You Have to Have Hope!
By Steven J. Hogan
“In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” – 1 Peter 1:3-5. “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given us” – Romans 5:5.
A Christian needs specific spiritual ingredients to be able to live a fruitful, purposeful, rewarding and God glorifying life. He needs God’s Word, grace, holiness, love, joy, faith, wisdom, fellowship, and he needs hope. When you buy a car or some appliance there are often optional features that you can purchase, but when it comes to being a Christian, hope is not optional, it is not just some nice accessory. Hope is absolutely essential for your Christian life on earth. “But now abide faith, hope and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
Life can be very difficult, and sometimes it even seems impossible. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 tells us how Paul felt with regard to his trials, “We were burdened excessively beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed we had the sentence of death in our own life.” Paul was certainly going through it. But isn’t it true that you have experienced trials, conflicts, sickness, persecution, weakness and spiritual weariness? And have there not been times when you didn’t sense any progress or victory in your life or in your church? You felt like you were stuck and were going nowhere. You may have even felt like God had abandoned you. “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” Psalm 13:1
For the Christian there has to be a reason to keep going; there has to be light at the end of the tunnel. He has to know that it is worth it to live for the Lord, that it won’t be long before he is with the Lord, when all the things on earth will pale in comparison to the great joy of being with Him, of being in heaven, of being perfect, of being with friends, and of being rewarded. Hope is a precious grace from God to help you live for Him, to help you run hard for Him, to help you get up when you are knocked down, to help you keep going when you are persecuted. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us… we ourselves groan inwardly… as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.” Romans 8:18-25
All of you have had experience with earthly hopes. You were a child, and you looked forward to Christmas and getting toys. You were a student and you studied hard, and you looked forward to when school was finally out. You are working at a job, and you are tired, and you are looking forward to the weekend. You are a family and it’s been a long year, and you are looking forward to going on vacation. You understand the idea of looking ahead to something positive after going through the daily grind of work or school, of being sick, or just going through a rough stretch in life. You need something to look forward to – you need hope.
Life is not easy for the Christian – it’s a fight against the flesh, it’s living in this evil word, it’s warring against the devil, it’s being tempted to sin. And how does God help us? Yes, He gives us the Holy Spirit and grace and the church. But He also knows we need hope, true Biblical hope, godly and heavenly hope. This is where worldly hopes won’t do. We are not to be like unbelievers who put their hope in the things of the world, the things that change, break, spoil, fade, rust, wear out, get lost or get stolen. We are not to put our hope in money or clothes or jewelry or homes or possessions. We are not to put our hope in having a boyfriend or girlfriend or getting married. We are not to put our hope in men or women, in parents or children, in teachers or employers, or in preachers or politicians. “Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation… How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord His God.” Psalm 146:3-5
We are not to be like unbelievers who try to get through tough times by “medicating themselves,” by eating comfort food or watching TV, by drinking alcohol or taking drugs, by watching movies or sports, by listening to music or playing video games, or by texting or just talking to friends. But rather, we are children of God, and we are to get hope from God and we are to put our hope in God. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace.” Romans 15:13
In the Bible there are many examples of people who had godly hope, and here are a few:
* Simeon and Anna had hope, for they were looking forward to seeing the Messiah. Luke 2
* Paul had hope, for he was looking forward to being with Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
* Abraham had hope for he was looking forward to the city with foundations. Hebrews 11:10
* Abraham had hope for he knew there was a resurrection from the dead. Hebrews 11:17-19
* Moses had hope for he was looking ahead to the reward. Hebrews 11:26
* Jesus Christ had hope, for He was looking for the joy that was set before him. Hebrews 12:2
Hope is what kept these saints going. They were all looking ahead to something much, much better. These men and women of God could keep going, could keep living for God, and could suffer because they had hope, because they had a glorious future awaiting them. Romans 15:4-5 tells us that we are to learn about hope from these Old Testament saints – “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide, we can have hope.”
