Hope is defined in dictionaries as "looking forward to with confidence or expectation". It's a beautiful thing to have in life at one point or another because it allows us to persevere through the times when we are awaiting the fulfillment of whatever it is we are hoping for.
Hopelessness, on the other hand, is having "no possibility of solution; impossible". This is the state of our souls if we are to carefully consider the truths that we have gone through in the first part of this series. By now we should realize that the Bible has made it clear that we ALL are sinners and are deserving hell - the second death, as payment for our sinfulness. This is a reality we all cannot escape. The Bible clearly states that ALL of us have sinned before God, no one is exempted, no one was spared. How did this happen? I'm glad you asked...
"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:" (Romans 5:12)
"For as in Adam ALL die..." (1 Cor. 15:22)
Now since this is our case, we all must realize that what we have in us are plainly deadened souls. The Bible states that we are dead in our sins and transgressions. (see Ephesians 2:1). We have gone through our attempts for holiness in Part 1 and we ought to realize by now that our striving and our effort to become righteous and pleasing before God is to no avail.
What then is our hope for heaven? All human beings long for it, you know, that place of peace, rest and forever happiness that is untouched by anything evil. Heaven is a place our inner being call "home". Why? Because God's presence is there. The very reason He brought us into existence is to enjoy fellowship with Him and to glorify and exalt Him as our Creator, our Master, our Lord.
Our souls long for it every second of our lives without us realizing it. This is the void we all are trying to fill with just about anything we manage to scavenge on this earth - wealth, fame, pleasures, relationships... this longing and void for something will remain and it will reach full gear when we break free from our bodies and live for eternity. Yet, when we all die, we face the reality of God's wrath towards sinners. This is what we all need to be saved from - God's wrath is poured out to transgressors and unrighteousness.
You may say to yourself, "I don't believe that, because God is a loving God." I totally understand where you're coming from. But may we allow Scripture to explain to us where this Love lies and what this Love truly means? God reveals himself to us through His Word and this is what we see...
"The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge!"
(Psalm 50:6, emphasis added)
"God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts."
(Psalm 7:11-13 ESV, emphasis added)
"God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry [with the wicked] every day." (Psalm 7:11 KJV, emphasis added)
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth."
(Romans 1:18, emphasis added)
"I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy,
because I am holy..." (Leviticus 11:44)
We ought to understand that the nature of God is not limited to his being a God of Love. He is a righteous judge as well as a Holy God. That is why His anger burns against unrighteousness because His holiness cannot tolerate any drop of sin!
7 For we are brought to an end by your anger;
by your wrath we are dismayed.
8 You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9 For all our days pass away under your wrath;
we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
10 The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their spanc is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.
11 Who considers the power of your anger,
and your wrath according to the fear of you?
12 So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
(Psalm 90: 7-12)
This is how God's LOVING nature becomes evident and magnified. Because we are all subject to God's wrath and are objects of His continuous anger (remember SIN in us?), God's Sovereignty reveals the Love that God shows towards man. This is the Love we all tend to misunderstand and we all tend to abuse...
"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)
"Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him." (Isaiah 30:18)
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
This is the love of God... He does not want any of us to perish, thus He shows His mercy towards us. He showed compassion to a world that is dead. He said this of Himself that He is our SAVIOR and thus, He himself provided a way for man to be reconciled to Him, for man to come to repentance, for man to be saved from His wrath! His love is about our Salvation. It was never about Him becoming tolerant to sin. It was never a license for man to continue sinning.
So, what is our Hope? It is this promise that we should not perish, but have everlasting life! This everlasting LIFE (and no longer Death) is what we Hope for... what we look forward to with confidence and great expectation!
More wonderful is the fact that Hope works hand in hand with Faith. For the Bible defines Faith this way...
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)
When we hold on to "Hope", we are holding on to something we do not yet see. We look forward with eager expectation. Faith, however, raises our Hope to a different level! It gives EVIDENCE to what we do not see. Do you know what an evidence does to a presumed thing? It gives proof, a clear indication, and gives the knowledge on which we base our belief. It makes the promise sure. It gives the one who hopes CONFIDENCE on the promise, on the thing we all hoped for.
My friends, do you know that we CAN know for sure if we are going to heaven or not? Though many believe and say "I really hope to get to heaven someday..." or "I'm trying my best to at least get to heaven one day...", the Word of God has a promise, a Hope for the hopeless to embrace, that speaks of assurance of our place in heaven - forever reconciled and in fellowship with God!
We will look into this ASSURANCE of HEAVEN in the next part of our series...