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The God of Hope- Romans 15:13

hope-in-the-lord

Introduction: Hope is More Than Just Wishful Thinking

Let me ask you a question:

"What are you hoping for in life?"

People hope for many things in this world. Many single people hope to one day meet the right person and get married. Some people hope that they will get rich. Still, others hope that their favorite football team will win the Superbowl. However, this is not what the Bible speaks of when our Lord is called "the God of hope" in Romans 15:13.

I am intrigued by something I read recently. It was in the April 17, 1975 edition of the magazine 'Our Daily Bread.' Here is what it said:

"A little over a month before he died, the famous atheist Jean-Paul Sartre declared that he so strongly resisted feelings of despair that he would say to himself, "I know I shall die in hope." Then in profound sadness, he would add, "But hope needs a foundation."

Sartre was right. Hope has to be based upon something or someone that is real. True hope, found in Scripture, isn't just wishful thinking. It has, as its foundation, faith in God who is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and is in total control of the future. Therefore, He controls our lives as well.

Let us take a closer look at the idea of hope in the Scriptures and see how it should affect our lives today.

I. Biblical Hope is Confident Expectation

Once again, hope in the Bible, is not some vague wish that something will happen. It's not a wishy-washy, unsure kind of positive affirmation, with no assurance of getting what you desire. Rather, the Hebrew and Greek words translated as "hope" both refer to a strong and confident expectation. Here is what the website Gotquestions.org has to tell us:

In the Old Testament the Hebrew word batah and its cognates has the meaning of confidence, security, and being without care; therefore, the concept of doubt is not part of this word. We find that meaning in Job 6:20; Psalm 16:9; Psalm 22:9; and Ecclesiastes 9:4. In most instances in the New Testament, the word hope is the Greek elpis/elpizo. Again, there is no doubt attached to this word. Therefore, biblical hope is a confident expectation or assurance based upon a sure foundation for which we wait with joy and full confidence. In other words, “There is no doubt about it!”

Hope is a certainty. It can either refer to the activity of hoping, or the object hoped for. By that, we mean the content of one's hope. It stresses two things: futurity and invisibility. In other words, it deals with things that we can't see, we have not yet received, or both. Paul says:

"For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope? But if we hope for what we do not see, then we do with patience wait for it" ( Romans 8:24,25).

II. The Object Hoped for is Salvation

The object hoped for in Scripture is the salvation that the Lord has promised us. This includes all the blessings involved in salvation that are past, present and future. The reason it includes the past and present blessings is that they aren't always seen. For example, we can't see the justifying work of God, or the imputation of Christ's righteousness. Also, we can't see the Holy Spirit indwelling every believer. But we trust that it has happened because God has told us it is true, and we hope for the results that come from these facts.

Our future salvation is called "that blessed hope and glorious appearing of that great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ" in Titus 2:11-13. As members of the Body of Christ, we are looking for Jesus to return in the air, to catch us up to be with Him forever (I Thessalonians 4:13-18).

III. God is the Source of Our Hope

The reason God is called the "God of hope" is that He is the source of our hope. The God of the universe, the maker of Heaven and earth has promised us salvation, and He cannot lie (Titus 1:2). He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). It is He who began salvation, and it is He that will bring it to fulfillment (Philippians 1:6).

If any of our salvation depended upon us, we would still have no hope. Indeed before we were saved, we were without hope, and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12). But because of the work of Christ, our hope is secure. It is like an anchor for our soul (Hebrews 6:19). And now we can truly say with the Psalmist:

"Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God: which made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them. He remains faithful forever" (Psalm 146:5,6).

IV. Biblical Hope Flourishes Despite Present Circumstances

The great thing about hope is that every Christian can have it despite what may be going on in our lives or in the world at the moment. In fact, biblical hope flourishes in hard times. This world is full of problems because of sin. And sometimes our lives feel out of control as well. We look for quick fixes to complicated problems. The good thing is that our hope is not in merely the physical things of this life that we encounter and it can grow greater despite the present circumstances. John W. Ritenbaugh gives us this piece of good advice about it. He says:

Our hope is not physical, for no place exists on earth where we can run and expect to find an island of peace and hope.

Mankind's problems are endless and insurmountable. They are also complex, requiring wisdom and power to execute solutions that are beyond what any man possesses. Vain men keep attempting to convince others that they have the solutions, but we know innately and from history that they will fail. More wars and further economic collapses will come. God has willed that Christians must pass through these perilous times with the world.

Christians can have hope for three major reasons: First, God has forgiven our sins, so even death should hold no terror for us. Second, we have God's unbreakable promise to send Jesus Christ and establish His Kingdom on earth. Third, because of God's calling, we believe His Word and have the indwelling of His Spirit to guide and empower us through whatever comes along."

