Hope in the Lord
More Than Just Wishful Thinking
What are you hoping for in life? People hope for many things in this world. Many single people hope to one day meet the right person and get married. Some people hope that they will get rich. Still others hope that their favorite football team will win the Superbowl. However, this is not what the Bible speaks of when our Lord is called "the God of hope" (Romans 15:13).
I. Biblical Hope is Confident Expectation
Hope, in the Bible, is not some vague wish that something will happen. Its not a wishy-washy, unsure kind of positive affirmation, with no assurance of getting what you desire. Rather, the Hebrew and Greek words translated "hope" both refer to a strong and confident expectation. It is a certainty. Hope can either refer to the activity of hoping, or the object hoped for-the content of one's hope. It stresses two things: futurity and invisibility. In other words, it deals with things we can't see, haven't received, or both. Paul says:
"For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope? But if we hope for what we do not see, then we do with patience wait for it" (8:24,25).
II. The Object Hoped for is Salvation
The object hoped for in Scripture is the salvation that the Lord has promised us. This includes all the blessings involved in salvation that are past, present and future. The reason it includes the past and present blessings is that they aren't always seen. For example, we can't see the justifying work of God, or the imputation of Christ's righteousness. Also, we can't see the Holy Spirit indwelling every believer. But we trust that it has happened because God has told us it is true, and we hope for the results that come from these facts.
Our future salvation is called "that blessed hope and glorious appearing of that great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ." As members of the Body of Christ, we are looking for Jesus to return in the air, to catch us up to be with Him forever (I Thessalonians 4:13-18).
III. God is the Source of Our Hope
The reason God is called the "God of all hope" is that He is the source of our hope. The God of the universe, the maker of Heaven and earth has promised us salvation, and He cannot lie (Titus 1:2). He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). It is He who began salvation, and it is He that will bring it to fulfillment (Philippians 1:6).
If any of our salvation depended upon us, we would still have no hope. Indeed before we were saved, we were without hope, and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12). But because of the work of Christ, our hope is secure. It is like an anchor for our soul (Hebrews 6:19). And now we can truly say with the Psalmist:
"Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God: which made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them. He remains faithful forever" (Psalm 146:5,6).
IV. Biblical Hope Leads to a Pure Productive Life
A person who has a confident expectation in the Lord, will be affected by it. It will change his life and cause him to want to please God. I John 3:2-3 says this:
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that has this hope in him, purifies himself, even as he is pure."
Those who hope in Christ don't just sit around waiting for eternity. They love the Lord and want to please Him. They desire to live pure lives in anticipation of His return. Biblical hope is not an escape from the reality of life. Rather, it causes a person to look at life on a whole new level. All of life is seen as a gift from God, one lived for His glory, and in anticipation of heavenly rewards.
Biblical hope gives us peace. It leads to endurance, comfort and confidence in the face of death, and strength and boldness in life. Hope does all of this because it is the sure certainty that what God has promised in His Word is true, it has occurred, or will occur just as He has told us. If you say you have hope, then your life should show it. Hope, like our faith, is demonstrated by a pure and productive life.
Do you have that kind of hope? Then prove it by the way you spend the rest of your time and energy that God has given you on this earth. And one day, when the Lord returns, hope will be fulfilled. And we will realize that the fulfillment was really worth the wait!