the message of truth, the gospel of our salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance." Have you ever thought about this? Do you know why the Holy Spirit is the deposit guaranteeing our inheritance? Because God is our inheritance. That's why the Spirit of God is given as a deposit guaranteeing the inheritance, because the one who is guaranteeing it is the one who is the inheritance.
Then it says he guarantees our inheritance because our inheritance is God himself. When you go, "What is our inheritance?" God, and it doesn't get better than that. You can't do better than that. God and what? Is there going to be a heavenly Disney Land? What? You can't get better than inheriting God and everything it means to be in Christ. You can't do better than that. I can't give words to that. That's our inheritance. Listen to this. He guarantees our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession, God's inheritance. You see, right here in these verses you see both our inheritance, God, and God's inheritance, us. It's extraordinary for me to think about how hopeful that idea really is in my own heart because Peter talks about it this way as well when he talks about a people.
Here's what he says in 1 Peter two, "But you are a chosen, called people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." Listen to this. Our inheritance is God, and God's inheritance is us. I hope you understand the value that God has on his people because we are in Christ. I hope you understand the value of that. I don't know if you know who the richest person in the world is. It's Jeff Bezos, richest man on the face of the earth. Some argue that he's actually the richest person in human history. In the history of all humanity everywhere, this is the richest guy, potentially the richest guy who's ever lived of any time and any place.
There's some who argue a couple of different people like the initial Caesar of Rome, Julius Caesar. They argue about how rich he was. Then, there's some sultan somewhere that they argue about who's super rich. Jeff Bezos, he's worth $145.3 billion. Let me give you some things to think about regarding that kind of money. The magazine Fast Company says that Jeff Bezos' individual worth is more than the gross domestic products of Jamaica, Estonia, Tunisia, and Iceland combined. Maybe I could say it a different way. Of the roughly 195 countries that there are in the world, he is richer than 125 of them or let me say it to you this way. Here's a better way to understand that. If Jeff Bezos were a country, he would be the 69th richest country in the world if he as an individual were a country. That's insane.
From January 1st of this year to May 1st of this year, he made $275 million a day. You're going, "Okay. I don't really know what to do with that." Well, think of it this way. He makes the average annual income of an Amazon employee every nine seconds. Have we established he's rich? He's ridiculously rich. Imagine this. Imagine you married one of his kids and it was his birthday. What would you get him? What would he need? "I noticed your undershirts are a little frayed, Jeff. Maybe I could help you out with that. I bought you a Flowbee." It doesn't work. He's bald. It's not going to work. What in the world would you get for Jeff Bezos? He doesn't need anything. I have a tendency to think in those terms when I think about the nature of talking about God's inheritance.
God, who is incomparably wealthy, the one who has made everything everywhere, that makes Jeff Bezos' wealth literally look like a broken penny in a gutter, God, who is incomparably wealthy and needs absolutely nothing, says, "My people are my inheritance." Listen to me. Here's why that's so hopeful for our future. God doesn't need us. He wants us. It's what he's wanted from the very beginning. God didn't need to create humanity as image bearers. He wanted relationship with them. God, by very definition of being God, doesn't need anything. If God needs anything, God is less than God. He doesn't need anything. God has been perfectly fine in eternity past for however many billions and billions upon trillions of years, eternity past, shows us... I mean, I'm literally doing that in my head and going, "I don't even know how to talk about this."
God, who existed in eternity past before anything ever at all, has no need of anything, but he wants us. It was his idea. How hopeful is that? Do you know that that's what always God has wanted all along? He's wanted relationship with his people. Ultimately, when we look at the very end of the book and we see the revelation of how all of this is made new, do you know what God ends up, where this kind of lands? God and his inheritance. In fact, look at what the book of Revelation says in chapter 21, "I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth passed away. There was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Look. God's dwelling place is now among the people. And he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.'"
