The blog*spot of Dale Wayne Campbell, NOW coming at you from Auckland, New Zealand. (!)


Hope: Anchor and Ethic

Northcote Baptist Church

Evening Service – 20 May 2007

As I thought about tonight’s message further, and especially listening to Shawn’s excellent message this morning, I considered re-naming it to… “Hope – Death caught with its pants down.”

But, alas, I’m sticking with my original title, “Hope: Anchor and Ethic

All too often, Christian faith (or so-called ‘faith’) is expressed in terms of “me” ticking a box of belief that I hadn’t ticked before, and therefore, I get to “go to heaven when I die.” The basic picture here is that, simply, your ‘affirmation’ ensures your ‘escape.’

I want to present a picture of hope that is more than a mere ‘affirmation.’ (‘I affirm the doctrine of eternal life…’ or ‘I affirm the resurrection’, etc.)

Rather than hope as ‘affirmation’, I want to present HOPE as ANCHOR.

An Anchor is something that gives you stability in a storm.

It is strong. It is firm. It does not move.

Also – and equally important! – I want to present a picture of hope that is more than a mere ESCAPE from this world. (‘This world’s not my home; I’m just a-passin’ through.’ Or the more modern ‘wipin’ off dust from my sandal sole, ‘coz I just got here and now I plan to go.’)

Rather than hope as ‘escape’, I want to present HOPE as an ETHIC.

An Ethic is something that ANIMATES your to ACTION.

It drives you. It moves you. It characterises you.

First we’ll look at HOPE as ANCHOR, and then as ETHIC…

To show how the SHAPE of HOPE progresses, please close your eyes and imagine this scenario…

Imagine walking down the street and seeing a man in the distance walking toward you. He’s dressed in a fire-fighters uniform, carrying the helmet. As he gets closer, you can see that his uniform is obviously not new, but has obviously seen many fires. By now, he’s close enough to see that the helmet’s face guard is broken. At the same time, you actually recognise that it’s your old friend from school. He has already recognised you and is smiling. As you stop and greet each other, you notice now that he has a few scars on his face that he didn’t have a few years back. (you can now open your eyes)

In a sense, I think that is one way of understanding how God’s revelation of Himself grows over time in the Scriptures. God’s rescuing character was always known, but as the rescuing history unfolds, more and more of His attributes are seen and the ones you’ve already seen become clearer.

In the first 5 books of the Bible, known as the Torah, the Pentateuch or ‘the books of Moses, the word ‘hope’ is strangely absent, though it could be said that the idea is there even if the specific word is not. Like many themes in the Scripture, the theme of HOPE gets richer and richer – fuller and fuller – as God reveals Himself more and more over time.

Now, just because Abraham and Moses and others didn’t have the Nicene Creed, etc., doesn’t mean their faith was somehow ‘less’ than others. Doctrines and Statements of Belief matter, but knowing God and doing His will is not so much an exercise of the brain, but one of heart, soul, mind and strength. As we shall see later, it’s what we DO with the revelation given to us that matters most. Unto whom much is given, much is required.

By the time of the first century, the people of God had plenty of experiences to look back on. The story was well developed. They had been delivered from the Egyptians, They had been judged, delivered, gone into exile, retuned from exile, and at that time the Roman occupation made them feel like they were in ‘exile’ in their own homeland! Expectations were high and varied. Many eagerly anticipated an ‘exodus-like’ deliverance from the enemy Romans. Some expressed their HOPE in terms of a complete renewal of heaven and earth. In the New Testament Gospels, one particular belief takes centre-stage (or at least very near the centre!) – Resurrection.

Not all Jews believed in resurrection in the first century, for example, the Sadducees didn’t. To put it simply, Jews believed that resurrection would happen at what was called ‘the Last Day’. They didn’t think that just Jews would be resurrected, but rather, ALL people would be raised ‘at the last Day’, and then God would judge humanity according to their deeds. Thankfully, Jesus not only believed it and taught it himself, but He showed them what it looked like!

The resurrection of Jesus, in and of itself, would have been the most surprising thing imaginable! Remember, they weren’t expecting ‘it’ to happen to ONE person before ‘the last Day’, but God was supposed to raise ALL people ON the last Day. Jesus’ crucifixion would have seemed like the embarrassing defeat of a would-have-been Messiah, who would-have-been the great deliverer they wanted.

Without the Resurrection of Jesus, none of the subsequent history makes ANY sense. You wouldn’t have bold Apostles, but instead scattered disciples looking for another Messiah. You wouldn’t have ANY of the New Testament. And so on…

So looking back, you see how their hope became more and more defined. The shape of their hope became clearer and clearer. The SHAPE of their HOPE was the SHAPE of the Resurrected Christ! As Tom Wright and others have well said, with the Resurrection of Jesus, the ‘first-fruits’ of God’s future came bursting into the present!


As the Church expanded and grew the Resurrection was so much more than simply something amazing that had happened. It was a full, bright, crystal-clear colour picture of their HOPE. It was their ANCHOR. And it is ours as well.

And it was not only their ANCHOR, it also became their ETHIC.

We desperately need to grasp this – or should I say BE grasped by it.

We are often guilty of thinking about the Resurrection in terms of LEAVING this world. We ought to think about the Resurrection in terms of RENEWING the world.

Our HOPE has nothing to do with a great ESCAPE. Our HOPE is a future REALITY, that has manifested itself in the Resurrected body of Christ. Our HOPE is guaranteed by the deposit and/or seal of the Holy Spirit with and in us.

Let me be crystal clear about the point I’m making:

Christ didn’t die, rise again and give you His Spirit so you can simply ‘know you’re going to heaven when you die.’ At the end of the Story, We don’t so much leave Earth and fly off to heaven, but rather HEAVEN INVADES EARTH.

God is in the business of making ALL things NEW. If anyone is in Christ, they are a NEW CREATION. One day, He will Return and – not lead us in a great ESCAPE, but he will RENEW ALL THINGS. Every wrong will be righted. Every tear will be wiped away. Every injustice will be balanced. Every… thing… will be RENEWED.

And we talk and think like there’s really not much to do but sit around, sing songs, gather each week and WAIT for it to happen???

The HOPE of Resurrection is BOTH an ANCHOR and an ETHIC!

We are to be about God’s business of making all things NEW! Especially the areas that seem so hopeless! Through much prayer, and in the power of the Spirit, we CAN – and are MEANT TO – make a difference.

In Third world nations and Third form classrooms.

In the courtroom, the board room, the living room, and any other room.

We will not, of course, bring Heaven to Earth ourselves. But we are to be about God’s business of NEW CREATION. Not the world’s business of going out and trying to be successful, or fashionable, or comfortable, or popular or any other such disgusting and ungodly aspirations.

May we be people of HOPE. May it be the ANCHOR in our lives. May it animate us to the ETHIC of New Creation in our lives and all over the world.

But just like Love, Integrity and Faith – our Hope is often most revealed in the midst of SUFFERING.

As we now turn to take Communion together, let it sink in just how different the Way of Jesus is to the Worlds. It is a way that is NOT marked by ticking religious boxes of belief (as important as doctrine is), nor is it marked by aspiring to ESCAPE all things. It is a way of Faith, Love, Courage, Integrity and Hope… and it is seen most clearly in the sacrificial death of Christ our Lord.

May we live according to THIS Hope. This ANCHOR. This ETHIC.




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