|Vol. 13 No. 3 March 2011||
Robert D. Rawson
Hope is among the three finest themes of the Christian life (1 Corinthians 13:13) as it is included in the midst of faith and charity (God-like love). Is it proper to use the word, “hope,” within the setting of laziness, waste or wishes? During such times, people are heard to say, “But, I hope the results are good anyway.” Is this the New Testament way of using the word?
Hope is the opposite of seeing and possessing something (Romans 8:24). Yet, hope is essential in God’s plan. It is part of God’s design that we live by hope, which is the anchor of the soul (Hebrews 6:19) that is sure and steadfast. This anchor of the soul is urged to be a ‘lively hope’ (1 Peter 1:3). The resurrection and ascension at the Lord’s coming should be filled with this hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13-16). Those who reject the Lord and the Lord’s way are without this hope (Ephesians 2:12). In the expression, “I hope the Lord will be favorable to me,” does this take into consideration the continuing way of neglecting God’s will, laziness, wasting one’s life and just wishing things to turn out well?
The New Testament use of hope centers itself in the Christian’s life. There is one hope (Ephesians 4:4). We are taught to live hope (Ephesians 1:18) and to enjoy the hope of the glory to be fulfilled in us (Colossians 1:27). Hope is not taken by a tablet or a pill. It is not an empty wish. Rather, hope is the result of a life being lived by faith, which undergoes trials and endures experiences, and patience and results in hope, the positive force of the Christian life (Romans 5:2-5). In fact, it is set before us and is based on God’s promises (Romans 12:12). We are to answer others who ask us about the ‘hope within us’ and answer with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15).
When seed is planted in the ground, there is an effort made by watering it and supplying it with a favorable climate (sometimes a greenhouse) in order to allow the seed to grow into a plant supplying fruit. In this process, we hope for a good crop and profitable investments. Hope is not the expression of a life continuing to live in neglect, wasting days and years and wishing for a different outcome.
As I look out the window and across the street, I see a beautiful Bradford pear tree in full bloom and a Redbud tree also in full bloom. God, the Creator of the universe, is causing the vegetative kingdom which has been dormant to come alive! The display of such beauty that we presently see and will be seeing for weeks to come as the trees bloom and the flowers and shrubbery break forth their radiant colors should cause the believer’s heart to praise and glorify the name of the Almighty God. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 19:1-4, “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork, Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world.”
Someone has said that there are two books, nature and the Bible that declare there is a Supreme Being. The heavens and the earth in their splendor and magnificence should cause every person to have faith in God, but that is not the case. The apostle Paul in writing about the depravity of the Gentile world in his day mentioned this very thing in Romans 1:18-21.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them, For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Some people have eyes that will not see and hearts that will not accept the truth that Jehovah God, by the power of His word, brought the universe into existence.
With the renewal of life in the vegetative kingdom at this time of the year, our hearts are made to think of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the tomb. This is one of the cardinal doctrines of the New Testament. A part of the good news of Christ is the teaching regarding His resurrection from the dead. Had Jesus not risen from the dead early that first day of the week, His death on Calvary would be meaningless. We would still be in our sins, our faith would be in vain and we certainly would be miserable. (See 1 Corinthians 15). The apostle taught in this chapter that because our Lord arose from the grave, we have the promise that we shall also rise from the dead at His second coming. Jesus Himself said as recorded in John 5:28, “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”
When I witness the beauties of spring with its shows of new life I cannot help but think of the words of my Lord Jesus Christ: “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die, Do you believe this?”