Hope for those who have none
Life after death. It is still the case that most people believe in it. In some form and in some place existence will continue beyond the grave. And most expect, too, that they will be happy. Life can be miserable enough for them here. But their comfort is that there – beyond the grave – the happiness that has eluded them here will finally be theirs.
The Bible has a great deal to say about just such a bright future. And there is a particular word that it uses again and again as it does so. That word is hope. Let me share with you some of the Bible’s teaching on it.
It is the gift of God. In one of his letters the Apostle Paul speaks of God as “the God of hope” (Romans 15.13). What he means is that hope is a blessing that flows to us from God. It is his gift. If we have it, it is because he has given it to us. If we lack it, it is to him we must go for it.
Which brings me to an important second point: not everyone has this hope. In another of his letters Paul describes his readers as having once been “without hope” (Ephesians 2.12). It is a picture of what sin has done to the human race. It has robbed us of a solid, well-grounded hope of happiness in the presence of God.
How this needs to understood – and believed! So many who imagine that all will be well in the world to come are utterly deceived. There is a massive change that must take place in us first. Jesus, God’s Son, must become our Saviour. God must reconcile us to himself through him. Our sins must be forgiven, our lives renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Until then, we are just what the Apostle’s readers once were: without hope.
A third point is that all who do have this hope have everything to look forward to. The return of Jesus. Resurrection from the dead. A glorious new body that will never sicken or die. Life on a new earth and under new heavens. Freedom from sin. The supreme joy of serving God, seeing his glory, reflecting his likeness, bringing him praise. And all in the best of company. God has great things in store for his people!
Here is a fourth point: the certainty of it all. Hope is a word we often use in connection with things that are uncertain. We hope we will get well. Or that the sun will shine on our wedding day. Or that our job application will be successful. Or that we will live long. The problem is, we can’t be sure!
Contrast that with the hope of which we read in the Bible. In all its wonderful dimensions it is certain. It is a hope that will not disappoint. Those who have it will one day be in firm possession of all that it holds out to us. Here is why: its promises are nothing less than the promises of God. And because he is faithful we can be absolutely sure of their fulfilment.
One final point. There is hope for the hopeless. Have you come to see that the hope of the Bible isn’t yours? That the happiness you have been promising yourself is a mirage? That as things are between yourself and God you have every reason to fear the worst? Take heart. God is gracious and merciful. He invites you to look to him for the salvation from sin that you need. And promises hope in return.