In fact Hebrews 11, which is about these Old Testament saints, is all about hope. Yes, it is called the “hall of faith”, but it could also be called the “hall of hope”, for we note verse 1 – “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The godly men and women “did not receive what was promised” (verse 40) during their life on earth, and so they were hoping for things not visible, for the “city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God,” (verse 10). We have to see that hope is based on faith, on faith in God and in the promises of God. Faith then is essential for hope, for if there is no faith, there is no hope. Hope and faith go together – they are inseparable. Again, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for.” (verse 1)
What is hope? How can we define it? It is believing what God tells you in His Word about your future. It is the confident expectation of the future goodness of God upon your life. It is a present certainty about a future reality. Hope is a conviction, a confidence of what God will give you, particularly after your life on earth. It is believing in the future grace that God your Father wants to bestow on you, His child. This hope is not some fake mind game, some mental trick, some pumped up emotion to get you feeling good about the future. This hope is real – it is the truth of God in your heart about the great future God has for you. Hope is knowing and believing that you will receive wonderful gifts, eternal blessings, great rewards after your life on earth.
But hope is surely not just about you. Hope is first and foremost about God, and in particular that God will be glorified like never before, and that you will see this glory, and experience this glory, and share in this glory. Hope means that you love God’s glory, and you will sing of His glory and speak of His glory. Hope means you are believing that you will see the glory of God, and that you will wholeheartedly and perfectly glorify God. Hope is about what you will receive, but much more so about the glory God will receive. “We exult in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:3. “Blessed be His glorious name forever; and may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.” Psalm 72:19. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27.
Hope is also knowing there is a prize, a reward, a most positive outcome for living for the Lord. How many runners run a race with no reason to run? None. How many runners run and don’t have a finish line in mind? None. Runners run for a reason, with a purpose and goal in mind. They run and keep running because they are looking forward to the results, the prize, the benefits of running, and the personal satisfaction of finishing the race. But for Christians, this hope is so much more than a prize, a medal, a ribbon, and finishing a race – it is a wonderful, incredible, and most enjoyable future that God has promised us. “You made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11
Let’s now talk specifically about this hope?
- Your hope is that you will be with Jesus Christ forever and ever. This is the single most important aspect of your hope, to be with the One who loves you and can’t wait to be with you. Think about forever being with Jesus Christ, looking at Christ, hearing His voice, talking to Him, enjoying His company, and seeing the love on His face for you. Think about being with God Himself, Jesus Christ in the flesh. Think of being with the One who is the Lord, Creator, Savior, Judge and King. I think of my wife Marsha – I love to be with her. And a husband and wife should love to be with one another. But how much more so should this be true with respect to Jesus, the One who saved us, our heavenly husband, our eternal lover, and our closest friend? He wants to be with us and we should want to be with Him, and our hope is that we will be with Him in the not too distant future. “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me.” John 17:24. “And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore, encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:18
- Your hope is that you will be with believers, with Christians, particularly with those you knew on earth, with family, friends and church members. But you will also be with those you didn’t know, those from times past – Noah, Abraham, Moses, Deborah, David, Isaiah, Esther, Mary, Peter, Paul, Luther, Calvin, Owens, Edwards, Whitfield, Spurgeon, Taylor, Elliot, etc. Can you imagine this? Can you imagine enjoying fellowship with all kinds of believers, from all of history, from all walks of life, from all over the world, with all kinds of God-glorifying stories? Now on earth you love being with the believers, and in heaven you will love being with the believers, but much more so, for your fellowship will them will be sweet, unbroken communion all the time. In heaven you will have perfect relationships, and you will always be loving and encouraging one another. You will be perfectly worshiping and serving the Lord with other believers. You will be in your heavenly home with believers. You may even fly off to the stars with believers. In all this there will be perfect joy, unity and peace. There will be no malice, anger, jealousy, covetousness, and there will not be a single conflict or single wrong word. There will be perfect love and perfect communication all the time. Even though now you may miss those friends and family members who have passed away and gone on ahead of you, be greatly assured that you will see them and be with them again, and be with them forever. I personally believe there will be a continuity of relationships from earth to heaven, from our life now to our life forever. I believe that the ones you know on earth are ones you will spend a lot of time with in the future. I believe you will serve the Lord in heaven with believers you knew on earth. It was said of Aaron at his death, “Aaron was gathered to his people” (Numbers 20:24), and so it will be said of us, that we will be gathered to our people. “For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming. For you are our glory and joy.” 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, 4:13-14; 2 Corinthians 4:13-14
