What is the hope of the Christian? Possible answers might be heaven, eternal life, a new body, a sinless existence, or deliverance from the world’s burdens. And in reality, all these answers are right. They are all part of the answer. The Christian’s hope is that we will be conformed to the moral and physical character of Jesus Christ, our Lord, when He returns.
Paul puts it this way in Romans 8:
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” (verse 29)
“We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.” (verses 23,24)
The apostle John words it somewhat differently in 1 John 3:
“We know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” (verse 2,3)
Our hope of being like Christ includes two things:
1. Our bodies will be transformed into the likeness of His glorious body (Philippians 3:20, 21). In this way we will be freed from the gradual decay towards death and from all the pain and suffering experienced in this life. In that day “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
2. Our character will be perfected (Philippians 1:6). All that we ever wanted to be in Christ, we will be. His love will be our love. His righteousness will be our righteousness. The standing that is ours by royal decree will then be ours in personal experience every single moment of every day for eternity.
According to John, this hope purifies us. It actually motivates us to be more like Christ now, knowing that the judgment will reveal the aspects of Christ’s character we failed to imitate (1 John 2:28). We prefer to appear before Him “confident and unashamed” at His coming. We love Him and do not want to defer His hope for us.