Prisoners of Hope -Part One

January 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Message of the Month

Recovering All the Hope Available

in the Age of Advantage!


The Text for our Recovery of Hope: Rom 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

The Confession for Our Recovery of Hope: “I am Recommitting myself to Father God in order to be Reawakened by the Spirit of God to Rediscover the Supremacy of the Son of God for the Recovery of ALL the HOPE Available in this Age of Advantage!”


Prisoners of Hope! –Part 1

Zech. 9:9-13

 Intro – In the first eight verses of this chapter, we are shown a prophetic vision. This Holy Spirit-inspired revelation was fulfilled some two hundred plus years later in the conquests of Alexander the Great, especially over the Syrians and Persians. During these events, we are told that favor would be shown to Jerusalem, and God’s vengeance would be exacted against the enemies and oppressors of His people, along with His protecting care over His people themselves. This happened as prophesied.

 Contemplating these soon to come events, and the career of that mighty pagan prince and warrior – Alexander the Great – Zechariah the prophet is moved by the Holy Spirit to see down through the corridors of history to a King and a Conqueror of a very different description. He sees Yeshua Hamashiach – the Messiah – the Christ– King Jesus! That these verses point to the first advent of Christ is an opinion entertained both by Jewish and Christian expositors. Matthew 21:4, is the fulfillment of this prophecy as King Jesus rode on a donkey into Jerusalem.

The people of Zechariah’s day were still prisoners under the yoke of a foreign government. They had waited so long for the fulfilling of the promises of God that they were no longer “standing on these promises” but just sort of “sitting on the premises”! Their dreams had been shattered, the future appeared ever so shaky, and hope seemed to mock them! Through the prophet, God says, “View yourselves, not as prisoners of horrible governments, but as “prisoners of hope” in Holy God!” “Prisoners of hope” is a description applied to the Israelites because they had by way of God’s blood covenant the hope of redemption. They were captives who have good hope of deliverance because they are still in covenant with God.

 Some of those under the sound of my voice have lost heart and hope over a promise God gave you; over a personal dream that hasn’t been fulfilled; over the future of the church; over the future – period! You have come to feel that pessimism about the future is your best defense against further disappointment. If so, it’s time to let hope arise and do a little of the “Messiah’s Math” on your outlook on life. Let Him divide “disappointment”: and subtract a “d” and add an “h”! This will cause you to see the happenings of life as “His – Appointments” that will bring you to seeing His will done, His name hallowed, and His kingdom coming more fully in you and through you for His glory and your good! You then will become a captive, a detainee, a Prisoner of HOPE!

 I. We are Prisoners of Hope to an Undefeatable Gospel – Cols 1:23; 2 Thess 2:16

A. Captivated by the Good Hope of Christ’s Promises

 II. We are Prisoners of Hope to an Unseen and Unclear Vision of Christ – 1 Cors 13:12

A. Captivated with the Greatness of Christ’s Person!

 III. We are Prisoners of Hope to an Unredeemed Body – Roms 8:23-25

A. Captivated by the Glory of Christ’s Provisions!

 IV. We are Prisoners of Hope to an Ungathered Family – Rev 7:9

A. Captivated by the Gathering of Christ’s People!

 I. We are Prisoners of Hope to an Undefeatable Gospel – Cols 1:23; 2 Thess 2:16

 A. Captivated by the Good Hope of Christ’s Promises

Cols 1:23, “If you continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;”

 2Thess. 2:16, “ Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 2:17  comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”

Let’s review our definitions of HOPE — Biblical Hope is the Confident Expectation and Desire for Something Good from God in the Future with the Expectation of Receiving It!

Biblical hope is a future security and certainty grounded in a present reality – and the present reality is the indwelling, infilling presence of the Holy Spirit – who is the Other Jesus without a body. Cols 1:27b, Christ in you the hope of glory.

