The Garden of HopeBy Pastor Boffey on Sunday, December 23, 2012.
The Garden of Hope I. Man was originally placed in a garden. GEN 2:8-10. A. In this garden man could walk with God. GEN 3:8. B. Sin demanded man's expulsion from the garden. GEN 3:23-24. C. The desire for a blissful garden state did not die with man's expulsion. Consider: 1. Consider the many parks and gardens man has cultivated for his pleasure. 2. Consider how many things in a home suggest a garden: floral arrangements, potted plants, pictures, vases, designs on tablecloths, upholstery, curtains, rugs, wallpaper, furniture, etc. 3. Consider how weddings commonly feature garden themes. The first wedding took place in a garden. 4. Flowers and plants are present at funerals and cemeteries, antitheses of death. a. Man died in a garden. b. Christ rose from the dead in a garden. JOH 19:41-42. c. Man hopes after death to live in a garden. d. Cemeteries are commonly called Memorial Gardens, an appropriate name inasmuch as the bodies of men are planted there awaiting the resurrection. D. Saved man upon death enters into paradise. LUK 23:43. 1. The word paradise comes from root words meaning park or garden. 2. The heavenly paradise is a curse-free garden state which features the tree of life. REV 2:7; 22:1-3. E. The O.T. tabernacle, God's dwelling place on earth, was a picture of God's heavenly dwelling place. HEB 8:5; 9:24. 1. In the tabernacle, man could walk with God. EXO 29:42-45 c/w LEV 26:11-12. 2. God's elect have a place prepared for them in the Father's house where they will again dwell with God. JOH 14:2-4; REV 21:3. 3. The ornamentation of the tabernacle/temple depicted a garden. EXO 25:31-40; 1KI 6:10, 15, 18, 23, 29, 32, 34-35; 7:18-19, 22, 26, 36, 49. 4. Man's restoration to God's house is restoration to a garden. F. The church is God's house/dwelling place (1TI 3:15; EPH 2:22) and is poetically described in SON 4:12-15 as a garden. 1. Recall that Christ's love for His church is described as that of a bridegroom for his bride. EPH 5:25; JOH 3:29. 2. God walks in the church as He walked in the garden. 2CO 6:16. II. Christ's words to the thief on the cross affirm an immediate entrance into the garden of heaven upon the death of the body. LUK 23:43. A. Paul knew a man who was caught up into this paradise. 2CO 12:1-4. 1. If he was speaking of himself, this accords with the obviously loose grip that Paul had on this world. PHIL 1:21-24; ROM 8:18. 2. Mind that these texts show that there is a definite place of glorious conscious existence after this life. 3. The more we are convinced of life beyond this world in paradise for those who love the Lord, the more will be our love for Him and the less will be our love for the things of this world. 4. A proper understanding of paradise is critical to God-honoring conduct in this life. B. The gospel announces to believers that there is a hope laid up for them in heaven beyond The Garden of Hope 12-23-12 Page 1this earthly sphere of existence. COL 1:5. C. In fleeing for refuge, believers lay hold upon this hope that is set before them, a hope that enters into heaven where Jesus is. HEB 6:18-20. 1. flee: To run away from as from danger; to take flight; to try to escape or seek safety by flight. 2. refuge: Shelter or protection from danger or trouble; succour sought by, or rendered to, a person. 3. Our hope in heaven provides us with an escape to a place of safety from the dangers and troubles of this life, including sin. 4. This hope is sure and stedfast, secured by the truthfulness of God, and is therefore an anchor of the soul to keep us from drifting. D. Heaven, which is where our hope is, should not be something to which we give occasional thought but rather the place upon which we should set our affections. COL 3:1-5. 1. If a person is deficient in this living hope it may be because they imagine heaven to be far less interesting and satisfying than the acquisition, vacation or partner that they have their eyes set on. 2. But if heaven is indeed a better place (HEB 11:16), we know that it will be more interesting, satisfying and desirable than anything here. 3. Having our affections set on heavenly things leads to the mortifying of sinful deeds and affections. E. This hope has a purifying effect. 1JO 3:1-3. 1. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then any philosophy which teaches that pleasure is the chief good in life makes sense. 1CO 15:32. 2. If there is no afterlife, then the Bible is a book of lies. Why follow the moral code of a book that violates its own moral code by lying? 3. The resurrection and judgment after death (HEB 9:27) are incentives to repent. ACT 17:30-31; ECC 12:13-14. a. Why repent if there are no such things as an afterlife, judgment and resurrection? b. This is why a purely naturalistic view of all things makes people so desperate for everything this world can offer. Men will give themselves up to their own desires without a genuine hope. JER 18:12. F. This hope has a healing effect. 1. People actually die of despair. 2. The power of hope may be seen in the effectiveness of a placebo in those who expect that the supposed remedy will help them. 3. People will say to someone who is hurting or suffering, “It will be alright.” a. They are trying to give hope to offset the pain. b. Mind that even the wicked believe “it will be alright” but in the end their hope will perish and they will be disappointed. PRO 11:7. 4. Since the gospel is a message of genuine hope, the gospel brings healing. LUK 4:18; PSA 107:17-20. G. This hope puts our present trials in perspective. ROM 8:18; 2CO 4:17-18. H. Heaven and the afterlife are described in terms of things we value and enjoy on this earth, such as precious stones, gold, health, peace, joy, food and drink, loving relationships, social gatherings, gardens and communion with God. 1. If these things did not bring us pleasure on earth, then we would not understand their analogy to heaven. The Garden of Hope 12-23-12 Page 22. Pleasures in this life can never bring lasting satisfaction. They are rather best viewed as foretastes of what is to come in much greater measure. 3. Those who look for ultimate satisfaction in the things of this world are characterized by moving from one relationship to another, one place to another, one job to another, one pleasure to another, one rush to another---all in a futile search to find the real thing. 4. A proper view of earthly pleasures as foretastes of good things to come will help us to stop expecting those pleasures to give ultimate and lasting satisfaction. 5. We set ourselves up for disillusionment when we expect from this world what it cannot deliver. 6. One can actually enjoy this world more when he moderates his expectations from it and hopes for full enjoyment and satisfaction in the afterlife/the world to come. 7. The longest life in this world is brief, with death approaching. JOB 7:6; 9:25-26; 14:1; PSA 90:3-6, 10; JAM 4:14; PSA 39:4-5. a. This is good reason for us not setting our hearts too much on acquiring the things of this world for we will soon part with them. PSA 39:6-7; 1TI 6:5-7. b. The brevity of life in this world should encourage us to apply our hearts unto wisdom. PSA 90:12. 8. We should be thankful that we are not only made subject to the vanity of a fleeting life but we are also made subject to the hope of something good beyond this life. ROM 8:19-24. I. To see the Lord and dwell in His presence will be the ultimate experience of bliss and pleasure. JOB 19:25-27; PSA 16:11; 17:15; ISA 33:17; 1JO 3:2; REV 22:4; 1CO 13:12. The Garden of Hope 12-23-12 Page 3