No Hope Outside of Christ

The following is an excerpt from Paul David Tripp's excellent book, Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands

"The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15)

"This is what God has been working on. All of history has been moving toward this one moment." God had not forgotten or lost interest in humanity. Since that horrible fall into sin, he had been bringing the world to this day. What looked pointless and out of control was, in fact, the unfolding of God's wonderful story of redemption, which reached a crescendo with the coming of Christ...

The question is, "The time has come for what?" Jesus is announcing the nearness of the kingdom of God. It is a quiet way of saying, "I am the King of kings and I have brought the power of my kingdom with me."...

In our self-absorbed culture, we need to see the grandeur of this kingdom. We cannot shrink it to the size of our needs and desires. It takes us far beyond personal situations and relationships. The King came not to make our agenda possible, but to draw us into something more amazing, glorious, and wonderful than we could ever imagine. Perhaps the best way to understand the grand purpose is to eavesdrop on eternity. In Revelation 19:6-8, the great multitude of the redeemed stands before the throne and, like the roar of rapids, exclaims:

Hallelujah! For the Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear."

Think about what they are singing. It is not, "I got my that job! My marriage was fantastic! I was surrounded by great friends and my kids turned out well." It is not, "I defeated depression and mastered my fears." Two things capture the hearts of the assembled throng:

The first is that Christ has won the final victory. His will has been done, his plan accomplished, and he reigns without challenge forever. God has gathered a people who have a passion for his glory and find ultimate comfort in his rule. They are people who followed by faith and obeyed at great cost, who sacrificed and suffered, but with no hint of regret. They have found lasting satisfaction in the person and rule of the Redeemer.

The second glorious thing is that the ultimate celebration has finally come, the wedding of the Lamb. A thunderous should goes out as the multitude realizes that they haven't just been invited to the wedding-they are the bride!. They stand clothed in the finest of linen. All the scars and blemishes of sin are gone. All the rags of iniquity have disappeared. They are finally forever clean. They stand before the Groom, pure and holy. As we listen to eternity, we realize that the kingdom is about God radically changing people, but not the self-absorbed sense our culture assumes. Christ came to break allegiance to such an atrophied agenda and call us to the one goal worth living for. His kingdom is about the display of his glory and people who are holy. This is the change he came, lived, died, and rose to produce. This is the life and work he offers us in exchange for the temporary glories we would otherwise pursue. This kingdom agenda is intended to control our hearts and transform our lives...

When Jesus commissioned his disciples to minister in his name, this is the message he told them to proclaim. As we face our own struggles with sin and minister to people who seem trapped by things they cannot overcome, this must be our message too. We must faithfully proclaim, "Hope is only to be found in Jesus Christ, the King of Kings. In him, lasting, person heart change is possible." Any other message encourages false hope.

People struggling with life in a fallen world often want explanations when what they really need is imagination. They want strategies, techniques, and principles because they simply want things to be better. But God offers much more. People need to look at their families, neighbors, friends, cities, jobs, history, and churches, and see the kingdom. They need imagination- the ability to see what is real but unseen. This is what Paul fixed his gaze on (2 Cor 4). They need to look at a city and see the glorious company of the redeemed being gathered, amidst a brutal spiritual battle, to live in union with God. They need to look at their children and see a Redeemer pursuing this hearts for his own. They need to scan history and see God accomplishing his purpose. People need to see the shining hope of human existence: people know, love and serve God. They can commune with him forever and form a community of live that is possible no other way. All of this is possible because the King has placed his love and grace on them.

As sinners, we have a natural bent to turn away from the Creator to serve the creation. We turn away from hope in a Person to hope in systems, ideas, people or possessions. Real Hope stares us in the face, but we do not see him. Instead, we dig into the mound of human ideas to extract a tiny shard of insight. We tell ourselves that we have finally found the key, the things that will make a difference. We act on the insight and embrace the delusion of lasting personal change. But before long, disappointment returns. The change was temporary and cosmetic, failing to penetrate the heart of the problem...

The good news confronts us with the reality that heart-changing help will never be found in the mound. It will only be found in the Man, Christ Jesus. We must not offer people a system of redemption, a set of insights and principles. We offer people a Redeemer. In his power, we find hope and help we need to defeat the most powerful enemies. Hope rests in the grace of the Redeemer, the only real means of lasting change.

This is what separates believers from our culture's psychology. Because it has fundamentally turned its back on the Lord, the world can only offer people some kind of system. It reduces hope to a set of observations, a collection of insights, or steps in a process. We, on the
other hand, meet people as they desperately dig and lovingly ask for their shovels. We gently turn them away from the mound, and joyfully turn them to the Man, Jesus Christ. This is the essence of personal ministry.

But our inclination of replace the King with a thing does not die easily. It rears its head even when we search for answers in Scripture. We approach the Bible with a "where can I find a verse on _____" mentality. We forget that the only hope the principles offer rests on the Person, Jesus Christ. And we forget that the Bible is not an encyclopedia, but a story of God's plan to rescue hopeless and helpless humanity. It's a story about people who are rescued from their own self-sufficiency and wisdom and transported to a kingdom where Jesus is central and true hope is alive.

We cannot treat the Bible as a collection of therapeutic insights. To do so distorts its message and will not lead to lasting change. If a system could give us what we need, Jesus would never have come. But he came because what was wrong with us could not be fixed any other way. He is the only answer,so we must never offer a message that is less that the good news. We don't offer people a system; we point them to a Redeemer. He is hope...

Is my problem fundamentally an informational one? Will a well-researched, logical set of insights provide the solution? Or is my problem? Or is my problem fundamentally experiential? Will dealing with my past solve my problems? Is my problem fundamentally biological? Will helping me achieve chemical balance solve my problem? Or is there something beneath all these things that is more deeply wrong with me? Scripture's answer to this last question is a clear, resounding, "Yes!"...

The bible says that our core problem, the fundamental reason we do what we do, is sin. What is being said here? Scripture is defining sin as a condition that results in behavior. We are all sinners, and because of this we all do sinful things. This is why I said that our core problem precedes our experience...

If you are going to deal with your own difficulties or assist others who want to deal with theirs, you must correct wrong thinking. Yes, you must deal with the suffering of the past and ways the body isn't properly functioning, but you must do more. You must help them conquer the sin that distorts all these experiences....This is essential because sinners tend to respond sinfully to being sinned against...

This is why Paul writes so pointedly in Colossians 2:8, "See to it that no one takes you captive through hallow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world and not on Christ." The world's philosophy is deceptive because it cannot deliver what it promises. It may be well researched and logically presented, but it is not centered on Christ. Because sin (the condition) is what is wrong, true hope and help can only be found in him. Any other answer will prove hallow.

(Excerpts from Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands pp. 4-12)

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