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One Hope
By Bryan Matthew Dockens

Inspiration affirms that there is "one hope" (Ephesians 4:4). Its object is eternal life (Titus 1:2; 3:7). Its destination is heaven (Colossians 1:5; 1st Peter 1:3-4). Its source is the gospel (Colossians 1:5; Titus 1:3). Its realization is at the last advent of Christ (Titus 2:13; 1st John 3:2-3).

So-called "Jehovah's Witnesses", more accurately disciples of the Watchtower Society, do not have "one hope". They believe that a chosen few, strictly limited to 144,000, will enter heaven, and that all other righteous souls will occupy a remade Paradise on earth. Various destinations for the righteous dead amount to two separate hopes. An earthly hope is no hope at all, for the prophet Isaiah wrote, "Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look on the earth beneath. For the heavens will vanish away like smoke, the earth will grow old like a garment, and those who dwell in it will die in like manner; but My salvation will be forever, and My righteousness will not be abolished" (Isaiah 51:6).

So-called "Latter Day Saints", commonly called Mormons, do not have "one hope". They practice baptism, by proxy, for the dead. Living Mormons are baptized in the name of dead people, in the false hope that those who have died without being saved will have a new opportunity to gain salvation in the afterlife. Opportunities to be saved before death and after death amount to two separate hopes. Hope in what one has done on another's behalf is no hope at all, for the apostle Paul penned, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2nd Corinthians 5:10). The Lord will mete out judgment on an individual basis, not a vicarious one. Judgment will be rendered based on one's bodily actions.

Catholics do not have "one hope". They believe in a place called purgatory, where those who die with minor sins are punished temporarily, until they can move on to heaven, being helped out by the prayers of the living. Opportunities to be saved before death and after death amount to two separate hopes. Hope of departing post-death punishment is no hope at all, for Jesus taught the story of the rich man and Lazarus, wherein the rich man, "being in torments in Hades" (Luke 16:23), requested "mercy" whereby Lazarus would "cool [his] tongue" (24). "But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us'" 25-26). There can be no migration between torment and comfort following death. Jesus said so. God's Word mentions "everlasting fire" (Matthew 18:8), "everlasting punishment" (Matthew 25:46), and "everlasting destruction" (2nd Thessalonians 1:9), but never temporary fire, temporary punishment, or temporary destruction after death.

Hindus, Buddhists, and others among the New Age movement do not have "one hope". They believe in reincarnation, the concept that after death, a soul begins a new life in a new body. That new body could be anything: human, animal, or spiritual. Hope of living multiple lives consecutively is no hope at all, for inspiration reveals that "it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

The Christian's hope is one that is yet unrealized, as Paul put it: "We were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance" (Romans 8:24-25). The apostle argued, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable" (1st Corinthians 15:19). The saints await something so much better than anything this life could ever afford.

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