1 Cor. 13:13. Faith, Hope, Love.
If Paul is apostle of faith, John apostle of love, perhaps Peter is apostle of hope.
The question is always, Is there any hope? In every situation--dating, sickness, funerals, hurt-ins, surgeries, illness, tests, job loss, parenting, dark days; even down at the church house.
Ours is an age of apathy. Who cares? [Illustration: what are the two greatest problems? Ignorance and apathy. Who knows and who cares?]
Is there any hope? The world answers "no." A doom/gloom atmosphere seems to pervade--terrorism, holocaust, disease. Religion has contributed to this scenario with its premillennial falsehoods. In Scripture, the key word is not doom/gloom. But such is characteristic of our society. We see around us defeatism, fear, indifference, apathy, lethargy.
We need in the church more hope, more sermons about hope. The Bible is a book of hope. Hope is just an illusion to the pagan and the philosopher; but to the Christian, hope is stedfast, sure, an anchor of the soul. Hope is a unique dynamic of Christianity.
Hope is a wonderful thing, causing enthusiasm, excitement, involvement. We want hope in all of life--physiclaly, medically, psychologically, in our families, on the job, at church.
The Bible on hope: Rom. 5:3-5; 8:24; 15:4,13; 1 Cor. 9:10; 2 Cor. 3:12; Gal. 5:5; Eph. 1:18; 4:4; Col. 1:3-5,23,27; 1 Thess. 1:3; 2:19; 4:13; 5:8; 2 Thess. 2:16-17; 1 Tim. 1:1; Tit. 2:13; 3:7; Heb. 6:11,18-19; 1 Pet. 1:3,21; 3:15; 1 John 3:3. This is a partial listing of the noun forms. The noun appears 53 times in NT. About 30 times the verb form appears. These are mostly in Acts through the letters. If eliminate Gospels and Revelation, have over 80 occurrences in 150 chapters. Is an important theme. Hope is a Bible concept, a Bible word.
Faith, hope and love, but the greatest is love. Faith can move mountains. There is no such power in hope. Love is one of the greatest things on earth. Life is great because of faith and love. We see these, emphasize these, like these. Victories involve love and faith. We neglect hope. There are not many songs we sing about hope, and we do not frequently hear sermons on hope. There are not "hope seminars." But hope is real, important, necessary. Is there any hope?
What is the opposite of hope? Discouragement! Not just hopelessness, but despondency, depression, discouragement.
The Bible reveals three things about hope--its necessity, its importance, and its value. But hope is not in the list of Gal. 5:22. Nor is it in Col. 3:12ff. It is not even in Peter's list in 2 Pet. 1:5. Hope is a serendipity. It is a byproduct, it is not sought. God wants us to have hope, Rom. 15:13.
I. The NECESSITY of hope.
Hope is important, valuable. Hope is a necessity of life. It is as necessary to the human spirit as is oxygen to the body. Without hope, one feels senseless and purposeless. Lack of hope will destroy life.
Lack of hope is physically debilitating. Stresses on our mind can affect the entire body, and can even make one ill. Lack of hope determines medical success or failure. Absence of hope affects one psychologically with frustration, fatigue, withdrawal. When hope is gone in the family, little remains but the divorce.
Spiritually, one's devotional and spiritual life withers when hope vanishes. We must learn this lesson. We will not study if there is no hope of learning; we will not attend if there is no hope of edifying. At the root of the majority of our problems is the question of hope--leadership, followship, teaching, even evangelism.
II. The FOUNDATION of hope.
Note the relationship between hope and faith (Heb. 11:1).
Heb. 11 is not exactly a definition of faith. May as well be a definition of hope. How are hope and faith related? Return to the thought that much of what is wrong with youth, families, church is not a lack of faith, but a lack of hope. The lack of joy in our lives is often a lack of hope. Much of our problem is not with faith, but with hope. Parents, seek to leave your children an inheritance of hope.
Certainly we need faith, but faith alone will not see us through. Life is not solved in creedalizing, indoctrinating, teaching that produces a tape recorder or computer. We are losing the battle--children, members, across the board, and we cannot afford that. But we are not losing the battle in the faith realm. We are strong in that realm. Problem is often that we give the facts and the facts alone fail. People are not lost only because of lack of faith and lack of knowledge, but because of the lack of hope.
Heb. 11:1 says faith is being sure of what we hope for. This makes it clear--we need hope. When we cannot see any future in the church, when we cannot see relevance, when church is not dynamic, enriching, helping, there is little basis for hope. We must hold out hope--to one another and to our communities. There is hope in every situation because of Jesus. The hope of the world is Jesus Christ.
