“For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” (Rom 8:24)
Hope is something that we talk about a lot as Christians. Hope is an integral part of our Service to Christ. However, if you consider mankind as a whole; and if you examine the lives of men and women as families and individuals; you will likely come to the conclusion that “Hope” is something that is essential in the lives of every man. Human beings need to have hope – hope in something or someone. Without hope our lives are less than happy, and, for some, may not even be worth living. As human beings we have, as a part of our being, a desire to do better, be better, change something (or someone), improve this or that, or etc… In other words, mankind exists in a constant condition of seeking to change or improve; men and women are not long satisfied with the status quo, unless the status quo provides all of their desires and longings. In many ways, this is a positive trait in humanity. And yet, you will notice, that when there is no hope for mankind – when all hope of change or betterment is removed for men and women – then their existence becomes very miserable. Peace and happiness are hard to find in human beings that do not have hope!
I believe it to be true, that the best and only true peace and happiness to be found in human beings, is to be found in those who know Jesus Christ as their Saviour. He is the end of our search for peace and joy! He is the Person Who brings contentment and happiness to men and women! Without Him, men and women will go on searching and longing – but they will never find any peace, joy, or contentment that will last beyond this mortal realm. Still, there is that desire for God that exists within each of us, because we were created in God’s image. Since the Fall of Adam, we have been broken. We want for something or someone – and that Someone is God. So, we offer up substitutes. We seek satisfaction and contentment in inferior places and persons. But the longing and the discontent will always be there. As sinners, we simply do our best to ignore God, or we plunge further into sin so that we are not faced with the truth of our existence – God is our Creator and we are fallen creatures; He has made us, and we need Him; we have offended Him, and we must be judged.
In Christianity we have the greatest and best Hope for all of mankind. Ours is a religion of Hope, built upon the need that we have to acknowledge the depraved sinful nature of man, and the gracious saving Nature of Jesus Christ. We bring hope to those who have none. We bring peace and contentment to those who have searched long for safety and happiness.
It is important for you and me as Christians, to have a certain Hope, or to take Hope with us. In other words, it is important for the Faithful Christian to have – not just Faith – but also Hope. The Christian must project a Hopeful Demeanor; he must possess a Hopeful Inner Man; and above all, he must partake of the Hope that is in Christ Jesus. According to the Scriptures, Hope is an indispensable and abiding part of the Christian life. We read in 1Cor. 13:13, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” Oftentimes we turn to this verse to emphasize the importance of Love (charity) in the life of a Christian. But along with pointing out the necessity and preeminence of Love, this verse also makes it clear that faith and hope are also abiding aspects of the Christian life of Service.
Hope Must Include God
The first thing that I want for us to understand today, is that Hope is nothing without God. In fact, we might say that without God, there is no true Hope. We read in Eph. 2:11-13, “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
In these verses we see that the same ones that Paul said had no hope, are the same ones that were without God in the world. What Hope do any of us have, without God! What Hope do we have of the strength to take the very next breath, without God!
We see also, that those that were without hope, are also the same ones that had no promise to trust in. This is something that is rather interesting to think about. I know that Paul is here primarily speaking of the fact that the Gentiles were not recipients of the Promises that were given to the Children of Israel. But remember, that the Promises that the Children of Israel trusted in, were mostly Conditional Promises. Therefore, they strove to adhere to the Conditions that led to the Fulfillment of those Promises. So, though the Gentiles were not recipients of those Promises, and though their lack of knowledge of those Promises deprived them of Hope; still, the Unconditional Promise that God made with God, and that God made with His People, was a Promise of which they could partake. But, before the God of our Salvation came unto them, they were not aware of this Unconditional Promise, and therefore they were without Hope.
You see, this Promise of Eternal Salvation that we have, is delivered to all them that will believe and call upon the Name of the Lord. We read in Rom. 10:11-13, “For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” But before we are made aware of our needs, and before the Name of the Lord is made Dear unto us, we are strictly (whether Gentile or Jew) without any Legitimate Hope. Without God and Jesus Christ the Saviour, there is no Hope.
