by Pastor Rick Duncan
On Christmas Eve 2021, we will explore one of the greatest announcements of hope that the world has ever known. It’s what the shepherds heard the angels say on the night Jesus was born.
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).
In preparation to speak on Christian Hope on Christmas Eve, I thought I better do my homework to define it. I looked up every instance of the use of the word “hope” in the Old and New Testaments.
Below is my stab at a biblical definition. As you read it, be asking yourself, “What stands out to you about this definition?”
Christian hope is a confident expectation based on the character of God (Psalm 73:22, Psalm 130:7, Lamentations 3:19-24, Hebrews 10:23) that ultimate redemption (Psalm 130:7), deliverance (Psalm 33:18-19), and salvation (Psalm 42:11) will come to those who have experienced new life in Christ (I Peter 1:3) and who have, therefore, been justified by faith (Romans 5:1-2).
Christian hope is not a worldly optimism that present circumstances will improve, but the godly expectation that God will redeem and reward His people in the life to come (Colossians 1:27, Titus 1:1-2, Titus 3:7, Hebrews 6:18-20, I Peter 1:3). It is this hope that enables Christians to believe that God is causing all the things that happen in this life to work together for good (Romans 8:18-28).
Every Christian has been called to live in light of the hope (Ephesians 1:17-18, Ephesians 4:4) that is found in Christ alone (Psalm 62:5, Lamentations 3:24, Colossians 1:27, I Timothy 4:10, Hebrews 6:18-20, I Peter 1:20-21), is attained through the gospel of grace (Colossians 1;23, II Thessalonians 2:16-17), is empowered by the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13), is encouraged by the Word of God (Psalm 119:81, Psalm 130:5-6, Romans 15:4), and is pleasing to the Father (Psalm 147:11).
This hope is a gracious gift to those who, because of the gospel, fear the Lord (Proverbs 23:17-18), wait on the Lord (Isaiah 8:17, Galatians 5:5, Titus 3:11-14), rejoice in sufferings (Romans 5:3a), endure hardships (Romans 5:3b), display proven character (Romans 5:4), find encouragement of the Scriptures (Romans 15:4), and earnestly ask for it through prayer (Psalm 33:22, Psalm 39:7, Jeremiah 14:7-8).
Even in the midst of the trials of life, the Christian who hopes will experience a supernatural joy (Proverbs 10:28), purity (I John 3:2-3), righteousness (Galatians 5:5), security (Acts 2:25-26), endurance (Romans 15:4), and peace (Romans 15:12-13) that will cause others to notice it and desire it. Believers who hope in God gently and respectfully give a reason for the hope that is in them (I Peter 3:15).
The Christian’s hope thus glorifies God (Romans 5:2, Ephesians 1:12, Colossians 1:27, Titus 2:13).
What stands out to you about this definition? How can hope for tomorrow give you fuel for today? What is God saying to you about your hope? What change is He asking you to make?