The Bible uses hope in two senses: (1) the quality of heart and mind whereby one desires and expects some future good, as in Psalm 31: 24: “Be of good courage . . . all ye that hope in the LORD.” Note that one needs both desire and expectation; and (2) the thing or things one desires and expects, as in Hebrews 6: 18, which mentions those “who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.”
Hope’s Threefold Foundation
The Christian’s hope is not a soap bubble; instead, it has a solid threefold foundation:
(1.) God’s Oath-bound promise (Genesis 22: 17) (Hebrews 6: 13-20). God knows our weak and fallen nature, and that we would need strong consolation, so He has given us His oath that He will keep His promise to us who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us (verses 17 and 18).
This hope is “an anchor of the soul” (verse 19). The Christian is here pictured as a ship, which has an anchor – our hope. The chain holding the anchor is the promise and oath. Faith holds the chain to the ship – the Christian.
(2.) Christ’s High-Priestly ministry, who has, or is doing seven things for us: (1) He consecrated His humanity unto death as a sacrifice, to make us acceptable to the Heavenly Father; (2) He developed a character that would enable Him to be a merciful and faithful High Priest (Hebrews 2: 17, 18); (3) He imputes His merit on our behalf, giving us a positive righteousness in God’s eyes; (4) He enables us to receive all the help from God that we need to overcome; (5) He teaches us what we need to believe and do, and what not to believe and do; (6) He gives us opportunities to serve God; and (7) He enables us to develop a Christlike character.
(3.) The holy spirit, which God gives to those who consecrate their lives to Him. God’s spirit enables us to develop a character similar to that of the Father and the Son.
Hope’s particular function is to encourage, to make us strong to do and dare for the Lord; and its general function is to help develop and support us in every good word and work, and against every evil word and work. It helps us to cleanse ourselves from filthiness of the flesh and spirit; it helps us to be more loving to the Father, to the Son, to the brethren, to the world and to our enemies; and it helps all our other Christian graces.
Like all our other character graces, hope must be tested. Untoward circumstances that naturally tend to crush hope are permitted to test it. Under such circumstances Satan seeks to turn it into despair and wreck it; but the Lord’s intention in permitting such tests is to refine and purify our hope.
Our faults and failures are perhaps the hardest tests on hope. Satan never wearies in bringing these to our attention, by seeking to convince us that it would be impossible for us with such faults and failures to overcome, and become fit for a place in God’s Kingdom and its privileges.
At such times, we are to be fully convinced that we are unable to overcome in our own strength; but to be as fully convinced that the Lord, through Jesus’ ministry, is an all-sufficient helper in all tests. This assurance will enable us to stand the trial of hope.
Hope enables us to perform deeds that will delight and honor God and Christ and serve the cause that They are advancing. Hope helps us to gain results in our own development as Christians. Hope helps us to build up our fellow Christians, to give a testimony to the world, to assist us to endure trials and to prepare us for a place in God’s Kingdom. It will play a large part in animating Christ and the Church in Their work of uplifting the world, in bringing about the complete overthrow of evil and the triumph of good.