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The Meaning Of Biblical Hope


It seems to me that in certain Pentecostal and Charismatic circles hope is equated with doubt.  For example, on occasion I have been approached by some people of the ultra faith prosperity persuasion who have aggressively claimed and prayed for my healing.  When I'm not immediately healed they unfairly blame me for the failure of their prayers.  If I tell them my ultimate hope is in Jesus, they undoubtedly equate my hope with doubt, and thus the reason for their unanswered prayers.  They say I should confess what they call a good confession of faith by "calling things that are not as though they are," which by the way is a poor interpretation of Romans 4:17.       


Biblical hope is not based on doubt or uncertainty, as in "I hope to win the lottery."  It is based on the certainty that even if God's promises are not yet realized, they will be.  That's not doubt. 


Hope is seen as far back as Genesis 3:16 where God predicted a future salvation that Adam and Eve might have hoped for but never experienced.  That doesn't nullify the promise's ultimate fulfilment.  It will be realized when our present fallen reality that Adam plunged us into is replaced by a new reality as seen in Revelation 21. 


Salvation, or salvation history as I call it in this particular instance, is a process that began in Genesis and ends in Revelation.  We are in the middle of an uncompleted process.  This is why the Bible views the believer as already saved, as being saved, and yet to be saved.  As Christians, we hope for the certainty of a future salvation.     


The Apostle Paul addressed hope as it pertains to the process of salvation.  He uses the phrases "our hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:7), "our hope of salvation" (1 Thessalonians 5:8), and "our hope of righteousness" (Galatians 5:5).  These and other such passages tell us that salvation is a process.  It is something we already have but hope for as well.      


Biblical hope is not an expression of doubt.  It's an expectation of a certain future reality based on the reliability of God.  Hebrews 7:21 says that God will never change His mind about any promise He has made.  Hope is that certain. 


Until all of God's promises are fully realized we wait with patience.  "Hope that is seen is no hope at all.  Who hopes for what he already has.  But if we hope for that which we do not have we wait for it patiently" (Romans 8:24 - 25).  "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction" (Romans 12:12).  "We remember you ... for your endurance inspired by hope in the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 1:3).  Biblical hope requires patience as we wait for what we hope for.  Patience is a fading character quality in our present "I want it right now" culture.    


The very essence of God and Jesus is hope (Romans 15:13, 1 Timothy 1:1).  So, when I say that my ultimate hope is in Jesus, I emulate the very nature of Jesus.  I'm also saying that despite my present circumstances that I do not deny, I have full assurance in God's reliability.  Biblical hope is closer to faith than it is to doubt.  Biblical faith is trust, as in, I trust my life with Jesus and allow Him to do as He wishes with me.  Biblical hope is a patient anticipation of a certain future realization of that which God has promised.  Let us never dampen someone's hope in Jesus by equating their hope with doubt.     


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