This is what God has always wanted. Listen to this. We've got this past hope because God is the one who initiated this idea from the very outset. God is the one who came up with this idea of creating for himself a people, which is extraordinary. Right? The reason I'm talking about God's inheritance is because it was God's idea for creation, God's idea for calling a people to himself, God's idea for redemption, God's idea for restoration of all things. Do you know what the common denominator in all of that is? People. God created a people. God had called a people. God redeemed a people. God will restore a people. Why? It's his inheritance. He doesn't need us. He wants us. That is extraordinary. I hope that that gives you as much hope as it should because we have a hope for the future that's based on a hope from the past. Let me tell you about now, our present hope.
Our present hope is God's incomparably great power. You see, just like we have a past hope in God's calling, what God predetermined he would do, he would call a people to himself, and we have a future hope that God will take that people to the end and they will be his people and he will be their God, we also have a present hope. That's God's incomparably great power. Notice how the verse number 19 continues on. It says this, "We have the hope of his incomparably great power for us who believe." Now, leave this up here for just a moment. Listen to me. The reason that I know that this is a now power, that this is a power for right now, is because the construction in the Greek language leaves us no other alternative. It's his power, number one, not our power. It's his power, his incomparably great power, but it is for what? Us who believe.
In the Greek language, when you read that, it just jumps off the page to you. It's in the present active. That means it's now. It is for us who believe. In the right now, we have access to an incomparably great power of God. Then you know what Paul does when he's praying about this? He explains what this power is, how powerful this power is, if you can do that. He uses all these terms, mighty strength and exertion and all of these statements he uses. It's the power that got Jesus up from the dead. How's that for power just as a head's up? Dead for three days, not dead. How's that for power? Anybody have that? Anybody want to try that? This is God's power we're talking about, and it got Jesus up from the grave. Notice what Paul goes on to say, verse number 19 and 20, "That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead."
Do you see this phrase here? Paul's actually having trouble articulating it seems all the aspects of God's power. He talks about power, he talks about mighty strength, and he talks about exertion. He's trying to use all of these different words to say this is beyond kind of power. It's the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. It's resurrection power, but it's also exaltation power. Listen to what he goes on to say, verse number 19 and 20, "That power is the same as the mighty strength exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church."
It goes on to say, "The church is his body, the fullness of him who feels everything in every way." Ladies and gentlemen, God has said we not only have a hope that is rooted in his past nature because it was his idea that he called a people to himself. Before we thought of him, he thought of us. He's also going to take that all the way through. We have a future where God is inheriting his people. We will be with him, and he will be our God. He said, "By the way, till you get there, I've got all the power that you need to do everything you need to do in this life." It's the same power, just to encourage you, that got Jesus up from the dead and that exalted him above every single thing that could be named. He is Lord over all. Strong.
Now, here's the thing. We hear that, and we start thinking to ourselves, "I'm not sure how much I experience that. It almost sounds too good to be true, Jerry. It almost sounds fanciful. It almost sounds like a fairytale, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead and that exalted him to the right hand of the Father and that appointed him as head over the church for everything, the fullness of him in every way. Why don't I experience that? Why don't I sense that in my own life?" I think maybe it's because you just don't know what you have right in front of you. You just don't know. I don't know if you watch Jimmy Fallon. You may or may not. I'm old. I'm not watching it. I'm asleep when it comes on, but I have seen some of the things that he does. Jimmy's pretty much well-known for doing some kind of fun stunts. One of those is when he gets kind of a rockstar, superstar or whatever, and he disguises them. He has them go busking in the New York City subway, kind of playing for tips kind of thing. You may or may not have seen it. If you haven't, he did that one time with the group U2. Here's what it looked like.
He's literally in the New York subway, one of the biggest selling rock bands in the history of rock and roll. I don't know what their tickets go for, hundreds and hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars. There they are in disguise in the New York City subway. The drummer's playing on little buckets. Bono, he's all blonded up. Still, you can tell it's Bono if you look closely. It's pretty easy. The Edge has on all this stuff. There's people going by, occasionally flipping a quarter into a guitar case. People are just walking by like nothing's happening. It's just Monday. One of the biggest bands in the world is right there for free just playing and busking right in the subway. Everybody's just kind of cruising by like normal day here in New York City. They had no idea what was right in front of them.
