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Calvary Memorial Church

Created to Need Hope

Created to Need Hope Sermon Notes

Each week we have been exploring one of the core human needs. Looking to Genesis—and we’ve looked at our need for dignity, love, purpose, peace, guidance, life. This morning we bring our series to a close. And I’ve saved the best for last. Or perhaps the most necessary for last. Our need for hope. We can survive the loss of a lot things, but we cannot survive the loss of hope. Hope is the one thing we need, that if we have it, enables us to go without the other things we need.

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Created to Need Hope Revelation 21:1-5, 22:1-4 I. Introduction a. Say a word about the upcoming Missions Month, b. Continuing in our sermon series, “Created to Need” c. Each week we have been exploring one of the core human needs. d. Looking to Genesis—and we’ve looked at our need for dignity, love, purpose, peace, guidance, life. This morning we bring our series to a close. e. And I’ve saved the best for last. Or perhaps the most necessary for last. Our need for hope. f. We can survive the loss of a lot things, but we cannot survive the loss of hope. g. Hope is the one thing we need, that if we have it, enables us to go without the other things we need. h. We can survive for a while without love as long as we have the hope of love. We can survive for a while without dignity, as long as we have the hope of dignity. We can survive for a while without a sense of safety, as long as we have the hope of safety. And so on. i. The presence of hope can sustain us amidst the loss of all the other needs. j. And the inverse is also true; you can possess all the other needs, but if you don’t have hope, it doesn’t matter how much love or dignity or purpose you have. k. When hope fails, everything fails. l. For some of you this morning, hope is in short supply. Your hope is wavering. When you look at the future, you’re not filled with optimism, but joyless dread. m. And that’s no way to live. n. And so this morning we are going to explore the Bible’s conception of hope. What is it based in? How do we hang on to it? And how do we cope when the things we hope in come crumbling to the ground? o. There will be three basic parts to this sermon: first we will look at the Bible’s account of hope—what it is, and then how we’ve lost it. p. Then we’ll look at the futile ways we try to cope in the face of hopelessness. q. And then finally we’ll look at the way that God restores our hope in Christ. Rev 21:1-5, 22:1-4 r. In many ways, this is part 2 of last week’s sermon. Christ’s victory over death is the root of our hope in the face of death. And what we’ll see this week is that Christ’s victory over death is not only the salvation of our humanity, but the salvation of our home, as well. s. Invitation to non-Christians. This is universal issue. t. So let’s begin! II. Created to Need Hope a. Turn in your bibles to the opening chapters of Genesis 1-2. b. In the first two chapters of Genesis, we have seen that human being are creatures of need, but who in our neediness, have been granted by God everything we need to be fully human. i. Humanity is made in the image of God—Dignity (Genesis 1:26-27) ii. Humanity is made in relationship—Love (Genesis 2:18-24) iii. Humanity is given a job to do—Purpose (Genesis 1:28) iv. Humanity is made in relational harmony—Peace (Genesis 2:18-25) v. Humanity is given divine instructions about how to live—Guidance (Genesis 2:15-17) vi. Humanity is granted access to the tree of life—Life (Genesis 2:5-9) c. So then we come to hope. But as I was preparing this week’s sermon, I couldn’t find any obvious thread in Genesis 1-2 that highlighted our innate, original need for hope. d. And then I began to wonder, were we created to need hope? In what sense did Adam and Eve need hope at the time of their creation if they already possessed everything they needed? e. Romans 8:24-25 “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” f. Hope has to do with lack. We hope for what we don’t possess. And as long as Adam and Eve walked with God in trusting dependence, they had access to every good thing. g. And thus they had no need of hope at the time of their creation. h. They didn’t need hope because they were created; they needed hope because they were being de-created. i. All of which is to say, the human need for hope isn’t found in Genesis 1-2, but Genesis 3. j. Take a look again at Genesis 3:17-24. Recount the passage. i. Adam and Eve will toil and labor and in the end return to the dust ii. They have become bent, broken, and have been cast away from the royal garden. iii. The finality of the divine sentence is punctuated by the presence of the guardian cherubim who denies access to the tree of life. k. Everything Adam and Eve were created to need is crumbling to the ground. l. Dignity is damaged. Love is faltering. Purpose is compromised. Peace is violated. Guidance has been withdrawn. Life has died. m. They have lost or are losing everything. And it’s now, in the midst of their ruin, that they need hope. n. But they have been cast out into a world without any clear hope. o. The way back to the garden has been cut off. p. The only slight semblance of hope we see in Genesis 3 in the face of death is the possibility of procreation. Eve will give birth in the midst of death. q. But what a sorrowful and ill-fated hope. For our children die, and their children die, and their children die, until eventually the sun grows cold and the earth goes dark and the last star in the last galaxy burns out and all is silent and frozen and empty. r. The ultimate futility of life East of Eden is captured in the words of King Solomon from Ecclesiastes 12 “…the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, "I have no pleasure in them"; the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened…the keepers of the house tremble, the strong men are bent, the grinders cease… and the doors on the street are shut. The daughters of song are brought low…the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home…the silver cord is snapped, the golden bowl is broken, the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” s. And such is the world in which we find ourselves today. In a world where, apart from divine intervention, there is no clear hope. t. And the great tragedy in all of this is not simply that we will die and return to the dust, but that the entire creation will flame out and perish and go dark. u. And thus concludes our sermon series. v. Ha, no. w. But before we get to the answer to this despair, I want to take a minute to think about the ways that we try to find hope in a dying world. III. How We Cope a. We place our hope in temporal things i. And all of us place our hope in something, either consciously or unconsciously ii. And