Don’t miss today’s program as Derek Prince explains how “hope lifts us out of this net of time in which we’re embroiled and puts us onto a different level, an eternal plane of living. We can walk this earth like kings and like princes because we have this hope.”
It’s good to be with you again sharing with you on this week’s inspiring theme, “Hope.”
In my talk yesterday, I explained the relationship between faith and hope. And this is very important. Faith is based on God’s Word, the invisible; hope is based on faith. Faith is present, it’s a substance which we have here and now; hope looks to the future. But the only valid kind of hope is that which is based on present faith. Any other kind of hope is mere wishful thinking; it may come true but there’s absolutely no guarantee. Hear that again: Faith is in the present, hope is in the future.
And then I offered my own personal definition of hope, as it is in the Bible: Hope is a serene, confident expectation of good. Hope is not just passive; it’s confident. The writer of Hebrews speaks about maintaining the boast of our hope.
Now, the ultimate focus of all Christian hope is the return of Christ. This is the blessed hope set before all true believers. It’s the hope, other things are hopes, but this is the hope. It has two main effects on the way we live. First of all, it motivates us to holy living. And I venture to say, if you read the New Testament with an open mind, you will find that this is the main motivation the apostle set before the people of God for holy living. It was the expectation of the return of Jesus Christ.
The second effect that this hope has is that it releases us from the bondage of time. The people of this world are just shut up in a little prison of a few brief years that God allots to each and who knows how long they are in any life. Beyond that, they have nothing. But we live in time but our hope takes us beyond time into eternity. Hope liberates us from the prison of time.
In my talk today, I’m going to share on the source of all hope, which is the love of God. This is what Paul says in 2 Thessalonians, chapter 2, verses 16 and 17.
“...may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, Comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.”
Aren’t those beautiful words? Let’s meditate on them together for just a little while. The first thing we see is that the source of hope is God’s love. God loved us and therefore He gave us “eternal comfort and good hope by grace.” Remember, the ultimate power behind the universe is the love of God. God is a Father and when we know God as Father, we have this kind of hope--it’s a gift of His love; it proceeds from a confidence in His unvarying love and faithfulness.
So the source of hope is God’s love but it comes through Christ because Paul mentions not only God our Father but the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus Christ is the only channel through which love from God and hope from God can come into our lives.
The third feature of this hope is that it is a gift by grace. Paul says God gave us “eternal comfort and good hope by grace.” Remember, grace cannot be earned. Anything that can be earned is not grace. But the things that come by grace you receive only by faith. So you have to receive this hope, not trying to earn it; not trying to work out if you’re good enough; not even trying to reason some rational basis why you can have hope but receive it as a gift of God’s love, given by His grace.
And then, together with that phrase, “good hope,” Paul says God has given us “eternal comfort.” As I’ve already said, but it can be said many, many times, it’s so important, with hope there comes a comfort that goes beyond time. Our expectations, our anticipations, our satisfactions are not limited to this brief span of time. That word “eternal”; it’s a rich word, such a vast word. It means that which is not subject to time; that which is not in time; that which was before time and will be after time. This hope lifts us out of this net of time in which we’re embroiled and puts us onto a different level, an eternal plane of living. We can walk this earth like kings and like princes because we have this hope. We’re not slaves any longer of time; we’ve been liberated by the gift of hope which comes through God’s grace.
And then, as I’ve said in my previous talk, but again it needs to be emphasized, this hope makes us strong for holy living.
After he’s spoken about the eternal comfort and the good hope, Paul says that God will “comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.” You see, a hopeless person is a weak person. He doesn’t have the real motivation. When the going gets tough, he’s got nothing that makes him hang in there. His hands fall slack and he shrugs his shoulders and he says, “Well, I suppose it’s no good.” But a person with this hope that we’re talking about is strengthened. In times of hardship and trouble, he endures. He holds fast. God strengthens his heart through this hope.
Let me just briefly recapitulate what I’ve said on the basis of that passage, five things: the source of hope is God’s love; it comes through Christ; it is a gift by grace; it is eternal; it makes us strong for holy living.
To conclude my talk today, I want to emphasize once more the eternal nature of hope. I want to turn to the words of Paul in Romans, chapter 14, verses 7-9.
“For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord, So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”
Notice, that we do not live or die to ourselves alone. To do that is to be very lonely and this world of ours is full of lonely people. They’re shut up in a prison of their own self. They live for themselves; they die to themselves; they have no other expectation; they have no other interests; their concerns do not reach beyond themselves. They’re in a prison of self. But through Christ we are liberated from this prison. Paul says we don’t live to ourselves, we don’t die to ourselves. We live for Christ, we die to Christ. “Whether we live or whether we die, we belong to the Lord.” So death has no real dominion over us, it has no terror for us; it’s just a release into a higher plane of living.
So we need to understand that Christ has dealt with the ultimate issues which are life and death. If we have any kind of religion or any kind of faith or any kind of philosophy that cannot deal with life and then with death, it’s totally inadequate to human needs because every one of us faces life and faces death. But the fact that Jesus died and rose again from the dead and became Lord both of the living and of the dead, liberates us from that bondage of self and of time and of self-preoccupation. We’re not living to ourselves, we’re living to Christ; and if we die, we die to Christ. He’s there to receive us; we belong to Him; we’ve become God’s responsibility. We don’t have to carry the burden of arranging everything, providing everything, managing everything for ourselves. Our lives are the responsibility of the Lord.
And just let me turn back for a moment to the words of the psalmist, David. In Psalm 17, verse 15, when he so beautifully sums up this expectation. He says:
“As for me, I shall behold Thy face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Thy likeness when I awake.”
You see, there’s a hope that extends beyond the grave. David is saying, “I’ll fall asleep in death. But there’s a day coming, a moment coming, when I’ll awake. I’ll see His face. I’ll be clothed with His righteousness. And I’ll be satisfied.” What a powerful word that is: satisfied. When I meditate in that Scripture, I like to repeat it over and over to myself: “satisfied... satisfied... fully satisfied... I will be satisfied.” You see, that’s my hope. That’s my hope in life, that’s my hope in death. That’s the hope that’s liberated me from time and all its petty concerns and worries; liberated me from my own littleness; from my own inabilities; my own weaknesses; my own frustrations. I’m not shut up in that prison. What has liberated me? Hope. Oh, how I thank God for that hope.
Our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this same time. In my talk tomorrow, I’ll be dealing with hope as an essential part of salvation.