What Is The Hope Of A Believer?
According to 1 Cor. 13:13, hope is a companion with love and faith. It reads, “So now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” It is not surprising that hope should often be mentioned as a companion of faith. The heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 are also beacons of hope. What is perhaps more remarkable is the frequent association of hope with love as well as with faith, as found in 1 Pet. 1:21-22, also Heb. 6:10-12, to mention a few. By its connection with love, Christian hope is freed from all selfishness. The Christian does not hope for blessings for himself that he does not desire others to share. When he loves his fellow man, he hopes they will be the recipients of the good things that he knows God longs to give them. Paul gave evidence of his hope just as often as his love and his faith. So faith, hope and love are thus inseparable.
What is hope? It would seem it is a psychological necessity, if a man is to envisage the future at all. Even if there are no rational grounds for it, man still continues to hope. 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 (Eph. 2:12), the fundamental reason for this being that they were “without God.”
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 becomes possible. Because of what God has done in the past, particularly in preparing for the coming of Christ, and because of what God has done and is now doing through Christ, the Christian dares to expect future blessings that are, at present, invisible (II Cor. 1:10). Christ in him is the hope of future glory (Col 1:27). His final salvation rests on such hope (Rom. 8:24); and this hope of salvation is a “helmet,” an essential part of his defensive armor against evil (I Thes. 5:8).
There are no explicit references to hope in the teaching of Jesus. But the resurrection of Jesus revitalized their hope. It was the mightiest act of God wrought in history. This God towards whom the Christian directs his faith is called “the God of hope,” who can fill the believer with joy and peace, and enable him to abound in hope (Rom. 15:13).
Some of the earliest writing of the Apostle Paul revolve around the subject of Christ’s return. In Paul’s teachings and writings, he frequently uses the word hope to refer to the second coming of Christ and the resurrection of believers at that time (Acts 24:15). It is the hope of Christ’s return that inspires endurance (I Thes. 1:3), that motivates evangelism (I Thes. 2:19), that lessens grief over departed loved ones (I Thes. 4:13), and that builds within them strength and courage (II Thes. 2:16-17).
Sometimes in English the word hope takes on a tentative connotation. Not so for Paul. For Paul the word hope carries an “unconditional certainty within itself.” It is not an uncertain wishfulness, but it is a confident and unshakeable expectation!
Paul emphatically, in light of Christ’s resurrection, placed the hope of the believer above anything we may attain in this life (I Cor. 15:19). Christ’s resurrection from the dead, he being the firstfruits (I Cor. 15:20), paved the way for all believers from Adam until the end of time that may have died (in Christ) to awake someday to rise and be changed from corruption to incorruption (I Cor. 15:51-58).
Pastor Jake StirnemannApril 7, 2018