Stan Cox

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Grand Themes of Scripture


Hope is listed by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:13 as one of three things which “abide.”  “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Because of the great sacrifice of our Lord on the cross at Calvary, mankind will always have hope.  Until the world ends, hope will continue.  But, the concept of the Christian’s hope is one that may be unfamiliar to many.

It is important first to define what is meant by the term.  Hope is defined by Webster’s in the following way:

  • to cherish a desire with expectation of fulfillment. 

Or, as a synonym for trust:

  • To long for with expectation of obtainment.

This definition is an accurate explanation of the Biblical term as well.  The Greek word elpis, is defined by W.E. Vine as, “favourable and confident expectation,”, and states that the term has to do with “the unseen and future” (Vol. 2, pge. 232).

While the term is loosely used in our day, often referring to an idle dream rather than an actual expectation, it is important to note its scriptural use, and subsequent impact upon the Christian.

When the scriptures speak of hope, it is not an idle speculation concerning what might happen in the future.  It is not a “pie-in-the-sky” gamble, with little chance of realization.  Rather, it is founded in the promise of God, and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  As we hope in the promises of God, we truly can expect to achieve the end He has reserved for us.

The reason for the sure and enduring nature of our hope is its foundation.  Note Paul’s words, “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory(Colossians 1:27).

We use the term in this sense from time to time, in the same way Luke used it in Acts 16:19, when he wrote about the slave owner’s loss of profitability because of Paul’s exorcism of the spirit-possessed girl.  “But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.”  The girl was the basis of their hope of profit.  Without her ability to tell fortunes, their hope was gone.

In the same way, Jesus Christ is the basis of our hope.  Without his sacrifice on the cross, and his subsequent resurrection from the dead, we would be without hope.  Paul wrote, “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” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).  Fortunately, Christ was resurrected, “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” (1 Corinthians 15:20-21).

Because of what Christ has accomplished for us, as the children of God we can reasonably expect to obtain a heavenly reward at the judgment.  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5).

The nature of the hope is sure because it is God who reserves it for us.  Because of God’s faithfulness, we can know that what He promised we will receive.

The object we hope for is of inestimable value, “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in  heaven” for each of us.  It is this hope which motivates us each day as we live for Jesus.  We fix our eyes on eternity, and we steadfastly strive toward that goal.  As Paul said, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

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