- Your hope is that you will be in heaven, and on earth, that you will in fact be in the new heavens and the new earth – a perfect place, a perfect environment, a perfect universe, a place where there is absolute beauty, wonderful comforts, continuous joy, and incredible pleasures forever and ever. I assume you like to be in your own home – for you are safe and secure, you relax, you have good food, and you enjoy being with family members. Just think how much better your heavenly home will be than your earthly home? Revelation 21 talks about your new home, the new city, the heavenly Jerusalem, and it is a perfect cube, about 1470 miles per side. Your new home will be absolutely beautiful, and a lot bigger than your earthly home, but much more homey. It will definitely and infinitely be better than your earthly home, for Jesus is there with you. “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6. You are going to a place that Jesus Himself has prepared for you, a place, a home where Jesus Himself will be. “My Father’s house has many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may also be.” John 14:1-3, Hebrews 12:22-24, Revelation 21:1-7
- Your hope is that you will receive a brand new body. Now you get tired, you get hurt, you ache, you get sick, you get sad, you cry, you still sin, you still do what is wrong, you get afraid, you worry, you get selfish, and you get angry. And yes, as a Christian on earth you are not a sinner but a saint, and you learn to be holy, you learn to do what is righteous, but you are still in a body that is weak and wearing out. The time will come, at Christ’s return, when every believer will be given a brand new body, a powerful body, an immortal body, a glorified body, and a spiritual body. “There will no longer be any mourning or crying or pain.” Revelation 21:4. This perfect body will be perfectly and wonderfully suited to love and serve God and Jesus Christ, to love and serve people, to enjoy the pleasures of heaven and earth, and to be able to live forever and ever. “Our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our humble state into the conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” Philippians 3:20-21, 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 2 Corinthians 5:1-9
- Your hope is a great inheritance that God has stored up for you. God has a perfect and wonderful inheritance for His Son, and as God’s children, we will share in that inheritance. “…if children, heirs also, heirs of God, and fellow heirs of Christ.” To think that we are co-heirs with Christ is mind boggling, beyond imagination, for we will share in the beauties, the pleasures, the treasures, the wealth of both heaven and earth. “The Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance.” Ephesians 1:14. There is much said in the Old Testament about this hope, for it describes in some detail the coming 1000 year kingdom of Christ on earth, what we call the millennial kingdom, and after that will be the eternal kingdom. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” Psalm 67, Psalm 72, Isaiah 60-61, 1 Corinthians 2:9, 1 Corinthians 15:20-28
- Your hope is that you will reign with Jesus Christ over the world. We live in a world that is very wicked, a world that is run by the devil and by sinful men, and here on this earth we do not see much holiness, righteousness, justice, love and mercy. We live in a very evil age but it will be a very good age when Jesus Christ comes and reigns on earth. During this millennial kingdom age, we will be with Christ in our perfect bodies, and we will together reign over an imperfect world. After that, during the eternal kingdom, we will reign with God the Father and Jesus Christ over a perfect world. “They will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years” – Revelation 20:6. “He has made us to be a Kingdom, priests to His God, to Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever” – Revelation 1:6, 2:26, 3:21, 5:10, 20:6; Colossians 3:4; Psalm 47
This is our hope – being with Jesus Christ, being with believers, being in heaven, being in a new body, reigning with Christ and receiving an eternal inheritance! This is very good news! This is the full measure of the gospel, for the gospel is not just about this life, but about our eternal life, about being with Jesus Christ, with others, in heaven, and on earth, forever and ever. “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 6:17
As Christians we need perspective, we need to see the big picture, we need to see that life on earth is very short, but life in a perfect and glorious state and in a perfect and glorious place with perfect and glorious people and with Christ Himself, will be forever. And we need to see that it won’t be long before our hope becomes reality. We need to see that it is now worth it to live for the Lord and to work for the Lord, that it is the only wise and reasonable thing to do. We need to be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our work in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:28. Our work in the Lord is eternally worth it. To live for Christ now means that we will be blessed now and then be blessed forever.