This idea that Jimmy Fallon had is an idea that has happened before. In fact, there was a guy who was world famous, was one of the greatest actually, concert violinists in the world. His name is Joshua Bell, plays all over the world, literally regarded as one of the greats of concert violinists. In cooperation with a particular entity, I think it was a media outlet, they said, "Would you just put on a bald cap and take your violin into the DC metro and play?" That's what he did. He put on a bald cap, took his violin. What he began to do is he began to play some of the greatest music ever written, Bach, Mendelssohn, and some of the most complex music ever written.
It's being played by one of the greatest concert violinists in the world. Also, he is playing a Stradivarius violin worth $4 million. $4 million in the hands of a man who is a virtuoso at what he does. I watched a timelapse of his 45 minutes there. Well over 1,000 people just rolled right on by. He had about seven people that stopped for a moment, most of which were children under five. Then, mom would get them away, "What are you doing listening to the most beautiful music ever written in the world by one of the greatest players in the history of the world? I've got to read to you about The Wiggles." Is that a thing? Probably not. That was when my kids were little. I'm old. Sorry. I don't know what I'm talking about. He got $30 in tips, about 30 bucks in tips. Two nights before, he had played in Boston to an entire sold out theater where the lowest selling tickets were $100 a head. They had no idea what was right there.
See, I think that's our problem. Here's the thing. It's why Paul prays the way he prays. You see, I didn't read to you the very beginning of this prayer because I wanted to come back to it and land here because the reason that we don't understand the hope that we have, this great hope of our past calling, this great hope of God's future inheritance, and this great hope of God's indescribable and incomparably great power is because we don't have eyes to see it. That's why Paul prayed this. Notice what he prayed, "For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God's people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation," listen to this, "so that you may know him better."
Say that phrase with me, "Know him better." Say it again, "Know him better." "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope." Say that with me, "Know the hope." "... to which he has called you, to his glorious inheritance in his holy people, to his incomparably great power for those of us who believe." You see, I've actually been praying this prayer this week for you, that the Spirit of God would give you wisdom and revelation that you might know him better so that you might know this hope. See, if I wanted to simplify for you, I would simplify by just simply saying this. When you know God better, you will know true hope. By the way, I lifted that right out of the text. My job is plagiarism. That's what I do.
This isn't just life lessons with Jerry when you show up on a Sunday morning. This is God said this to us. That's so much better than just little lessons. Here's how to have a better Monday. Stop it. Know God better. When you know God better, you will know true hope. Listen. What you will know when you get to know God better is you will know that this is an overwhelming hope for us that God, before we ever loved him, before we ever thought of him, God loved us and thought about us and created for himself a people. When you get to know God better, you will know that this God whose idea it was to call a people to himself will carry that people all the way into a glorious future where he will be our God and we will be his people.
God, who is incomparable in his power in the right now, gives us the ability, because we know him, not to be chained up and freaked out about death because that hangs over our head like a dark cloud. Oh, man. I might die. Oh, I might. Everybody's going, but what am I going to do with the life that I have? I'm not going to live in the fear of death. I'm going for the glory of God because God, in his incomparably great power, has shattered the shackles of death by getting Jesus up from the dead. His promise is, just like Jesus is the first fruits from the grave, so too we will be. We will rise with him at some point. We will have glorious immortal bodies. We will be with God forever as a result. He breaks the power of sin in our lives right now. He breaks the shackles of death over us.
By the way, he gives us the glorious hope that the same power that raised Jesus up to be exalted and to rule over everything, we are going to rule with him over everything he rules over. I'm going to come back to that next week. I got to. Listen. This kind of hope is so different from the uncertain wish of hoping that your future looks a little better. This is not even remotely of the same class or kind. It is new, and this is what we mean when we talk about hope in the New Testament. The substance is certain. It's concrete because it's based in the essence of the personhood of God himself. The only way we really get to know that is when the Spirit of God begins to give us wisdom and revelation and insight with the eyes of our heart because to know God better will be the source of our true hope. Listen to me. Do you know why despair is sin? Because it is absent of the hope that we have in God. It stands in opposition to the glorious hope that we have in God.