Some think I am perpetually excited. Why? There is hope. May I tell you why preachers leave? No hope. Why preachers stay--hope. Why people drop out of church--no hope. Why some are active and involved--there is hope. If there is no hope, we get out of that business. If there is no hope, we seek to get out of that marriage. If there is no hope, we run away from home; if there is no hope, we drop out of school. If there is no hope, we quit looking for a job. A church is looking for a preacher--what do they want? They want a preacher with hope, one who believes in the future of the church, the future of this church.
Hope is the very center of life. Why get excited? Because there is hope. Why get down in the dumps--because we cannot see the hope. If nothing is going to happen, if we do not expect it to happen, if we are just withering away and dying, slowly sinking, why go to church? I am telling you there is not a building in your state that can hold the people when we hold out hope. Hope--if I can see just a faint glimmer of hope, I can continue. When I cannot anticipate change, goodness, just humdrumming our way through the service and singing, and it feels like a waste of time in general, there is no foundation for hope. But when I believe great things are going to happen, that is hope.
Have you dared to think ahead 5 or 10 years? Do you expect good things, progress, opportunity? If we are not expecting good things, we are turning the good news into bad news. Eccl. 9:10 teaches hope. A living dog is better than a dead lion. Life gives hope. And hope is the foundation of our faith. Faith dies when hope dies. Many who are said to have lost faith have really just lost hope.
We have observed that life gives hope, but there is more. Where there is hope, there is life. We are emphasizing hope in relation to faith. But what we are saying is to have a strong foundation--this is more than hope so, wishful thinking, I hope-I hope-I hope. Faith cannot be sustained without hope. Hope expects what faith believes.
III. The SOURCE of hope.
Where does hope come from?
A. Experience, Rom. 5:5. Observe the world, Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11-12, and from that observation and experience comes hope.
B. The Lord's Supper is a declaration of our hope, 1 Cor. 11:25ff; it sustains our hope. I remember--and my hopes soar.
C. I affirm then that worship is a function of our hope. I am planting seed, I do not have a verse. But without hope in God, I cannot worship. Without hope, there is no resurrection.
D. I see hope in observing nature and life. Seedtime and harvest, foreshadowing the resurrection, are part of my hope.
IV. The RESULTS of hope.
What comes from hope?
A. Assurance, Heb. 6:11; 3:6; 6:19. God did not bring us this far to drop us. We will continue because of God. This is our hope. This is alive, 1 Pet. 1:3-5.
B. Joy. When we take away hope, we take away joy. Hopelessness and joylessness are two peas in a pod. When the medical question is, Is there is any hope?, it can be answered by a smile or frown, the bounce in the doctor's step. Joy, assurance, all will be well. This is hope, the function of hope.
C. Courage. Hope gives courage. When we are assured, have confidence, believe we can win, have hope, it increases courage. The difference is hope. When Jesus died, the apostles were scattered. But by Sunday they were back. Why? Hope. These went from cowards to tigers because they could see the future hopefully. They lost their hope on Friday, but it came back on Sunday. This is resurrection hope.
D. Perspective. Hope gives an eternal perspective. Hope is about the future. We do not hope for what we can already see. Why not sin and make merry if today is all we have. When hope is gone, immorality increases. The problems with our contemporary society are primarily centered in a lack of hope. If I can see the future, eternal, this is a purpose for my life. I will not blow eternity for a cheap experience today. Hope gives a perspective that keeps us from immorality, 1 John 3:3.
E. Salvation. Rom. 8:24; Col. 1:5; 1 Peter 1:3.
Four things man thinks are impossible becomes clearer with a hope based in God and his word.
While these are impossible with humans, all is possible with God. Hope says these are so. I believe we can change our world, we can bring others to Jesus. I believe the power of the gospel remains strong. I believe God is still in control orchestrating the events of our world. If events can change, I can expect changes. Life does not have to be the same. These give hope.
Do you have hope? Do you have anticipation, expectation? About your life? this church? The answer outside of Jesus is no. But when Jesus burst forth from the tomb, he gave hope.
Our actions cannot be right without hope.
What is wrong with us when our attitudes do not reflect Christ--we are just out of hope.
What is wrong with actions do not reflect God's will--hope is the problem.
Our world desperately needs a ministry of hope. A message sustained by God's promise in Christ, with a method sufficient to move from the tears and trauma of the present to confidence in the future. This is hope, and is available only in Christ. We must lay hold of that hope, Heb. 6:18. You can have hope today-you can know hope, renew hope, hang on to hope. You can begin a hopeful journey by coming to Jesus who is our hope. You can renew and recommit to that journey. Perhaps you would join us in this church on a journey of hope.
This is a hope that deals with all of life. Let it make a difference in your life.
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