The Hope Part I
For those of us alive after the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, and particularly for Christian believers, there is perhaps no topic of greater significance than the Hope of Christ's return.
Hope affects many aspects of our lives. The Hope of Christ's return, as well as other nuances of having hope, will be covered in this series.
Hope is a word often used in our daily living. When we wish someone well, we may say "I hope you have a great day!", or we may say to ourselves "I hope I get that job".
Hope is also used in the sense of "this is not all there is", that we have an expectation that tomorrow will be a better day or that the best is yet to come. No one wants to wake up in the morning with the belief that things will not get any better. Having positive expectations about the future is a key element in human psychology and health. People literally get sick, and sometimes die, from accepting the belief that there is nothing to live for.
While the word "hope" can have different definitions, the Word of God reveals to us knowledge of The Hope.
As Adam and Eve were leaving the garden of Eden, God gave the promise of the Seed of the woman, who was to be Jesus Christ the Redeemer, and who would bring deliverance from the wreckage brought about by the fall of Adam and Eve.
When Jesus Christ was crucified, the message delivered by the angel was "Fear not...for he is risen." When Jesus Christ ascended into heaven in Acts chapter 1 and left his apostles standing in amazement, the message from the two angels was "this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."
God has always given people hope.
Before the first birth of Jesus Christ to his first coming and the healling and deliverance to be brought by the Messiah. For believers after Christ's ascension in Acts chapter 1, we look forward to the return of Christ and the wonderful blessings that this will bring.
But how does this knowledge apply in every day living? Why should "the hope" be at the forefront of a believer's thinking, and what is the benefit of doing so?
To understand the hope it is helpful to understand believing, which is translated from the Greek word pistis. One of the electrifying truths from God's Word is that we can believe the promises of God for positive results and blessings in our daily lives. The Word of God is meant to be believed, and God wants us to use it to bring blessings to ourselves and to others.
Answers to prayer, healings, having our needs met, carrying out instruction from the Word of God -- all require believing. Believing is not wishful thinking. Nor is it thinking about something one moment in a fanciful way and then flitting off to some other topic the next moment, as we are to "diligently seek him".
Believing is being fully persuaded. When you sit on the same chair in your house day in and day out, you are fully persuaded that the chair will support your weight and not collapse. Why? Because you've done it so many times you have no doubt.
When you receive your bank statement you accept it because that's what you are taught to do. You do not go down to the bank and ask to see your money, but you do believe it is there.
Very few people believe the Word of God to the same degree that they trust in an old chair or bank statement. Yet once someone learns that God's Word is to be believed, and that it produces results just as H2O produces water, that person's life is forever changed.
Believing the Word of God is simply to literally do or act on what the Word of God says. When Jesus Christ instructed the man with the withered hand to stretch it forth in Mark chapter 3, the man knew what the Word of God, spoken by Jesus Christ, was. And even though it was a physical impossibility, the man did stretch forth his hand and he was healed.
There are times when we believe the Word of God but there is no physical action we can take, only one of "the heart". That is, we by our free will believe, not just mentally assent, but believe in the depths of our being that something is so.
People (not just Christians) believe things every day. However, when we believe a promise of God, the results shall surely follow. God is not man that He should lie. His Word is truth and it is to our benefit when we believe it.
Throughout the ages God gave men and women promises to believe. Some promises were of the type "believe this so this can be brought to pass". That is, the result would not come to pass unless the person believed. For the man with the withered hand, he believed, stretching forth his withered hand, and his healing followed. If the man had not believed, had not acted on the promise of God, there would have been no result, no healing.
With some of the promises which God has given to man to believe, however, they will come to pass regardless of man's believing, for their fulfillment is in God's hands. You and I are blessed when we believe them, but the coming to pass of that promise is based on God's timetable. This will become clearer as we develop our study of The Hope.