Hope is one of three graces that Paul uses quite frequently in the books of Romans, Corinthians and Thessalonians. These three graces faith, hope and love often appear together making it seem that they are inseparable. I’ll attempt to separate them, if possible, as I try and single out hope and how it is beneficial to our walk with God. First of all, hope or a variation of it is mentioned 180 times in the Bible. Paul uses the word hope 40 times. In light of the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians, many times addressed as the “love chapter,” hope is companionate with love and faith. In Proverbs 13:12, Solomon said, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” It is not surprising that faith is a companionate of hope as well. Hebrews eleven relates to us that the heroes of faith were and are beacons of hope.
As we look at a few Scriptures from Paul in 1 Thes. 1:3, Paul commended the infant church for their beliefs, “Remembering before our God and Father your steadfastness or firmness in your belief or hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (It is a belief here.) Also 1 Thes. 5:8, “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on a helmet, the hope of salvation” (a protection here). In Galatians 5:5, “for thru the spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness” (an expectation here). Then in Heb. 6:11-12, “And we desire each of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (It’s a perseverance to finish and exemplify to others God’s promises to us for our faithfulness.)
What is hope? In modern vernacular, according to Webster, hope is: 1) a feeling or what one wants will happen 2) the thing that one wants, expects or wishes. We use this word every day. I hope I get a raise or a bonus. I hope my husband cleaned the house or did the dishes. Don’t hold your breath ladies! Hope, it would seem is a psychological necessity, if man is to envisage the future at all. Even if there are not rational grounds for it, man still continues to hope.
The Bible sometimes uses hope in the conventional sense. For example, “the ploughman should plough in hope” (1 Cor. 9:10). For it is the hope of reward that sweetens labor (i.e. you don’t mind working 40 hours when you know at the end of the week you will get 40 hours pay). But for the most part, the hope with which the Bible is concerned is something very different. The majority of secular thinkers in the ancient world did not regard hope as a virtue, but merely as a temporary illusion, and Paul was giving an accurate description of pagans when he said they had no hope, the fundamental reason for this being that they were “without God.” 1 Thes. 4:13 says, “But we do not want you to be uniformed brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” Where there is a belief in the living God, who acts and intervenes in human life, and who can be trusted to implement his promises, hope in the biblical sense become possible.
Because of what God has done in the past, particularly for the coming of Christ, and because of what God has done and is now doing thru Christ, the Christian dares to expect future blessings that are, at present, invisible. His hope is increased as he reflects on the activities of God in the Scripture.
We have seen that played out in our own church body of late, how the Scriptures have comforted those who have lost loved ones and they could rejoice that all was well. “Christ in us is the hope of future glory” (Col. 1:27). Our final salvation rests on such hope. “For in this hope we were saved” (Romans 8:24).
D.L. Moody said, “Hope is the anchor of the soul,” according to Hebrews 6:19. Now none of you ever saw an anchor used to hold something up. It goes down to the bottom of the sea and takes hold of the ground, and holds the ship to it. But this anchor, this hope, is to hold us up; it enters within the veil or valley and takes hold of the throne of God.
Hope is an avenue of the unknown. Mark 13:33 says, “Be on guard, keep awake, for you do not know when the time is coming.” Hope motivates evangelism. In 1 Thes. 2:19 Paul proclaims, “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? Is it not you?” Hope lessens grief over departed loved ones. “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do, who have no hope” (1 Thes. 4:13). What is your hope?
Pastor Jake StirnemannMarch 1, 2019