Confident Expectation

Hoping in God does not come naturally for sinners like us. We must preach it to ourselves, and preach diligently and forcefully, or we will give way to a downcast and disquieted spirit. In Psalm 42:5 (The MSG) that is exactly what you have, the soul arguing with itself, preaching to itself. “Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? (Hope in God) Fix my eyes on God.”

Biblical hope is not a mere desire for something good to happen. It is a confident expectation and desire for something good in the future. Biblical hope has moral certainty in it. When the word says, “Hope in God!” it does not mean, “Cross your fingers.” It means, to use the words of William Carey, “Expect great things from God.”

Romans 4:17 is the central theme of this blog site. Now briefly let’s notice how Paul shares this same view of hope in Romans 4.

17 That is what the Scriptures mean when they say that God made Abraham the father of many nations. God will accept all people in every nation who trust God as Abraham did. And this promise is from God himself, who makes the dead live again and speaks of future events with as much certainty as though they were already past. 18 So, when God told Abraham that he would give him a son who would have many descendants and become a great nation, Abraham believed God even though such a promise just couldn’t come to pass! [Abraham dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do] 19 And because his faith was strong, he didn’t worry about the fact that he was too old to be a father at the age of one hundred, and that Sarah his wife, at ninety, was also much too old to have a baby. 20 But Abraham never doubted. He believed God, for his faith and trust grew ever stronger, and he praised God for this blessing even before it happened. 

So the faith which justified Abraham was faith in the future work of God. Verse 21 makes this crystal clear: he was “fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” In other words he had what Hebrews 6:11 called the “full assurance of hope.” Verse 18 describes how faith and hope worked together: “In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations.”

“Against hope” means that from the ordinary human standpoint there was no hope: Abraham was too old to have a child, and his wife was barren. But biblical hope is never based on what is possible with man. Biblical hope looks away from man to the promise of God. And when it does, it becomes the “full assurance of hope” — the expectation of great things from God. Abraham’s faith was his strong confidence in the reliability of God’s character, and Abraham’s hope was his strong confidence in the fulfillment of God’s promise. In other words, whenever faith in God looks to the future, it can be called hope. And whenever hope rests on the Character of God and His Word,  it can be called faith.

There is a connection between Faith and Hope

You can see this in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Wherever there is full assurance of hope, there is faith. Faith is the full assurance of hope. Biblical faith is a confident expectation and desire for good things in the future. It is also the “conviction of things not seen,” and some of these are not future. For example, verse 3: “By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God.” Faith can look back (to creation) as well as forward. So faith is the larger idea. It includes hope, but is more than hope. You might put it this way: faith is our confidence in the word of God, and whenever that word has reference to the future, you can call our confidence in it hope. Hope is faith in the future tense.

In 2017, I would learn firsthand Bill Johnson’s (Bethel Church) quote from “Experience the Impossible: Simple Ways to Unleash Heaven’s Power on Earth”

“You are God’s idea, and He longs to see the treasure that is in your heart.

He arms us with purpose by giving us a promise instead of the answer. That way, we are forced to learn how to believe Him before the answer comes and then learn how to exercise His will in the circumstances that are contrary to the given promise. This is part of what it means to be a co-laborer with Christ. He labors, and we labor with Him.”

I know that some of you are tired. I know that many of you struggle every day to keep your mind and heart focused on the right things, especially in a difficult life journey. I bet some days you just want to give up. This promise is what you hold on to:

“You will reap a harvest if you don’t give up. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. (2 Corinthians 4: 17)”
There is an eternal weight of glory that you do not want to give up! Eternal. Glory. That is a promise worth holding on to!

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