A Certain Hope in Uncertain Days: 30 Days of Hope-filled Focus
November 1: Hope in Biblical Terms
Most would agree that the days we live in could be characterized by a lot of uncertainty. We all have our own personal struggles and trials, but there is also a growing palpable tension in our country, evident in events and discussions related to the pending election. No matter who “wins,” that tension will not be resolved. No one knows for sure where these things are headed.
If our vision is restricted to just the here and now, we will hunger for hope. In the days ahead, we plan to focus on what the Bible has to say regarding hope, and it has a lot to say on the matter. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
We use the term “hope” all the time to speak of things we wish for. We might say, for example, “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow.” Typically, in our common usage of the term, there is a measure of uncertainty regarding the thing hoped for, for we cannot, using this analogy, control the weather! The most common Greek term does not carry that connotation. Vine’s Expository Dictionary defines the term “elpis” (i.e. “hope”) this way, “in the NT, ‘favorable and confident expectation’…It has to do with the unseen and the future.”
According to Vine’s definition, Biblical hope has to do with a confident expectation in an “unseen, future, reality.” Romans 8:24-25 speaks to this understanding of the term: “For in this hope we are 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.”
Hope has to do with something that is unseen. No one hopes for something they already possess. They hope for something that lies beyond their vision. In the context this unseen thing lies in the future and has to do with “the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). The broader context speaks to the future “revelation of the sons of glory,” for which “the creation waits with eager longing” (Romans 8:19).
There will come a day, a day for which creation itself groans (as do believers themselves; Romans 8:23), when Jesus will come to “be glorified in his saints” (2 Thessalonians 1:10). On that day he “will be marveled at among all who have believed” (2 Thessalonians 1:10). In the “redemption of our bodies,” our redemption will be made complete. But isn’t it already so? Yes and no. Redemption means to be set free by payment of a price. There are three tenses when it comes to our salvation. The believer has been set free already from the penalty of sin, through the shed blood of Jesus (Cf. Ephesians 1:7). He is even now being set free from the practice of sin (Cf. Romans 6:6). One day will be set free from the presence of sin (Cf. Ephesians 4:30). This third tense of salvation is the focus of Romans 8:23.
What is the hope of the believer? This world lies under a curse. Sin is at the root of all our problems, personal and otherwise. But there will come a day, in the presence of Jesus, in that place “where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13), where sin will be no more. The long struggle with sin and “sufferings of this present time” will be swallowed up in the “glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).
The believer lives according to this confident expectation regarding this future, unseen, reality. It is the focal point of his hopeful manner. Having “set (his) hope fully on the grace to that will be brought to (him) at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13), he is to be a hope-filled person in an uncertain and hope-needy world. Herein lies our hope—Jesus is coming again! Do you know Him? Is your hope bound up in Him? Trust in Jesus, for “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed” (Romans 10:11; NASB). In the faithfulness of God and His sure promises we possess both “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow” (“Great is Thy Faithfulness”; Verse 3).