 Prisoners of hope see the gospel as God-authored, Christ-centered, Cross-shaped, Resurrection-empowered, kingdom-based, devil-defeating, world-impacting, and God-glorifying

Rom 1:1  Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.  God is the author of it and the One who puts it into effect. It achieves what He wants it to, and in the way He determines. It deals with the problems that He perceives and defines. It doesn’t primarily deal with our needs as we perceive them-how can I live a better life, overcome my hang-ups, have purpose and meaning in my life, be successful, miss hell and make heaven when I die – although it includes these. The gospel is God’s way of dealing with His “problem” of how He, a holy and just God, can justify and accept sinners like you and me. Only God’s wisdom and work is great enough to devise a plan that will achieve this.

 The gospel of God in Christ overcomes ever enemy that would rob us of the Joy of the Lord:

It overcomes divine wrath, as he becomes a curse for us; real guilt, as he becomes forgiveness for us; lawbreaking, as he becomes righteousness for us; estrangement from God, as he becomes reconciliation for us; slavery to Satan, as he becomes redemption for us; bondage to sin, as he becomes liberation for us; pangs of conscience, as we becomes cleansing for us; death, as the becomes the resurrection for us; hell, and eternal death, as he becomes eternal life for us.”

 The gospel is a good news announcement of total victory, immeasurable power, and exhaustless provision.

 Beloved, for the most part, few of us are “Prisoners of hope to an undefeatable gospel”! We believe the gospel is big enough to keep a few us out of hell and get us into heaven, but doubt that it’s big and powerful enough to defeat the world, the flesh and all the forces of hell that are arrayed against it.

 Baptist pastor, Charles Spurgeon, was a “prisoner of hope in an undefeatable gospel!”

 Preaching from the text of Mt. 8:11-12,“And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” – he shows himself to be a prisoner of hope in an undefeatable gospel:

 “Some narrow-minded bigots think that heaven will be a very small place, where there will be a very few people, who went to their chapel or their church. I confess, I have no wish for a very small heaven, and love to read in the Scriptures that there are many mansions in my Father’s house. My friend, do you think that Christ will let the devil beat him? That he will let the devil have more in hell than there will be in heaven? No: it is impossible. For then Satan would laugh at Christ. God says, that “there will be a number that no man can number who will be saved;” but he never says that there will be a number that no man can number that will be lost. There will be a host beyond all count who will get into heaven.

 They are to “come from the east and west.” The Jews said that they would all come from Palestine, every one of them, every man, woman, and child; that there would not be one in heaven that was not a Jew. And the Pharisees thought that if they were not all Pharisees they could not be saved. But Jesus Christ said there will be many that will come from the east and from the west. There will be a multitude from that far off land of China, for God is doing a great work there, and we hope that the gospel will yet be victorious in that land. There will be a multitude from this western land of England; from the western country beyond the sea, in America; and from the south, in Australia; and from the north, in Canada, Siberia, and Russia. From the uttermost parts of the earth there shall come many to sit down in the kingdom of God…

 Now he has said here, “many shall come.” The devil says, “they shall not come “but “they shall come.” Their sins say, “you can’t come;” God says, you “shall come.” You, yourselves, say, “we won’t come;” God says, “you shall come.” Yes! there are some here who are laughing at salvation, who can scoff at Christ, and mock at the gospel; but I tell you some of you shall come yet. “What!” you say, “can God make me become a Christian?” I tell you yes, for here in rests the power of the gospel. It does not ask your consent, but it gets it. It does not say will you have it, but it makes you willing in the day of God’s power. Not against your will, but it makes you willing. It shows you its value, -and then you fall in love with it, and straightway you run after it and have it.

 They shall come! They shall come! You may laugh, you may despise us; but Jesus Christ shall not die for nothing. If some of you reject him, there are some that will not. If there are some that are not saved, others shall be. Christ shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands. They shall come! They shall come! And nought in heaven, nor on earth, nor in hell, can stop them from coming.”

 Scottish missionary to Africa, David Livingstone wrote: “That the salvation of men ought to be the chief desire and aim of every Christian.” He said, “I hope to be permitted to work as long as I live beyond other men’s line of things and plant the seed of the Gospel where others have not planted.”

 With the firm belief in an “undefeatable gospel”, he set sail for dark, dangerous Africa in 1840. It took him 3 months by sailing ship to reach Cape Town and another 4 months by ox cart before he even reached Robert Moffat’s mission station at Kuruman where he would begin his work for the Lord in Africa.

