The apostle Paul in his epistle to the Ephesians gives a true picture of the world we live in when he says, it is without God, without Christ, and without hope. The Lord Jesus in Matthew 24 gives some answers to the question asked by His disciples, “what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?” Here are a few signs: wars and rumors of wars, nation rising against nation, famines, pestilence (pandemics, viruses), earthquakes in various places, lawlessness, false Christs, false prophets…and the list goes on. To sum it all up, human hearts will fail them for fear at the expectation of the things that will come upon the earth (Luke 21:26). In other words we live in a world without hope. The believer has a whole different outlook and no matter what is transpiring in the world we have a wonderful hope.
A Believing Hope
The hope we have is not vague or some imaginary fantasy as though we are clutching at straws hoping in the end it will give some comfort when the going gets tough. Speaking to a man one day he told me that Christianity was invented to give a crutch to lean on when we die. I asked him what he was leaning on and he answered me, “nothing.” What a sad man to have nothing to lean on. I told him I have a great crutch and I will trust its support when I will need it most. Paul in Romans 10:9 says, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” True hope is based not on an idea, dogma, religion, or philosophy but on a person, the Son of God who died and rose again. If you want true hope for the future this is where you start, believe in your heart and confess him as your Lord and Savior.
A Living Hope
The apostle Peter in 1 Peter 1:3 says, “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.” Peter is writing about his and others’ amazing encounters with the Lord after He rose from the dead. The resurrection brought restoration to Peter after he had denied his Lord three times. It brought true assurance to a doubting Thomas. Two very sad disciples on their way home from Jerusalem were irresistibly drawn to the stranger who joined alongside them. They said one to another, “did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while he opened the Scriptures to us” (Luke 24:32). Then there was the broken heart of Mary when she supposed Jesus to be the gardener said, “Sir if you have taken Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away” (John 20:15). Jesus turned to her and called her name, “Mary.” Her broken heart was healed when she realized who He was. These are just a few of the many encounters Jesus had with His disciples. To someone reading this article, are you distressed by letting your Lord down like Peter? Are you filled with doubts like Thomas? Are you sad at the loss of a loved one like the two on a journey? Are you broken hearted like Mary? The answer lies in the fact that Jesus died and rose again. This lifts the spirit up and brings alive that wonderful hope that comes through trusting in our Lord Jesus Christ. Now you may say, they had seen the Lord but we have not. Listen to the words of the risen Savior, “blessed are those who have not seen me, yet have believed” (John 20:29).
A Purifying Hope
The apostle John writes those beautiful words “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God! Therefore, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved now we are the children of God; and it has not been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed we shall be like Him, for we shall see him as He is, and everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” Most of the time we consider the Savior’s love demonstrated at Calvary and forget the major role the Father had in it all. This verse reminds us of the special relationship we have as the children of God. Bill Gaither’s hymn sums it up:
I’ve been washed in the Fountain
Cleansed by his blood
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod
For I am part of the family, the family of God
All these blessings are ours in our Lord Jesus but he now moves from time to eternity. There is an absolute certainty when our beloved Lord is revealed we will be like Him! O how there is that longing in the soul to be like Him! John then adds, “for we shall see Him as He is!” We will never see His sufferings, shame, cruel mocking, scourging, and all He went through on the cross for us. Instead, we will see Him in all His glory, majesty, power, riches, and absolute supremacy. King of Kings and Lord of Lords! In that glorified body we are going to be like Him! The future contemplation of what it is going to be like will help in our most difficult days. This hope should also have a profound effect on how we live our lives, seeking to live it in purity because He is pure.
A Sure and Steadfast Hope
Hebrews 6:18-19 says, “that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil.” The Hebrew Christians like many today were going through tremendous times of persecution and opposition. Yet while the stormy waters were raging their vessel was safely secured (anchored) because of the hope they had. Their hope rested in a God who cannot lie! Later on, He says to them, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Dear reader you can absolutely trust the One who said it and it is your anchor through the storms of life until you meet the Lord above. This hope is sure (certain) and steadfast (unmovable) and trusts Him who is already in heaven waiting for us.
A Heavenly Hope
The apostle Paul writing to the saints at Colossae says, “we give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel” (Col. 1:3-5). The gospel is still the only message to give hope in a hopeless world, whether by the public preaching of the Word or by sharing it on a personal basis. There are so many excellent ways it can be communicated to the lost. Peter challenges us to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15). We are to remember that our hope is centered in heaven. May we ever keep that upward look and live each day with His interests foremost in our everyday experience until we see Him face to face.