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Sermon: The Blessed Hope

Introduction:


Good morning, dear friends and family in Christ. Today, I want to share the profound and encouraging message of "The Blessed Hope," as the esteemed theologian George Eldon Ladd outlined. In a world filled with uncertainty and turmoil, we find solace and strength in the promises of our Lord. Let us explore the critical aspects of this blessed hope that we hold dear.


Scripture Reading:


Let's begin with a passage that encapsulates this hope:


**Titus 2:13 (NIV):**

*"...while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ."*


1. The Return of Christ


One of the central themes in Ladd's work is the anticipation of Christ's return. This is not merely an abstract theological concept but a concrete promise that fills our hearts with hope and expectation.


**Illustration:**

Consider the excitement and preparation we experience when expecting a loved one to return home after a long journey. We clean the house, prepare their favorite meals, and await their arrival. How much more should we prepare our hearts and lives for the return of our Savior!


**Scripture Reference:**

**1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (NIV):**

*"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."*


2. The Resurrection of the Dead


Ladd emphasizes the resurrection of the dead as a cornerstone of our hope. This promise assures us that death is not the end but a transition to a glorious new life.


**Illustration:**

Think of a seed planted in the ground. It appears to die, but new life emerges more vibrant and beautiful than before. Similarly, our physical death is a seed planted for the glorious resurrection.


**Scripture Reference:**

**1 Corinthians 15:52 (NIV):**

*"in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."*


3. The Transformation of Believers


Ladd also speaks about the transformation in believers at Christ's return. This transformation is physical and spiritual; we will be made like Him in His glory.


**Illustration:**

Imagine a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. The change is radical and breathtaking. So, too, will our transformation be when Christ returns.


**Scripture Reference:**

**Philippians 3:21 (NIV):**

*"who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."*


4. The Establishment of God's Kingdom


Another critical aspect is the establishment of God's eternal kingdom. This is the ultimate fulfillment of God's redemptive plan, where righteousness, peace, and joy will reign forever.


**Illustration:**

Consider the joy of a nation that has long been under tyranny and is finally experiencing freedom and justice. The kingdom of God will bring about a perfect and eternal reign of peace and righteousness.


**Scripture Reference:**

**Revelation 21:1-4 (NIV):**

*"Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”*


Conclusion


As we reflect on these truths, let us be encouraged and motivated to live in a manner worthy of our calling. The blessed hope is not just a future expectation but a present reality that shapes our lives today. Let us prepare our hearts, share this hope with others, and eagerly await the glorious return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


**Closing Prayer:**

Heavenly Father, we thank You for our blessed hope in Jesus Christ. Help us to live each day in the light of this hope, preparing our hearts for His return and sharing this message of hope with a world in need. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.


May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.


Note: George Eldon Ladd is indeed known for his post-tribulation viewpoint. His perspective is rooted in several critical theological and scriptural reasons, which he articulates in his writings. Let me outline why he holds this position:


Post-Tribulation View Explained


1. Scriptural Foundation

Ladd argues that the New Testament does not explicitly teach a pre-tribulation rapture. Instead, he believes the Scriptures indicate that the church will go through the Great Tribulation.


**Scripture Reference:**

**Matthew 24:29-31 (NIV):**

*"Immediately after the distress of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other."*


Ladd interprets this passage as a clear indication that the gathering of the elect (the rapture) happens after the tribulation.


2. The Nature of the Kingdom of God

Ladd's theology emphasizes the "already/not yet" nature of the Kingdom of God. He sees the church as already participating in the Kingdom but not yet fully experiencing its consummation. This view supports the idea that the church will endure the tribulation as part of its mission and witness in the world.


**Scripture Reference:**

**John 16:33 (NIV):**

*"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."*


Ladd suggests that Jesus' words prepare believers for tribulation, not for an escape from it.


3. Historical Church Perspective

Ladd notes that the pre-tribulation rapture theory is a relatively recent development in church history, emerging in the 19th century. He argues that the early church fathers and the majority of church history support a post-tribulation understanding.


**Historical Reference:**

The early church writings, such as those of Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, often depict the church enduring persecution and trials, consistent with a post-tribulation view.


4. The Testimony of the Saints

Ladd emphasizes that the experience of suffering and persecution has been the norm for Christians throughout history. He believes that enduring tribulation is part of the Christian witness and refinement.


**Scripture Reference:**

**Revelation 7:14 (NIV):**

*"I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’"*


This verse suggests that the saints have endured tribulation, aligning with Ladd's post-tribulation stance.


Conclusion

George Eldon Ladd's post-tribulation viewpoint is grounded in a comprehensive interpretation of Scripture, a theological understanding of the Kingdom of God, historical church perspectives, and the testimony of the saints' experiences. He believes that the church is called to endure tribulation as part of its faithful witness to the world, eagerly awaiting Christ's return after this period of trial.

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