What is hope? For many, it is a desire for something to happen. We may hope for things to be better in the future than they are now. We may hope that a loved one will change his or her ways and give up sinfulness. We may hope to get out of debt. We may hope for better health and freedom from pain. We may hope to have a good job. We may hope to hear good news and not bad. A person lost in the wilderness hopes to be found and rescued. A person with no hope for better things in the future despairs and gives up. Some take their own life to end their misery because they have no hope. For Christians, hope is a confident expectation of what God has promised.
As Christians, our hope is that there is a resurrection after we die. Our life is not just for the here and now. Our hope is in life after death. 1 Corinthians 15:13-23 “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up — if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” If Christ is not resurrected and our hope in Christ is only in this life, we are to be greatly pitied; our faith is futile. However, Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead. He was seen by over five hundred brethren at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6). Because of the testimony of many witnesses and the willingness of His disciples and apostles to die because of all they had seen, we have faith that He was resurrected. Since He was resurrected, we have confident expectation (hope) that we also will be resurrected.
Not only do we have a hope of a resurrection, we also have a hope of eternal life with Jesus and God the Father – an existence with no pain or sorrow, but joy in Their presence. Our hope is an anchor for our souls. Hebrews 6:17-19a “Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” Our faith and hope are ultimately in God (1 Peter 1:21). His promise is a sure thing because God cannot lie. Our hope is our anchor. An anchor on a ship keeps the ship from moving and being blown by the winds or tide. In the same way, when our hope is strong, we are not moved by troubles and tribulations. We are not moved by persecution or discouragements. We continue to trust in God and remain faithful.
The New Testament writers wrote a lot about faith. For example, we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus also emphasized the need for faith – He said that with appropriate faith we could move mountains (Matthew 21:21). The New Testament writers also wrote a lot about love. It is the first and second greatest commandments (Mark 12:29-31). Jesus said that He gave us a new commandment to love one another (John 13:34). The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” We are told that love is the greatest. Perhaps faith is next in greatness to love.
Hope, at times, seems to be left out and neglected. But the apostle Paul wrote that we are saved in hope. Romans 8:22-25 “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Our hope is the resurrection from the dead. It is to be with God the Father in eternal life. It is the redemption of our bodies – we will receive new bodies. 1 Corinthians 15:42-45 “So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” How are we saved in hope? The apostle Paul said “If we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Our hope causes us to eagerly wait with perseverance. We don’t give up.
My encouragement to you is to not give up on your hope. Hebrews 6:11-12 “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Have full assurance in your hope and maintain diligence to the very end of your life so that you will inherit the promises. You also need to encourage your fellow Christians. Hebrews 10:23-25 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” One of the purposes of the church assembly is to gather together and encourage each other to stand firm and not give up on our common hope. Don’t give up your hope.