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What is hope? Should we hope for enjoying life on earth, a millennium of Jesus' earthly reign, reincarnation, or eternal life in heaven? Should our hope be based on human ability, material possessions, and pleasures or on the promises of God? How do we obtain the hope offered in the gospel
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Ephesians 4:4 – There is “one hope of your calling.” Just as there is one God and Father, one faith, etc., so there is “one hope of your calling”: the special hope offered by the gospel.
1 Corinthians 13:13 – “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three…” Most people, especially those who claim to be Christians, emphasize faith and love. How much do we emphasize hope?
If we expect to receive something and we desire it, then we “hope” for it.
Hope is not just wishing for something. Wishing means we desire something, but if we have no reason to expect to receive it, we have no real hope.
Karen wishes she could visit England but has no hope because there is no reason to expect it. But if parents promise a child a new bike, he desires it and expects it, so he “hopes” for it.
1 Corinthians 9:10 – A farmer plows and threshes in hope. He desires a crop and has reason to expect it, so he hopes for it.
The unique hope of the gospel is surely desirable, and we have every reason to believe we will receive it if we serve God faithfully. So, we “hope” for it.
What is this hope? Why is it important? What must we do to obtain it?
What is it that we should hope to receive?
Love and faith are often misunderstood; so also is hope. Hope is desire plus expectation, but false hopes lack either desire or expectation. Some things that people expect may be undesirable. Some things they desire may be beyond their expectation. These are false hopes.
For example, Ponce de Leon explored America searching for the “fountain of youth.” This was a false hope since all people grow older and die (Hebrews 9:27). Consider other false hopes.
Humanists say, “We have found no convincing evidence that there is a separable ‘soul’ … that … survives death” (Secular Humanist Declaration, page 19). “Promises of immortal salvation or fear of eternal damnation are both illusory and harmful ... The goal is to pursue life’s enrichment …” (Humanist Manifestos, pages 16,17).
Communism is a form of humanism that claims it will create a utopia on earth.
Humanists, communists, and other materialists deny life after death, so man’s only hope lies in a good life on earth. This leaves everyone without hope after death. And many who face heartache and despair are hopeless even in this life. No wonder many commit suicide and the Humanist Manifestos defend the practice.
Christians oppose humanism and communism for many reasons. Specifically, we deny that life on earth is our ultimate hope. “In this world you have tribulation” (John 16:33).
Oriental religions and the New Age Movement believe in reincarnation to a better future life. But after death people really face, not another life on earth, but judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
Premillennialism hopes for a 1000-year reign of Jesus in a glorious earthly kingdom when He returns. But the Bible says:
Colossians 1:13 – Jesus already reigns as King of His kingdom, the church.
1 Corinthians 15:24-26; 2 Peter 3:8-11 – Jesus will reign till He returns. Then the earth will be destroyed.
Jehovah’s Witnesses teach 144,000 will go to heaven but other faithful servants will remain on a cleansed earth. But the Bible says the earth will be destroyed (see above). And God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11). There is one hope, which is the same for all (Ephesians 4:4).
Many people pursue these hopes but will learn too late that they are false hopes.
Ephesians 2:12 – Followers of false hopes are really without hope.
True hope is something we truly should desire and can expect to receive.
1 Corinthians 15:19 – If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most pitiable.
Acts 24:15 – I have hope in God that there will be a resurrection both of the just and unjust.
1 Peter 1:13 – Rest your hope fully upon the grace to be brought to at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Many have no higher goals than can be achieved on earth. But the main reward of Christians comes after this life.
(Titus 2:13; Acts 23:6; 2:26; Proverbs 14:32)
Titus 3:7 – Having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
1 Peter 1:3,4 – Our hope is an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, reserved in heaven. False hopes can become corrupted or defiled or fade away. The hope of the gospel is the only completely worthy hope.
A king’s son may hope to inherit the kingdom, but this is a corruptible and temporary hope. The inheritance of Christians will be received in heaven and cannot be lost.
