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HOPE!

HOPE!  What a glorious four letter word! What an encouraging and uplifting topic to meditate upon! For some reason, I am given to write on this subject. I know I cannot really do it justice and there are far better writings on the subject out there. Yet, I still feel like writing on the subject. I still remember the first time the Lord really brought this to my attention. I was talking it over with my wife and we both were saying to each other, “I can’t say this to people. That I am saved by hope in Christ. They already think I am loony in my views. And then to say that I am not 100% positive that I am saved but only have a hope of eternal life. They’ll really have something to talk about!” But, you know what? SO WHAT! To have a hope in Christ because of what He has done is by far better than to have an “assurance” because of something I did! Now that I have been brought to a fuller understanding of what it means, I love saying it! The religious world HATES this word though. They attempt to minimize it so much that it has very little value in Scripture to them. In fact, I can’t even remember of ever hearing a sermon on hope, let alone just talk amongst the people on the topic. And yet, it is one of the three gifts that abide. “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Cor. 13:13). It should be a topic of conversation wherever God’s children are assembled!

The word “hope” simply is an expectation. It can be negative or positive. By that I mean that one can have an expectation of evil or an expectation of good. And in the sense of a believer, hope is a joyful and confident expectation of eternal life. We can be confident in the fact of HIS completed work and look with expectation of eternal life with Him and His saints.

Let’s start out with these verses from the letter written to the Romans: “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.” (8:24-25)

The words “we are saved” are very interesting to me. Now, we all know what it means to save someone or something. It means to rescue from danger or destruction. The part that is interesting to me is that it is in the passive voice. What that means is that the subject, which is the “we” in the verse, is the recipient of the action and has nothing to do with it, that is, the saving. We (God’s elect) are saved “by” or “in” hope.

Romans 5:2   By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Galatians 5:5   For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
Ephesians 4:4   There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
1 Thessalonians 5:8   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.
Titus 1:2   In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
Titus 3:7   That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

I hope you can see from the above verses, once God quickens a sinner and grants him repentance, He also gives him the gift of hope. We have a hope of eternal life and notice that hope is our helmet of salvation.

But, we can’t stop there in this verse. Notice it goes on with “but hope that is seen is not hope...” I don’t know about you, but to me this makes perfect sense. How can one have a confident expectation of something happening if it has already happened? I saw someone once sign a letter with “fulfilled hope” and thought of this verse above. If our hope is fulfilled, then it ceases to be hope but is now reality. Paul says very clearly that “for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” In other words, if what we are hoping for has already been accomplished, then we should see it and therefore have no need of hope, and thus nullifying any hope that there was. Because it is no longer hope, but reality. But, God’s children do have a hope of His soon coming and eternal life!

1 Timothy 1:1   Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;
Titus 2:13   Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

Looking at 1 Timothy we see that Christ is our hope. If you notice that the words “which is” are in italics. That means that they were added by the translators and really don’t belong. They put them there to attempt to make it flow better and be easier to understand. But without them there, it still makes perfect sense. It should read, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, our hope.” Then in Titus, what is Paul talking about when he mentions that we are “looking for that blessed hope...”?

1 John 3:2   “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth 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.
1 John 3:3   And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”

When we look at the previous verse in Titus it says: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath 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 Saviour Jesus Christ;” (2:11-13). So, both verses compliment each other and point to Christ’s Second Coming when our hope of being like Him, will be fulfilled and become a reality.

In the book of Psalms, the word “hope” is mentioned 22 times. Here are a few of them.

Psalm 16:9   Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
Psalm 22:9   But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts.
Psalm 31:24   Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.
Psalm 33:18   Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;
Psalm 33:22   Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.
Psalm 39:7   And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.
Psalm 71:5   For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.
Psalm 71:14   But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more.
Psalm 130:5   I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
Psalm 146:5   Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:
Psalm 147:11   The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.

Hope has had a big impact and has been of great importance to God’s people all through the ages. Look with me at this next verse.

1 Peter 3:15   But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Peter is exhorting the brethren in his letter to be always ready to give an answer to any one and every one that asks for their reason of the hope that is within them. Notice that it doesn’t say for the “assurance” that is within them but the “hope”. Our hope is focused on Christ and His completed work and to someday be like Him. But we also know that day will not come until He comes back in power and glory! And that hope that He has given us is like an anchor and keeps us focused and grounded.

Hebrews 6:18-19   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 stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

In the verses above, you will probably notice that in verse 19 the word “hope” is italicized. This means that it really isn’t there, but even if it wasn’t there, it wouldn’t change the meaning at all. It would read like this: “...who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which we have as an anchor of the soul,...” Actually, it almost sounds better without the second hope in there. It seems less redundant.

The word hope is such a steady staple amongst the people of God, that Paul mentions it at least once in all of his letters save 1. The one letter that it is not mentioned is in 2 Timothy. It should be as steady of a theme in each of the saints lives as well! It should be a constant meditation and be in our thoughts and minds all the time. In fact, it was because of this hope that was so much a part of Paul’s letter and life, that he was called into question and scrutinized.

Acts 23:6   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.

And then in the next chapter, Paul is speaking to the high priest and the governor he is telling the governor that the accusations against him are false. But he does go on and confirm something to him.

Acts 24:14-16   But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets. And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

Paul had a hope of the resurrection of the dead. And it is not just one sort of people. It is BOTH the just and the unjust. The just meaning those who have been justified by the blood of the Lamb, and those that are unjust meaning those are not justified or the non-elect. We as believers still have this hope and are looking for with great anticipation the resurrection of the just and the unjust!

Tom Adams
June 29, 2004