“My soul longs for Your salvation: I hope in Your Word” (Psalm 119:81).
The Psalmist’s hope was concerning what had already been revealed. God had given His Word. It was good, right, and salutary that the Psalmist and all people hope in God’s Word. This hope is a sure hope, a hope that will be; actually, a hope that is--we just have not yet fully obtained it. Hope is part of our Christian life: “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13); we will deal more on this concept later in this article.
Biblical hope is not the hope mankind lives with outside of Scripture; that hope is dependent on many variables. Hope outside of Scripture has a chance of not being accomplished. For example, a person mixes together a batch of cookie dough. The dough is formed into balls and placed on a cookie sheet, and set in the oven at 375 degrees. The cook and others in the house who smell the aroma can rightly hope for a tasty cookie. This fits Webster’s definition for hope: “a desire with expectation of obtainment.” The cookie pan is in the oven, we can smell the cookies cooking; therefore, the odds are definitely in favor of obtaining the cookie. However, there is a chance, ever so slight, that the house catches fire or a meteorite crashes through the roof. A tornado or an earthquake could hit. Or someone has some intense medical emergency keeping them from obtaining a cookie. Things that we hope for outside of Scripture have a multitude of variables that we try to control in order that our expected desire is obtained.
Back to “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest is love.” Why is love the greatest? First, the Bible says so. Further thought is that love stays love when it matures. Love is love. Faith and hope become knowledge when they mature. The desire is obtained. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of thing not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). The Holy Spirit generates faith that is for this side of glory. When Christ gathers us up to His Kingdom of Glory, everlasting life, there is no more waiting, and we will fully see our Savior; herein faith has been matured. This is also true of hope. Hope in obtaining a cookie no longer remains, but is matured when the cookie is eaten. Biblical hope in God’s Word matures into knowledge of something fully obtained, such as, residing in the room Christ went to prepare for us (John 14:2) or living in an imperishable, glorified, and powerful spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:42-49).
The prophet Samuel lived with Biblical hope that David would be king. God had revealed this to Samuel (1 Samuel 16:12-13). Samuel lived years witnessing David not being the king. Samuel actually died before David was on the throne. However, Samuel’s hope matured for many others to witness. God said David would be king and that Word matured; it was fulfilled. For the things of our everlasting life (prepared room and resurrected body) we can have sure Biblical hope that we will obtain the hope, but like Samuel, we will die before that is matured. In this temporary life, the Christian is to receive hope fulfilled with God’s grace of forgiveness. God’s Word has established methods to mature that hope to knowledge, thus obtaining forgiveness in His Word and Sacraments. Enjoy!
The Lord be with you,
Pastor Sam Wiseman