We all need hope!
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
All of us, if we’re honest, admit that we need hope. Yet, we look for hope in “all the wrong places.” The psalmist asked himself a question that many have asked. He received God’s answer. His question was, “Why am I depressed?” God’s answer was because he had no hope! Psalm 42:11, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” ESV
What is this thing called hope? And, why is it so important for men and women? Hope can be defined as an eager expectation of fulfillment of a future blessing. When people hope they are expressing trust in or reliance upon the one whom they believe will bring fulfillment. The definition of hope expresses our need to have it. Without hope, we wander aimlessly in life and are tossed around by every one of its circumstances. When we see no future, we naturally get depressed.
I have an ongoing hope that men and women will realize that hope placed in a man will lead to disappointment. This is a hope dashed by the object of hope’s failure to do what was promised.
There are endless arrays of temporal hope. We find ourselves in another election cycle. I have a hope for an observant, informed and critical electorate. In the light that this hope is temporal, my eternal hope remains secure.
My eternal hope or, if you prefer, ultimate hope is secure because of the one who made the promise of hope. There is more to life than what we see. “This” is not all there is. There is more to life than this world, there is a greater hope than our political, economic, or personal relationships can offer. It transcends this world and is far above and apart from it.
Ultimate hope is transcendent. No man can give it. In fact, we can’t even give it to ourselves. Only the transcendent being, God can give ultimate hope. The transcendent God, the one who spoke and created everything out of nothing said that ultimate hope is eternal glory. The Apostle Paul writing God’s words said “the mystery hidden for ages but now revealed to His saints” is ultimate hope. He wrote this clear description. Ultimate hope is “Christ in you the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27
It follows that God’s revelation of hope raises at least two questions. The first is easy to understand. Who gives ultimate hope? Clearly, God gives ultimate hope. The second is perhaps easy to see but strikes at the heart of man’s ability. The second question is: to whom does God give ultimate hope? The former passage declares that ultimate hope is given by God to “His saints.” Now, we are led to understand what God meant by the word “saints”. Who are saints?
Clarity is essential. Saints are not those who have departed this life and have been determined by some religious body to be holy people. Saints are those who have been set apart by God. Saints in the Bible are those whom God has chosen to be His, who thereby pursue holiness.
A plain reading of Scripture allows us to see that God chose: a man, Genesis 12; a nation, Deuteronomy 7; and both Jews and Gentiles, Galatians 3. The fact of God’s choosing individuals to be His saints is declared by Apostles Paul and Peter, Romans 9-11 and 1Peter 2.
I’ve often asked myself why something so clear can be so confusing to some. The only answer that I can reasonably offer is that we don’t like to think that God must choose us. We like to think that He needs our help in selecting the “right” people. In this, though, it is only critical for us to know what God thinks and has told us.
The Bible’s clarity on this issue of ultimate hope and its recipients is the greatest comfort and assurance any man or woman can have. Since God gives it no man can take it from you. Much more can be said concerning God’s gift of eternal hope and is proclaimed from pulpits of faithful churches. I want to leave all who read this article with this: God gives ultimate hope, which is eternal glory, to those whom He chooses in Christ. May you hear this truth proclaimed from your home church!