Faith Baptist Church
4258 Botetourt Road
Fincastle, Virginia 24090
Our faith is often tried in a most sullen way. Discouragement, like a dark cloud, can often develop after hearing all the bad news the world throws at us. Without God and his word even the strongest of saints can get a case of give-up-itus. Prov.13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick; but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.”
When adverse circumstances appear to have the best of us it takes more than emotional stimulation to lift our spirits. It takes more than friends and things and entertainment to drive that discouragement away. It takes more than prayer to convince us that things will be all right.
As a matter of Scripture Paul said there are times when our burdens are so heavy that we find it even hard to know how to pray. The great Apostle Paul experienced this heaviness of soul as noted in Rom.8:26 “Likewise, the Spirit also helps our infirmity; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit, himself, makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Have you ever been at a loss for words to say, even to God? Does God have an antidote for the believer’s blues?
The antidote to discouragement is hope. Hope in the original Greek of the New Testament is more than what the English word portrays. The English definition of hope has a mixed element of chance, and carries the possibility of disappointment, but not so in the Greek meaning. The meaning the Holy Spirit gave is one of confidence. The verb form of the word hope is, elpizo. The noun form is elpis and it means confident expectation. This word is closely akin to encouragement. If you are discouraged, then you need to receive encouragement. This requires positive volition on our part. We can walk in discouragement or we can walk in encouragement. We have to want it. If we are in a rut we have to want out before we can get out.
From the Bible the word hope has to do with things which have not been seen, but are yet to come. For the unbeliever he hopes [hope 1] in eternal life so the Gospel offers him this hope. This hope is unseen until we believe in Christ, and then this hope becomes a living reality. The indwelling Holy Spirit brings this confident expectation to the consciousness of the convert to Christ. Eph.2:12-13 “That at the time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus ye who once were far off are made near by the blood of Christ.”
Paul said in Rom.8:24a, that once salvation is received we no longer need to hope for it because it is ours forever. And then to sustain the believer’s confident expectations of God and to experience the joy of our salvation we have another hope [hope 2] and that is the hope of spiritual maturity, Rom.15:13 “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, (trusting God’s word) that ye may abound (spiritual maturity) in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
The spiritual confidence the believer secures to himself depends on his intake and application of the word of God. And with the final hope of our resurrection lying more assuredly ahead of us we are ...”Looking for that blessed hope [hope 3] and the glorious appearing of the great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for us that he might purify unto himself a people of his own, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:13-14.
We are called upon to live a pure life. I Jn.3:3 “And every man that has this hope (resurrection) in him purifieth himself even as he, (Christ) is pure.” Impurity includes all sins; sins of the flesh, sins of the mind and sins of the tongue. All sin stains and tarnishes the image of Christ in our lives.
Nothing can dampen our spirits and discourage us more than personal sin. The writer of Prov.13:12 says hope deferred (due to sin) makes the heart sick. King David said of his sins in Ps.38:1-17 that they were like a heavy burden to him, too heavy to bear, v.4 and finally in v.17 he said “For I am ready to halt....v.18 For I will declare my iniquity...”
Prov.28:13 “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
The longest stretch the believer has to face in the Christian life is that period between salvation and glorification. Until glorification with Christ occurs the order of the day is sanctification. The pastor is to supply biblical teachings and provide oversight to assist believers in this lifetime pursuit of maturing until life is over or the Lord comes back.
Pass On The Hope
We are called upon in I Pet.3:15 to give to the lost person the reason for the hope that is in us. And I will add that we are also to pass on hope #2 to believers who are struggling to find their way in the Christian life.
It is not our good deeds, though we should maintain them to honor God. It is not our local church though we should be faithful to her. It is not due to our personality though our joy should be evident. No, it is not any of these things which we should pass on as our reason for our hope. Our hope is anchored in our risen Savior, Jesus Christ.
Titus 3:7 “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope (confident expectation) of eternal life.”
Be like that tree planted by the rivers of water and you will bring forth spiritual fruit in your season, your leaf (testimony) will not wither; and whatsoever you do will prosper, Ps.1:3 (paraphrase).