Saints, we are just beginning our eternal life. We live only 70, 80 or 90 years on this earth. Then we will be with Jesus Christ. Then we will reign with Christ for one thousand years. Then we will reign with Christ and our heavenly Father forever and ever. Do you get it? Do you see it? Do you want this? Do you desire this? We are often so short sighted, and we don’t spiritually see the incredible and wonderful future we have of forever being with the Lord Jesus Christ, of experiencing and enjoying the amazing and wonderful plans God has for us. “I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not calamity, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
Why is hope important? What is the earthly value of heavenly hopes? You need this hope of your future if you are to live rightly for the Lord on earth. This hope purifies you, strengthens you, and it helps you to persevere, for you know there is an end in sight. It gives you stability, for it is an anchor for your soul. Finally, it helps you see that it is smart to live for the Lord, for you will be greatly rewarded in heaven for your work on earth. Having this hope has a profound and positive affect on your life, your attitude, your desires and on your earthly work. You won’t be negative in a fleshly way, worried about the future, but you will be positive in a godly way, and excited about the future. “Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies Himself as He is pure.” 1 John 3:3. “We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.” Colossians 1:5
Hope is needed for every saint who has ever lived during the Old Testament times or during this present church age. Every saint must have hope. But now we live in the end times, and there are only two possibilities – either we will die and go to heaven or we will be raptured and go to heaven. Either way, the realization of our hope is not far away. For those of us remaining on earth, life will be getting tougher and tougher the closer we get to the return of Christ. Let me tell you what will be happening. We will be hearing of and / or experiencing wars and famines and plagues; we will be sharing the gospel; the world will increasingly hate us; there will be great persecution, and believers will be suffering and dying; we ourselves may suffer and die, or we may be ones who endure to the end of the age, and then we are raptured into heaven.
Do you see that we will need hope? Do you see that hope will be essential? Do you see that we won’t be able to live without hope? We will need to encourage one another to have hope. We will need to tell other Christians that Christ is coming back soon to give us relief from tribulation, to rescue us from wrath, to redeem us from this earth, to rapture us into heaven, and then to receive us to Himself. “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:13, Titus 2:11-13 tells us that we are to be “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of your great God and Savior.”
How do you get hope? Where does it come from? It’s not from yourself, from anything you can do, or from anyone else. Hope comes only from God and is through the work of the Spirit in your heart. To get hope, you need to look to God’s Word which describes this hope. To get hope, think about being with Jesus Christ, have faith in God, remember the promises, and ask God to give you this hope. And you need to look to the example of saints in the Bible and the example of saints you know on earth.
The best example I have ever had of a person who had real hope was a friend named Mike, in fact, one of the best friends I have ever had. For most of his adult life he had an intestinal disorder, with the result that he was in pain every day, and many days he was in severe pain. But he was a man who loved God and the word of God, and therefore he was a godly man, a joyful man, a hope filled man. It wasn’t long after he became a Christian that God taught him about hope, and gave him hope. For close to 40 years as a Christian, he lived with this hope in his heart, of being with Christ, of being in heaven, of being with Christians, of being pain free, and of possessing a perfect body. And I will never forget the time way back in the mid ’80s, and Mike and I were talking on the phone, and that was when he first taught me about hope, and the importance of hope. From God’s Word and from Mike’s life I learned about hope. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, the riches of the glory of the inheritance of the saints.” Ephesians 1:18
Might God give you hope – might you be filled up and super charged with hope, and then you will not grow weary, then you will persevere, then you will be encouraged, then you will be more holy, then you will be filled with more joy, and then you will be giving glory to God. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Spirit.” But remember the number one thing about hope – “We shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Revelation 22:20