Following from the past three devotionals in which we have focussed on the Glory that has been revealed and that awaits us, the devotional printed below from EMW, seemed very appropriate so it is offered and its source acknowledged.
For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
It is important to grasp an important point as we start the devotion on these verses. The English word ‘hope’ and the Greek word in the text have very different meanings. For example, we often say, ‘I hope to see you soon’ or ‘I had hoped to visit you yesterday but it was impossible’ and these statements express a wish, a good intention yet this kind of ‘hope’ has a vagueness, uncertainty and indefiniteness attached to it with the strong possibility of something not happening. That is NOT what the word means in verses 24-25! Here Paul uses the term to refer to something absolutely certain which will occur in the future.
Notice then how the word ‘hope’ is used by Paul:
a) ‘for in this hope we are saved‘
Paul’s point is persuasive. Having received salvation in Christ by faith, this salvation is permeated and guaranteed by ‘hope’. Something definite will occur in the future. Not only will Christians go to heaven when they die but also the Lord Jesus will return personally in glory at a time unknown to us. God will ensure it happens. This certain future event involves creation being transformed and believers glorified.Does this solid ‘hope’ permeate your faith and life?
b) Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?
Paul now explains more about this hope and his point is obvious. There is no point in my hoping to see my children and grandchildren because – at the time of writing – they are with us on holiday in our home. We are enjoying being together. Similarly, a patient discharged from hospital no longer hopes to be at home for the ‘hope’ has become reality. Hope no longer applies. Paul’s point is that the Lord Jesus has not yet returned from heaven so the general resurrection and the transformation of the earth and heavens will occur in the future at the Lord’s second coming. That is certain to happen so Christians continue to ‘hope’ with eagerness for these events to occur. When they occur, hope will turn into sight and unimaginable joy.
Harold, the father of Patricia St. John, had been a bible teacher and missionary for years but in his final months he was at home struggling with a serious heart condition. Although at times the pain and discomfort were unbearable, the hope of being with the Lord in heaven comforted him. ‘I feel like a little tug in a great storm’ he said, ‘But I am fastened to a great ship … its going into port and can’t lose its way’. He added with considerable joy and hope, ‘When I go in to see the King it will be bright, very bright – I’m the happiest man alive’. That is Christian hope!
A year following the Aberfan disaster, Dr Lloyd-Jones preached there in 1967 to mark its first anniversary. His powerful evening message was from Romans 8:18-23. Following the service, the local Vicar informed the preacher that the people of Aberfan had been waiting long to hear such a message. A local pastor wrote to Lloyd-Jones afterwards, ‘After the services I saw mothers, who had lost little ones, and fathers also, smile with renewed hope in their faces. I know they will face the future now with more confidence.’
Is this true of ourselves today?
Dr Eryl Davies (Heath Church Cardiff)