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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Are you hopeful? Why or why not?

Let’s explore the difference between a theology of optimism (or a theology of pessimism) as compared to a theology of hope.

Looking at the current political climate, bible-believing Christians may be tempted to be distressed, downcast, and have little hope. Considering the economic state we’re in right now, that thinking may be greatly reinforced. In better times, the Christian may be very hopeful, if political conservatives are in control, or when the economy is hopping, or when things are going smoothly in one’s life.

Both miss the point of a biblical hope.

Our hope should never be in the status of our external circumstances. No matter who is in charge politically, no matter the value of the Dow Industrial average, and even in the midst of personal trials, the Christian can live in a hopeful victory, looking to the glorious future. This doesn’t mean there might not be challenges, hardships, or even sore trials, but those are things the Lord uses to sanctify us. In this short life, good or bad circumstances may come and go, but our real hope must be in the One who alone can give an eternal hope – the Lord Jesus Christ. And a biblical hope isn’t a wishy-washy thing, a “cross your fingers” wish, a “maybe things will be OK”, but a confident trust, a complete assurance that the Lord will bring about what He has promised, all in His perfect timing.

Frankly, we shouldn’t really expect the world to get better. There may be times that are good (from a human perspective), as history progresses, but the cycle of history is a downward spiral, not an upward one. As we look at God’s Word as it reveals bits of the future, we can easily see that the world is headed toward a hell on earth (Rev. 13), with extremely wicked men ruling the planet. Should it surprise us if the world embraces evil? Of course not. Rather, it should be expected. We’ve been blessed with some level of a Judeo-Christian ethic in our land for many years, but that is not guaranteed to last. In fact, we may expect a biblical world-view to diminish. While that may not be comfortable for us, we must realize that it is not a certain ethical system that saves – morality itself saves no one!

Jesus Christ is busy about the business of building His church (as He promised) – all over the world. And He will continue to do so in our country, no matter the political or economic conditions. In fact, a bit of persecution of the church may do wonders for her purity.

Let’s face it, the United States of America will someday fall. It is not an eternal country. All earthly kingdoms will eventually fail, and the eternal kingdom of the Son, a kingdom of righteousness, will be worldwide. How could we have a greater hope than that?

The songwriter had it right:
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

The ancient songwriters (the sons of Korah) had it inerrantly right:
Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

(Psalm 42:11)


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