STAND & COMFORT Newsletter
PART 4: HOPE: THE INCENTIVE TO PERSEVERE
Because of all that Christ has done and the Holy Spirit is now doing in the believer, we stand in the reality of salvation as a free gift by faith. Inherent in that faith is faith's goal: the fulfillment of our God-given, Christ-centered hope. Faith is what will get us to the time when the hope is fully manifested. Faith is what causes us to patiently endure trials and tribulations and the disciplines of God as he prepares a people in whom He can fully manifest the hope He has given them:
Rom 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
The word "experience" in verse 4 means "proof," as in this verse:
Phil 2:22 But ye know the proof of him (Timothy), that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.
"Experience" is the experiential evidence that one has really believed through grace. After we first believe, we believe in God's abiding presence in our lives. Then come the trials to test that faith, to show our faith in Him is real. Though the word "experience" is not used in the following verses, 2 Thessalonians 1 depicts the proving of the Christian:
2 Th 1:3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;
Paul says, "your patience and faith . . . [are] a manifest token (G1730. endeigma, an indication [manifest token])." In other words, in the midst of trials and tribulations, their patience and faith in defense and proclamation of the gospel was "an indication" that their faith was real and that God approved of their efforts. In the next verses, he goes on to describe Christ's second coming to glorify them and all the saints who are counted worthy of the kingdom of God. In his previous letter to the Thessalonians, Paul had acknowledged that their patience under these circumstances was based on the hope of the gospel:
1 Th 1:3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;
The author of Hebrews mentions these same attributes of faith, patience, and hope:
Heb 6:9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.
In Romans 12, Paul names all kinds of ways Christians should walk in God's will, and in the middle of them, he says,
Rom 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
Along with these is constant reliance on the word of God:
Rom 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Tribulation, patience, experience/proof, hope. When our faith is active towards these four things, we can be sure we are approved of God and can look forward to the hope that will be realized in us at the return of Christ. Therefore, it is written,
1 Cor 9:10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.
Because the plowing and threshing are in regard to the gospel, these bring the trials and tribulations, the works God has prepared for us in advance (Ephesians 2:10). But God does not leave us alone in the trials that come our way:
2 Th 2:16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
It is in trials that the Christian proves himself. Along with Paul, Peter also encouraged us to not fear, but be ready to tell others the reason we have hope:
1 Pet 3:14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
Paul stated his own attitude toward serving God for the gospel's sake:
Phil 1:20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
Paul and Peter tell us more of this hope in the following verses:
Col 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
1 Pet 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
Writing to the Corinthians, Paul emphasized the power of our hope, that it is a hope that points to eternity and not just to the things of this world:
1 Cor 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
He is referring here to the crucial importance of the resurrection. Paul had suffered much persecution for defending his belief in the resurrection contained within the gospel. He says that if the resurrection weren't true, then the Christian is the most pitiable of all creatures for he is still without hope, yet suffers for his stand. But he believed it and he stood in its hope, warning others not to be moved away from that hope:
Col 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
The writer to the Hebrews encouraged the same:
Heb 3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.
Paul said this hope of salvation is our helmet, which protects our minds against doubts and deceptive hopes that would move us away from the one hope God has given us:
1 Th 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
Yes, the Christian has hope for a total redemption, and it is not in doubt. It is a sure hope and will manifest when Jesus returns in the glory and power of the Father to redeem the bodies of all the saints and to pour out wrath on those who refused the hope and instead persecuted God's people. Therefore, let us do as Paul encouraged us to do in the Scriptures:
Acts 24:15 And have hope toward God, which they [the law and the prophets] themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.