Our Living Hope

“BLESSED be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope.” (I Pet. 1:3) “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4) “Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you.” (Eph. 1:18 RSV) “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven.” (Col. 1:5) “And rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” (Rom. 5:2) “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.” (Rom. 12:12) “That blessed hope.” “The hope set before us.” “Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech.”—II Cor. 3:12

Thank God for a hope like this! Every one of us is glad that we have such a hope; that we have been called out of darkness into his marvelous light, and called out of the kingdom of this world into the kingdom of his dear Son; that we are rejoicing in hope—a hope that has given direction to our life. Our hope is not narrow. For ourselves it is, of course, the hope of the glory of God. But we also have a wonderful hope for all of Adam’s race. One reason the truth means so much to us is that through the truth we have learned of God’s love for all the families of the earth.

But how can imperfect creatures such as we have such a wonderful, such a living hope? It is only because of the exceeding great and precious promises of God’s Word. We have faith in these promises—and faith is the basis of things hoped for. Ours, then, is a well-grounded hope. Its foundation is the Word of God; its assurance, the promises of that Word. II Corinthians 4:18 reads, “We look not at the things which are “seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

What is Hope?

Thank God our hope is for the eternal things! Of all the forces that make for rejoicing Christians, none is more powerful than a living hope. But what is hope? How can we define it? Let us try. In the New Testament the word “hope” always refers to something good. Hope has an elastic step and a radiant countenance. Hope is a gladsome thing based upon our faith. Hope is a keen desire for a good thing, and earnest expectation of receiving it. We hope for that which we desire. We have a desire for everlasting life. We have a desire to see Him as he is. We have a desire to be faithful unto death, that we may receive the happy end of our hope.

In the Greek, hope is described as “expectation,” and it might be pictured as with uplifted head and outstretched neck while standing on tiptoe. Try it sometime! And again, hope is like the sun which, as we travel toward it, casts the shadow of our burdens behind us. We need hope for living far more than for dying. Dying is easy compared to living. Dying requires a relatively short time; living takes a lifetime. It is the length of the rope that puts the sag in it. Let us strive for and earnestly pray for a clearer vision of the great object of our hope; because it matters very little how a man dies, but what really matters is how he lives.

Hope may be based upon credulity; or hope may be based upon faith. Credulity may rest upon words and opinions of men, but true faith and hope must be based upon the words and promises of God.

Our Hope Is Progressive

First comes the desire to serve God. And then, through the drawings of the Father, the compulsions of God, we hear Jesus say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) And then comes the realization of the great truth, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”—John 17:3

Faith, however, must precede all this, and there is no better text to show how our faith and hope develop and mature than Romans 5:1-5. Verses 1 and 2 read, “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Faith; justification; peace with God; standing in grace—and these lead to “rejoicing in hope” of glory.

But we must read on through verses 3, 4, and 5. These verses show how our hope matures. We already have hope of the glory of God as in verse 3. Now comes tribulation. Tribulation develops patience; and through the experiences directed by his providences we acquire a mature hope—a hope that maketh not ashamed. An empty hope may be put to shame, but not our hope, for it is developed by the tribulations and experience of the narrow way. It is proved by the Holy Spirit given unto us. We know that we can depend on His love and His promises because we have a living hope.

Ours is a wonderful hope, but it will be tested. Our love, our faith, our loyalty are tested; and so our hope will also be tested. We may be tempted to become discouraged because we do not see God’s plan develop as quickly as we think it should. We have need of patience, brethren, as we await the fulfillment of our hopes. The way is rough—rougher than many of us expected.

We may have thought that our tests would come from the world—hardly from other members of the body—but it is often from our brethren that our hardest trials come. The way is long—longer than many of us had expected. To us He may seem to tarry, but according to His due time, He will not tarry. So again, “patiently waiting” is our attitude.

The Anchor of Hope

The Bible likens our hope to an anchor. A ship in a storm may drop its anchor for safety, but the anchor needs two others things: first, a strong line; second, a firm tie to the ship. The anchor represents our hope. The cable represents our faith. The firm tie is our consecration to know and do His will. Hebrews 6:19 says it well: “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.” If we should let go of our hope, it would be like a ship cutting loose from its anchor to drift upon a shoreless sea. But our hope is the anchor to our spiritual life. If our love is strong, if our faith is strong, our hope will hold behind the veil. We all know that before long we will be on the other side. The Church will be complete. But we cannot tell how soon it will be.

