The Abiding Character of Hope
Since the Christian’s hope is built upon the promises of Christ’s future return and our final redemption, it is more than simple wishful thinking. This is a living, vibrant hope which should have a real, practical impact on our present lives. Our hope in Christ should lead us to daily abide in him. Trusting, depending and obeying Him.
1 John 2:28-29 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.
The day is coming when Christ will return and we will all stand before him as our judge (Acts 10:42; Rom 14:10). This should motivate us to “abide” in him in this life. It is by abiding in Christ that we can be confident and not ashamed when he returns.
To “abide” simply means “to continue, remain or endure.” It speaks of the Christian who remains faithful to Jesus Christ throughout his entire life.
John 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,
John 15:9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
John 15:10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
1 John 2:29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.
1 John 2:6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
Abiding in Jesus Christ requires that we live a life of continual obedience to his words. This obedience will result in righteous living and is clear evidence that we are indeed Christ’s disciples. (Rom 6:16-22; 1 John 3:10; John 8:31).
1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
The hope which we have in Christ is a pervasive hope. It permeates every area of our lives. It is not accurate or biblical to claim that someone is a disciple of Jesus Christ and has a legitimate hope for His return if his life is not characterized by obedience to His commands. In fact, according to John, the failure to continue (or abide) in Christ is a surefire way to tell if someone is an imposter.
Some would claim that this is an extreme or unreasonable understanding of salvation. They would assert that one can pray to receive Jesus Christ as their savior without continuing in a life of obedience to God and still be assured of their salvation. One of the main faults of this view is that it fails to give proper place to the doctrine of regeneration. That is, at the moment of salvation the believer is actually made spiritually new on the inside by the power of the Holy Spirit of God. This is a real transformation that results in a real change (2 Cor 5:17; Php 2:13; Eph 2:10).
Another doctrine that is essential to understanding this idea of abiding is the indwelling of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit not only makes us spiritually alive at the moment of salvation but he actually lives within us until the return of Jesus Christ (Eph 4:30). So then, the ability to abide in Christ has the Holy Spirit of God as its source. This fact alone should eliminate the idea that “continuing in the faith” is too onerous a measure of salvation. The reality is, we abide in Christ because he abides in us. (John 14:16; John 15)
1 John 2:27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie–just as it has taught you, abide in him.
Like many aspects of salvation, abiding in Christ is both God’s responsibility and ours. He has promised that every believer who has been justified will be glorified (Rom 8:29,30); that we will never be snatched from his hand (John 10:28); that nothing will separate us from his love (Rom 8:38-39); and that he will continue his work in us until the coming of Christ (Php 1:6). So why are there so many other exhortations to endure to the end (Matt 24:13); to hold fast our profession (Heb 4:14; 10:23) and to patiently continue in Him (Rom 2:7)?
Because these exhortations are some of the very means which God uses to keep us in the faith until the coming of Christ (1 Cor 1:8). The true believer obeys God’s commands to abide and he does it through hard work. He struggles to continue, and endures until the end. Yet, he does all of this by the power of the Holy Spirit. This persevering in the faith is not for the purpose of attaining salvation but is the evidence that one already possesses it. Perseverance is the outward evidence of our inward hope in God.
2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
The Christian’s hope causes him to remain faithful to Christ until the end. This includes obeying his words, living righteously and purifying himself (1 John 3:2). Paul was a man who, driven by his hope of a future eternity with Jesus Christ, fought to abide in Christ and endure until the end. This will be the evidence of your hope and my hope as well. How might your attitude and lifestyle change if you were to spend time dwelling on the return of Christ and the inheritance that awaits you?