Why is Hope so Important?
“It is our earnest wish that every one of you should show a similar keenness in fully grasping the hope that is within you, until the end. We do not want any of you to grow slack, but to follow the example of those who through sheer patient faith came to possess the promises.” Hebrews 6: 11-12 (J.B. Phillips)
The Holy Spirit used the writer of the book of Hebrews to encourage and exhort us to “fully grasp the hope that is within” us. In the New King James translation it’s worded thus:
“And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope to the end” Hebrews 6:11
We should heed this exhortation based simply on the authority of the Scriptures. I would like to look deeper, though, into the importance of the Christian’s hope. First, we need to assure that we understand fully this hope from the Biblical perspective, making sure that we have not lost any of the meaning of this word from its original intent.
The Greek word translated as hope in Hebrews 6 is “elpis.” From Strong’s concordance it is defined as follows: from a primary élpō (to anticipate, usually with pleasure); expectation (abstractly or concretely) or confidence:—faith, hope. Note that this same word is sometimes translated as “faith.”
Not too long ago I was visiting someone in a drug rehab. All visitors were required to sit through an orientation presentation before entering to see the person they were visiting in the rehab. The requirement to view a presentation was for each visit (no matter how many times you came) with a different presentation each time. In one of the visits they showed a film about hope, emphasizing how important it was for recovering addicts to have hope. I found it interesting that they never clearly defined the object of a person’s hope, just that they needed hope in something or someone. I was left thinking, “Hope in who or what?” It reminded me of how the secular world presents the importance of “believing” or “faith” without defining the object of our faith, as if there is some generic power in “just believing.”
I think it is important to answer this question, “What is the object of this hope that is within us that we need to fully grasp?”
It is clear from the next few verses in Hebrews 6 that the object of our hope should be the promise of God:
“…imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (vs. 12)
“For when God made a promise to Abraham…..” (vs. 13)
“And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.” (vs. 15)
The object of our hope (our anticipation with pleasure, our confident expectation) is the promise of God. But we need to be even more specific. What is the specific thing that God has promised to us that is the object of our hope?
As we read on in Hebrews we find the answer:
“Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Heb. 6: 17-20
“But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.” Heb 8:6
“And for this reason He is mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgression under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” Heb. 9:15
The object of our hope is the promise of eternal inheritance that was established by our Lord Jesus Christ through His death and resurrection. His sacrifice on our behalf bought our freedom from the penalty of God’s judgment towards us. The resurrection of Jesus and His entrance into the presence of God the Father as a High Priest with His own blood have secured for us the promise of eternal life in heaven.
The writer of Hebrews goes on to say this:
“…and (you) joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. Therefore, do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.” Heb. 10: 34-36
Peter also calls attention to this important hope that we have:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5
And a few verses later, Peter exhorts us more about our hope:
“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:13
The Scriptures have much to say about this Christian hope and I would encourage you to do a study surrounding this hope. We have established now a clear definition of our Christian hope, but we have not talked about its importance. I draw your attention now again to the verse 19 of Hebrews 6:
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast….”
We see here that our hope in the promise of eternal life is an anchor for us so that when the wind and waves from life’s storms increase and threatens to carry us away we can hold fast in this hope. Consider how valuable this anchor is for us. And this anchor of hope needs to be in place now before the storm comes.
We must ask ourselves, “Are we truly anchored by our hope?” When was the last time that you have established or “fully grasped” this hope in the promises? When have you last thought about it? It should be a daily occurrence!
The Bible also reveals to us that we cannot have this hope in the promises without faith, but that our faith works in unison with our hope, as the writer of Hebrews confirms:
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for…” Heb. 11:1
And this from Romans:
“For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Romans 8:24-25
Furthermore, we see in Romans that the very righteousness based on faith is directly related to our confident hope in what was promised in Jesus:
“But the righteousness based on faith says, ‘Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven?” (that is, to bring Christ down), or “Who will descend into the abyss?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? ‘the word is near you, on your lips and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach);” Romans 10:6-8
We know that the promise of God is that Jesus conquered death by being buried and then was resurrected and ascended into Heaven to secure a way and a place for us, our promised inheritance. The above quoted verse from Romans states that the righteousness based on faith does not question this promise (bringing Christ up from the dead or down from heaven is questioning the promise!), but rather believes in the heart and confesses on the lips the confidence that this promise if true.
Allow me to again state this very clearly: Our way of faith, by which we are reckoned as righteous, is based on our confidently believing and confessing our hope in the promise of eternal life as was secured by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the full assurance of hope that we need to fully grasp. This is the hope that is an anchor to our soul. Let’s walk in the light of this hope, patiently enduring until the promise of eternal life is reached. Come quickly Lord Jesus!