The Christian’s hope is in God and His promises. He believes that God will bring to pass all that He has ordained in His Word: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11: 1).
Hope that is not realised makes one disappointed. But the Christian’s hope will be fulfilled. It is a hope that “maketh not ashamed” (Rom 5: 3).
In his epistle, the apostle Peter reminded the persecuted Christians that they had “a lively hope” that was founded upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Because their Saviour had risen from the dead, they, too, would rise with Him (I Cor 15: 20-23). Though they were called to endure hardships for the Gospel’s sake, these suffering saints could look forward “to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (I Pet 1: 4-5). This blessed hope of future eternal glory would encourage them to press on despite their earthly trials.
In our article last week, we learnt that hope sustains the believer in his afflictions as he trusts in God’s promises. What other qualities of “hope” can we glean from Holy Scripture?
Hope is the soul’s sure anchor
“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; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Heb. 6: 18-20).
To the writer of Hebrews, his hope in God was “as an anchor of the soul”. An anchor protects the ship against tempestuous winds and waves. As long as the anchor stays secure, the ship is safe. Similarly, a Christian’s hope will keep his soul steadfast and immovable in the midst of life’s storms.
In the same passage, the writer spoke of the believer’s hope as one “which entereth into that within the veil”. This reiterates the firmness of his hope. Albert Barnes aptly comments: “… the hope of the Christian enters into heaven itself; it takes hold on the throne of God; it is made firm by being fastened there. It is not the hope of future riches, honours or pleasures in this life – for such a hope would not keep the soul steady; it is the hope of immortal blessedness and purity in the world beyond” (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible).
Hope purifies the soul
“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. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (I Jn. 3: 2-3).
As the “sons of God”, born-again believers have the hope of eternal glory in the presence of their Saviour. This anticipation of future blessedness sanctifies the Christian as he strives to conform to the image of Christ. Seeking to purify himself, “even as he is pure”, he makes every effort to conquer his fleshly lusts and sinful tendencies and to walk as He walked – in a spirit of love, service and humility.
Hope cheers the saint’s final hour
“The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death” (Prov 14: 32)
Under the guilt and bondage of their sins, those without Christ die with neither comfort nor hope – “having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph 2: 12). Theirs is a tragic and hopeless end – in the eternal fires of Hell: “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev 20: 15).
In contrast, death holds no fear for those who know the Lord. The believer finds grace and hope even in his dying moments. This truth was joyously proclaimed by David the psalmist in his famous shepherd’s psalm: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Ps 23: 4). The presence of his gracious Saviour comforts the believer as he undertakes that final journey to his heavenly Home.
Echoing this same sentiment of trust in the Lord, the much-afflicted patriarch Job said: “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19: 25-27). Job was deeply convicted that when death consumed his physical body, he would be ushered into the glorious presence of his “Redeemer”.
We thank God for the “lively hope” that came to us through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. His resurrection from the dead is our pledge that we, like Him, will be raised to life. May our hope in the Lord and His promises keep us steadfast in our faith and enable us to live a pure and holy life. While the Lord tarries, let us “live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Tit 2: 12-13).