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Some people hope that it will not rain tomorrow. Some hope that there will be something good for dinner. Some hope that they will go to heaven when they die.

Is there anything different in that last hope? For some it may be difficult to distinguish. I may hope that it will not rain tomorrow, but there is no guarantee of that. I may hope that there will be something good for dinner, but obstacles may exist between the mere wish and the fact. Indeed, I may hope for heaven, but if I do not know and trust the Lord Jesus as my Savior, that will prove entirely vain.

True Christian hope is neither vague nor vain. It deals not in possibilities but in certainties. In the Scriptures, hope primarily refers to assured things that have simply not yet come to pass in full. Think, for example, of the Apostle’s language in Romans 8. He speaks of the sufferings of this present time, which are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us. We already possess the firstfruits of the Spirit, the guarantee or down payment of our inheritance (Eph. 1:14). And we were saved in this hope: “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Rom. 8:24–25).

Christian hope trains the telescope of truth for the eye of faith to fix upon the glory to come and so inflames a heart of love.

Do you notice the point? We do not see that for which we hope, but we know it lies ahead, and therefore we eagerly wait for it and press toward it with perseverance. Herein lies the distinctive solidity of Christian hope. So, Paul says,

The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we died with him, we shall also live with him;

if we endure, we shall also reign with him;

if we deny him, he also will deny us;

if we are faithless, he remains faithful—

for he cannot deny Himself. (2 Tim 2:11–13)

Notice that this is not passive waiting. It is endurance—it is courageous holding fast in the face of all those pressures that would drive us back, in anticipation of reigning with our risen Lord. Think of how the biblical writers point always to the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13): when we sit down with Him in the kingdom, when we receive the crown of righteousness from His hand, when we bear the image of the heavenly man, when faith gives way to sight. That is when all is made fully and eternally well. If my hope of the glory to come is grounded in Christ and Him crucified, producing this expectant and persevering waiting, then I eagerly and faithfully pursue the arrival of what was promised. Thus, our Lord says:“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10)

Or again: “Hold fast what you have till I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations.” (vv. 25–26)

We can now call the worst earthly troubles a light affliction, which is but for a moment, and which works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things that are seen but at the things that are not seen. For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are not seen are eternal (2 Cor. 4:17–18).

That is Christian hope. It trains the telescope of truth for the eye of faith to fix upon the glory to come and so inflames a heart of love. Hope sings,

To him that overcometh

A crown of life shall be;

He, with the King of glory,

Shall reign eternally.

So now we labor through faith, with hope, and in love. This will be so until the day when faith is sight and love blooms. Hope then does not die but is fulfilled because there is nothing more left to expect. All good and glory has now come and can never pass away.

Without Grumbling or Disputing

What Is True Joy?

Keep Reading The Christian Way

From the September 2021 Issue
Sep 2021 Issue