The God of Hope Fill You

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” —Psalm 42:11

ONE of the most elementary distinctions which the Christian must keep constantly in mind—and certainly one of the most important—is in relation to his standing before God as compared with the standing of those whom our Lord describes as being of this world. This separateness is not a social, racial, or class distinction, but is a separateness of heart and mind, a spiritual relationship with God which the Scriptures describe as sanctification, or setting apart. Such a relationship is clearly reflected in the wonderful prayer of John 17: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world, … I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”

It is to these separated ones that the precious promises of the Word are directed. Paul says, “The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing.” (Rom. 15:13) His meaning is clear. Without belief in God there can be no true joy or hope. Nothing but full acceptance of God as the fountain and source of all life, and of our Lord Jesus Christ as the basis of hope for all mankind through his ransom sacrifice—nothing but this earnest belief, with all its implications, can bring us into that condition of sanctification or separation from the world which our Lord laid down as an essential part of our Christian experience when he prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17) It is in believing that the Christian finds joy and hope, and in no other way, for there is no other path than that opened for us by him who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

David Makes the Point

As is so frequently the case, the psalmist, in prophetic phrase, presents this aspect of separateness and dedication to God with terms of his own varied experience. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he exclaims. “Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him.”(Ps. 42:11) No matter what distress might be upon him, no matter what dangers might assail him, his hope is unshaken. “I shall yet praise him.” “In spite of all that may befall me,” are his words of assurance, “my faith remains unshaken, my hope undimmed.”

The man without faith seeks desperately and in vain for hope in this fear-ridden world. It is not to be denied that there are many fine people in the world who make no outward profession of a belief in God, who yet devote themselves to the service of their fellows in a most praiseworthy manner. Many of these people observe the highest degree of moral rectitude and maintain standards of conduct which are not always attained in the same measure even by professing Christians. It remains to be seen what place such noble men and women will have in the outworking of the divine purpose; but it is quite certain from Scriptural testimony that, whatever degree of human nobility is manifested by such people, they cannot by their works alone find acceptance with God as members of the body of Christ—“not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy.”—Titus 3:5

The Power of the Holy Spirit

So, then, to understand the true import of the Christian hope we must recognize and acknowledge the source from whence it comes. The Apostle Paul sums up the matter when he says, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 15:13) Here is the secret, the focal point, of the Christian life: the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s own mighty power working in us and transforming us by the renewing of our minds, into the image and likeness of our Lord and Master. This is a work subject only to our recognition and acceptance of the conditions of our covenant of sacrifice, “to be dead with him, that we might also live with him.” (II Tim 2:11) This is the hope which the Apostle John says purifies us, even as our Lord himself is pure. Only through faith can this hope be enjoyed; only by faithfulness can it be consummated in our final acceptance into the divine family as heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.

To those who are in covenant relationship with God and are striving to serve and worship him in spirit and in truth, the Bible is full of hope—abounding in hope! To Paul, the hope of the resurrection meant literally everything. “If there be no resurrection of the dead,” he said, “then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” In other words, if our hope for the future lies in a dead Christ, so far from being hopeful, we are of all men most miserable. But he sweeps the thought away with characteristic Pauline directness. Triumphantly he proclaims, “Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” (I Cor. 15:14-20) No half measures here; just a plain, straightforward, unqualified, and completely dogmatic statement of faith!

Here is hope personified in the risen Christ; hope not only for the Christian, but for all mankind; hope for the whole vast universe of God’s creative work yet to be revealed in the ages to come. This surely was in the apostle’s mind when he triumphantly exclaimed that “God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, … that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:4-7) This is hope not for a day, not for a year, not for a millennium, but hope for eternity in the immense resources of his grace toward us and, through us, eventually toward all his creatures wherever they may be.

This is not to deny the logic of Paul’s statement that “hope that is seen is not hope” (Rom. 8:24), for here Paul is making specific reference to the hope of salvation for the church and the world. The hope of the ages to come will be to see and to understand the glorious unfoldings of divine wisdom and power as God’s work of creative love reveals an ever-changing, but never ceasing panorama of perfect life in the environs of a universe completely and joyfully subjected to the will and purpose of Him who must be All in all. It must surely have been a glimpse of this stupendous hope that touched the heart of the writer of this familiar hymn, when, in the shadow of the loss of a loved one, he penned these words:

“E’en sorrow, touched by heaven, grows bright
     With more than rapture’s ray,
As darkness shows us worlds of light
     We never saw by day.”

