Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Refiner's Fire: "Indestructible Hope"

I would like to share with you an article by E. J. Waggoner as supplementary reading for this week’s lesson.—Paul Penno

“The Certainty of Hope”
[The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, June 24, 1902, p. 9.]

VERY few of the thousands who daily express themselves as hoping for this or that, realize what hope really is. How often we hear of disappointed hopes, of “hopes dashed to the ground,” of people who hoped for certain things, but did not get them; and even while telling of their “hope” for some desired thing, some will express the fear that they will be disappointed. Such ones know not what hope really is, and are deluding themselves with false hopes.

There is nothing true but God, for Christ, the revelation of God, is “the truth.” He is also the reality, the fullness, because He is the life—the whole of life. He is, and without Him there is nothing. There is but one true God, and but one true love, “the love of God,” because “God is love.” So there is but one rightful Lord; but one faith—“the faith of Jesus;” and but one real hope,—the hope of our calling in God (Eph. 4:4-7).

This hope does not disappoint. That is the force of the expression, “hope maketh not ashamed,” in Romans 5:5. Real hope does not deceive us; we are not made ashamed by being obliged to admit that we have not received that of which we spoke so confidently. Often have we been embarrassed when we have been asked where a certain thing is, which we have with bright anticipation spoken about expecting to receive. We were disappointed, and would be glad to have the matter forgotten. We feel perhaps a little ashamed of our former enthusiasm, and do not like to have it mentioned. But nothing of this sort happens when we have “the blessed hope” which comes with the experience of justification by faith.

Why is this? What is the reason that hope—all hope that is hope indeed—“maketh not ashamed”? The reason is given: “Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” True hope has its origin in true love—the love of God,—because love “hopeth all things” (1 Cor. 13:7). “Love is of God,” for “God is love;” therefore love is as enduring and unchanging as God himself. He is “from everlasting to everlasting,” and “the Lord hath appeared of old time unto me, saying, Yes, I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” It must be evident to all that hope that is based upon such love can never disappoint one.

“God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” This was promised to Abraham, and the promise was confirmed by an oath,—God swearing by himself,—for our sakes, that “we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us, which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil, whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek” (Heb. 6:17-20). All things are assured to us in Christ, and only in Him (Rom. 8:32). There is nothing in this world or the world to come that we can have except through His cross. So the so-called hope for anything that is not to be found in Him is sure to meet with disappointment; and the hope for everything that is in Him, and that can be had with Him, is as sure of fulfillment, as that He lives.

Even this is not all; for hope is so very real that we truly have the thing hoped for. Thus: God’s work was finished from the foundation of the world, and Christ was given before that (Heb. 4:3. 1 Peter 1:19, 20). On the cross He said, “It is finished.” Infinite and everlasting love has bestowed everything. God asks: “What could have been done more to My vineyard, that I have not done in it” (Isa. 5:4). All heaven has already been poured out in the gift of Christ, so that all that we can possibly hope for we already have in Him. We “rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” and Christ in us is “the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). He is the brightness of the Father’s glory (Heb. 1:3), and the glory that was given Him He has given us (John 17:22); therefore having Him we have all things. He is the same today that He is in eternity; therefore all the joys of eternity are ours in Him today.

This is the “lively hope,” the living hope, that we have by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). There is no element of doubt or uncertainty in it. The Christian’s hope is no vague longing after something in the dim and uncertain future, but a firm grasp of that which is, as well as is to come. This is not simply “the larger hope,” but the largest hope, for we are taught to believe that God’s mercy is upon us according as we hope in Him (Psalm 33:22). Then let abiding hope abound, that joy may be full.

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