Ponce de Leon could not find a fountain of youth, but there is a way to live forever. We can obtain it after this life, and only by the power of Jesus.
Where could you find a better hope than Jesus offers: a place of joy and happiness with no death, pain, sorrow, sickness, or suffering, dwelling forever in God’s presence? Do you desire this goal? Do you have reason to expect it?
(Titus 1:2; Romans 5:2; Ephesians 1:18; Hebrews 7:19; Colossians 1:5; Acts 26:6,7; 28:20; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 5:8)
Where can we go to obtain this hope? Who provides it? On what foundation is hope based?
Just as there are false objects of hope, so there are false sources of hope.
Humanists say, “No God will save us; we must save ourselves.” They place their hope in man himself. But men have tried for 6000 years to solve mankind’s problems without success.
Others place their hope for salvation in human religious leaders or organizations. They take the word of their preacher/priest or decrees of some human creed or council.
1 Corinthians 2:4,5 – Paul’s preaching demonstrated the power of God, so their faith would stand, not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
2 Corinthians 1:9,10 – We should not trust (hope – ASV) in ourselves but in God ... in whom we trust that He will still deliver us.
Far too many people seek their hopes through their own abilities and efforts, or through the efforts or wisdom of other men. And repeatedly they have failed.
Some people rest their hope for happiness in the riches or enjoyments this life may offer. They neglect serving God to make more money and enjoy their pastimes.
1 Timothy 6:17 – Those who are rich should not trust (hope – ASV) in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.
Job 27:8 – For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he may gain much, if God takes away his life?
Wealth cannot assure your future. You cannot be sure you will obtain what you desire. If you obtain it, you cannot be sure you can keep it. If you keep it, you cannot be sure it will satisfy. One thing that is certain about material things is that they are uncertain.
How can material things give lasting hope, when we know our possessions cannot last? Sooner or later we will die. If we do not live for God, what then? (Job 31:24)
Surely men and material things are not the proper basis for real hope.
1 Timothy 1:1 – The Lord Jesus Christ is our hope.
1 Peter 1:21 – Your faith and hope are in God.
Why should we rely on God to provide hope rather than relying on men or material things?
(Romans 15:13; Colossians 1:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:16; Psalm 78:7; 39:7; 42:5,11)
God loves us and wants to give us eternal life. How could we trust God if He did not want to bless us? But if He has proved He loves and cares for us, surely we should base our hope on Him.
2 Thessalonians 2:16 – God has given us good hope by grace.
Psalm 130:7 – Hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy.
Men may not care enough to give us what we need, but God has proved His love for us. He sent Jesus to die for us, so we can have eternal life. So, we can surely trust Him to give us eternal life if we are faithful. (1 Peter 1:3)
If God could not be trusted to keep His word, we could not rest our hope on His promises.
Hebrews 10:23 – Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
Titus 1:2 – In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.
People often fail to keep their promises. But we can safely hope for the reward God promises because He never lies. He always keeps His promises. (Hebrews 6:18,19)
If God promised something beyond His ability to perform, again we should not place our hope in Him. What good are His promises if He is too weak to fulfill them?
1 Peter 1:3,4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The assurance of our reward is the fact Jesus arose from the dead.
Matthew 19:26 – With God all things are possible.
People often fail to deliver what they promise. Some do not try very hard, and those who try often fail. We can trust God to fulfill His promises because He can do whatever He chooses to do style='font-size: 10.0pt'>.
Romans 15:13 – So much is this true that God is called “the God of hope.”
Does it make sense to rest your hope on weak, fallible humans? Does it make sense to trust material things that are weak, temporary, and uncertain? Or does it make more sense to rest your hope in the all-powerful, loving, faithful, eternal God? Does your hope rest in God or man?
style='font-size:10.0pt'>(Psalm 7:1-5; Matthew 12:21: Romans 15:12; 2 Corinthians 1:10; 1 Timothy 5:5; Psalm 31:24; etc.)
