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In Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Cat’s Cradle, an important book comes to light. It is titled, "What Can a Thoughtful Man Hope for Mankind on Earth, Given the Experience of the Past Million Years?" The chief character is anxious to read it. But when he does, he finds that it doesn’t take long. The whole book consists of one word: "Nothing."

Hope was not a characteristic of the secular world in the first century either. The word was seldom used. Only occasionally do you find it in writings of that time period. When it was employed, it was almost always used in a context that refers to something illusory or even wishful thinking. Secular burial inscriptions reveal no content suggesting hope of an afterlife. In fact, one secular burial epitaph from Paul’s day says:

I was not

I became

I am not

I care not.

{Warren Wiersbe, "Be Ready," p. 83}

Paul was right in suggesting the world was "without hope and without God" (Eph. 2:12ff; 1 Thess. 4:13).

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