Our Comfort in Hope (The Longer Version)

 Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

There are hundreds of promises written in the Bible, and these are available to those who know they exist, obtainable to those who have found them, and they are most certainly reachable for those who will believe to receive them. In II Peter 1:4, we read that God has “given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature,” and these promises are given to believers in order that we may partake in the bountifulness of God’s divine nature. Still, there are other things that the Bible reveals that are totally out of our reach, and thus even with believing we cannot receive them, such things as having our heavenly treasures now or receiving our new heavenly bodies. We cannot spend and enjoy any of our heavenly currency that we have laid up (in heaven, Matthew 6:20; Colossians 3:24) until we arrive, nor may we have our new and indestructible, eternal bodies until Christ returns, neither can we believe for Jesus to return any quicker and arrive on a timetable of our choosing.

Whenever we cannot believe for something that the Bible promises we shall receive, then the Bible tells us so by placing them in the category of HOPE, which is to be a future reality, a definite certainty, but we just cannot have them now. All of the hope that God reveals in the Bible is given to bring comfort to believers as we read in Jeremiah 29.

Jeremiah 29:11 (The Amplified Bible):* 
For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for {your} welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.

I Corinthians 9:10 declares, “he that ploweth should plow in hope,” because we do not reap the harvest at the moment we have plowed, rather the produce comes in after the ground is prepared, the seeds have been planted, the soil has been watered, the weeds have been pulled, the temperature cooperates, and the sun has supplied its energy. Still, the hope was also planted on the very day of tillage in the heart of the farmer, for he has expectation for a future crop, to give him hope in his final outcome. A farmer sows and cultivates with the hope that there soon will be a bountiful harvest for him to reap while his work continues (see Romans 8:24–25, below).

Whenever it is available to receive an immediate promise from God, then the Bible tells us to have believing faith to realize that promise. But whenever we find promises in the Bible that we cannot presently have, then these are always in the category of hope, and hope is always future. Yet even hope will come to fulfillment when in the course of time we do reap, but the receiving of these are always on God’s timetable; believing is on our timetable and given to us by God at the precise moment in time that we truly believe to receive the promises in the Bible, promises that we have claimed in Jesus Christ’s name (Mark 9:23).

So then, Christians who are “only hoping” for God to bless them in the present tense rarely do receive any abundance (from God), while Christians who believe really do receive abundance (from God). Our needs are truly supplied as soon as the biblical requirement of believing is applied; thus, the descriptive term for Christians is “believers.” Jesus taught, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24). Believing is so much more satisfying than simply hoping that something might happen for our immediate needs. Believing is for now – hope is for later, believing is powerful – hope is quiescent, believing appropriates the promises of God – hope is anticipating the future promises of God, believing is something you are in control of – hope is coming in the future and in God’s hands, believing is receiving – hope comforts with upcoming expectation.

There is also a third category that I like to call “impractical beliefs or hopes.” If one was to believe or hope for a slice of cheese from out of the moon, they would not receive it because the moon is not made out of cheese. We could believe or hope for awful, bad things to happen to people who have wronged us in the past, but this is really an ineffectual use of our time and effort. James 4:3 calls this asking amiss, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss.” We would be better off not believing or hoping for things that the Bible does not promise us; for instance, believing or hoping for someone to change their mind and “fall hopelessly in love with us” because God will not tamper with someone’s free will and force them to love. But, thankfully, we can inspire someone with the love of God to want to love without crossing any of the boundaries of one’s free will.

 Romans 8:24-25 (The Amplified Bible):**
-24: For in [this] hope we were saved {this hope is referring to “the redemption of our body” Romans 8:23, which will take place at a future moment, and thus it is called hope}. But hope [the object of] which is seen is not hope. For how can one hope for what he already sees?
-25: But if we hope for what is still unseen by us, we wait for it with patience and composure.

Notice that the Text says we were saved, yet the redemption of our bodies is still to happen, but with the hope, we have a definite salvation, it is our ever present hope for a glorious future, for it is already ours. We were saved is in the past tense to assure us that the hope of salvation is always ours, and that we cannot change this eternal truth no matter what we may believe, for God gives the hope, and that hope is in His hands to give. Thank God that hope is in His power to give, for I am sure we would mess it up along the way if it were up to us. Colossians 1:5 reveals that “the hope which is laid up for you in heaven,” is ever presently waiting, but out of our reach, for the hope is laid up for us in heaven. Yet the fullness of this hope will be a wonderful future experience for all believers, and thus we are encouraged to wait for it with patience. Hope is always to receive a future of blessings for our walking with God today. We will, after the return of Christ, be given all the blessings promised, yet today we patiently wait in hope to receive, and this hope is given to us now as it is Our Comfort in Hope.

