By Larry White
(Originally delivered in Eagle Point, OR. July 7, 1985)
And now abides faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.
The three broadest and most important principles upon which Christianity rests are Faith, Hope and Love. This morning I would like to talk about Hope.
A good percentage of our religion can be characterized by hope. And for this, Christianity has been heavily criticized as a have-not religion, a religion of wishful thinking and of no results. Rev. Ike: "Pie in the sky when we die, by and by" He was a materialist and wanted immediate gratification. He was completely enslaved to the lust of the flesh.
But the Christian's hope has a vastness that the world cannot comprehend nor could it ever equal or replace.
First, what do we mean by "Hope"?
The Greek word is elpiV elpis. It means an expectation of good, confident and joyful expectation of something.
One of the related words is apokaradokia apokaradokia, which means to watch with the head stretched out away from the body. apo (from) kara (head) dokia (watch). So it means anxious watching, eagerly expecting, waiting in suspense. apo also carries the idea of time, of waiting it out, to keep waiting until what you expect actually appears.
So the Christian who hopes, isn't just thinking wishfully, but it's a joyful anticipation, a persistent and confident waiting for what he expects to happen or what he desires to receive. We may expect what we don't desire, or we may desire what we would never expect to receive - neither of these is hope. When we surely expect what we most desire - that's hope.
So obviously, there's got to be a lot of faith to have hope. (Heb.11:1) "Now faith is the substance, [i.e. the foundation or assurance] of things hoped for." You can't expect something, unless you really believe you'll receive it. So hope is that anticipation of heart that holds on or carries us from the time we believe we'll receive something up to the time it appears.
* Let's look at some things concerning our hope.
What is the object of the Christian's hope?
1.) The main object is God.
Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disquieted within me? hope you in God: for I shall yet praise him, [who is] the health of my countenance, and my God.
In this respect we have two classes of hope (as it were), one is hope for the present or immediate future, and the other is for the distant future. This hope expressed by the Psalmist is an expectation of divine help and comfort from God concerning our immediate circumstances. When we're in the middle of a problem that is threatening us, taking away our peace of mind or threatening us with harm to ourselves or those we love, what do we expect? Do we expect the worst? Do we think ourselves alone and despairing of any help and put our hope in what we can achieve, handling the problem by ourselves? Or do we expect God to help? We need to put our hope in God.
Lord, all my desire [is] before you; and my groaning is not hid from you. My heart pants, my strength fails me: as for the light of my eyes, it also is gone from me. My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off. They also that seek after my life lay snares [for me]: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long. But I, as a deaf [man], did not hear; and [I was] as a dumb man [that] does not open his mouth. Thus I was as a man that does not hear, and in whose mouth [are] no reproofs. For in you, O LORD, do I hope: you will hear, O Lord my God.
The hope that David had in God was a refuge that he could run to when his life was threatened - his hope was the expectation that God would help in his immediate circumstances - he expected that God would not fail him. We can have that same expectation. When God sees you hoping in him in the middle of your problems, do you think he's going to let you down? The hope we place in God will never be disappointed. In getting answers to our prayers, there is power in the simple trusting hope that expects God to answer.
2.) The object of our hope for the future is in Christ Jesus.
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Savior, and Lord Jesus Christ, [which is] our hope;
He's our hope because he's the one that has saved us and has provided for us a way to an everlasting home with God. He's our expectation because all that we expect to receive from God - all the spiritual blessings and eternal reward are wrapped up in and provided for us, in Christ.
Most all of what we earnestly expect in Christ will be what he brings us at his appearing - or his second coming.
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ;
This appearing of Christ that Christians look for is the goal of our salvation because then there will be all the rewards of glory that we have through his life.
If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, [who is] our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory.
This glory with Christ is what the Christian is preparing for now in our inner man by having the life of Christ formed within us.
[Even] the mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
This is what the Christian expects and since we expect this we work along with God to speed our salvation and make sure of it.
Look, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know him. 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.
The Christian who expects the glory to come will be getting ready for it now - it's a sure thing - he eagerly waits for it.