 During his first missionary journey with his wife and children, their 4th child, Elizabeth, was born. Within a few weeks she had died and the rest of the family were sick. He received much criticism for the “irresponsibility” of taking a wife and 4 children on a missionary journey in the wilderness. Later he was criticized for sending his family back to Britain while he pioneered the remote regions of Africa. When his wife rejoined him for his second great missionary expedition in the Zambezi valley she died of malaria.

 “I shall open up a path in to the interior or perish.” He declared. “May He bless us and make us blessings even unto death.” “Shame upon us missionaries if we are to be outdone by slave traders!” “If Christian missionaries and Christian merchants could remain throughout the year in the interior of the continent, in 10 years, slave dealers will be driven out of the market.”

 Battling rains, chronic discomfort, rust, mildew and rot, totally drenched and fatigued, laid low by fever, (he suffered from Malaria alone 27 times!), and attacks by lions, and hostile natives, Livingstone continued to persevere across the continent. Hostile tribes demanded exorbitant payment for crossing their territory. Trials tested the tenacity of the travel wearied team. As he wrote: “Can the love of Christ not carry the missionary where the slave trade carries the trader?”

 After 2 years pioneering across the remote regions of Africa, Livingstone reached Luanda. The “Forerunner” ship was ready to take him to England. However, Livingstone chose to return overland to bring his guides and porters back to their village. Rather than risk their being sold unto slavery in Portuguese West Africa, he preferred to take another 2 years crossing the continent that had almost killed him, on his first journey! However, had Livingstone chosen to return he might well have ended his ministry. The ship sank with all hands lost (and with his journals)!

 “These privations, I beg you to observe, are not sacrifices. I think that word ought never to be mentioned in reference to anything we can do for Him who though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor.”

 Yet for all his gospel efforts, he saw very little fruit, but remember he was a “prisoner of hope!”

 Here the ring of victory in his hope of the gospel of Christ: “We work towards a new state of things. Future missionaries will be rewarded by conversions for every sermon. We are their pioneers and helpers. Let them not forget the watchmen of the night, who worked when all was gloom and no evidence of success in the way of conversions cheers our path. They will doubtless have more light than we, but we serve our Master earnestly and proclaim the same Gospel as they will do.”(see Zeph 2:11 and Zech 14:9)

“A quiet audience today. The seed is being sown, the least of all seeds now, but it will grow into a mighty tree. It is as if it were a small stone cut out of a mountain, but it will fill the whole earth!” (Dan 2:34-35, 44), Matt13:31-32)

 “We work for a glorious future which we are not destined to see, the golden age which has not yet been but will yet be. We are only morning stars shining in the dark, but the glorious morn will break – the good time coming yet.” (Rev 2:26-28).

 II. We are Prisoners of Hope to an Unseen and Unclear Vision of Christ – 1 Cors


1Co 13:12  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

A. Captivated with the Greatness of Christ’s Person!

 An amateur painter once tried to develop his own version of Leonardo daVinci’s “The Last Supper”. After giving it his best shot, he showed his efforts to a few friends. He was broken-heartened when one remarked, “My, what exquisite detail you have given to the cups the disciples are holding!” Realizing he had failed to make Jesus the central focus of his painting, as he had intended from the outset, he tore up the canvas and started all over again.

 Christians are like painters, passing along various images and impressions of Jesus, and if more detail is given to us, or stuff we have, and doesn’t leave the impression that Jesus is Central and Supreme; that He is the One who is to be prized, praised, and proclaimed, then we are failing in our mission.

 1. God has NO HOPE for Us beyond who His Son is!

 We need to see how our great and good God has guided history to a day when all the hopes of the ages past were fulfilled in one man. This one man represented humanity as the last Adam. He represented Israel as the ultimate Israelite, the Messiah. He took the sins that separate and forever settled the issue. He took the judgment the world’s rebellion deserved and drained it of its accusations. He invaded death’s dark prison house and blasted a cross-shape hole out the back so that although death takes us, it can’t keep us!

