Hope is Everything

For a believer in Christ, a loss of hope is a very deep devastatingly painful place to be.  I experienced this pain I believe in May of 2011.  Honestly, it scared me.  Once I realized the source of this darkness, the loss of hope, I was able work thru it.  I was open about this painful experience here on my blog entry titled:  How I almost allowed my hope to be murdered.

Thing is I KNEW what I had in jeopardy, therefore my heart ached.  But how do you give hope to someone who has never known hope?  Real hope.   I am not talking about a positive attitude.  I am not talking about acting happy so that eventually you will believe you are.  I am not talking about “expecting blessings”.  I am not talking about “just having faith.”  Having an active faith does NOT give you hope.  Hope is not faith and faith is not hope.  Oh so often they are interchanged flippantly.  Real faith legitimizes our hope.  So I am left asking then, can one that does not have faith experience hope as a believer knows it?  What kind of hope then can we give the unbelieving sick, the unbelieving dying, the unbelieving hopeless?

So lets get to the root of the definition issue, then we can move further.  Pistis is the Greek word used for faith in the New Testament.  Acts 17:31 it is used as trustworthy evidence.  It is also used like a solemn promise, 1Tim 5:12.  In some passages it is used to refer to the doctrine one believes, “to contend for the faith” (Jd 3, 20) .  Another worth mentioning is pistis is used to express trust in God (Rm 4:9,11-13, 16; Heb 11:4-33,39).  This is where I believe hope and faith get muddled together.  Lastly pistis is used in context of having reliance on the Lord’s power over nature, Illness, and spiritual powers (Mt 8:10, Mk 2:5, & Lk 8:25).

But I would like to also mention Faith as the spiritual gift.  It is the 3rd gift mentioned by Paul in the book of 1st Corinthians (v12:9).  Hope is never mentioned as a spiritual gift.  Any believer exercised faith when we accepted Jesus as our personal savior.  We recognized that we are saved by grace through faith, and we used that faith by entrusting our lives to Jesus Christ.  As Christians, we all share a common faith in our Savior, and in His promises to deliver us from eternal punishment.  However I believe that the gift of faith is something quite uncommon.  Therefore does not apply in this discussion.

Hope is in it’s rawest form, trust.  If you hope the surgery goes well; you are putting trust in the surgeon, that persons ability to heal.  If you are in a desperate financial situation you may put all your hope in getting your home refinanced so you will have funds until you can find proper employment.  You are putting your trust in that financial institution.

Hope in it’s purest form is a hope that is found to be so much more deep.  It is unfailing.  Placing your trust in people will surly disappoint you.  People are fail-able.  People will fail you.  You already have and will fail someone.    We can only PraiseGodhave an unfailing hope as long as we have faith.  Faith in our Lord, of our Lord, legitimizes our hope in Him.  If we have hope in Him we will never have a hope that fails.

OUR FAITH IN JESUS LEGITIMIZES OUR HOPE

Hope is faith directed towards the future.It is a total assurance regarding the fulfillment of God’s promises.  These promises could be the promises of taking care of the everyday issues, to the reassurement of Jesus’ grand and triumphant return.  We are reminded that until the kingdom comes in its fullness, we can only have an assured hop; we must “walk by faith, not by sight” (2nd Cor 5:7)  This is a hope that is NOT unfounded nor groundless.  The FOUNDATION for hope is in the Godhead.

For the grace of God has appeared with salvation.  For all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous,  and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior,  Jesus Christ.  He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people for His own possession,  eager to do good works.   Titus 2:11-14 HCSB

Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know Him. Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure.               1John 3:1-3 HCSB

Therefore, in order for a person to come to a point where they have a real hope, an unfailable hope….They MUST have faith in Christ.  Otherwise, your illegitimate hope WILL fail you.

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Why I Do What I Do….

