Hope is a characteristic of genuine faith in God. Such hope is different from the hope that people in general might speak of. It is not a mere wish for something, but a strong confidence that is placed in God. It is the assured belief that God will do what he has promised (Ps 42:5; 71:5; Rom 4:18; Heb 11:1). Hope, according to its Christian meaning, is inseparable from faith (Rom 5:1-5; Gal 5:5; Heb 6:11-12; 1 Peter 1:21). Those without God have no faith and therefore have no hope (Eph 2:12; 1 Thess 4:13; cf. Col 1:23). The great hope for Christians is the return of Jesus Christ, when they will experience the fulness of their salvation and enter with Christ into the glory of the new age (1 Cor 15:19-23; Eph 1:18; Col 1:27; 1 Thess 5:8; 1 Peter 1:13).

For Christians, then, to have the hope of Christ’s return means to look forward to it eagerly; and the basis for such hope is Christ’s atoning death and glorious resurrection. Christ’s entrance into glory guarantees the entrance of believers into glory (Col 1:5; Heb 6:19; 1 Peter 1:18-21). By its very nature, hope means that the thing hoped for has not yet arrived. Christ has not yet returned. Believers must therefore have patience as they wait for the day of their final salvation (Rom 8:23-25; Heb 11:1,39-40). This patience contains no element of doubt, for Christian hope is the anticipation of something that is certain. God confirms the hope of salvation by giving believers the Holy Spirit. They have a living guarantee within them until the day their hope is fulfilled.

The Spirit is God’s mark of permanent ownership upon them (2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13-14; 4:30; see ASSURANCE). Until Christ returns, the world will continue to be a place of imperfection and suffering. Christians must therefore persevere and be patient through all the difficulties they meet (Rom 5:3-5; 12:12). Their hope in Christ means that their endurance will be characterized not by grudging tolerance, but by positive enjoyment of all that life offers. Hope gives their lives purpose and stability (Rom 15:13; Col 3:1-4; 1 Thess 1:3; 2 Thess 2:16-17; Titus 2:11-14; see JOY; PATIENCE). At the same time they will work hard at keeping themselves free from sin; for their day of salvation is also their day of reckoning (1 John 3:2-3; cf. Matt 24:45-46; 2 Cor 5:10).

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