When we compare the firm and glorious hope enjoyed by the child of God with the transitory hopes of the world, we see how vast is the chasm between them. All men have hope of some kind unless they lose their reason—hope of peace, prosperity, health, happiness, long life. But where are these hopes today? After 6,000 years of sin, suffering, sorrow, and misery, with death in ruthless control, where is the hope of the atheist, the agnostic, the materialist, or indeed of many professing but non-practicing Christians, in these days of turmoil and strife? What hope have they of ending racial enmity, greed, squalor, ignorant arrogance, and callous selfishness?

What hope is it that stems from wealth and material power, from medical science, and human invention, from political juggling and bitter international rivalry? What crazy edifice of so-called peace can be reared upon the decrepit foundations of the United Nations in the face of nuclear weapons controlled by those who have no regard whatever for basic human rights and liberties? Such hopes have no anchorage; they drag in the shifting sands of human pride and self-assurance, in a quagmire of iniquity and unbridled selfishness. Well might the psalmist say, “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock.”—Ps. 40:2

Joy and Hope Set before Us

Only when we recognize the true import of man’s failure can we, by contrast, experience that fullness of hope which comes from a recognition of our Heavenly Father’s supreme sovereignty. He is able to “make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” (II Cor. 9:8) This leaves no margin for doubt in the mind of the consecrated child of God, whose faith is firmly grounded in the immutable promises, and whose hope is “as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.” (Heb. 6:18,19) As with our dear Lord, the joy set before him was a supreme incentive to the absolute fulfillment of his Father’s will, so the hope set before us purifies our hearts and intensifies our zeal as we seek to follow in his steps and thus prove ourselves worthy of the great vocation to which we are called.

How can we do otherwise than rejoice in such a hope, implanted deeply and immovably in our hearts through faith in him who was delivered up on account of our offenses, and raised for our justification! Secure in the knowledge that nothing can by any means hinder the full accomplishment of our Heavenly Father’s purposes, this hope is, as Paul says, “rooted and grounded in love,” so that we are “able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height” of that love which passes human knowledge and comprehension, and which fills our hearts with all the very fullness of God himself.—Eph. 3:17-19

Such a hope in such a setting should surely shine forth brilliantly in every Christian life. Yet all too often it becomes dim and flickering, fearful and faltering, obscured and beclouded. How we need constantly to renew our hope by studying God’s Word, by prayer and communion, by our fellowship and mutual help to each other! “O may no earthborn cloud arise, to hide Thee from thy servant’s eyes.”

Yes, indeed, earthbound clouds of fear and doubt, envy and bitterness, strife and contention—how they can dim our hope and drag our anchor, subdue our rejoicing, and rob us of that joy unspeakable which fills the heart of each one who truly names the name of Christ. Let us resist, with all our might, these encroachments of the Adversary upon our spiritual life. With the psalmist we can say, “Let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice; let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them” (Ps. 5:11) Joy is founded in hope. Abandon hope, and joy must surely die. Enlarge our hope, and joy becomes increasingly real and evident. As our beloved Pastor Russell once said, “We cannot have too many rejoicing Christians.”

“Bubbling Over” with Hope

Writing to the Romans, Paul says, “May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing through the experience of your faith that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing [bubbling over] with hope.” (Rom. 15:13, Amplified New Testament) Here is a hope in abundance, an overflowing, through the Spirit from the very throne of God. And that overflowing from God to us must result in an overflowing from our hearts to others.

We live in a world of fear and unbelief, and in such environment hope is manifestly of paramount importance. With faith and love it constitutes the abiding trio of Christian virtues that Paul enumerates in I Corinthians 13. Of itself, hope is impotent, but when united with faith, it radiates the glorious light and warmth of the Father’s own love.

The very fundamental of our faith is laid in hope. From Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, to John on the Isle of Patmos, the clarion call of hope rings loud and clear to all those who see their calling and who hear the Master’s words, “Come unto me.” To those who humble themselves under the mighty hand of God are given the blessed assurance of final victory, when their hope, so long assailed by forces of evil, shall emerge triumphant into the very presence of him who is the God of hope, the fountain of life, the embodiment of hope for all his creatures in heaven and on earth.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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