When we receive our eternal reward, our hope will become reality. But hope is something we need now in this life. How does hope benefit us now?
1 Timothy 4:10 – For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in (have our hope set on – ASV) the living God. People need reasons to work hard.
How hard would a man work on his job if he knew he would not be paid?
How hard would parents work to train their children if they knew, no matter how hard they worked, their kids would turn out to be worthless bums?
1 Corinthians 9:25 – Everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Athletes exert great effort because they hope to win a crown. But we work for a far greater crown. A greater reward should give greater motivation.
Does your service to God reflect the great reward you hope to attain?
(Hebrews 7:19; Colossians 1:4,5)
People often begin projects but abandon them when difficulties arise. Patience is the determination to keep working despite obstacles.
Romans 8:25 – If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with perseverance.
1 Thessalonians 1:3 – Paul remembered their patience of hope.
Hope not only motivates us to begin serving God but urges us to continue serving.
People are often baptized with great zeal but get discouraged and quit or falter when problems come. Serving God is not a two-minute sprint. It is a cross-country run that lasts a lifetime. We receive the reward only if we remain faithful. Hope for reward gives us endurance.
Romans 5:2 – Rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 12:11; Proverbs 10:28)
Psalm 146:5 – Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.
Why are people so happy to announce weddings and the birth of babies? Because these are times of hope for the future. But divorces or terminal illnesses are sad because hope is lost.
So, joy depends on hope. Hope and joy go hand in hand. A Christian’s life should be a source of great joy because we have the hope of heaven. I am convinced I and many others would have more joy if we would focus less on our troubles and more on our hope.
No one should be sadder than someone who has no hope for eternity, but no one has more reasons for joy than a Christian. You want joy? You need hope. You want hope? You need the gospel. Then you need to focus on the hope that only the gospel can give.
Psalm 31:24 – Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.
Hebrews 6:18,19 – Hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast. Hope gives strength, encouragement, and security. (2 Corinthians 3:12; Psalm 119:116)
Prisoners of war have endured horrible conditions because they focused on home and the hope that someday they would be free. People have survived terrible diseases if they had a strong hope to survive. Others, with far less serious ailments, succumb because they give up hope.
Our hope for eternal life can sustain us through great hardships. When we lose hope, molehills become mountains. When hope is strong, we are courageous despite hardships.
Do you have these blessings? Hope can provide them. You can have the blessings of hope.
(For other blessings see Proverbs 14:32; Romans 15:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:13,18; Job 11:18; Psa 42:5,11; Romans 8:24; Psa 119:166)
Hope requires desire plus expectation. The sinner may desire heaven, but he has no grounds to expect it. He may expect hell but surely does not desire it. One of the saddest aspects of hell is that it is a state of total hopelessness. People can survive many years if there is hope for improvement. But those who die in sin without Jesus are hopeless.
(Job 8:13; Proverbs 10:28; 11:7; Job 27:8; Proverbs 14:32)
1 Peter 1:3,4 – We are begotten to hope. It is an inheritance of those who are God’s true children. So how can you be born again as a child of God?
Colossians 1:5 – No one can have hope till they hear the gospel.
(Psalms 78:4-7; 119:43,74,81,114; 130:5; Colossians 1:23)
Hebrews 11:1 – Faith is the substance of things hoped for. It is the foundation or platform on which hope stands. How can you hope for something you do not even believe exists? How can you expect to be rewarded by a God you do not believe in?
(Romans 5:2; 15:13; Galatians 5:5)
Psalms 78:7,8 – Set your hope in God, and keep His commandments. Hope and obedience go together. What obedience is required?
Romans 6:3,4 – Be baptized into Christ. Then walk in newness of life (a child of God).
Hebrews 10:23 – Hold fast the profession of your faith. Live a faithful life.
(Titus 2:11-13; 1 Peter 3:4-6; Hebrews 6:11,12; 3:6; Romans 5:3-5)
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.