The Object of Hope
James Smith, 1862
"For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for? But if we hope for what we do not see—we wait for it with patience." Romans 8:24, 25
Some have no hope, being destitute of the very form of religion. To them . . .
there is no God;
the Bible is no more than a book of fables,
hell is a fabrication, and
heaven is but a dream!
Millions have a false hope, having only a form of godliness—but being destitute of its power.
Some have a good hope through grace—a hope . . .
wrought in them by the Holy Spirit,
excited and drawn forth by the everlasting gospel,
and fixed upon invisible realities.
This hope always purifies the heart and regulates it; for they hope to be like Jesus when He comes, and to be with Him forever—and every man who has this hope in Him, purifies himself, even as He is pure.
This hope prompts the soul . . .
to expect great blessings,
to aspire to lofty privileges, and
to attempt the most difficult duties.
This hope protects the man from many dangers, and preserves him from many evils.
This hope is well-grounded, on . . .
the oath of God,
the blood of the covenant,
and the pledge of the Holy Spirit.
This hope is well-tried . . .
by Satan and the world without,
by unbelief and corruption within, and
by God in the dispensations of his providence.
This hope is well-supported, having for its support . . .
all the promises of the Word,
the experience of the Lord's people,
and the glorious character of God.
This hope is a lively hope—being full of vigor, buoyancy, and energy, so that it rises above all that opposes its progress, and enables its possessor to reach the goal.
Well, then, may the apostle say, "For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it" (Romans 8:24, 25).
The OBJECT of hopeis . . .
the unseen—the invisible;
something great and glorious;
something durable and eternal.
In a word, it is HEAVEN!
That heaven which God has prepared for those who love Him—where He dwells Himself with all His holy angels—where Jesus is, in all His majesty and glory!
That heaven . . .
to which the sanctified heart aspires,
for which the renewed spirit longs, and
after which our warmest and most enlarged desires go forth!
That heaven in which we shall enjoy perfect holiness . . .
purified from all sin,
freed from all corruption, and
delivered forever from all filthiness of flesh and spirit!
That heaven in which we shall possess complete happiness, so that there shall be . . .
no aching void,
no unsatisfied desire,
no longing wishes left!
We shall be . . . .
full of light,
full of life,
full of peace,
full of God!
That heaven where we shall have blessed employment, serving the Lamb who was slain—performing a perfect service—a service which at once honors and pleases Him, and satisfies and delights us—a service full of holiness, full of love, and therefore most pleasant!
That heaven made up . . .
of eternal union to God,
of perfect enjoyment of God, and
of everlastingly glorifying God.
No mourning His absence there!
No sighing for communion with Him there!
No lack of anything there!
Every power will be employed—and will enjoy its employment forever!
This heaven is promised us in the word. We believe in its existence and excellency.
It is attainable; for whoever believes on Jesus has everlasting life—and he will raise him up again at the last day. He who endures to the end—shall be saved.
It is certain to every believer—as certain as the promise of God, the care of the Holy Spirit, and the intercession of Jesus can make it. It is certain, for Jesus has taken possession of it in our nature, in our name, to prepare it for our reception. Many of our brethren are already collected there, and have entered upon it as a part of the family to whom it is bequeathed. Our treasure is laid up there; our hearts and our hopes are there, and we shall soon be there too.
We are in the way, we have made considerable progress, and the end will be safely reached. We are kept by the power of God, which guards, protects, and enables us to persevere. "If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son—much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." Yes, heaven is certain to every believer, for he is passed from death unto life—and shall never come into condemnation!
The COMPANION of Hope."But if we hope for what we do not see—we wait for it with patience."
It is distant—and we must journey in order to reach it.
It is future—and we must wait for it.
Between us and it . . .
there is time—which should be spent to God's glory;
there are sufferings—which must be endured in God's strength;
there are enemies—which must be conquered by faith in Christ;
there is work—which must be done, that grace may be honored;
there are trials—which must be borne with fortitude and courage;
there is death—which must be experienced and overcome in the strength of the ever-living One.
We must therefore wait for it—and we can wait, for . . .
strong desire will produce steady expectation, and
steady expectation will produce great patience, and
patience will enable us to do and suffer all God's holy will.
This hope will enable us to bear our trials, however numerous and however great they may be; for supported and sustained by faith, it will never flinch or give way.
Therefore the apostle exhorted the tried and persecuted Hebrews, "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You have need of patience—so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while—He who is coming will come and will not delay!"
Patience will enable us to do God's work, however arduous, trying, or self-denying it may be; so that by patient continuance in well-doing, we shall look for glory, honor, and immortality—even eternal life; and when our Lord reports on our state, he will say, as he did of his church at Ephesus, "I know your works, and your labor, and your patience."
Patience will enable us to wait God's time, both for the blessings of grace and the possession of glory. We shall take the advice of James when he says, " Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near!" Yes, we shall be found "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer."
A good hope of a glorious heaven enables us to wait with patience, and we become, "followers of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises!" And as it was with Abraham—so will it be with us;—of him we read, "And so, after he had patiently endured—he obtained the promise."
The blessing is certain—as certain as the oath and promise of God can render it; and therefore, however God may act towards us in a way of providence, we may still say with Job, "Though he slays me—yet will I trust in him!"
The blessing is so great, that it will be a full and sufficient reward for all our sufferings, toils, and waiting here below; therefore let us take encouragement from Peter's words: "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." If we suffer for Christ and with Christ now—we shall share in all the glory of Christ at his revelation.
Patient waiting is opposed to complaining, which is one of the fruits of the flesh, and indicates carnality of mind.
Patient waiting is opposed to anxiety, which ought never to be allowed to harass or distress the believer's soul.
Patient waiting is opposed to idleness; for he who patiently waits in hope of glory will be diligent to be found of the Lord in peace, without spot, and blameless.
Patient waiting is opposed to despondency; for how can he despond who hopes for glory, and patiently waits for it?
Patient waiting produces courage, and casts out all slavish fear.
Patient waiting generates comfort, and leads us to sources of the richest consolation.
Patient waiting makes us constant and persevering; so that those who unite hope and patience never draw back unto perdition—but always believe unto the saving of the soul.
Hope tranquillizes the troubled soul, even in the midst of its troubles; and therefore David repeatedly says, "Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disquieted in me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."
It also protects in the hour of conflict and danger, and is therefore compared to a piece of defensive armor, as Paul exhorts, "Let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet—the hope of salvation. "For God has not appointed us to suffer wrath—but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep—we should live together with him." Thus the head is screened and protected—by the hope of salvation; while the heart is protected—by faith and love.
Beloved, have you a lively hope? That is, a vigorous expectation of everlasting glory, as the free gift of God, coming to you through what the Lord Jesus Christ has done and suffered? Fully expecting the rest of heaven, and to share in the glory of Christ when he comes—do you patiently wait for it?
There will be much to tempt you to doubt; much to agitate, disturb, and distress your mind; but the hope of glory should keep you steady, as the anchor cast on the rock does the vessel, in the midst of the troubled sea. As your hope is—so will your patience be. A lively, earnest, vigorous hope—will produce settled, steady, and enduring patience; so that you will:
quietly bear your troubles,
meekly carry your cross, and
calmly press on toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling, which is of God in Christ Jesus.
Gracious Lord, give us a steady hope of glory, and enable us patiently to bear all that falls to our lot below—ever remembering, that it is through much tribulation that we must enter into the kingdom of God!