Danny E. Olinger
The theme of the 2016 Thank Offering in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church is “Abounding in Hope.” It is taken from the apostle Paul’s benediction in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
In the context of Romans 15, Paul is addressing those who disagree about how to approach things—the weak and the strong, the believing Jew and Gentile. They may have different opinions. They may approach Christ in different ways. But the apostle declares that what they share in believing in Jesus is the joy and peace of the kingdom. They share this, despite their differences, because the God of hope is at work in them through the power of the Holy Spirit, so that they might abound in hope.
The living God is the God of hope because he generates hope in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. In the words of the apostle Peter, “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3–5).
Both Paul and Peter, then, proclaim that God is both the source and the goal of our hope. Knowing that the God of hope is with us, we do not despair. Those who are without God are without hope.
What this means for us as a new creation in Christ is that sin, death, and meaninglessness do not reign. What reign for us are righteousness, joy, and peace. We possess hope. In many ways, that is the essence of being a Christian. We have a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
This message of hope through Jesus Christ is what the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, through its pastors, evangelists, teachers, and missionaries, declares to a dying world. In obedience to the Great Commission of the risen Christ, we seek to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded. The General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church maintains the Committees on Home and Foreign Missions and Christian Education to help in this work. The Thank Offering assists in funding these ministries. It is not meant to take the place of regular giving to the church, but is added to that giving. It is an offering that expresses our thankfulness for how the Lord has blessed us so abundantly, even abounding in hope. With the Thank Offering, we testify that we abound in hope.
We are a small church numerically, but, abounding in hope, we seek to be about the work of witnessing to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ without reserve. As can be seen in the maps that follow in the pages of New Horizons, we send out many more missionaries, church planters, and ministerial interns than other churches our size. Please prayerfully consider how you might give to the work of the Lord in the ministries of Christian Education, Home Missions, and Foreign Missions in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
The author is the general secretary of the Committee on Christian Education and the editor of New Horizons magazine. New Horizons, November 2016.