In this study we will examine another attitude which should characterize and govern each and every Christian. It is the attitude of hope. When we first hear the word “hope” we generally think of something like a “wish.” This type of hope is nothing more than desiring that circumstances randomly align for our pleasure or benefit. There is no concrete basis for this hope, only a desire that something happen. This is not a Biblical definition of hope.
Unlike the world’s concept of hope, Biblical hope has no uncertainty about it. It is not helplessly wishing that something will happen, but it is a confident expectation that God will fulfill what he has promised.
The world knows nothing of this kind of hope:
Proverbs 10:28 The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.
Job 8:13 Such are the paths of all who forget God; the hope of the godless shall perish.
Job 11:20 tells us that the hope of the unsaved will fail; it will be like a dead person “giving up the ghost.” Whether it be money, success, good works, or the belief systems they have invented for themselves, it is all empty and fleeting. The hope of the Christian is not this way.
Hebrews 6:18-19 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,
The Christian’s hope is stable and secure (like an anchor) because it rests on God’s unchanging promises. This hope is not “wishful thinking”; it is confidently expecting that what God has promised he will actually do.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Faith and hope are inseparable. Faith is taking those things which we hope for and counting them as reality. It is living in full assurance that what we hope for will indeed come to pass. This however is not a blind or naïve hope. It is a reasonable hope founded upon the promises of God.
The Reasons for our Christian Hope
In 1 Peter 3:15, Peter encourages Christians always be prepared to explain the reasons for the “hope that is in you.” Let’s consider some of the reasons that underlie the Christian’s hope.
1. Christ’s Resurrection and Return
1 Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:17-18 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If Christ is not risen than our faith and our preaching is vain, we are still in our sins and those who have died have perished like any other animal. This is a hopeless scenario. Thankfully it is not true of the Christian. Look at 1 Peter 1:3:
1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
All of God’s promises are bound up in the person of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 1:20). It was his resurrection from the dead that set the fulfillment of these promises into motion. His resurrection was the confirmation that he was indeed the son of God and that he could and would fulfill all of God’s promises (Rom 1:4). Look up John 14:2-3 to see one of these promises:
John 14:2-3 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ confirmed that he was the son of God and made all of his promises credible. One such promise was his pledge to prepare a place in Heaven for us and to come again in order to receive us unto himself. Look at Titus 2:13 to see just how integral the return of Christ is to the Christian’s hope.
Titus 2:13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
It is Christ’s return that ushers in the fulfillment of every other promise which God has given to man (2 Cor 1:20). If Christ had not promised to return than the Christian would have no hope in this world (Eph 2:12; 1 Cor 15:19) and if he did not rise from the dead, his promises would have no credibility. Because he has risen, he has left us with a lively, vibrant hope. This is the same hope that turned the depressed and discouraged disciples after Christ’s death into bold proclaimers of the gospel following His resurrection.
Not only has the resurrection of Jesus Christ given us a hope for his return, but it has also given us a hope for our own future resurrection:
2. Our Resurrection from the Dead
1 Corinthians 15:20-23 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
The firstfruits were the first of a crop to be harvested and were an indication of the full harvest which would follow. Christ was the firstfruits and his resurrection paved the way for the resurrection of every believer. His resurrection was the assurance that we too could hope for our own resurrection. In fact, without this hope, the Bible tells us that the Christian life would be one of misery.
1 Corinthians 15:19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
Acts 24:15 having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.
Acts 23:6 Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.”
As Christians we look forward to the return of Jesus Christ and our resurrection from the dead with a confident expectation. We know it will happen because God has promised that it will and has confirmed it by the resurrection of his Son. Our hope is not a fleeting, vain or futile hope but a hope which rests soundly on God’s promises.
Our hope rests in Christ’s resurrection, His return, our resurrection and next of all, it rests in God’s promise of our future glorification.
3. Our Glorification
Our salvation really has three tenses to it. The moment we were saved, the Bible says we were justified. This has to do with our immediate deliverance from the penalty of sin. The Christian will never face the wrath or condemnation of God because Christ has satisfied God’s judgment on the cross. That is the past tense of salvation.
Secondly, there is the present tense. This is what the Bible calls sanctification. This is a continual process in the life of a Christian as God makes him more and more like Jesus Christ and gives him daily victory over the power of sin. In this sense, it is legitimate to say that we are “being saved.” (1 Cor 15:2; 2 Cor 2:15)
Lastly, there is a future tense of salvation. Not only have we been justified in the past, and are being sanctified in the present but we will be glorified in the future.
Romans 8:21 says that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
The moment we were saved, God made us “spiritually alive” (Eph 2:1,5). He made us new creatures on the inside but this did not affect our fleshly bodies (2 Cor 4:7; Rom 7:24). Our bodies are yet to be changed; this is what glorification is all about. It is the time when we will finally be made like Jesus Christ and even our fleshly bodies will be made new (Rom 8:23). There remains an aspect of our salvation which has not yet come to pass. Because this final aspect of our salvation is yet to happen, it is something that we hope for.
Romans 8:29-30 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
God loved us from the foundation of the world (foreknowledge [Rom 11:2]) and predetermined that we would become like Christ (predestination). He then called us to salvation and at that moment forgave us all of our sin (justification).
Notice that in this passage those whom he foreknew are the very same whom he predestined, and called and justified. Likewise, all who are justified are glorified. God’s promises are so secure that even those which have not yet come to pass can be referred to in the past tense (Rom 8:17, 21).
Each and every one of these aspects of salvation from foreknowledge to glorification are inseparable. There has never been a man who was “foreknown” of God but was not predestined. Likewise, there has never been a man who has been predestined who has not been called or justified. Every man, woman or child who has ever been saved will be glorified.
Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
It is because there remains a future glorification for the believer that we read such Biblical encouragements as “straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” and “For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” These refer to our final redemption and glorification; it is actually the completion of the salvation which began the moment we believed.
The Christian’s hope includes an anticipation of the return of Christ, our resurrection, our glorification and finally, it includes hope of an eternal inheritance in Heaven.
4. Our Eternal Inheritance in Heaven
According to Titus 1:2, What was Paul hoping for?
Paul prayed in the first chapter of Ephesians that the believers in Ephesus would enter into a deeper understanding of the “hope of their calling” and “the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (Eph 1:18). He wanted them to grasp and then stand firmly upon the hope that awaited them. The Christian hope looks forward to an inheritance in Heaven.
1 Peter 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
Once Christ returns, a series of events are set into motion. We are resurrected, we are glorified, and we are given our eternal inheritance in Heaven. From that point on, we will “always be with the Lord” (1 Thess 4:17). These are tremendous promises which lead to a tremendous hope. We are not wishing for these things to come to pass but are confidently expecting them to happen based upon the unwavering promises and faithfulness of our “God of hope” (Rom 15:13).