A serious accident has taken place and a loved one, unconscious and bleeding, is rushed to the hospital and taken immediately to the operating room. After what seems like hours of agonized waiting the surgeon comes out, and you immediately ask the questions uppermost in your heart: “How is he?” “Is there hope?”

If the surgeon smiles as he comes to you and says, “Don’t worry; he’ll be all right,” what a relief! What a surge of joy and thankfulness!

As the word and assurance of the surgeon bring hope for the recovery of the injured one, so the Christian faith gives hope for eternity. Christianity is the religion of hope. Christ is the door of hope. To his bewildered and apprehensive disciples of an earlier day he spoke the word of hope; “I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3b); and to his own of this generation he gives the same promise. But for some the time seems very long, the way very rough.

I have crossed the Pacific by boat several times. On every trip there were days of calm seas and clear skies. But sometimes the waves were high, and on occasion storms seemed to threaten the safety of the ship. Day after day we proceeded on course, with the horizons ever unattainably merging into new ones.

But inevitably the time came when a thrill of excitement ran through the passengers. Land had been sighted, and before long we would be safely in the harbor. All the time the captain and crew had known that beyond the horizon there was land and the desired haven, and the passengers had, by faith, shared in this hope. We read of our heavenly hope in the Book of Hebrews: “So that … we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf” (Heb. 6:18–20a).

What a glorious hope! The anchor of our souls safely fixed in the harbor, unseen but sure because Jesus himself has gone ahead for us.

In contrast, how vast is the hopelessness of the unbeliever! The Apostle Paul wrote the Christians in Ephesus: “Remember that you were … separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). These same people, once hopeless, had found their hope in the One who died for them, so that Paul could say, “In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:13, 14).

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Today there is a grave danger in the organized church of dispensing entirely with the element of eternal hope by substituting humanism for Christianity, with a one-sided emphasis on man’s physical welfare and economic security. Important as these latter things are, they must not be given priority over the soul’s welfare and the eternal verities. Paul warns, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19, KJV).

Some years ago a man was crossing New York harbor on a ferry and, being interested in machinery, went down into the engine room. Everything was spotless, and the brass shone like a mirror. When he complimented the engineer for this, the engineer replied with a shining face, “I have a glory in my heart.” How few of us reflect the hope and glory of belonging to Christ by the way we look and the work we do!

There are many facets of Christian hope. In Hebrews it is spoken of variously as a “homeland,” “a better country,” a “heavenly” one, a city “God has prepared,” “a kingdom that cannot be shaken,” an “everlasting city,” “the city which is to come.” And Jesus implies that ours is a heavenly citizenship in the words, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:16).

The Christian’s hope, far from excluding concern and compassion for the less fortunate, should produce not only love for his fellow men and concern for their material needs but also a strong desire that they might share the same precious hope that is his in Christ.

This hope resets on the sure foundation of the revelation God has given of his truth, his promises that cannot fail, his faithfulness and ability to fulfill what he has promised—all secured through the person and work of Jesus Christ.

It is a hope sustained by the faith that is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). It rests with an unswerving confidence in the fact that Christ has secured our future and that day by day all things are being fitted together for our good by a loving and sovereign God.

The Christian’s hope is nourished by the Scriptures. There he finds his faith strengthened by the assurance that “whatsoever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). He is almost intoxicated with a godly optimism. Like David he can say, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil” (Ps. 23:4a).

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By the Scriptures he is brought into a full assurance, so that he can say with Paul that he knows the Christ revealed there through personal experience and knows that Christ is able to keep everything committed to him “against that day.”

This hope also involves an expectation of the Lord’s return: “For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11–13).

This hope that sustained the early Christians is still our shining prospect. We know a better day is coming, a glorious day when Christ shall return, “coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30b).

Finally, the facts about our hope should be transmitted to our children—“that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Ps. 78:6, 7).

How we of this generation are failing in this duty to our children! Little wonder that many are in revolt, disillusioned but desperately poor spiritually—all because they see no good end for the world. Much that we see in young people today stems from an utter hopelessness. They see so little in many Christians to commend the Gospel they profess.

Christianity is the religion of hope, and a joy to experience—for we belong to the Creator-Redeemer, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, now and forever.


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