The Identity of Hope

“Driven and courageous” describes a Christian living in hope:

So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. Hebrews 6:18 (NLT)

Courageous Hope

“Great confidence” is knowing that I stand right here, held by the “unchangeable” oath of God, knowing “it is impossible for God to lie!” With “great confidence” Martin Luther stood alone against the Holy Roman Empire and stood before a throng of menacing Cardinals at Worms to declare, “Here I stand. I will not recant, so help me, God.” His hope was tied to God’s character, not the powerful armies of the Holy See.

Luther

Luther at the Diet of Worms

With “great confidence” we too can stand face-to-face with whoever may persecute us for sharing the love of Christ. This includes old relationships with long histories of defeat and intimidation:

For He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?Hebrews 13:5-6 (NASB)

This courage is the outcome of biblical faith, and the proof of faith, as I wrote earlier. Cowardly Christians are still babes floundering with the elementary issues of faith and have not yet settled the issue of who to trust.

Hope-Driven Movement

Motivation is intertwined with courage, and it is difficult to imagine courage without forward movement. Isn’t the stationary person called a coward?

Hope produces forward momentum: “we hold to the hope that lies before us,” it says. Hope means forward movement, not retreat.

It requires great motivation to go where Jesus will lead us. Consider this strange description:

Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest… Hebrews 4:11 (NASB)

It seems nonsensical to be diligent to rest. “Diligent” in the Greek is a word with great urgency: “spoudadzo!” It means “Hurry! Quick! Don’t delay!” Forward movement requires urgent motivation. Our forward movement cannot be casual nor taken for granted.

In other places God prods us to put more effort into this forward movement:

…I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12 (NASB)

With diligence we “press on.” This Hope-Driven Movement characterizes faith in Jesus. It looks like this:

One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 (NASB)

We need great motivation, diligence and courage because the destination of our hope can be tremendously frightening.

The destination? “Enter God’s rest!”

Destination Unknown

“Life is so strange when you don’t know your destination,” the song says, and it is well-said.

“We hold to the hope that lies before us” (Heb. 6:18). Hope leads us into uncharted territory, and hope supplies the courage needed to go there. It is an unfamiliar place:

This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

This “inner sanctuary” was a forbidden zone, always inaccessible and very dangerous. Unwelcome guests who stumbled in were fried. It looked like this:

“They heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking. They staggered back under God’s command: ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.’ Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, ‘I am terrified and trembling.’ Hebrews 12:18-23 (NLT)

The “inner sanctuary” is the throne room of Almighty God.

Imagine entering a long, vast hall where The King is enthroned, surrounded by “myriads and myriads of angels” dazzling with glory. “Awe” describes it:

“You have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. Hebrews 12:18-23 (NLT)

In such a great presence we are completely at the mercy of The King’s will. What a relief to discover it is not a hostile place! It is safe because:

Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:19-20 (NLT)

“It leads us through the curtain” (Heb. 6:18). Jesus leads our hope and he says, “Come this way!” If we trust him, we follow with courage and determination “through the curtain” into the vault of “God’s inner sanctuary.” Inside lies this great reward:

For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Hebrews 4:10 (NASB)

Yes, entering The King’s inner sanctuary means relinquishing authority, which is frightening. But it also means great gain: “all who have entered…have rested from their labors.”

We enter not as groveling subjects, but as sons and daughters dressed in royal splendor and prepared to receive an inheritance of power, glory and a kingdom. The throne room is a fitting place for royalty to “rest from their labors”. For the royal household, The King’s throne room means sanctuary.

We enter not as strangers stumbling into a dangerous place, but where “Jesus has already gone in there for us.” He announces our entrance before the throne. With great fanfare, red carpets rolled-out, and everyone waiting in attendance:

For in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. 2 Peter 1:11 (NASB)

Unreal Hope

The courage, motivation and the destination of hope are not imaginations. Our royal sanctuary is not imaginary. It all seems unreal when we think it’s too wonderful to be true, and then we lose courage and motivation.

This occurs in warfare. In a great roar, men surge forward with great bravado — until comrades fall. Inexperienced soldiers start jump in the nearest mud-hole for protection, and the charge disintegrates. They lost hope. The officers yell, but frightened survivors huddle in their filthy trenches. The enemy then carefully cannonades each trench to blast out the survivors.

They were so close, but they lost hope.

Thus many Christians sadly end up entrenched and isolated in mud-holes, waiting timorously for the shell with their name on it. They got lost. No longer among those “who have taken refuge in him” (Heb. 6:18), they often seek refuge in the power of money, which is the antithesis of real hope:

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” Hebrews 13:5 (NASB)

Christians enter vertigo when they lose sight of their new identity. It all seems too wonderful to be true, says past experience. Considering the vast landscape of mud and corpses littering the battlefield, “God’s inner sanctuary” seems imaginary. Because they can’t trust Jesus, their leader, they lose hope, entrench, and it’s over.

Anchored Hope

But there are those who trust Jesus and follow his urgent leadership across the battlefield, and they begin living in victory. These people learn about a new identity waiting for us “behind the curtain,” and they press forward, “diligent to enter God’s rest.”

