Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hope and Faith

Whenever I read the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego in Daniel 3, I am impressed with their courage.  Standing before the king, facing certain death in a fiery furnace, they made this statement:  “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”  (Daniel 3:7-8, NASB)

In writing our study guide on the Full Armor of God it occurred to me that this is a great example of wearing the Helmet of Salvation.  These three men had certain hope that God would deliver them no matter how hopeless the situation seemed.

This is also a great example of using the Shield of Faith.  The men placed their complete trust in God.  Even though they could not see God’s plan, they were trusting in His love and power.

What then, is the difference between Hope and Faith?  And, how do we practically apply them in our daily lives?

1.  Certainty of a future event
2.  Includes an element of expectation
3.  In the Bible, especially the New Testament, hope often is related to deliverance or salvation

Here are some examples of Hope in the New Testament:
And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.  (Romans 8:23-25, NASB)

But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.  (1 Thessalonians 5:8-11, NASB)

1.  Assurance of things not seen
2.  May refer to something in the past, the present, or the future
3.  In the Bible faith is often related to our relationship with God, who is unseen

Here a definition of Faith from Hebrews:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.  (Hebrews 11:1-3, NASB)

It is interesting to notice how often Hope and Faith appear in the same passage:
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  (Romans 5:1-5, NASB)

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.  (1 Corinthians 13:12-13, NASB)

Hope is the certain expectation that is often related to our knowledge that God will deliver us in this life, and for eternity.  Faith is the assurance of things that we cannot see at this time.  Our hope gives us CONFIDENCE in our ultimate deliverance.  Just like Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, we do not fear death because we know our God can deliver us.  Our faith gives us CONVICTION that there is a God, and that He rewards those who seek Him.

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