The word “hope” is used frequently in our language with different meanings. We might hope it rains, hope our team wins on Friday night, hope that we get a call back from the job we applied for, and hope that we will go to heaven when we die. I have heard each of these uses many times in my life.
Sometimes when we use the word “hope,” we mean that we would simply like for something to happen. We are really saying that we think it would be convenient if it happened. Other times our “hoping” something will happen is more of a strong desire.
We could go on living if it didn’t happen, but life would be much better if it did. And other times, our “hope” is life-critical (or after-life critical in the context of heaven and hell).
While these are all proper uses for the term, that is not the kind of hope we are talking about here. The hope we need is not something we can do or achieve but what we can have or receive.
When we talk about the intangible concept of the hope that we have in Christ, we are referring to a noun, not a verb. As insignificant as that might seem, remembering that hope is a “thing” that is given to us and not a thing we can muster up or do makes all the difference.
For example, Paul told Timothy that we have our “hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:10).
Notice that he did not say that “we hope in the living God” or “we are hoping” as if it was something that we were doing and that it depended on our ability.
The hope that we have in Christ is a provision of God, not from us or anyone else. No matter how good we live our lives, no matter how many religious things we do, and no matter how well we prepare for the rest of our lives, our “hope” is given to us by God.
And because it is given by God, it is based on his eternal nature and only he could take it away. That means the kind of hope that God gives us is not simply something convenient that we strongly desire or even life-critical… it is eternally critical.
This kind of hope like a shield or security system, a guarantee, or a safe deposit box. It can also be called “faith in Christ.”
But why or how does God give us this hope? What does this hope guarantee us? Let’s answer those questions.
1. Salvation Is God-Given Hope
Anyone who gets saved is given this hope by God.
God gives hope to anyone who “calls upon the name of the Lord” in repentance and surrender (Acts 2:21). We must confess that “Jesus is Lord” and believe in our hearts that “God raised [Jesus] from the dead” and we can be saved out of our hopelessness and given hope (Romans 10:9-10).
We who are “believers in God” have our “faith and hope” in God (1 Peter 1:21). We who have “fled for refuge” from our sinfulness and to God can “hold fast to the hope set before us” and have a “sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19-20).
The letter to Titus tells us that “…the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14, ESV).
2. Eternal Life Guarantees Hope
The hope that God gives us guarantees us so much that is contained in a package that we call “eternal life.”
One of the most popular verses in all of the Bible explains this to us. Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:16 that “whoever believes in him shall have eternal [or everlasting] life.”
Jesus actually taught quite a bit on this topic of eternal life and even how we can prepare for it by “laying up treasures” that will not deteriorate or be stolen (Matthew 6).
He constantly gave his disciples hope for their future (which they needed because they would all suffer quite a bit after he left the earth).
Then Jesus gave them a hint of what that hope would look like when he himself was raised from the dead. Paul told the Corinthian church that Jesus’s resurrection demonstrates not only his power of sin, death, and hell for him but for us too.
In fact, Paul wrote that if Christ had not been resurrected, then we are to be “pitied” because we really have no hope of eternal life (1 Corinthians 15).
The soulful musical artist Tommy Walker sings it like this: “I have a hope, I have a future, I have a destiny that is yet awaiting me.”
But that is all aspects of our hope that we will get one day in the future (of some of us many years into the future). So, is there any aspect of our hope that we get now? Thankfully yes: we get the Holy Spirit!
3. Hope in Christ
One of the wonderful consequences of being saved and receiving hope in Christ is that we get to be in-dwelt by the third part of the trinitarian God himself. And God in us results in so many additional blessings in Christ Jesus.
For example, Paul gives us a list of the “fruit” of the Holy Spirit in us in his letter to the Galatians. He wrote that the Spirit gives us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5).
Paul also teaches about other “spiritual gifts” that we get in Christ that equip and enable us to live out the life that God has called us to live.
So, the hope that we have in Christ is both a “not yet” and “already” type of reality. We get pieces of it here on this earth, but we will have to wait until we die to get the full expression of our hope. Right now, we see in a “mirror dimly,” but eventually, we will see it all “face to face.”
Now we only know “in part,” but one day we will know “fully,” even as we are “fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12-13).
The great news is that since the world cannot give us this hope, they cannot take it away, no matter how bleak and dark things begin to look. Christian — we have hope!
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Robert Hampshire is a pastor, teacher, writer, and leader. He has been married to Rebecca since 2008 and has three children, Brooklyn, Bryson, and Abram. Robert attended North Greenville University in South Carolina for his undergraduate and Liberty University in Virginia for his Masters. He has served in a variety of roles as a worship pastor, youth pastor, family pastor, church planter, and now Pastor of Worship and Discipleship at Cheraw First Baptist Church in South Carolina. He furthers his ministry through his blog site, Faithful Thinking, and his YouTube channel. His life goal is to serve God and His Church by reaching the lost with the gospel, making devoted disciples, equipping and empowering others to go further in their faith and calling, and leading a culture of multiplication for the glory of God. Find out more about him here.