Winners are diligent and “press on” because it is such a terrible battlefield here on earth. Those who stroll across it make easy targets and soon their hope degrades, motivation sags, and courage gives way to a resigned way of life. Such is the stream of time here.

Victorious Christians increasingly trust the leadership of Jesus as they become increasingly transformed into their identity as “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified with Him.” Romans 8:17 (NASB)

Increasing trust in Jesus yields increasing hope because “God’s inner sanctuary” grows increasingly close and very real. The inheritance is not far off, and already we see a marvelous transformation underway:

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Galatians 3:26-27 (NASB)

With such a “great hope as the anchor of your souls,” the din of the battlefield grows increasingly impotent:

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:2-3 (NASB)

The Implications

This Identity of Hope reaches deep inside the soul:

  • I grow more resigned about life when I stop responding to His urgency to quicken the pace, and hope fades with more battlefield wounds.
  • When I snuggle into a safe niche in this world it is merely a matter of time before I’m shocked by the discovery of how very unsafe it is here.
  • Pinning my security on financial breakthrough is like Sam Pickens riding the H-Bomb in Dr. Strangelove.

  • Forward movement means increasing hope and spiritual momentum when I follow the leadership of Jesus.
  • My reluctance to follow Jesus “behind the curtain” can only stem from an unfounded fear of God’s throne of authority.
  • I am full of courage if I “have fled to him for refuge” so I “can have great confidence” Hebrews 6:18 (NLT).
  • If I am fearful, I need to “hold to the hope that lies before us” and clothe myself in my new identity as royalty.
  • I am never drifting or without direction with “this hope we have as an anchor of the soul.”
  • No human can intimidate me if I have “a hope both sure and steadfast.”

The big Q: Can anyone offer additional ways that our new identity offers hope?

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16 thoughts on “The Identity of Hope

  1. lbeech

    I have been contemplating these articles. They are especially encouraging in light of the battle Steve and I are waging with our sons. It is so seductive to take the easy road and just “keep the peace” – the false, deceitful peace of complacency.

    What makes the it worth it to press on is the great reward – not of self-improvement or holding to some sort of self righteousness, but rather it’s people!

    Paul saw this so clearly in 1 Thess 2:19-20:

    After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you! Yes, you are our pride and joy.

    BTW: I just love that movie, Dr. Strangelove! That is an awesome scene, Sam riding the bomb like a buckaroo, going with glee to his destruction. What a ride.

  2. ryan.l

    What kind of faith do we have if we have no hope that God will follow through. In every aspect hope that God will follow through is the very definition of faith. When trusting in Gods leadership good works flow from us. James 2 essentially says you can talk the talk but lets see you walk the walk, then we will know that you have faith. The Courage that you talk about speaks directly to me. How often I back down at the hint of persecution, especially at work. I need to walk the walk no matter the circumstance, that’s a hope both sure and steadfast, that’s real faith! Thanks Keith I needed that!

    I agree with Lisa great movie. Pete Sellers is hilarious!

  3. Katrina

    Hope. This is something that I have struggled with for years. Having none that is. Maybe growing up in a home where hope was not something to be heard of makes it difficult for me to grasp. My mom always seemed hopeless about her marriage, her kids, providing for them. My dad obviously was hopeless in that he decided to end his life. I just never experienced or was never encouraged to have hope in anything. Until, I met Jesus Christ at the age of 21. It was then that I began to see that I could hope in something. I believed that after receiving Christ I was secure in my salvation. I began to read scriptures that said God had begun a good work in me and he would continue to do so. (Phil.1:6) That there was no longer any condemnation for me as a believer (Rom.8:1). God loved me and wanted to use me. But at some point and time my hope began to slip away. Maybe I became to dependent on my own abilitities to get things done. I started to feel hopeless again, a failure, not worthy of anyone’s love. I pushed people away, threw infantile fits. But God continues to show his love towards me through this BOC. I’m realizing in a deeper way the need to get a grip on my thoughts and trust God with the trials in my life. So, I appreciate this article on hope. I am encouraged to continue to keep running to God as my refuge and know that God doesn’t lie and he promises to never leave me.

  4. jim-james

    The comparison of losing courage and motivation to soldiers in warfare was pretty interesting. Christians waiting in so-called “safe” mudholes do lose hope and do seek refuge in the power of money, like you say. We must trust in Jesus so that we can gain hope and press on through the curtain to God’s inner sanctuary.

  5. b

    Well I can really think of any other additional points right now, but i really like yours (gods)

    No human can intimidate me if I have “a hope both sure and steadfast.”

    I think thats cool, and I’ll tell you, knowing this makes everything easy.
    I have a will and a way, and god has a purpose for me. If I am walking in his will with him, he will make sure that my purpose is successed (i dont know if thats a real word but you know what i mean)(or accomplished). I feel this protection all the time, day and night, especially at school.

    God is so sweet.

