Belief and Hope

“I have the same hope in God that these men have, that He will raise both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15 NLT)

As we continue our look into the “couples” of the Bible, today we’ll consider the relationship between hope and belief. While similar in some ways, they stand alone in the emphasis they offer in God’s Word.

Hope focuses on our expectation of a positive outcome in a circumstance over which we have little or no control. We hope the weather is nice for our picnic, or we hope our sports team wins the big game or we hope we’ll one day go to heaven.

In the Bible hope and belief are more closely aligned. For example, I have hope in the soon return of my Savior, the Lord Jesus, but my hope is built upon my belief that the Bible is true and Jesus’ promise to return will happen according to what the Bible teaches.

Belief is a decision I make based on the information I have available. It’s a conviction that informs my life how to live out my belief in real time. It’s a deep conviction based on the reliability and truth of that which I believe.

As it relates to our faith in Christ, our confidence doesn’t rest on the strength of what we believe, but on the character of the One in whom our trust is centered. While our lives are guided by what we believe to be true, if the foundation of our belief is based on a wrong or faulty understanding, our hopes can be dashed when the truth is revealed.

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It frightens me to think that the basis of many believers’ faith isn’t Jesus at all. Yes, of course, they “believe” in Him, in the same sense that they believe the earth is round. It’s information that is true, but it doesn’t govern the way they orchestrate their lives. Belief in the Bible refers to that upon which our decisions are based, thus the roadmap for our life.

If Jesus is alive, as He claimed to be after the resurrection, and if He is returning as He promised He would, and if we genuinely believe that with all our hearts, minds, soul, and strength, then every decision we make, every activity in which we engage, every relationship in which we invest time and energy, every word we speak or write, every breath we take, every detail of our life will be motivated and directed by that belief.

Nothing, no detail of our life will be unaffected by the power of that belief. And on the basis of that life altering, life defining belief we have hope – confident expectation that one day sooner than any of us can imagine, in the twinkling of an eye – we’ll be in His holy presence for all eternity.

The reality is, we can’t have one without the other. Hope based on belief in something that isn’t true or isn’t possible isn’t hope, it’s deception. And that’s exactly what Satan delights in having people believe. If Satan can convince me that because I prayed a prayer of confession and repentance and on the basis of that prayer I can live anyway I please, but am eternally secure in my confidence that I’m going to heaven, I’m believing a lie because that’s something the Bible doesn’t teach.

Belief in Jesus doesn’t simply reveal itself in the words that I speak or even the words I pray, but in the lifestyle I adopt that reveals trust in the truth of Scripture coupled with disciplined obedience to a lifestyle devoted to growing in my likeness of Jesus. And please don’t hear what I’m not saying. Just as the words of a prayer don’t save me, neither does a disciplined lifestyle save me. Jesus’ completed work on Calvary is the basis of our salvation.

When we by faith in Christ alone respond to His invitation to be born again and begin a relationship with Him, our belief stirs in our heart to allow the Spirit of God to make needed changes in our speech and behavior. But this is not a means of “earning” our salvation, it’s simply a means of giving visibility to what I believe is taking root in my heart and changing the way I live.

Every good and perfect gift comes from God alone and to Him belongs all glory, honor, and praise. Our changed lives give those with whom we share our belief confidence that the same Savior who is changing us can change them for His sake and to His honor and fame.

Blessings, Ed 😊

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