Linked But Separate. Faith, Hope & Love remain — so Paul tells us. We continue Paul’s Advent message that ultimately brings us to the supreme testimony of God’s love, our Savior’s birth. Yet, while Faith can & does build Hope, the two are distinguishable from one another. They’re not the same. Faith has work to perform today; Hope cheers Faith along the way encouraging. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God as Paul reminds us in Romans 10:17; Hope comes by experiencing the Word of God as he tells us in Romans 5:4 — And patience, experience; and experience, hope: Faith accepts the gift of promise; Hope confidently expects the fulfillment of promise.
No Hope. Advent is very much a time of hope as we look forward to the coming of our Lord. Yet, not all see hope in the same way. In fact, it seems as if some in the world have no hope at all. I see hope revealing itself in one of three ways. There are those with No Hope. There are those with False Hope. There are those with True Hope. What’s the difference? One of the reasons I feel such concern for our younger people is that many have not just drifted away from a relationship with God (as many do in life), they have stopped believing in Him all together. They are people without Hope & without God in the world. For anyone of any age to be without Hope is a terrible thing indeed. God knew how important Hope is for the human soul. Adam & Eve, when they had sinned, were without Hope. That’s why God gave them Hope in the first covenant promise declared in Genesis 3:15.
False Hope. Sadly, False Hope is even worse than No Hope. A person who is hopeless (No Hope) may be inclined to accept True Hope, especially through the living faith of another. False hope may look good, initially, but only until trouble arises. Then it collapses because like the one who built his house on sand, there is no firm foundation. False Hope is the addict who thinks they can escape their problems by getting high. The church member who thinks baptism, membership or deeds is all that is necessary to escape hell has False Hope. Those who believe in religions without Christ have False Hope. Our list of False Hopes is almost limitless, which is why Advent’s preparation for our Lord’s coming is so important. It points us toward where our True Hope is to be found.
True Hope. What is True Hope? There is only ONE in regard to salvation. That’s what Advent is getting us ready for.
Titus 2:13-3:7 — while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you. Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
1 Peter 1:3-5 — Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
True Hope can only be found in Christ. Our Hope is in the love of Christ. Just as is our Faith. And that’s where we arrive next Wednesday at the greatest of these — LOVE.
Pastor Lee R. Harder