Ephesians 1:12
Who first hoped in Christ. Hope, as one of the great springs of human action, is to be distinguished from simple foresight or simple expectation; for the one may be a foresight of evil, the other an expectation of coming misfortune. Hope, on the contrary, is the expectation of future good. We do not hope for mistake, or for misfortune, or for pain; we hope for what will fill our future with brightness. "Hope is the noblest offspring, the first born, the last buried child of foreseeing and forecasting man." Hope is often illusive, but the hope of the gospel is real on account of its deep, strong, and immutable foundations.

I. JESUS CHRIST IS THE TRUE FOUNDATION or OUR HOPE. So strongly linked with it, indeed, that he is expressly called "our Hope" (1 Timothy 1:2), and "the Hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). To have hope in Christ is a higher thing than to have hope directed towards Christ. What is there in the person or work of Christ to awaken or sustain our hope?

1. In his atonement there is a foundation laid for the hope of pardon in the heart of the chiefest of sinners.

2. In his present work as our High Priest and Intercessor there is a foundation laid for the hope of purification.

3. Christ in us "dwelling in us by faith" - is the assurance of our hope; for it is Christ in us who is the Hope of glory.

4. Christ is the Pattern of our hope, for when he shall appear, we hope to be like him, being "predestinated to be conformed to his image."

5. The climax of our hope will be reached at his appearing, for that is the blessed hope of the Church. We are "to hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:13).

II. THE SOURCE OF OUR HOPE IN CHRIST. We are predestinated thereunto (Ephesians 1:11). It is the "God of hope" who causes us "to abound in hope" (Romans 15:13); it is he who gives us "a good hope through grace" - not of nature or man's merits, for it is ascribed to his "abundant mercy" as the spring of it (1 Peter 1:3); and he gives us "the patience and comfort of the Scriptures, that we may have hope" (Romans 15:4).

III. IT IS A HIGH PRIVILEGE TO HAVE AN EARLY HOPE IN CHRIST. "Who first hoped in Christ." This was the great privilege of the Jews. The Gentiles were last, not first, in their enjoyment of Christ. The Apostle Paul deemed Andronicus and Junia highly favored, because "they were in Christ before him" (Romans 16:7). It must always be subject of pious regret that we had not an earlier experience of Christ; for we should thus have been preserved from many sins and follies; we should have had such a fuller enjoyment of his gospel, and we should have had many more opportunities of doing good. - T.C.

That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ.

1. Let us acknowledge their dignity. The young rise up before the ancient in nature; so should it be with us who are babes, when we meet with those who are veterans in Christ (see Romans 16:6; 1 Corinthians 16:15).

2. Let those so honoured walk worthy of their dignity, by adorning their age in Christ with graces corresponding, such as experience, wisdom, weanedness, all kinds of mortification. Should one of fifty have no more wisdom and staidness than another at fifteen, it would make their old age despicable.

II. THE END OF ALL THE BENEFITS WE OBTAIN IN CHRIST IS, THAT WE MAY SET FORTH HIS GLORIOUS GRACE AND MERCY TOWARD US. Let our words, our works, our whole man be at His command and service. The Church in the Canticles so praises the beauty of her spouse, that she wakens others; so should we from our hearts set forth the praise of our Christ, that others may by our means be brought to inquire after Him. Those who find bounteous masters on earth, how will they tell of their affability and liberality, of every circumstance wherein they do them any grace and favour? How will they protest themselves devoted to their service; how impatient are they of anything which so much as seems to tend to their disparagement? What a shame, then, it is that we should walk, neither feeling our hearts affected, nor yet opening our mouths to praise Him who has redeemed us and brought us to the hope of an immortal and incorruptible inheritance.

(Paul Bayne.)

In order to understand this sentence, we must consider that the term, "trusted in Christ," implies more than it expresses; even the coming to God, or repentance, through belief, or hope, or trust that Christ, by His death, has made reconciliation with God for all who will come to Him in this hope, belief, and trust. The sentence, then, must be understood as thus: "That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first drew near unto Him, through trust in the reconciliation which Christ has made"; and then we see how this is to the praise and glory of God. For God's glory is manifested by the exercise of His gracious attributes of mercy and loving kindness and forgiveness; but these He is prevented from exercising towards men when their hearts are impenitent and unbelieving, as we find it recorded of our Lord, that "He could there do no mighty works, because of their unbelief." But what does the apostle mean when he speaks: "we who first trusted in Christ"? He is speaking apparently of the Jews, the first to whom the gospel was preached; as we find our Lord instructing His apostles, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel"; and again, we have St. Paul saying that the offer and promise of salvation was made to the Jew first; and it is well to remember that all the first apostles and heralds of salvation were from among the Jews, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah and others, that "the Word of the Lord" should "go forth from Jerusalem"; and hence we see how that, in more than one sense, the first Jewish believers may be said to have ministered to the praise and glory of God. For not only did they, by their faith and repentance, make room for God's glory to be manifested by the extension of mercy and forgiveness to themselves; but they, leading the way, were the occasion of others also embracing the faith, and themselves proclaimed it to the rest of the world.

(A. P. Perceval, B.C. L.)

A certain king had a minstrel, and he bade him play before him. It was a day of high feasting; the cups were flowing, and many great guests were assembled. The minstrel laid his fingers among the strings of his harp and woke them all to the sweetest melody, but the hymn was to the glory of himself. It was a celebration of the exploits of song which the bard had himself performed. He had excelled high Howell's harp, and emulated great Llewellyn's lay. In high-sounding strains he sang himself and all his glories. When the feast was over the harper said to the monarch, "Oh, king, give me my guerdon; let the minstrel's mede be paid." And the king said, "Thou hast sung unto thyself; pay thyself; thine own praises were thy theme; be thyself the paymaster." He cried, "Did I not sing sweetly? O, king, give me the gold!" But the king replied, "So much the worse for thy pride, that thou shouldest lavish such sweetness upon thyself." Brethren, even if a man should grow grey-headed in the performance of good works, yet when at the last it is known that he has done it all to himself, his Lord will say, "Thou hast done well enough in the eyes of man, but so much the worse, because thou didst it only to thyself, that thine own praises might be sung, and that thine own name might be extolled."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

What had the woman who touched the hem of our Lord's garment heard? Nothing of His kindness towards herself, but towards others, and upon this she believed. So a rope is but cast down into the sea to a multitude of drowning men, and all are bidden for their life to lay hold on the rope that they may be saved; it were unreasonable and foolish curiosity for any of these poor men, now upon death and life, commanded to hold fast the rope, to dispute whether did the man who east down the rope intend and purpose to save me or not? and while my mind is perplexed on that point, I will not put out one finger to touch the rope. Fool! dispute not, but lay hold on the remedy.

(S. Rutherford.)

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