…and what it is that I do is insaciously study God’s Word, and those who proclaim it.  Many times I am asked, “why?”  “But you have been a christian for many years, you have read the Bible forwards and backwards, what does it matter?”  What does it matter?!  To ask me that very question is like running sharp finger nails across a chalkboard.  If you are too young to know that sound, well lets say you are very very lucky.  To me is is a matter of everything.  It’s my breathe, to be able to study.  Now, while this degree of study may not be for every Christian, it is for me.

 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  2Tim 2:15 KJV

To be a Christian in the Biblical sense is to be a disciple of Christ.  A disciple is a “learner”.  The disciple, as the name suggests, is to be a disciplined studier of the things of God.  It is of great concern that I have for many of today’s believer that have bought into an easy road of what I call “believism”.  “Just believe, and you will be blessed….Just believe and you will know the things of God…..Just believe…..”  Another easy out is isolation and misapplication of a single verse (Isn’t this the root of  most errors in theology begin?)  They justify having “Childlike” faith, to keep it simple.  Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.  Mark 10:15 KJV .  If one would continue to read on in the chapter they would grasp that there is much more to it.  There is a monumental 5592881485_8a8b8980ff_zdifference between having “childlike” faith and “childish” faith.  Having faith LIKE a child is that of absolute trust.  It is not about voiding out your responsibility to grow your knowledge of God and His ways.  God deserves to be implicitly trusted.  No question about it.  It would be outright foolish not to.  He is all together trustworthy.  The mature Christian never outgrows this childLIKE faith.

Another point that leaves me with a “what were they thinking” look on my face, is when I hear the excuse that further study would only lead to skepticism, there fore they are protecting their faith by avoiding it.  But to that I say this, to reject all theology and theological education in order to avoid bad theology is to commit seeker suicide.  To reject all study of theology is to reject the knowledge of God.  This is NOT an option.

Want to see my pants get in a bunch, then tell me that Christians argue too much and I do not want to be a part of that or that it just causes controversy.  Study no undoubtedly will lead to controversies-No question about it.  The Bible also forbids us from heated …. divisive, argumentative, and judgmental controversies.  Sure we have all heard that in order to keep peace “Never discuss religion or politics…”  Discussions about religion or politics generate more heat then any other topic.  But Christians are to avoid controversy is to avoid Christ.  No that was not a typo.  If you are for Christ you will be controversial.  It’s not theology….it’s who you proclaim as Lord of your life that is controversial to the world.  However, very important we are called to avoid “Godless” controversies like they are the plague.  One positive aspect of Christians debates is that they understand that truth, truth that is of eternal consequences.  Passions will rise because the stakes are high.  You can not put God’s truth in a bottle and set it upon your mantle.  To do so would be outright denying His Lordship.

The very source of these Godless-divisive arguments is not because of an overzealous amount of study, but from the contrary.  It’s their lack of knowledge that begins the divisive tone to their point.  It’s the failure to discern the difference between worthy matters of debate and minor points that were never meant to divide.  The more on becomes competent in the Word of God the more one can discern what issues are negotiable and to what ends to make a point.

But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they breed quarrels. The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach,[Or everyone, skillful in teaching] and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth.  2Tim 2:23-25 HCSB

Lastly, but most importantly….and this is truly the heart of why I do what I do….We can not feed our hearts if we are not feeding our minds.  The absolute purpose of God’s revelation attainable thru study is that we understand it with our minds so that it may penetrate our hearts.  There can not be anything in our hearts without first filtering thru our minds.  bible-heartWhile it is all together possible to have proper knowledge in our head without is ever penetrating our soul.  It is impossible to pierce the soul without first being grasped in our minds.

A person can have a very sound theology and yet not live a sound life.  But how could one have a sound life without ever having a correct theology?

Our knowledge of God,as disciples of Christ, is our foundation.  His Word.  Stop seeking Him…and we commit suicide to our faith and eventually our hope becomes poisoned.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Ro 15:13 HCSB