This hope of glory is the hope of heaven.
We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love [which you have] to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;
1Pet.1:3-5 Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
13-16 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which has called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be you holy; for I am holy.
This living hope of an inheritance is also described be the term Eternal Life.
That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
It's also described as our resurrection. This hope is what Paul used as his defense when he was before the Jews.
But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men [and] brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.
24:15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
This hope of the resurrection to eternal life and glory with Jesus Christ, is the hope in which we were saved. (so it's part and parcel of the Christian faith)
And not only [they], but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, [to wit], the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that which we do not see, [then] do we with patience wait for [it].
That can be better translated: "For in this hope we were saved."
We weren't saved to receive our inheritance immediately - but we were saved in view of this hope or expectation of our inheritance, our resurrection. So, one of the main points of Christianity is that we expect the resurrection - we expect an inheritance in heaven, we expect glory to come.
What is the grounds of our hope?
1.) God's promises.
Psa119:81 My soul faints for your salvation: [but] I hope in your word.
114 You [are] my hiding place and my shield: I hope in your word.
130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
These are our grounds too. The promises of God both in the Old and New Testaments are absolutely trustworthy.
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
When God promises something - it's an absolute certainty that it will come about. When God, who is all-knowing and all-powerful says he will do something, it will be done. That's why the faith of the Christian turns the hope of wishful thinking into the Biblical hope of positive expectation.
Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; But has in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Savior;
The Christian's hope is vastly more immense and established in the very fabric and structure of what God has created and planned from the beginning, to ever be called wishful.
2.) God's Faithfulness
When we have been through the experience of the Christian life and know the working of God in our lives, we begin first-hand to see that our expectation in God and what he has promised to provide is definitely certain.
And not only [so], but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope does not disappoint; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.
This hope or expectation that we have from experience will not be ashamed - it will not be falsified, God won't let us down, his love and grace will sustain us and our expectation in him won't prove false.
What shall we then say to these things? If God [be] for us, who [can be] against us? He that did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
3.) The grounds of our hope are also made more real to us by faith through the power of the Holy Spirit. Our appreciation of our hope can be enlightened.
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what [is] the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what [is] the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
I believe this is also what Paul means in
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.
Our faith can be strengthened to where we come to know a deep realization of what our hope is. I think this is what Paul means in
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
What are the fruits of our hope?
1.) What we just saw in Rom 15, Joy and Peace. When we really expect eternal life - really expect it, then our heart can sing for joy and nothing can dampen that gladness in your life.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
This is what a lot of Christians lack because we've lost sight of our goal, we aren't eagerly waiting anymore.
[Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
When we know and are assured that we have eternal life - the hard heart melts in gratitude and the despairing heart lifts up and shouts for joy.
2.) Hope will also give us a confidence and assurance in the middle of trials.
And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That you not be slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he swore by himself, Saying, Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation [is] to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show to 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 enters into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, [even] Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec
When your soul is out and battered around in the storms that this life can throw at us, our hope in God, our hope of a morning after, can be our anchor that will hold us to the God of heaven.
Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which has loved us, and has given [us] everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work
3.) What we're also describing is patience or endurance
- the ability to hold our until it all rolls over you, and then to remain.
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.
5:6-11 Therefore let us not sleep, as [do] others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also you do.
Our hope of salvation is like a helmet that what ever happens we can hold out and weather the storm - because we have salvation in Christ.
In Christ we have hope - he is our hope.
If we leave Christ and go back into the world - we forsake our only hope.
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If you continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, [and] which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
The eager expectation of the Gospel (the good news of Christ's sacrificial death for our sins and his resurrection from the dead, guaranteeing our own resurrection) that expectation is ours. Don't be moved away from it.
If you're not a Christian, that hope can be yours too. Would you be saved in view of this hope? We offer the invitation that by faith in Jesus Christ to save you by his sacrifice, confession of that faith before men, repentance from your past life of sin and baptism into Christ for the remission of sins, that hope can be yours.