I would just remind you today, whatever venue you're in, whatever medium you're listening to this message on, the Spirit of God can do this in your heart. If you're a believer, what you and I have a responsibility to do is get to know God better. How do we do that? Well, you're not going to do it outside of understanding his word and, listen, not just knowing it but doing what it says. James says it real clearly to us, "Don't just be a hearer of the word and so deceive yourself. Do what it says." Some of us are so busy. We're information junkies in the world that we live in. We scroll through. We've got a million different things. We go to our Twitter feed and find our news like this. We're just pounding ourselves with information.
How come we have more information available to us than any people in the history of civilization and we're less wise? I'll tell you why. Because information alone will not do the job. Same thing when it comes to knowing the word of God. Just because you've got something in your head, if you're not obeying it, you don't actually believe it. You know stuff. You can talk a good game. What you believe is what you do. Everything else is just religious talk. What you believe is what you do. Faith without works is dead according to James. It's not even faith. I say that to remind us all that what we have a responsibility to do is get to know God better, to know his word, how God has revealed himself, and then to actually live into that, to act into that so that our knowledge level and our obedience level look pretty closely aligned as opposed to our knowledge level and our obedience level. This is how we get to know God better.
We get to know God better because it's when we trust God by faith and do what God asked us to do, do you know what we experience? God's power in it. You don't experience God's power by just reading all alone and not doing what God said. Man, all you do is you come away going, "Man, God is powerful." Yeah, God is powerful and he wants that power to be effectual in your life and in my life. You can't know that unless you follow him in obedience by faith. That's the only way. Know God better because then you will truly know the hope that God has for us. I'm out of gas, but God's not out of grace because for you, listen to this, if you're a believer, are you going to allow the Holy Spirit in your own heart to bring you to a place where you're determined to know God better, not just knowing the word but doing what it says, starting to act consistent with what God said.
If you're here and you've never before received Jesus, could I just say this to you? The hope that you talk about, it pales. This hope is secure. It's certain. It's like an anchor because it rests on God. If you want to know him, I hope you will today. Let's bow our heads together for prayer. We're dismissed in just a moment. If you'll just hang tight where you were, I'd appreciate it. If you're here and you've never before entrusted your life to Jesus, here's what I can tell you. The hope that you have in this life and in the life to come is so much richer and more beautiful and better than any hope that you could conjure up in your head. One writer has expressed it this way. It's almost like we've been playing in the mud thinking that it's a vacation to the ocean.
We can't even comprehend the nature of God's glorious plans and future for us. It's better than we could imagine. We can not rest on our own strength. We can not be our own bosses. We have to acknowledge that we've sinned, we've offended God, we've come short of the glory of God, and we can only be saved as an act of his grace. We could never do it ourselves. If you want to know more about what that looks like, what it means to receive Jesus, then when we dismiss in just a moment, I'm going to invite you to come across the atrium and come into our Fire Side Room. It's lit. It's not a dungeon. There's really nice people. There's some pastors and some prayer partners over there. They'd love to just take a moment or two with you to tell you about the most important thing you'll ever do. It's more important than anything that you'll do, anything.
Father, for those of us who, by your grace, are in Christ because we have believed the gospel of our salvation, I pray that you would help us to have enlightened eyes of our hearts, to have the wisdom of your Spirit, the revelation that you show us in your word about you to be able to know and experience this glorious hope that we have that covers all of time from past to present to future. May you give us an ability to know you better so that we would know hope even more deeply because you are the one that in whom and for whom and through whom are all things. We find our fullness in you. Lord, we love you for every expression of your grace. We pray that you would write this on our hearts as I've prayed this week, as I continue to pray for all of our hearts you would write this on our hearts. For the glory of Christ, we pray. Amen. Hey, as you're making your way out, two things. One, moms, if you want to stop by photo stations either over here or over here, please do and know that you're loved today. Bless you.