July 3, 2020 | by: Tom Kruggel | 0 comments
Hope. Only four letters in the English alphabet, but when combined can conjure up much anticipation in the human heart. A word that, when uttered and heard, helps breathe life into the most despairing of circumstances. And a term that, when expressed, whether noun or verb, can muster more muscle than almost all of its sister synonyms combined. “There’s hope!”, we say.
What is it with hope? While far more than a word, it seems surely that just such a word is much needed, perhaps more now than at most any we can remember in our lifetimes. We today live in a time with a global virus, fractured social constructs and international conflicts, hearing far less of hope and far more of hopelessness. Hope indeed is needed, and not merely for a time as this. But what is it? And in what is it found? Last question first.
There are really only two sources of hope: One is unbiblical and the other biblical. Our Christian and biblical worldview understands that we live in a fallen world where “… sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” [Romans 5:12 (ESV)]
This world is wholly broken and in dying need of a Savior that will mend our brokenness and carry us from this passing home to our eternal home. Without Jesus as Savior, an unbiblical worldview (as Paul described in Colossians 2:8) will most assuredly take all of humankind, and even us regenerate Christians if we’re not careful, “… captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” [Colossians 2:8 (ESV)] Before Jesus drew us unto Himself we were blind, but now with Him we see. Our worldview has been transformed from darkness to light. [Acts 26:18]
So what’s the difference between unbiblical, blind hope emanating from the world and biblical, seeing hope according to Christ? The differences can be subtle, but they’re actually quite distinctive. The differences are subtle because the two views do have much in common since almost all hope has two key ingredients: (i) It’s desirous of something good and (ii) it’s directed toward something in the future.
However, here is where unbiblical hope and biblical hope can differ and part ways: One is unconfident and the other confident. And so we come back to hope’s source, hope’s foundation – it’s either derived from God and His Word (confident) or it isn’t (unconfident), and it’s either in God and His Word (confident) or it isn’t (unconfident). It’s that clear-cut because “God is true” [John 3:33b (ESV)], Jesus is God made flesh [cf. John 1:14, Colossians 2:9] and the Spirit’s inspired authorship [cf. II Peter 1:20-21] of the Bible is authoritative [cf. I Thessalonians 2:13], inerrant [cf. Titus 1:2] and sufficient [cf. II Timothy 3:17].
The Scriptures are perfect, sure, right, pure, true and righteous altogether [Psalm 19:7-9]. They’re certain and can be unreservedly relied upon. There’s nothing from this world even remotely as certain as God and His Word. Trusting and “building our house” on anything less only places us upon sandy soil, and then “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” [Matthew 7:27 (NASB)] Where’s the hope in that?
The Bible does instruct us to most certainly hope, but to “Hope in God”. [Psalm 42:5b, 11b (ESV)] And now, reverting to our first question, that word “Hope” literally means that we must wait and wait expectantly. And since God is true and He cannot lie [Numbers 23:19], then our hope in Him most decisively has confidence. And since God is also good [Nahum 1:7], He will most certainly always bring about good and we can “… know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” [Romans 8:28 (ESV)] [Emphasis Added.]
Defined differently, biblical hope (as unpacked by John Piper) “… is not just a desire for something good in the future, but rather, biblical hope is a confident expectation and desire for something good in the future.” [Piper, John “What Is Hope?”, Desiring God, April 6, 1986, Page 3, https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/what-is-hope By John Piper. © Desiring God Foundation. Source: desiringGod.org] [Emphasis Added.]
And so let’s return to where we are in this instant of unfolding history. Many of us hope for an end to the pandemic, that national unity would be reconciled and that world peace would ensue. For certain these are all desirously good things for our future, but at this moment we don’t know with certainty how these crises will ultimately unfold. If our hope stops here it’s almost wishful thinking, a bit shaky and lacking confidence. Hope ending there can lead to despair. Just ask the Psalmists of Chapters 42 & 43. (“Why are you in despair, O my soul?” [Psalm 42:5a; Psalm 43:5a (NASB)])
But this is where our Christian hope can elevate to a confident expectation. We all hope for an end to the pandemic, and that national unity and world peace would come about soon, come about quickly. So let us so pray and pray earnestly so. “… I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior”. [I Timothy 2:1-3 (ESV)]
When we place our hopes before our God and in our God of goodness and “eternal power,” [Romans 1:20a (ESV)] our unconfident hope is suddenly transformed into a confident, expectant hope because “God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne” [Psalm 47:8 (ESV)], and He “… is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases.” [Psalm 115:3 (ESV)] Faith family, we know the revealed story – “we are children of God” [I John 3:2a (NASB)], Jesus is “crowned with glory and honor” [Hebrews 2:9b (ESV)], and “we shall be like Him” [I John 3:2b (ESV)].
Let us all continue to hope with a desire for all things good in the future, but wholly hope on the source and foundation of an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, all sovereign and all glorious God. Can we trust Him for who He is? Hope in God. Hope in God. Hope in God!
Thomas Kruggel is a non-vocational Pastor at Grace and works in the City of San Francisco
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