/ Timothy McCracken

the objectivity of hope in Scripture

Isn’t it true that the word hope, in ordinary conversation, can be used in at least three ways?

1. We utilize the word hope to express a desire.  "I sure hope the electricity doesn’t go out!”   (hopes dashed just a couple of evenings ago at my house)

2. We may describe a person as hopeful, meaning that they have a fairly confident expectation that a desired thing will be attained.

3. But the word hope is also used objectively, with reference to that which constitutes a valid reason for confident expectation, some reality in which to hope!

And #3 is essential to the grounded experience of hoping.  I love to sing, but if my desire is that I have sell-out concerts at Carnegie Hall before the end of the year, whatever assurance of anticipation I muster will not have been founded on much that is objective!

With regard to considerations like these, Scripture’s reference to objective hope encourages.  We hear hope referred to objectively in Colossians 1:4-5.

Colossians 1:4 (NKJV) … we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; 5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven…

Hope laid up in heaven, something that can be counted upon, a longed-for reality kept safe for you, cause for faith and for love.

We hear the objective ring again in the first chapter of Titus.  There, Paul opens his letter stating that he writes…

Titus 1:1 (ESV) … for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began…

The phrase “hope of eternal life” sticks together, and the objective thing about that hope, when referenced as a thing promised, is the nature of God.  He does not lie. He who can make definitive plans before all ages has formally committed Himself to it.  The reality of God in terms of who He is in Himself,  THAT is what we may count on.  Sound reason for expectation.

Hebrews 6 speaks of it that way, too.  Having made reference not only to the fact that God made a promise concerning the hope of salvation, but taking particular note of the fact that He swore to it, our inspired author teaches us that God did this so that…

Hebrews 6:18 (NIV)  … by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.  19  We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

The words "this hope" refer not to our degree of confidence, but to the reality of God's faithfulness to sworn commitment, a reality we may take hold of, an anchor for our souls.  We may hope because there is hope.

This truth about the objective nature of hope and how it relates to our experience of hoping is likely why we hear these words in Paul's prayer in Ephesians.

Ephesians 1:18 (NIV) I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints...

May this hope bear its fruit in us, as God gives us an ever-deepening confidence concerning all the blessing He has held out to us.