I preached this morning at First Reformed Church in South Holland, Illinois. My text was Philippians 1:1-11. I tried to show how Paul’s expression of prayer and thanks for the church at Philippi was deeply grounded in his theology of hope, which itself is profoundly connected to how he understands the day of Christ. I argued that American evangelicalism has little or no perspective on this because: (1) We have a theology about the day of Christ that focuses on issues like the the rapture question, the millennium, and the "last days" as in guessing how close we really are to the end and, (2) Our arguments about various explanations regarding the "end times" has little or nothing to do with true Christian living and vital prayer, much less with really giving thanks.

Paul frames his whole prayer for the church in Philippi around his hope about the end. He is, as I argued this morning, a "biblical optimist." This is not some kind of emotional optimism here, rooted in human personality. No this is rather an optimism rooted in the nature of Christ’s victory and his plan for finishing up his global purpose before he returns. He is the victor and thus we should live in that victory in true hope. Paul reasons that the church that lives in this hope has power to endure suffering and to be faithful.

Hal Lindsey once wrote a book titled, Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth. I think we could use a book titled, Satan is Defeated and Bound and the Church Will Win the Final Victory on Planet Earth. I am truly weary of pessimism in the church, regardless of the source. My faith is anchored in Christ alone and he will see the travail of his soul and be satisfied. The knowledge of him will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. Think about that this week and see how it affects your prayer and thankfulness. I can’t see how you can follow Scripture and not be filled with great hope.

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  1. Secret Rapture July 9, 2007 at 8:25 am

    My inaugural address at the Great White Throne Judgment of the Dead, after I have raptured out billions! The Secret Rapture soon, by my hand!
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  2. Helen July 9, 2007 at 8:44 am

    John, I agree about being tired of the pessimism.
    I don’t think Jesus’ good news was “The world sucks and there’s not a lot we do about it except hang on/hide/complain loudly/isolate ourselves from its impurity until God destroys it all”.
    I think it was “there’s a kingdom to build – come join me in that!”
    Once at church I heard a comment in the welcome/intro about how wonderful it was to be there again, our ‘refuge’ from the world. I think that’s a wrong attitude that encourages pessimism. Why not say “How awesome is it that we are called to make a difference?”

  3. Andy July 12, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    John: I like to use a word that I ‘invented’ called “hope-imist” Its like your biblical optimist without the ‘pie in the sky’ idea behind optimist. A Hope-imist is one who lives to see what the Lord is and will do, and, who works to make His Kingom come. More than half empty or half full the hope-imist sees the glass as one more way the Lord will extend His reign.

  4. Mantra Mali July 17, 2007 at 5:30 am

    If a man comes to your front door and says he is conducting a survey And asks you to show him your bum, do not show him your bum. This is a scam. He only wants to see your bum. I wish I had got this yesterday. I feel so stupid and cheap. -The Bum http://www.widgetmate.com

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