We could add to Mr. Ritenbaugh's words what we discussed earlier. Paul's assurance to the believers of this age of grace in which we are living, that though things may seem bad now, we will be rescued one day from the wrath of God that will come against this world, which loves sin, when we are caught up in an event known by theologians as the Rapture of the Church found in I Thessalonians 4:13-18. God will preserve us from the worst Tribulation that has ever happened to mankind. We will, rather, be forever with the Lord and enjoying eternity without the horrors caused by sin. Paul admonishes us to comfort one another with these words about this wonderful fact.

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Hope is often defined as "an expectation of good in spite of the obvious presence of multiple obstacles to a positive outcome." However, once again, it's not a wish. It is based upon God's unfailing character and power to act positively on our behalf.

God has proven His character over and over in the past by never lying or breaking His promises to His people. And the power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead will raise our bodies up as well if we should die before Jesus returns. And He will fulfill all of His commitments that He's ever made to every one of His children.

If we know that God is in control and ultimately has our best interests at heart, we can be like Habakuk who wrote a prayer after complaining to God about the injustices in his society, such as the triumph of wickedness over goodness and the senselessness of violence. He later found out that the wickedness in his society would be avenged by a nation more wicked. That was Judah's enemy, the Babylonians.

He was told by God that 'the just will live by faith' (Habakkuk 2:4b). This is both faith in God, or as some have suggested, the faithfulness of God. Habakkuk's final response was a prayer of faith and hope in the Lord. He prayed:

"Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills." (3:17-19).

Ultimately, no circumstance on this earth deterred Habakkuk from trusting the God who loved him.

V. Biblical Hope Leads to a Pure and Productive Life

We also should note that a person who has a confident expectation in the Lord, will be affected by it. It will change his life and cause him to want to please God. I John 3:2-3 says this:

"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that has this hope in him, purifies himself, even as he is pure."

Those who hope in Christ don't just sit around waiting for eternity. They love the Lord and want to please Him. They desire to live pure lives in anticipation of His return. Biblical hope is not an escape from the reality of life. Rather, it causes a person to look at life on a whole new level. All of life is seen as a gift from God, one lived for His glory, and in anticipation of heavenly rewards.

One who has biblical hope can say with the apostle Paul that:

"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20).

And that hope will, in the end, lead one to a point at the conclusion of their life where that person can speak as that same apostle spoke when he was about to be beheaded as a martyr for Jesus Christ. He proclaimed:

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." (II Timothy 4:7,8).

It is a hope that changes your life forever.

Conclusion

As we conclude our study of biblical hope, I am reminded of a story from a 1991 article from Bits and Pieces Magazine. It goes like this:

"The school system in a large city had a program to help children keep up with their school work during stays in the city's hospitals. One day a teacher who was assigned to the program received a routine call asking her to visit a particular child. She took the child's name and room number and talked briefly with the child's regular class teacher. "We're studying nouns and adverbs in his class now," the regular teacher said, "and I'd be grateful if you could help him understand them so he doesn't fall too far behind."

The hospital program teacher went to see the boy that afternoon. No one had mentioned to her that the boy had been badly burned and was in great pain. Upset at the sight of the boy, she stammered as she told him, "I've been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs." When she left she felt she hadn't accomplished much. But the next day, a nurse asked her, "What did you do to that boy?" The teacher felt she must have done something wrong and began to apologize. "No, no," said the nurse. "You don't know what I mean. We've been worried about that little boy, but ever since yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He's fighting back, responding to treatment. It's as though he's decided to live."

Two weeks later the boy explained that he had completely given up hope until the teacher arrived. Everything changed when he came to a simple realization. He expressed it this way: "They wouldn't send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?"

That's what hope does for people! It gives them a new lease on life and gives them the motivation to go on despite the circumstances in which they find themselves involved.

Biblical hope gives us peace. It leads to endurance, comfort, confidence in the face of death, and strength and boldness in life. Hope does all of this because it is the sure certainty that what God has promised in His Word is true, it has occurred, or will occur just as He has told us. If you say you have hope, then your life should show it. Hope, like our faith, is demonstrated by a pure and productive life.

Do you have that kind of hope? Then prove it by the way you spend the rest of your time and energy that God has given you on this earth. And one day, when the Lord returns, hope will be fulfilled. And we will finally realize that the fulfillment was really worth the wait!

© 2012 Jeff Shirley

Comments

Jeff Shirley (author) from Hesperia, Michigan on August 30, 2012:

Thank you for dropping by.

avallee from North Carolina on August 30, 2012:

Our hope is in God and salvation is what we hoped for. Good job

Jeff Shirley (author) from Hesperia, Michigan on August 29, 2012:

Thank you Princess Prisca and lifegate. I appreciate your support, and may the Lord be praised for anything good that comes from my writing. He is the One who deserves it!

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on August 29, 2012:

Right on the button again! Thanks.

Princess Prisca from Heaven living on Earth on August 29, 2012:

BRAVO!!!!

What an excellent write :-)

I enjoyed the spreading of 'The Gospel' as well as how beautifully you put this piece together :-)

Simply God filled and I LOVED it!!!!

Blessings!

Ciao...Princess Prisca

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