What is Hope? “Hope is not wishful thinking or mere blind optimism. It is a mode of knowing, a mode within which new things are possible, options are notshut down, new creation can happen.”(N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 10022, 72.)
Definition of Hope “Hope is expectation expressed infaith, confidence, patience, endura nce, and eagerness.” (Emory Stevens Bucke, ed., The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 641.)
Waiting, trusting, and hoping are intricately connected: like golden strands interwoven to form a strong chain. Trusting is the central strand,because it is the response from us that God desires the most. (Sarah Young, Dear Jesus. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007.)
Theological Contexts• There is a wide range of meanings for the word “hope” in English usage: to trust, to endure, to expect and to await.• But the predominant usage in theological contexts relates to hope springing from the covenants made by God with his people, linking together the two parties of the covenant.
Scriptural Teachings about Hope1. God is the author of hope, not just the subject or object! (Rom. 15:13)2. Hope is a factor in salvation (Rom. 8:24)3. Hope is connected to our calling (Eph. 4:4)4. Hope finds its expression in endurance under trial, in suffering, and in times of trouble (I Thess. 1:3, Rom. 5:3, Psa. 42:5, 62:5, 130:7)5. We have the hope of eternal life (Titus 1:2, 3:7, Eph. 2:13)
The Bigger Picture• How does the whole picture - Jesus birth, death, resurrection, and ascension change the way we look at our future hope?• How do we live now as people of hope?
Jesus Death, Resurrection, Ascension and Second Coming• Death: Through the death of Jesus Christ our Savior, we have been justified by his grace, so that we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:7)• Resurrection: We have a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead! (I Pet. 1:3) – No other religious leader has broken the power of death and conquered sin. – Christ’s resurrection revealed Christ power over death and secured our victory over death as well (Eph. 2:6) – The resurrection defeated Christ’s enemy, Satan.
Jesus Death, Resurrection, Ascension and Second Coming• Resurrection cont.: In the 1st centuries of the Christian era, we find people who risked their life and were willing to die for what they believed. They didn’t talk about heaven; they talked about the resurrection of Jesus.” (Acts 23:6)• Ascension: “After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.” – The ascension of Christ was the final act in the drama of redemption. His mission completed, Jesus Christ was exalted to His former glory.
Jesus Death, Resurrection, Ascension and Second Coming• Second Coming: Jesus promised His disciples He would come again. “I will come back and take you to be with me” (Jn. 14:3) – Christ’s coming is unexpected and no man knows the exact time (II Pet. 3:10, Matt. 24:36) – “The whole world is waiting, on tiptoe with expectation, for the moment when that resurrection life and power sweeps through it, filling it with the glory of God.” (Wright, 108) – Until then, we are to live as people of hope and to share with others the hope we have in Christ!
Wright Challenges the Way we Look at Heaven“God’s kingdom” in the preaching of Jesusrefers…not to our escape from this world intoanother one, but to God’s sovereign rulecoming “on earth as it is in heaven”.Christians often believe they are to devaluethis present world and body and look only tothe hope that they have in heaven (18)
Wright indicates heaven is a “picture ofpresent reality, the heavenly dimension of our present life…the other, hidden, dimension of our ordinary life – God’s dimension, if you like….It is simply assumed that the word heaven is the appropriate term for the ultimate destination, the final home, and that thelanguage of resurrection, and of the new earth as well as the new heavens, must somehow be fitted into that. (19)
Part of Final Quote (Wright, 214-215):…People who believe that God will turn theworld upside down…are not going to bebackward in getting on with some world-changing activities in the present…Peoplewho believe in the resurrection, in Godmaking a whole new world in whicheverything will be set right at last, areunstoppably motivated to work for thatnew world in the present…
(Continuing)…The world has already beenturned upside down; that’s what Easter is all about. It isn’t a matter of waiting until God eventually does something different at theend of time. God has brought his future, his putting-the-world-to-rights future, into the present in Jesus of Nazareth, and he wantsthat future to be implicated more and more in the present. That’s what we pray for every time we say the Lord’s Prayer: “Thykingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Romans 15:13“May the God of hope fill youwith all joy and peace as youtrust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Questions1. Share about a time when your Hope in Christ was shaken because of a loss, a situation, or your hope being located in the wrong place. – How are we to understand our hope in light of heartbreaking situations that God allows to happen?2. George Whitefield said, “Ask yourselves again and again whether you would preach for Christ if you were sure to lay down your life for doing so? If you fear the displeasure of a man …assure yourselves you are not yet thus minded? – Is your hope in your calling that important to you? – Are you willing to lay down your life for your calling?
3. Wright says, “People who believe that God willturn the world upside down…are not going to bebackward in getting on with some world-changingactivities in the present…People who believe in theresurrection, in God making a whole new world inwhich everything will be set right at last, areunstoppably motivated to work for that new worldin the present”. (Wright, 214) – What would that look like for God to involve you in some world-changing activities? – How does God want to use your gifts, your witness, and your love to touch the world? – What keeps you from allowing God to use you in world-changing activities?