He has endowed us with the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, and given us the legal right to use his name to obtain the resources needed to get the job done. He has given us time to embrace this call and begin to work generationally. If we can see Him more clearly and hear Him more obediently, we will become prisoners of hope who are captivated by this good news. Prisoners of hope will find themselves caught up in a whole new way of living — living to give, longing to serve, loving to worship, leading outward to speak — and ready to die in this wonderful experience of the hope of eternal life.

 If we are to be “prisoners of hope” we must go on being re-converted and refocused to a real, radical, yet biblical vision of the Man, Jesus Christ. We need to see Him as fully God, fully man, fully sovereign, fully redeeming by his substitutionary, wrath-absorbing death, fully alive by His bodily resurrection and fully reigning via His ascension and heavenly enthronement. We need to see Him manifestly present in the throne gift of Heaven that He gave to men on the Day of Pentecost – the Other Jesus without a Body – Holy Spirit. We need to be fully committed to proclaiming Him in His fullness with sound biblical truth followed by Spirit-demonstrated miracles, signs and wonders!

 The Glory of His Person should Captivate My Heart!

The Thrill of His Mission should Dominate My Plans!

The Wonders of His Grace should Regulate My Life!

The Future of His Plan should Alleviate My Fears!

 We need to see Jesus’ coming in a greater soul-saving, heart-transforming, culture-impacting presence and power even now, right where we live so that His kingdom comes more fully and His will is done more freely. We need to ask for foretastes of what will some day fill Heaven and earth. We need to stay focused on His worthiness as the Son of God, the only Savior of Sinners and the Satisfier of the heart-hunger of the saints. We need to see Him in a fuller, personal, experiential way that heightens our awareness of the riches, resources, and reaches that are available in Him as the Revealer of God’s Person and the Redeemer of His people.

 We need to see that the fullness of all His gospel riches and resources flow to us so that they can flow through us to the ends of the earth. We need for Christ to fire us with His zeal for the enjoyment and deployment of the glory of God. We need to begin now to see, savor, and share His life and love so that the People of God become a showcase of His majesty and glory before the nations.

We need to declare that Christ is ALL!

We need to ask him to give us the power to stay hopeful about our future, yet happy right now even with certain dreams and desires unfulfilled.

Christian, are you feeling as though you are hopeless? Well, you aren’t, but you very well may be helpless. God puts us in a position of helplessness or complete dependency in Him. The natural response is to struggle to gain back some measure of control over your life. The pain from this experience feels like hopelessness, but its really the condition of helplessness that is causing you pain. God wants you completely dependent on Him. Prisoners of hope no that they are shut up to Him.

Here’s the word you need — Zec 9:12  Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.  Your stronghold is seeing, savoring and trusting in the loving Lord Jesus Christ. Trusting Him in spite of all the reasoning of your mind; in spite of all the circumstances that surround you; in spite of all the people that have hurt you. You were content to give God control of your life until He decided to do something with your life you did not like. You were happy to surrender all to Him, until He decided to give your promised job or promotion to someone else; until the healing of your loved one didn’t come; until your mate left you or your children turned to the world. You believe in God’s sovereignty, until His sovereign will conflicts with your will. Then you want to run from Him, but He is your refuge. So, run to Him and not from Him — return, child of God, to your stronghold, your fortress and remain a prisoner of hope in the assurance that all that God has promised to be for you in Jesus – He will be!

 There is in our text a great picture of the non-Christian in three aspects:

 I. SELF-RUINED –Joseph, Daniel, Jeremiah, were cast into “the pit” by wicked hands. The sinner has himself to blame. If there is gloom, chains, and misery, it is because of revolt from God. It is not the body but the soul that is “in prison,” and no soul can be imprisoned save by its own deed and consent.

II. GOD-PITIED —Though we have cast off God, he has not cast off us. He is long suffering and merciful. His voice to us is fall of pity and inspires hope. “Prisoners of hope.” Why? Because for some, He issued a call that has roused to a sense of danger and encouraged them to to seek deliverance.

 III. CHRIST-RESCUED Zec 9:12  Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.  Refuge is provided. The “Stronghold” is Christ. He is near,  open to all and there is grace and space available for the reception and defense of all who come. Hence the urgent and loving appeal, “Return” and happy they who have responded, “who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the Hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:19)!


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