Let us hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of our hope firm unto the end. In Hebrews 6:11 we read, “It is my heart’s desire that each of you will continue to manifest the same earnestness to attain the fullness of your hope even to the end.” (Moffat) Regardless of when the end shall be, we know that his time schedule will not fail. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”—Isa. 40:31

In I Thessalonians 1:3 we read, “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and your labor of love, and patience of hope.” and again in Colossians 1:45,5 we have these three—faith and love and hope—united as three principle graces of our Christian life. These graces are inseparably related, for there can be no hope without faith and love. But combined, these three can make a noble edifice! Here the apostle speaks of “the work of faith” as expressed in activity of service.

While the “labor of love” was manifested in the attitude of the Thessalonians toward their brethren in expressions of love, their faith had caused them to go beyond their own borders in their extension work. The apostle commends them, saying, “For from you sounded out (the word means ‘clear as a bell’).” The word was proclaimed clear as a bell not only in Macedonia and Achaea, but also in every place their faith in God had reached men’s ears.—I Thess. 1:8

“Work of faith”—that sounds like the co-operative work of all the Lord’s people today, doesn’t it? And Timothy’s report to the Apostle Paul showed that the Thessalonians were actuated by love one toward the other. They had learned it is more blessed to give than to receive. The brethren then and now, everywhere, need to be comforted and encouraged.

Love for the Brethren

Besides the love that we owe to all men, there is a particular love due to the saints. We must love all the saints—notwithstanding smaller points of difference, and many real weaknesses which we all unfortunately possess. We all need sympathy and understanding, and now, as then, we need warnings to resist the Devil and his encroachments.

In I Thessalonians 5:11-14 we have a good lesson: Comfort one another; build one another up. Verse 14 says that some may become unruly. They may “get out of line.” They also need our love, as well as a warning exhortation. “Comfort the feebleminded.” A better translation is “Comfort the faint-hearted”—those who are timid. They too need our love. For we are all faint-hearted at times. “Support the weak” to keep them from falling. Have you ever taken a feeble person by the arm to help him over a rough place in the road? Well, when your brother wavers, help him too. Thus love labors, it exhorts, it warns, it comforts, it encourages. “Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech,” says the Apostle Paul in II Corinthians 3:12.

Besides this, let us remember the text that calls attention to “the patience of hope.” And Hebrews 10:36 reads, “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” May we recall the admonition of I Thessalonians 4:13-18.

We all at times may become impatient in awaiting the fulfillment of our hopes. And because of our impatience, even though we may not have analyzed the cause, we may indulge in speculations concerning many things—even to the date for the glorification of the church and the date for the establishment of the kingdom. Certain things we know, but some things we do not know.

We know we are living in the days of His presence. We know that we are of those who are alive and remain. We know we are living in the harvest, the end of the age. But we still need the patience of hope. Our hopes are not yet realized. Some of us expected to be glorified before now, but we know that we are not yet glorified.

Speculation Not Good

But we are still achieving, still pursuing; we must learn to labor and to wait. Our times are in his hands. Therefore, let us not run ahead of the Lord. Let us not be impatient in hope.

Let us, rather, be watchful, Let us be alert. Let us earnestly desire the speedy fulfillment of our hope. Let us be wholly involved in making our calling and election sure, and in assisting our brethren to do the same. II Thessalonians 3:13 tells us, “Be not weary in welldoing.”

James 5:7, 8 reads, “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient.” This is not philosophic patience based on fate. This is humble acquiescence to the will of God. The farmer waits patiently for the time of harvest. Let us do the same. If a farmer can wait for a crop of corn, surely we can wait for a crown of life.

It will surely come; it will not tarry! Let us maintain our living hope! Let us wait the Lord’s time for its consummation. For if we do, in the not-too-distant-future we will reap if we faint not. The rest of the way can be the best of the way. “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say on the Lord.”—Ps 27:14

Dawn Bible Students Association
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