What is the nature of our hope?
This question has plagued my mind and captured my heart over the last couple months. The Lord has set my heart upon figuring out what this word—hope—really means and how it fits as an integral part of the Christian life. Scripture is not quiet about the integration of hope in our new life as believers, in fact, hope is repeatedly mentioned as a basis for walking by the Spirit. So how can we understand such an important truth?
So much of the language and usage of ‘hope’ revolves around a feel-good wishing for what we want to happen in our lives. Every day I ‘hope’ that I will have an easy, comfortable day. Most days I ‘hope’ that my day will include chocolate of some kind. I often ‘hope’ that things will go my way, for instance, that it will stop raining just long enough for me to walk home or to my car in the Aldi parking lot. Many of the ‘hopes’ that I hear about from others or the ‘hopes’ that I hold on to are just fleeting wishes. Illusive, idealist, amiable… try as I might, these ‘hopes’ are nothing to hang my hat on. There is no strength to my hoping for chocolate everyday — although it is a serious desire, the nature of that hope is weak. This kind of ‘hope’ that we just throw around in our colloquial speech stands in strict opposition to the hope that is designed to anchor us as revealed in the Bible.
If the hope we are called to in Scripture is not a warm, wishful thought, what is it?
As the Lord has been pressing me to seek his face, know his hope, and live in light of a strengthened understanding of hope I have spent much time in four different areas of Scripture that shed light (Ps 119:105) and give us understanding (Ps 119:130) into how hope can change the way we believe.
In Hebrews 6:17-20, the author is imploring readers to “hold fast to the hope set before us,” because God has made a promise based on both his promise and his oath, and because God never lies. This “hope set before us” is grounded on the character of God — a character that is unchanging, steadfast, and sure. This promise is as sure and secure as Christ himself, who is “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,” (Heb 6:19) where knowledge of the holy and intimacy with the Almighty is possible because Jesus not only went behind the curtain, but he destroyed the curtain that hung as a barrier between God and man (Mark 15:38).
Biblical hope ANCHORS us because our hope is grounded in Christ himself.
The Apostle Paul, as he is writing to the Roman church with the intention is strengthening their belief in the gospel, explains how “we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom 5:2). In an outstanding sermon on this specific text (I urge you to listen!), John Piper first states that this hope of the glory of God is great, because God’s glory is great. He then gives eleven reasons explaining what makes God’s glory so great. God shows us the greatness of his glory by:
- Saying it is eternal (Romans 11:36)
- Contrasting it with the frail glory of the world (1 Peter 1:24-25)
- Speaking of its might and power (Col 1:11, 2 Thess 1:9)
- Raising Christ from the dead by it (Rom 6:4)
- Repeatedly reminding us of the riches of it (Rom 9:22-23)
- Contrasting its joy to this life’s suffering (Rom 8:18)
- Calling it a ‘weight of glory’ (2 Cor 4:17)
- Linking eternal punishment with exclusion from it (2 Thess 1:9)
- Showing us that it will replace the sun (Rev 21:23)
- Revealing it in settings of heavenly worship (Rev 5:11-14)
- Showing us Jesus, the perfect reflection of it (Heb 1:3)
This is a hope that “does not put us to shame” (Rom 5:5)! Biblical hope is held in the promise of God’s glory revealed to us.
It is then in Romans 8:24 where Paul explains that “in this hope we were saved.” What hope? Well, the same hope that he was talking about in Romans 5: The Glory of God. But also, the hope that “not only creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom 8:23). To this end, Piper writes,
“We live in hope. We wait to see our Lord face to face. We wait to have whole and healthy bodies which don’t get sick any more. And we wait to have whole and healthy souls which don’t sin any more.”
What a fantastic summary of these massive truths: our freedom, creation’s ransom, our resurrection, creation’s redemption. These are truths that must be incorporated into our core beliefs: the truths that guide us, shape us, and govern how we live each day.
This hope that Paul is talking about—the hope that God has revealed to us—this hope must be in our bones, a hope that holds us together, because Christ is holding all things together (Col 1:17).
Biblical hope has its eyes set on the redemption and resurrection of all things: Christ making all things new!
Lastly, God has “caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” (1 Peter 1:3). Peter can call the Christian hope a living hope because Christ is alive and seated on the throne. Our hope is not in something that is dead, powerless, dependent, or inanimate. Our hope is anchored in the Living, Moving, Loving, Resurrected Jesus who reigns at the right hand of the Father, with all things subjected under his feet (Eph 1:22, Heb 2:8).
Christ is alive, making our hope a living hope, and a hope we can live in. Biblical hope is meant to be our home, the anchor we place all our trust in, and the source of our vitality.
Sister, make your home in hope today: this biblical hope that strengthens your faith, anchors your soul, holds your future, and reigns over all things.
God’s glory is great and our hope is connected to this glory by the covenanted blood of Christ, and the secure deposit of Holy Spirit within us. This hope is alive, and waiting to captivate your imagination today, as we wait for our faith to be made sight and hope into a whole new, wonderful reality.