I Thessalonians 5:8 encourages us to, “let us, who are of the day {i.e., enlightened by God’s Word}, be sober {minded}, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” This helmet is our future hope of salvation, for hope encourages the mind of the believer to “take the helmet of salvation” (Ephesians 6:17) into our lives to the point that we are assured of our eternal destiny. This helmet helps to protect the mind wherein your believing emanates, for when doubts come at you about your true destiny of redemption, the helmet, your hope of salvation, is given to you to prevent those outside distractions from penetrating or disheartening your God-given hope in your future glory to ever be with the Lord (Colossians 3:4).

Is not God quite awesome to have given us promises to believe in for our immediate needs, and as well, other promises for our future that we may hope in and look forward to their fruition? And as we learn of these, our hope will continue to grow while we, with excited anticipation, look forward to these lovely things God has prepared for us.

Romans 15:13: 
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing {for our immediate needs}, that ye may abound in hope {for our future}, through the power of the Holy Ghost {holy spirit}.

Hope is not an elusive concept of speculation about our future, but something that can powerfully abound in our inner souls, for abounding hope allows the believer to enjoy this life without a doubt about their eternal destiny.

Romans 5:5: 
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost {holy spirit} which is given to us.

Where shame or doubt once lived in one’s soul, hope now can occupy that space, for where shame would have festered in one’s heart ― hope now permeates with the joy of experiencing the love of God. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed” (Philippians 1:20).

How many Christians are there who feel almost reticent or guilty just for being a believer, or embarrassed because they go to church, or ashamed for being associated with others who are of their same belief who have wrongfully abused their religion? But on the other hand, the Apostle Paul taught, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16). Hope is what invigorates the believer to stand with God and fellow believers through adversity, and to help us endure the difficult times in life, because we have been given the hope of a blissful future.

The greatest hope that the Christian has is the return of Christ to gather us up together with him in the clouds.

Having hope, especially the hope of Christ’s return and our gathering together unto him maketh not ashamed, meaning just the opposite of shame, giving us something that we can indeed be so very proud of, as hope fills the desire in our hearts to want to tell anyone who will listen that Jesus is coming back. Paul said in I Corinthians 15:19, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” The context of this verse is that if we hope in Christ and our gathering together to be with him for eternity, and if he were not to return, then we should be the most wretched people on the planet for hoping in vain. However, and thank God, our hope is that Christ indeed is returning and then we will be gathered up and blessed for all eternity. For the present time, God has given to us His own love and the permission to believe His promises to us which will help sustain our lives as we continue to believe and enjoy His healing Word that guarantees our pleasurable expectations of divine hope.

I Thessalonians 4:12-13:
-12: That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without {without hope}, and that ye may have lack of nothing {by believing}.
-13: But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

Whenever you read in the Bible that God would not have you ignorant, it is because He wants you to be knowledgeable of something. In the upcoming verses from I Thessalonians, you will learn what God would have you to understand. You see, your God desires that you have, “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling” (Ephesians 1:18). The hope of his calling relates to being risen up to enjoy eternal life with your Savior. That ye sorrow not is the very reason that this section in I Thessalonians 4:12–18 is written, for we have been given a tremendous hope to ever be with the Lord.

Today we are spiritually risen with Christ (Ephesians 2:5–6), but in the future our God-given hope is to be physically changed and risen as Titus 2:13 confirms that we should be, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Looking for this blessed hope (rather than being fearful of that great and glorious day), so we may humbly thank God because we have been given such a wonderful hope for that splendid day!

 Philippians 3:20-21 (The Amplified Bible):**
-20: But we are citizens of the state (commonwealth, homeland) which is in heaven, and from it also we earnestly and patiently await [the coming of] the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [as] Savior,
-21: Who will transform and fashion anew the body of our humiliation to conform to and be like the body of His glory and majesty, by exerting that power which enables Him even to subject everything to Himself.

See our wonderful hope in these verses? We will have our bodies completely changed, from short-term vessels to everlasting vessels that can sail through the heavenlies, and that, my friend, will be with a new, changed, glorious body! This is our assured hope.

