[4] since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, [5] because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,

Colossians 1:4-5

Paul had heard of the faith and love in the church at Colossae and this had stirred him to express his thanks to God. But what had happened in the lives of these believers? How had God worked in their lives to produce this faith and love?

We read in verse 5 that their faith in Christ Jesus and their love for the saints was “because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.” Hope then is the foundation for faith and love. This is not a vain hope that things might get better (for some in Colossae it might not have, some may die by the sword or other means) but a hope “laid up for you in heaven.”This is the certainty of a future. A future inheritance in the midst of trials and suffering that produces fruit.

This is our final salvation, our glorification, the wonders of heaven itself and great as those things are they are not the main event, the main event is Christ. So, thinking about and banking on, and living in the expectation of the hope that awaits us in Christ in heaven is of immense practical, life-changing, faith-awakening, love-inspiring benefit. That’s Paul’s understanding.

My mother often said to me “if you are too heavenly minded, you will be no earthy use”. Not at all true! There are real benefits to being heavenly minded, it frees us from excessive dependence upon earthly wealth and comfort. If there awaits us an eternal inheritance of immeasurable glory, it is senseless to expend effort and energy here, sacrificing so much time and money, to obtain stuff for so brief a time, and that stuff only corrupts and rots. The truth being our real home is heaven.

[20] But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, [21] who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Philippians 3:20-21

Paul’s understanding is clear, knowing that our citizenship is in heaven releases our minds from the pull of earthly things (Philippians 3:19).

The apostle Peter backs this up by saying that, the ultimate purpose of your salvation, your being born again is an experience of a living hope of an inheritance that is imperishable, by which he means incorruptible, not subject to decay or rust or mould or dissolution or disintegration. Great apostolic preaching by both Paul and Peter!

[3] Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, [4] to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,

1 Peter 1:3-4

This heavenly inheritance is, “undefiled” pure, unmixed, untainted by sin or evil. Best of all, it is “unfading.” Not only will it never end, it will never diminish in its capacity to enthral and fascinate and impart joy. It is “reserved in heaven” for us, kept safe, under guard, protected and insulated against all intrusion or violation. Let me say again; it is this hope of heaven that sustains you in trial and suffering.

Later on Peter says, “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). Here is Biblical permission to obsess, fixate, and dream to not be distracted from looking at the grace you will receive in heaven.

In those wonderful verses about faith in Hebrews 11, Abraham is longing for a “city that has foundations” these great men and women

in the face of trial were fuelled by their desire for a “better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16).

As enjoyable as this life may be for you, those places you have seen where you have stood and stared in awe are but a shadow of things that are yet to come. On the other hand, for many of us the world is cruel, harsh and unfair. Our anticipation of heaven brings hope and empowerment and help to endure evil and extremes that are unimaginable and very real to many right now.

A deliberate focus on heaven produces the fruit of endurance and perseverance now. The strength to endure present suffering is the fruit of spending time thinking on a future heaven.

[11] “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. [12] Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:11-12

In Romans 8:18 Paul helps us to see that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” We do not lose heart because we have allowed the unseen things of the future feed our hearts with the truth that whatever we endure on this earth is producing a glory far beyond all comparison!

Paul again in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 encourages the church in Corinth to allow heaven to shape their value system. In the light of what is “eternal”, what we face now is only “momentary.” Suffering appears “prolonged” only in the absence of an eternal perspective. The “affliction” of this life is regarded as “light” when compared with the “weight” of that “glory” yet to come. It is “burdensome” only when we lose sight of our heavenly future. Help comes through what we look at!

In 2 Corinthians 4:18 Paul contrasts the “ transient” things “that are seen” with “eternal” things “that are unseen.” He tells us how change occurs in us that our “inner self” is renewed day by day (vs16) by what we look at. If you don’t “look” you won’t change! The process of renewal only occurs as the believer looks to things as yet unseen. As we fix the gaze of our hearts on the glorious hope of the age to come, God progressively renews our inner being, our heart.

I will stop there, I am going to carry this on next time as there is so much more buzzing around in my little head.