Faith and Hope
In the past, I have preached on “Hope,” and I have defined Hope as Expectation or as the joyful and confident expectation of Salvation. These, and other similar definitions, are definitions that can be found in any Concordance or Dictionary. However, today, I want to think just a little while about the relationship that exists between Faith and Hope.
We have a definition for Faith that is given to us in Heb. 11:1. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.” We read also in the Bible that Faith is something that is given unto man. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God;” (Eph. 2:8.) So Faith is something that is given to us, and it is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen. I believe that we can say that Hope is a Result or a Product of Faith. We are given Faith, and that Faith gives us Hope. Faith is the Confidence or Trust that we have in our God, and Hope is the Emotion or Feeling that results from that Faith.
We read in Col. 1:23, “If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;” Here we see that Faith is something that we are to have, and Hope is the result of that Faith. Paul, in describing the Armor of the saved, says, “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation.” (1Thess. 5:8.) In Eph. 6:17 Paul refers to the “…helmet of salvation…” This Helmet of Salvation in Eph. 6:17 is the same as the Helmet of the Hope of Salvation that we read about in 1Thess. 5:8. This is because we Hope for Salvation, that is not yet fully realized by our bodies. We read in Rom. 8:24-25, “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” Jeremiah tells us also, “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.” (Lam. 3:21-26.)
Let me mention one more thing concerning Faith and Hope. You and I know that we must have Faith in God and be Faithful unto Him. This is true of all Christians. We also know that God, in the beginning, has pronounced His Faithfulness towards those that are His. Really, our Faith in Him, we have, because of the Faithfulness that He has towards Himself and His Promises unto His people. We have Faith in Him, because He was first Faithful unto us. (Just as we say that we love Him, because He first Loved us. See 1Jn. 4:19.) However, I want us to be sure to notice that Hope is something that we have, as an expectation of things to come. Hope is not something that God has, because all things stand present to Him. There are no references in Scripture of a time or a place when God Hoped, as we Hope. He does not need to Hope, for He is Sovereign, and He is Everywhere at all times.
Now, I do not want to diminish your Hope or my Hope. Our Hope of Salvation is Certain and Sure, just as God is Certain and Sure. But we have not yet received the Completed Salvation – we only Confidently Expect it. Remember, Paul said, “…but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” (Rom. 8:24.) We read in Heb. 5:13, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” Oftentimes we read this verse to remind ourselves and others that God is aware of what we say, do, and think. However, I think that we also must be reminded that God is aware of all things before they even take place. The Lord said in Isaiah, “I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I showed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass. Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass; I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I showed it thee: lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them. Thou hast heard, see all this; and will not ye declare it? I have showed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them.” (Is. 48:3-6.) And Moses tells us, “LORD, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” (Ps. 90:1-2.) The World likes to Preach a God that hopes and pleads and implores. Our God is not that way. With this thought in mind, let’s go to our final point.
A Christian’s Hope
Given that God is so Supreme, and a God that is Faithful, we, too, should have Faith in Him. But, even more, given that our God is Omnipotent, and not subject to Hoping and Pleading in order to Promote His Cause, we should be a people with great Hope. We read in Heb. 6:17-19, “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;” It is impossible to even imagine our God failing in even one of the tiniest of details, if we truly understand Him in a Scriptural way. Therefore, we should have great Hope in Him and in His Promises.
We could even say, that our Hope, which is pictured as an anchor of the soul, has a Name. The verse that follows the verses that we have just read, says, “Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Heb. 6:20.) And we are told in 1Tim. 1:1, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;” Jesus Christ is our Hope. A Christian’s Hope is in the One who’s Name he bears – Jesus Christ.
One day we will see what we Hope for. “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” (Titus 2:13.)
This is what we as Christians truly Hope for. “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1Thess. 4:13-18.) The greatest Hope that we have is to ever be with the Lord. This is our Confident Expectation, and our Joy and our Peace. Praise God that we have such a Hope, and that one day that Hope will be fulfilled in the Sight and the Presence of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!