A Word Fitly Spoken (The Standard Bearer - October 1, 2016, p. 10)
Rev. Bill Langerak, pastor of SE PRC, Grand Rapids, MI
Basic to hope is its place in the grand spiritual trinity of the Christian life: faith, hope, and love (I Cor. 13:13). In this relationship, faith and hope are essentially one. Martin Luther once wrote that although faith and hope can be distinguished, there is such affinity between them that, like the two cherubim over the mercy seat, they cannot be divided. And what unites faith and hope is love. For love believeth all things and hopeth all things (I Cor. 13:7). In ardent covenant love, every child of God cleaves unto God with true faith and firm hope (Baptism Form).
Faith and hope both have as their object things we love. Our faith and hope are in God (I Pet. 1:21). Similarly, even as we love, so also we believe and hope in His mercy (Ps. 33:18), judgments, salvation, and Word (Ps. 119:43, 49, 166); His redemption (Ps. 130:7), promises (Acts 26:6), righteousness (Gal. 5:5), and Christ (I Tim. 1:1). Faith and hope have the same source, God who loves us (I Pet. 3:15); are both given by regeneration (I Pet. 1:3), in grace (II Thess. 2:16), and to infants (Ps. 22:9); and both love things unseen (Rom. 8:24; Heb. 11:1).
Although one, faith and hope are also distinct. First, faith is primary and begets hope, whereas hope proceeds from and is founded on faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for (Heb. 11:1), the reason for hope within us (I Pet. 3:15), and faith increases hope (II Cor. 10:15). Without faith, there is no hope (Is. 38:18). And false faith begets false hope that perishes in death (Job 8:14; 11:20). Second, faith and hope emphasize different activities in our spiritual faculties. Faith is knowing the truth with the mind, and hope is assurance of that truth with the will. It is true, the Heidelberg Catechism defines faith as both a certain knowledge and an assured confidence (Q&A 21). Yet this assured confidence of faith Scripture also calls hope. It defines hope as full assurance, the firm, strong, sure, and steadfast confidence of the soul in the truth (Heb. 3:6; 6:11, 19). The things faith knows, hope expects (Prov. 10:28), trusts (Jer. 17:7), grasps (Heb. 6:18), and desires (Prov. 13:12). And being activities of different spiritual faculties, faith and hope are also produced or grow differently. Both come by learning, but faith learns by understanding, whereas hope learns by experience, particularly under testing and trial. Tribulation works patience, patience works experience, and experience works hope (Rom. 5:4-5; 15:4).
Finally, Scripture distinguishes between the objects of faith and hope. The special quality of both faith and hope is their confidence in the reality of things even though they are unseen. However, hope usually refers to confidence in those unseen things we must wait patiently to be perfected or fulfilled in the future. The true hope of Christians is laid up for us in heaven (Col. 1:5). Our blessed hope is in the future appearing of Jesus Christ (Tit. 2:13). Our hope is that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him and see Him as He is (I John 3:2). Our lively hope is in the resurrection of the body, glory (I Pet. 1:3; Acts 24:15; Rom. 5:2; Col. 1:27), and that, being justified by His grace, we shall be heirs of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began (Tit. 1:2; 3:7).
To us who believe, therefore, hope is most precious. We rejoice in hope, for by means of hope we are blessed (Rom. 12:12; Jer. 17:7). The Lord takes pleasure in and His eye is upon those that hope in His mercy (Ps. 33:18; 147:11). Through hope, God gives us good courage and strengthens our heart, so that, although we experience sore trials and severe tribulations, we can be happy (Ps. 31:24; 146:5; Prov. 10:28). Though we may be filled with anxiety or sorrows, through hope we are given everlasting consolation, our flesh finds rest and our soul is quieted (II Thess. 2:16; Ps. 42:11; 16:9). Having hope, we are protected from every evil (I Thess. 5:8), we persevere to the end (I Pet. 1:13), and cannot be moved away from the gospel (Col. 1:23).
And so, may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost (Rom. 15:13).
Rev. William A. Langerak (Wife: Karen)
Ordained: September 2003
Pastorates: Southeast, Grand Rapids, MI: 2003-2019; Trinity PRC, Hudsonville, MI - May 2019-Website: www.prca.org/current/news/churches/usa-canada/trinity-prc-hudsonville-mi
Address3421 Hillcrest Rd.
State or ProvinceMI