Can One Have Hope Without God? Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus
Title: Can One Have Hope Without God?
Text: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
Scripture Reading: Romans 15:4-13
4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.
5 May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,
6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcisedJews to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs,
9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise thee among the Gentiles, and sing to thy name”;
10 and again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people”;
11 and again, “Praise the Lord, all Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him”;
12 and further Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse shall come, he who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles hope.”
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
We live in a world, where for the most part, people have lost hope.
We don’t see that so much in this country, but if you could go to Mexico, South America, Central America, Africa, the Middle East, or Asia you would find huge numbers of people who feel they have no hope.
Even here, in America, there is hopelessness among those who are sick, or poor, or homeless.
I believe there are some here where you live, who feel the same way.
But we must have hope!
Life without hope is miserable.
Hope is the subject for today.
And there is a question that we will answer; “Can one have hope without God?”
Our study of Hope is in six parts:
1. What Is Hope?
2. Hope Is a Psychological Necessity.
3. The Giver of Dependable Hope Is God.
4. The Hope God Gives Fills Us with Joy and Peace.
5. The Means of Appropriating this Hope.
6. The purpose of Constant Believing.
I hope that this study will increase your understanding of a great principle of the Christian faith: “God is our only hope!”
The first thing we have to do is to answer the question, “What is hope?”
One answer to the question is that hope is a desire for future good.
Its object, just like faith, is something unseen.
It is different than mere expectation because expectation lacks the element of desire.
Did you know that the word hope doesn’t appear in any of the gospels?
So you may ask the question, “Why is there so little teaching on hope in the gospels?”
Maybe the answer is one of the following:
1. The religion of the Old Testament was Judaism, and that is what Jesus and the disciples related themselves to.
Judaism was a religion of hope, and of joyful desire or anticipation.
What Jesus taught was meant to deepen that hope.
The hope of the Jews, however, was small when compared to the “better hope” of Hebrews 7:9, which rested on the unchangeable kingly priesthood of Christ.
There we read, “For the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.”
We come to God through Christ.
He is our High Priest, and He is a perfect priest.
The Jewish priesthood could not fill the bill.
Now, the Lord Jesus Christ is our priest.
He has provided salvation for you and me, and God has placed us in Him.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new”
(2 Corinthians 5:17).
We are joined to the living Christ!
2. The disciples knew that in Christ was realized the hope of Israel.
They didn’t know in the beginning that Jesus was the Messiah; but as they saw more miracles and heard more of what Jesus taught, they did believe He was the One Israel had waited for, for so long.
3. Jesus trained His disciples in faith and in the preeminence of love, but He remained silent in regard to hope.
He presented Himself as the fulfillment of their hope.
He was a present possession.
Of course, He taught them of His future coming back in glory, but nevertheless, He never wanted to divert their attention from Himself as the center and focus of all their future hopes.
This is the reason why Paul speaks of “Christ our hope.”
This is why he who has Christ in him immediately acquires hope of a better world and a far greater bliss than the one we have experienced here and now.
This is why the Lord Jesus did not invite people to acquire the hope of heaven, but He said, “…Come unto me.”
The next point for our study is this, “Hope is a psychological Necessity.”
Even the expectation of acquiring those things that we might come to possess or use is called hope.
The hope of reward makes our work bearable.
Such anticipation is called hope because it is based on the reality of past history, or in other words, we expect to be paid for the work we do, because we have been paid in the past.
We read in 1 Corinthians 9:10, “…the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of a share in the crop.”
Paul is stating that the man that plows should plow in hope, and the man that threshes should thresh in hope; that is, the hope of being rewarded.
It is only natural and right, but more than that, it is scriptural that one should expect profit from his labors.
The ancient world that can be observed from art, and architecture, and writings had a mere illusionary hope of life after death, but such hope of pagans was far different from the Christian hope.
Paul tells us that real Christian hope is not possible unless God has been revealed to us in Christ.
Before your salvation experience, you were without Christ.
You were destitute and desolate, lost and undone.
Those who are Christless are: without rest; without life, without light; without salvation; and without peace.
God’s Word has thousands of promises, but very few apply to the lost.
God’s promises are exceeding great and precious, but Christless souls see no value in them.
They have no hope; they are hopeless.
Before salvation, we had goals for the present, but we had no hope for the future.
Being Christless, we had no faith, no hope, and no love.
And we were without God.
We were atheists in the sense of being without God and in opposition to Him.
It’s a terrible picture, but a true one.
We had many gods, but not the true God.
We had no knowledge of God and no saving relationship to Him.
Without God, there is no hope, and it is only through faith in Christ that we can become children of God.
That’s what it says in John’s gospel. “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God”
Romans 15:13 speaks of God as “the God of hope.”
It is the hope based on Jesus Christ and His resurrection as a historical fact.
There is something in Christian hope—and that something is the conviction that God is alive.
No one is hopeless as long as there is the grace of Jesus Christ: and no situation is hopeless as long as there is the power of God.
Our faith and our hope are the results of Christ’s resurrection.
That’s what Paul wrote about in the 15th Chapter of 1 Corinthians, and his logic is inescapable.
There he states that if Christ is not risen, our preaching is in vain or groundless.
Faith in a dead Savior is both preposterous and pathetic.
And if He is dead, we are false witness of God.
Anyone who bases his faith and hope on an illusion is to be pitied.
Paul goes on to say that there is another consequence—we are still in our sins.
Not only that but all those who died believing in Him simply perished.
If our hope in Christ does not take us beyond this present life and into the next one, then we will be more miserable than even the unbelievers.
And we have not only been deceived, but we have deceived others.
What a sad lot that would be.
The next thing to notice is this, “The giver of dependable hope is God.”
The phrase “God of hope” does not mean the God who needs hope or who is characterized by hope for Himself.
God does not hope for anything as we do.
He is sovereign and not restricted by time.
The Greek word that is used here as hope, means that God dispenses hope.
We can never have any worthwhile hope on our own or a hope based on the assurance of any human being or circumstances.
Hope without the possession of God is impossible, and the saving knowledge of God can come only through Jesus Christ.
Jesus has revealed the Father to us, by what He said and did during His earthly ministry.
He said, “I and the Father are one,” so how can we not love the Father when He is like Jesus.
If anyone’s life is without real hope, it is because he has not come to know the real God of hope through Jesus Christ.