I Thessalonians 4:14:  
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him {with Jesus}.

God in this verse is comforting the living, letting us know that the sleeping believers’ hope of the return of Christ is still true and still a future event and God has not forgotten them and He will bring them with us into heaven at the “gathering together” (II Thessalonians 2:1–2). The phrase sleep in Jesus refers to the believers who have passed away, believers who did have the hope of Christ returning for them will God bring with him up to heaven. We, the living, who also believe that Jesus died and rose again, will also be gathered up when Christ returns.

Psalms 17:15:  
As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.

This is a future promise of God revealed to us by King David, a promise that many past believers had hope in; it is the promise to wake up with thy likeness, the likeness of the Savior ― this same future promise is promised to all believers who have fallen asleep.

I Thessalonians 4:15: 
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord {by revelation}, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord {Christ Jesus} shall not prevent {precede} them which are asleep.

This verse shows us the order in which believers will rise, the sleeping believers will be the first raised, and then we which are alive and remain here on earth will follow them up as the next verse will further detail. The Bible uses the word asleep for believers who have passed away, and it is an accurate translation, because Christ indeed will raise them from the dead. At that time, they will feel as though they just woke up from a good night’s sleep, only they will have new bodies that live for eternity! I Corinthians 15:42–44 sheds some tremendous light on this, “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is {to be} a spiritual body.” What an amazing hope we have! “And as we have borne the image of the earthy {body}, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly {body}” (I Corinthians 15:49).

I Thessalonians 4:16: 
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first;

When Christ returns, the sleeping (passed away) believers shall rise first; this is the order which the Bible reveals to us. When Christ returns during this “gathering together,” only he himself comes down as far as the clouds above, and the believes who were once alive will be raised up and out from among all the rest of the dead to meet Christ in the clouds. This is why the angel said to the Apostles in the Book of Acts 1:11 “this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” This is what the Apostles saw “while they beheld, he {Jesus} was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). Thus, the return of this same Jesus will be similar because believers will be gathered up in like manner to the gathering in the clouds, and from thence, it’s off to heaven ― oh, what a glorious hope we have!

Christ returning only as far as the clouds has nothing whatsoever to do with his return to earth, which will occur later. The events of his returning to earth are revealed in many Scriptures such as in Daniel, the Gospels, and Revelation. But this return should not be confused with our gathering and rising upwards, which is our expected hope. You see, Jesus’ literal return to the earth “cometh as a thief in the night” (I Thessalonians 5:2), totally unexpectedly. BUT, thankfully, we have been assured with the comfort of hope that we will be with Jesus (in heaven before II Peter 3:10 happens), and before he as the King of kings and Lord of lords returns to the earth, and that day will not “overtake you as a thief” (I Thessalonians 5:4). Thus, the day of the Lord cannot – will not – and is impossible to overtake you as a thief!

I Thessalonians 4:17: 
Then we {believers} which are alive and remain {here on earth} shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

This is the “gathering together;” this is your hope, to ever be with the Lord where everlasting reunions with families, loved ones, and friends will commence and never end. This is the hope that God in Christ has given you for your comfort, for your future goals, for at that time God will dry all your tears in the warmth and love of His divine presence. Your body will also be transformed from an earthly to a heavenly body, and from a mortal to an immortal being!

I Thessalonians 4:18: 
Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Hope is sort of like having a life insurance policy underwritten by the bank of God (offices located only in heaven), and delivered to you by God’s agent, Jesus Christ, and you, yes, only you will be doing the collecting! Oh what a glorious day for you to anticipate, the day when you gather up all the dividends you have coming, and mind you – with accumulated interest – talk about a rollover – wow – you will be rolling over with extreme joyfulness! Thus, we are encouraged to comfort one another with these words.

I John 3:1: 
BEHOLD, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

To BEHOLD is to admire, to recognize, and to fathom the actual love bestowed upon us by our heavenly Father. We are called the sons of God; this is an all-inclusive noun for all the children of God, male and female, young and old. God, being our Father, has given to us His own characteristics, namely (from the above verse) His love, of which the world has never known because the world has never really known or understood the Father. Jesus said, O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these {referring to believers} have known that thou hast sent me- John 17:25, and Jesus made known God (John 1:18) as our righteous Father, and His love He has bestowed upon us and this love we are encouraged to BEHOLD. Where is the fear? Where is the shame? Where is the doubt? Undoubtedly – not in God’s loving words to us, and truly – not in our comfort of hope, and certainly – not in our never-ending future!