for most of us, we place our hope in earthly things. iii. A spouse, a job, our reputation, our children, our 401k. iv. But all of these things, even at their best, are destined to fail us. Nothing temporal can withstand the ravages of time or overcome the hurdle of death. v. Premarital counseling—“you will be parted” vi. You can’t make your wife your hope, your children your hope, your job your hope. vii. When we place our hope in temporal things we live perpetually in fear and anxiety, because we can never be sure they will last. In fact, we can be sure they won’t last. And we live our lives with a low grade anxiety wondering if today is the day they will fail us. We can never be sure they will be there to support us tomorrow. viii. Some of you need to repent of putting your hope in people and things that can’t support your weight. You will not find peace that way, and you may even crush the one you are leaning upon. b. We try to stop caring about temporal things i. This is a self-protective move as old as human history. The ancient Stoics made a career of this, so much so that we still user their name today to describe someone who is unmoved by loss. ii. According to the stoics, the best way to avoid the pain of loss, is to avoid the desire to possess. iii. Just realize that all things—from your chamber pot to your child—are merely just passing earthly things that you can’t hold on to. iv. A life of detachment is the key. If you don’t let yourself care about something, then you won’t care when it’s gone. That’s the heart of ancient stoicism. v. But in the end, it’s a cold and heartless approach to life, because in its attempt to be self-protective, it kills love. In cauterizing the capacity to grieve, it cauterizes the capacity to love. vi. And we Christians have our own version of this. vii. Many of us have somehow have adopted a version of Christianity wherein we believe that being sad about the loss of an earthly good is a sign of spiritual weakness. viii. We self-protectively avoid attachment to people and things because we want to avoid loss and pain. And then we cloak our self-protection in spirituality. But in doing so, we cut ourselves off from a capacity to love. ix. Too many of us avoid grief at all cost. We pretend we don’t care, don’t let ourselves care. x. Do you stiff arm grief and sorrow? Do you refuse to let yourself feel pain? Some of us need to learn to mourn. Because if we can’t let ourselves mourn, we can’t love. xi. And so we’re stuck. We swing back and forth between an idolatrous, clinging possession, to a self-protective loveless detachment. Where to from here? To the eschaton! IV. How Hope is Restored in Christ a. We began our sermon series in the first two chapters of the bible, let’s finish up our sermon series in the last two chapters of the bible. b. The Apostle John is given a vision of the age to come in Revelation 21:1-5. (READ PASSAGE) c. In these passages we find three anchors of hope that will help support us in the midst of this life. d. The first anchor of hope is this—there is coming a day in which God will eliminate all sorrow, pain, suffering, and death. i. The last traces of sorrow that yet cling to us will be dissolved by his love. ii. All of us have been, or will be, marked by grief and loss. We can hold it at bay for a while, but in the end we can’t outlive loss. iii. Imagine a world with no permanent goodbyes, no spectre of death threatening to cut short your dreams for the future. iv. Imagine a world that dawns before you like a beautiful spring day, eternally bright and fresh and full of possibility. g. Second, God will restore the Earth v. John’s vision speaks of a new heaven (meaning galaxies and stars) and a new earth. vi. For reasons many and varied, we have often been led to believe that our eternal home is in Heaven. How often have you heard that? “Live forever with God in heaven”? vii. And we are left with the impression that we will spend eternity floating on clouds and walking through walls in some celestial city, not needing air, not needing water, not needing food. Not so. viii. Heaven is a place of temporary residency for the souls of those who have died in Christ; It is not our home ix. Heaven is a place of rest—the earth is a place of resurrection. x. From texts such as Romans 8 and 2 Peter 3, we see that God’s intent all along has been to redeem the earth, not destroy it. xi. Creation, de-creation, recreation applies to the entire cosmos, not just our bodies. xii. God has created us as humans, with human desires and longings. He has made us for the earth, and the earth for us. And just as he resurrects us, so too he will resurrect the earth. And so it is here on this earth that we will be raised again from the dust, while even the dust itself is raised, and it is here that those who are in Christ will be reunited with each other and with God. It is here that we will smell again the freshness of spring, hear once more the sound of a loved one’s voice, and see as if for the first time, every time, the beauty of a sunrise. And it is here that we will once again hold our loved ones, with arms of flesh and blood, and here where we will once again hear the sound of their voice. xiii. The resurrection is the consummation of every earthly desire, perhaps not in the ways we would imagine, but God’s intent is not to destroy the earth, but to redeem it. It is not his intent to take away our home, but to make it new and give it back to us. And then some, because not only are we given back dominion of the earth, we are raised with Christ and in him, have dominion over the heavens as well. The story ends better than it began. xiv. And finally, and most significantly, God will be with us forever. 1. Note that God comes to dwell with us, not the other way around. He comes to earth, we don’t go to heaven. 2. He is the source of all good things, the Spirit, the breath, the wind that animates and gives life to all things. 3. He comes to live forever with us and share with us his unending life. IV. Conclusion a. And the whole story of redemption would not be possible without Jesus. He himself is the hope of every heart, the lynch pin upon which the entire story of the world turns. b. Hope for the future is not possible apart from the death and resurrection and return of the Son of God. c. It is through the resurrection power of the Son of God that all of human existence is restored to what God intended all along. Not only our lives, but our world as well. d. In John 3:16 we are told that “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” i. John 11:25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, ii. 1 John 5:12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. e. This unending life of God is available even now. He desires to be known, not just worshipped. f. Finish poem.

 

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