  6. brian.t

    I can place my identity in Christ and rest there rather than trying to derive my identity from temporal things such as grades in school or my career.

  7. Charlotte Plahuta

    I guess I can’t really think of any new ways either. I did like the example that brian (t) gave. I can relate with that too. I used to be worried about my “intelligence” and my self worth in terms of education. I do not have a college degree. I went for a while and then decided not to finish because I didn’t feel like that was the direction I wanted to go with life. I didn’t feel like college was for me. I love to bake and decorate cakes, so I decided that’s what I should pursue in terms of a career. Well, I used to worry that because I don’t have a college degree that I wasn’t “good enough” or “smart enough.” Then as I began to take refuge in my identity in Christ, I understood that those things don’t define who I am. Those are wordly things and in an eternal perspective what good will they do me. So I have learned by truly finding hope in God that I have self worth far greater than anything I can earn here on Earth. It gives me such great hope to know that I don’t have to be “smart” or have that degree to be useful and significant in God’s eyes.

  8. justind

    Our new identity offers hope that we will be able to overcome the power of sin in our lives. It also gives hope that we will be able to love one another in a Godly way, instead of a worldly way, and breaks down our old barriers of relating towards each other.

  9. mike.h

    Our new identity is able to take the flesh out of the equation. and we start living in the spirit rather then the flesh. Using our new identity in Christ we can live a godly life and learn to put our full trust in the Lord to come through in any trial that stands in the way of spiritual growth.

  10. Nick.s

    I don’t know if I can offer additional ways that our new identity offers hope, but I can share how it has given me hope. In my old identity, I lacked confidence and boldness. I was afraid to take risks in anything that I thought could result in failure. I did not like money, but knew that it was necessary in life and I was good at saving it. Everything was based on performance and I found security in my performance. I would work hard in school to earn good grades, which would result in being praised. If I wasn’t doing better than other people in school/life, I would feel dumb and worthless. I knew that much of what I was doing was meaningless, and I had a deep passion to help people; but I didn’t know how. I would always see people’s issues as being drugs, sex, and alcohol, which indeed are not good things, but little did I know that they weren’t the core issue. In order to get up enough confidence to try to help somebody with what I thought was the problem, I had to feel as though I was better than them. In my new identity, unfortunately I still struggle with many of the same things as a baby Christian. But now I know that when I am struggling with those things that I need to reevaluate what I have placed my hope in. When my hope is in Christ, I can see more clearly, I gain confidence, and I am able to love victoriously, which gives me hope that I can be set free from my old identity.

  11. Jacqueline León

    These articles are convicting. I certainly tend to flounder over whom to trust. I do, however,desire to change, and I must remind myself of James 1:5-7. This helps me to rest in this hope/trust that God is not the one who deceives but clarifies and helps, proving that He is the loving God whom He claims to be.
    My greatest shortcoming is in deciding not to pray. I firmly believe that strong, deep faith is rooted in persistent prayer. It invites God to do His work in this world and for glory to be brought to Him. My motivations are stunted by my inconsistencies, yet He still remains faithful to me. Let me tell you, though I admit my immaturity, I can list off victories between last May and now. And it motivates me to serve Him more. It’s this love that gives me hope. It’s the assurance that He reveals Himself over & over that keeps me from losing faith. I don’t think this answered your question, but I see the different forms of hope at work in my life.

  12. Yana.r

    With our new identity we should keep this eternal perspective in mind: that Jesus will return and bring an end to suffering and sin. He will reward us for our service for him and have fellowship with us forever. What an amazing thing to look forward to!

  13. J Small Z

    Our new identity gives us a hope and fire to urgently pursue God through the ministry of others! The realization that we are all to be co-rulers with Christ is a great point of encouraging brothers and sisters in Christ! We can “encourage one another towards love and good deeds” because we have a position with Christ that is higher then the angels!!! We are given the responsibility to be reconcilers of the lost because we know God has the potential to give the fallen rest and significance!!

  14. angie

    Well, a new identity. . . that, in itself, is a hopeful thing. The possibility of real change, not through my own will, but as part of God’s will for me. Humbling, yes, but whoever thought humility could feel so strong. One of my favorites: 1 Pet. 5:6-7 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, while you throw all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” What could be more hopeful? A new identity in humility, which leads to a great strength through God. I’m not there; I’m not close to there. I am pretty cowardly when it comes to talking about my faith & I need to be more courageous and remember that God’s word has nothing to do with me (me, me, me!!!) being right or wrong and everything to do with God and how absolutely right He is. That’s humility that leads to courage.

  15. Leah.Z

    For me, our new identity offers hope in the sense that we have the chance to do something we can’t do without christ. This may seem bland and repeated, but we are humans with a limited amount of resources and talents. I thought about what I have sacrificed to serve god and I came up with the conclusion that maybe even without him, I would still be light years behind my non-christian peers and friends in all of the categories that become competitve fields in the world’s system. (money, toys, looks, etc.) It gives me hope when I think about the fact that my assets and abilities are lacking, but god has an amazing task for me that he knows I can complete.

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