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Summary: Biblical hope: it is 1) Secured by abiding (1 John 2:28), 2) Manifested by righteousness (1 John 2:29), 3) Established by love (1 John 3:1), 4) Fulfilled by Christlikeness (1 John 3:2), and it is 5) Characterized by purity (1 John 3:3).

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On the closing day of the 41st Parliament last June, the Conservative government’s final gesture was to stand for the second reading of Bill C-53, the Life Means Life Act. Its stated goal was to lock up the most vile murderers for the rest of their natural lives. Nicholson, responsible for getting much that legislation passed, insists the effort was driven by a prime minister who believed law-abiding Canadians were getting shafted by liberal-minded beliefs that serious, repeat offenders deserve yet another break. The government hit that point home in 2009 by abolishing the faint hope clause, which allowed those convicted of murder to apply for parole after 15 years instead of 25. (http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadian-politics/how-the-supreme-court-is-dismantling-one-of-the-key-parts-of-stephen-harpers-legacy.)

People seek hope from various venues, but one that has endured through time is spiritual hope. The concept of spiritual hope is analogous to turning on a blazing light in a dark place. It immediately illuminates one’s outlook, uplifts the soul, and produces joy in the heart. Hope introduces life and happiness into this sin-stained and death-filled world (cf. Ps. 146:5; Prov. 10:28; Rom. 5:1–2; 12:12; 15:13; Gal. 5:5; 2 Thess. 2:16; Heb. 3:6). Yet, sadly, most people in this world know nothing of the advantages and privileges that true hope brings. Unbelievers simply do not have “an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast” (Heb. 6:19). In fact, all they have are superficial sources of security—things like narcotics, alcohol, sex, entertainment, materialism, surface-level relationships, and a human-centered desire for a better future. But all of these false hopes are only spiritual mirages that instantly vanish when this life ends (Job 8:13; 27:8; 31:24–28; Prov. 10:28; cf. Eph. 2:12). For the world, “hope” is a mere wish based on a desire or plan,

God always speaks the truth and is faithful to all His Word. Biblical hope is not a wish but an absolute future reality guaranteed by the Lord. Hope is not only foundational to Christian doctrine and the believer’s confidence, but it also has immense ethical implications. Genuine hope will purify the lives of those who possess it (3:3), and thereby verify that they are Christians.

In 1 John, John has already presented doctrinal and moral tests that can determine one’s true spiritual condition, and in 1 John 2:28-3:3 he further elaborates on the moral (ethical) test. Orthodox beliefs about the nature of sin and the person of Christ, the practical presence of sincere love and obedience, and now a personal pursuit of purity and holiness are all evidences that a person has true, eternal hope. 1 John 2:28-3:3 contains five perspectives that further define and clarify the essence of biblical hope: it is 1) Secured by abiding (1 John 2:28), 2) Manifested by righteousness (1 John 2:29), 3) Established by love (1 John 3:1), 4) Fulfilled by Christlikeness (1 John 3:2), and it is 5) Characterized by purity (1 John 3:3).

1) Hope Is Secured by Abiding (1 John 2:28)

1 John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming (ESV)

The emphatic particle nun (now) introduces a new section and plainly indicates a paragraph break. (It also strongly implies that, despite the modern chapter divisions in the text, chapter 3 should begin at this point.) Having urged his readers to let what they have heard from the beginning influence them, he continues to develop the concept of abiding as it relates to Christ and His return to earth. (Derickson, G. W. (2012). First, Second, and Third John. (H. W. House, W. H. Harris III, & A. W. Pitts, Eds.) (1 Jn 2:28). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.)

John addresses his readers as his ‘little/dear children’ (using teknia, not paidia, this time). That phrase encompasses believers at all levels of maturity (2:12; 3:7, 18; 4:4; 5:21; John 13:33; cf. Rom. 8:16–17; 1 Cor. 4:14; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 5:1; Phil. 2:15; 1 Peter 1:14; 1 John 3:1–2) and expresses John’s continuing fatherly care and concern for the recipients of this letter (cf. 2:12). But the “children” must show the parent’s character (Elwell, W. A. (1995). Evangelical Commentary on the Bible (Vol. 3, 1 Jn 2:28). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.)

His readers are called to abide in Christ. To Abide translates a form of the verb menō, which means “to stay” or “to remain.” It is a term the apostle John used frequently in his New Testament writings; for instance, it appears nearly a dozen times in John 15 alone. There Jesus instructed the eleven apostles (Judas having already left; John 13:27–31), “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4; cf. vv. 6, 7, 16). Earlier in this second chapter, John again focused on the importance of abiding in Christ and the general significance of aspects of abiding: “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 Jn 2:6; cf. vv. 10, 14, 19, 24, 27). Remaining in Christ is the antidote to false belief and unchristian behavior (Marshall, I. H. (1978). The Epistles of John (p. 165). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)

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