I John 3:2: 
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and {in the future} it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

You and I could spend all day just considering this first word beloved, we are beloved of God, the Creator of heaven and earth! All I can say about this is, what a privilege we have been given! You see, we do not become the actual sons of God at some point in the future because Beloved, now are we the sons of God! However, in the future what it will really mean to be His sons and daughters is beyond our comprehension, thus, it doth not yet appear what we shall be. A great illustration of this can be observed from the Epistle of Romans 8:17, where it emphatically states that we are “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ,” yet how can we truly grasp this awe-inspiring reality? Being heirs of everything that belongs to God is unfathomable, yet this is a part of our splendid hope; this hope is ours because we are not only heirs of God but we are also joint-heirs with Christ! God has made us heirs of heaven’s throne with every right and privilege that genuine, beloved sons and daughters deserve for their believing today.

The details have yet to be revealed on the significance of all that we truly have, but it would not hurt to look up at a night sky and at least look over some of our future inheritance. This we can know will be ours and hope for, because when Christ returns for us, then we will be just like him, “fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). For then we will clearly see him as he currently is, as we look over and enjoy our complete inheritance.

When Christ was raised from the dead, he had a new body of unimaginable splendor. He could travel the lengths of the universe in the blink of an eye, appear and disappear at will, and be recognized only when he wanted to be recognized. This is how he is! This is how we will see him when he returns. This is how we will be when he returns. What an amazing, glorious hope we have been given! This makes life go from just manageable to downright exciting ― this is given to us for our daily Comfort.

Just knowing the outcome makes it easier to not fret the small things, and the larger things easier to believe positively to overcome in today’s world. II Corinthians 4:17 says, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” What this verse means is that every pressure we endure today ― called, our light affliction, is in reality minuscule in duration (is but for a moment), compared to the amount of everlasting blessings that we will receive in heaven for enduring through all the pressure of this current hour. Corinthians continues, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Corinthians 4:18).

Our example is Jesus who saw his ultimate destiny, which made it possible for him to endure the pressures of crucifixion. “Who {Jesus} for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising {setting aside or ignoring} the shame, and is {now} set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus’ seat at the right hand of God was his hope, was the joy that was set before him, as it is our hope. Jesus was enabled to ignore the shame of being nailed to a cross. He was perfect and sinless and always had done only good, yet he was despised, cursed, beaten, and ridiculed, and what strengthened him was hope, the helmet of salvation, for this showed him the joy that God set before him. We have been given this same amazing hope, the hope that displaces shame, as this same hope with joy is now set before us.

 I John 3:3: 
And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

To become what God’s Word promises we will become ― that is our hope, and as we put our trusting hope in this, we become purified (today) as much as Christ is pure. The hope of Jesus Christ’s return purifies the hearts and souls of believers today because the hope itself is a pure hope, inspirationally uplifting. You see, we can sometimes mess up when we believe (see the third category above, “impractical beliefs or hopes”), but we cannot mess up our glorious hope, thank God.

Hope in Christ’s return for you will continue to purify you equally and proportionately to the purity of Christ himself. The hope that purifies assures the believer that he or she can presently enjoy wonderful days of hoping. The believer can know that he or she already is destined to be an elite member of God’s heavenly family (Ephesians 2:19–22), because the believer has been called by His Excellency, the Creator of the heavens and earth to be His very own child who may enjoy His love that is currently within our hearts. How many people are there out there, even in Christendom, who fear their future? But what an awesome calling and hope we have been guaranteed! As we continue anticipating the hope, our hope of Christ’s return for us, we will continuously purify our heart and mind to the pure healing Word of God ― this in truth is Our Comfort in Hope.

II Timothy 4:7–8 (The Amplified Bible):**
-7: I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight, I have finished the race, I have kept (firmly held) the faith.
-8: [As to what remains] henceforth there is laid up for me the [victor’s] crown of righteousness [for being right with God and doing right], which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me and recompense me on that [great] day ― and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved and yearned for and welcomed His appearing (His return) {our splendid hope}.

*Scripture taken from THE AMPLIFIED BIBLE, Old Testament copyright (c) 1965, 1989 by the Zondervan Corporation.
Used by permission.

**Scripture taken from THE AMPLIFIED BIBLE.
The Amplified New Testament copyright (c) 1958, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation.
Used by permission.