The Hope of Glory (1:25-27)
If I thought, for a moment, that this life was all there was or ever would be, I would fall immediately and irretrievably into utter despair. If "this," as the beer commercial suggests, "is as good as it gets," I think I'd pop a pill or pull the trigger or find some way to escape as quickly and painlessly as possible the futility and meaningless of this life.
But I have hope. I am confident that "this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison" (2 Corinthians 4:17). I have hope. I am confident that "the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18). I have hope. I am confident that when Christ who is my life appears, I "also will appear with him in glory" (Colossians 3:4).
As you can see, my hope is in the experience of a future glory. In some sense, in some way, this life and its pain and deprivation and disappointment and ugliness will yield to an unyielding and eternal glory. That is my hope.
But on what grounds do I have such hope? What makes my hope any different from the religious fantasies and pipe dreams of so many others? The answer is found in something Paul said in Colossians 1:27. But to get there, indeed to see how Paul got there, we need to back up to v. 25 and follow his thought. Trust me, it will yield rich rewards!
At the close of v. 24 Paul mentioned the church, Christ's body, "of which," says the apostle, "I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known" (v. 25).
Feel free to insert your name or that of your church in the place of the "you", a reference to the Colossians in its original context. God enlightened, empowered, and entrusted Paul with a message for them and for us. This is the meaning of the "stewardship" given him. His task was "to make the word of God fully known." We might translate this a bit more literally as "to complete the Word of God" or "to fulfill (or finish) the Word of God."
But what specifically is the "word" that Paul is determined to make fully known? He answers the question in v. 26. It is that "mystery" concerning the salvation of the Gentiles which until the time of Christ was hidden, but has "now been revealed" to the saints. But it's more than merely that Gentiles would be saved. That in itself was no mystery. The Old Testament spoke often of Gentile salvation. No, it is that they would be saved as "fellow citizens" (Eph. 2:19) and "fellow heirs, members of the same body" (Eph. 3:6) with Jewish believers. The "mystery", long hidden but now revealed, is that Gentiles and Jews are no longer two but rather "one new man" (Eph. 2:15), equal in every way in Christ.
Don't take this lightly or think it unimportant, for Paul refers to "the RICHES of the GLORY of this mystery" (Col. 1:27)! There is a "glory" or divine splendor or radiant majesty in this truth that is indescribably rich and unfathomably deep. Why, you ask? What could possibly be deserving of such lavish language?
Here is Paul's answer. The mystery is that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory, is now "in you" (v. 27) Gentiles who believe in him. He lives and abides in you, not merely with you or beside you or above and below you, but IN you!
This, says Paul, is "the hope of glory" (v. 27). Christ living in you is the ground and foundation and cause of your hope that you will enter into the fullness of divine glory. Christ living in you is the assurance, trumping all evidence to the contrary, that you and I will share in the glory that is to come.
That "glory" I earlier mentioned, as promised in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, Romans 8:18, and Colossians 3:4 (among others), will be ours because the Christ who died and rose again to secure it on our behalf lives "in" us now and forever.
But remember this: Christ is not simply the reason we can hope for glory, CHRIST IS HIMSELF THAT GLORY! The glory for which we long, the glory for which we have been predestined, the glory that makes all suffering and pain and disappointment in this life unworthy of comparison is the person and presence of Jesus Christ himself. He is our glory. Being with him, to know him, to see him, to relish and rejoice in his beauty, is the glory for which we hope.
Forgiveness of sins and justification and adoption and all the other blessings of the gospel are good and glorious, but only so far as they make it possible for us to experience the permanent presence and vision and splendor of Jesus himself.
John Piper put it this way: “If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?” ("God is the Gospel," p. 15).
I hope you said No to that question. Our hope is Christ. Period. He is our exceeding great reward. And he lives in us now! Not figuratively or symbolically or merely "as it were." He lives and abides in us now. And this is the ground and assurance we have for the glory of being with him and enjoying him forever.
From one in whom Christ now lives,