Monday, September 17, 2012

Hope is an Anchor Part 1

A Biblical Look at “Hope”

In order to properly understand the Christian's hope, it is important to examine the exact meaning of the word “hope.” “Hope” means “a desire for, or an expectation of, good, especially when there is some confidence of fulfillment.” It is used that way both in common English and in the Bible. However, the Bible often uses the word “hope” in another way—to refer to the special expectation of good that God has in store for each Christian in the future. Today, the ordinary use of “hope” allows for the possibility that what is hoped for will not come to pass.  However, when the Bible [and Book of Mormon] uses the word “hope” to refer to things that God has promised, the meaning of “hope” shifts from that which has a reasonable chance of coming to pass to that which will absolutely come to pass. To be a useful anchor, hope must hold fast.

A biblical occurrence of “hope” as “an expectation of good” can be found in Acts 27:20. Paul was on a ship bound for Rome. A storm came up and raged for many days, such that “we gave up all hope of being saved.” Another example is in 3 John 14 where the Apostle John wrote to his friend Gaius, and said, “I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.” These are examples of the Bible using the word “hope” in the way it is used in everyday language, such as when someone says, “I hope it rains this week,” or “I hope you feel better.” There are also many biblical examples of the word “hope” referring to everlasting life and the blessings associated with it. Colossians 1:23 mentions “the hope held out in the gospel,” i.e., “the expectation of future good presented in the gospel.”

It is unfortunate that the word “hope” has come to be used in common English as a synonym for “wish.” In the sentence, “I hope it will rain this week,” the word “hope,” if properly used, implies a certainty or confidence that it will, in fact, rain. If there is no such confidence, then it would be more proper to say, “I wish it would rain this week.”

As noted above, when the Bible uses the word “hope” in reference to events in the future, there is no doubt at all that the events will occur. The book of Titus contains a usage of “hope” referring to the believer’s expectation of eternal life:
Titus 1:1 and 2
(1)
 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness—

(2) a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.
This is a good example of the word “hope” referring to our expectation of everlasting life. In this case, it implies more than just a desire or a wish. It is an expectation of the future that will absolutely come to pass. God, “who does not lie,” made many promises about the future everlasting life of the believer. Although we may not know when He will fulfill those promises, we can be absolutely certain that He will fulfill them.

This quote continued in pt3...
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An example from The Book of Mormon is Ether 12:32.    

"And I also remember that thou hast said that thou hast prepared a house for man, yea, even among the mansions of thy Father, in which man might have a more excellent hope; wherefore man must hope, or he cannot receive an inheritance in the place which thou hast prepared."

"As used here [quoting Ether 12:32] "hope" comes from a promise given by God and describes the state of mind of the recipient during the time interval after the promise but before it's realization.  It is not a vague notion, or whimsical possibility.  it was trust and confidence springing from a promise given to a person by God.  It is something far greater, more profound, more strongly felt, more firmly based than just expectancy from vague desire."

It is "hope" which is powerful, controlling, and causes a thing to come to pass because it is now their right to receive the thing promised.  This [kind of hope] is not simply a virtue. It is powerful, even controlling.  It bends reality as we know it, because it permits a higher power to intervene in the lives of people holding such "hope"."  (Snuffer, Denver (2007) Eighteen Verses (pp. 66-67). Salt lake City: Milcreek Press.)  [] added by blog author.  
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