Summary: Discusses the differences between faith and hope.
Faith Part 6 – Faith and Hope
Last week I shared with you about walking in your profession of faith. I dealt with profession as a “job” and as a “confession”. As I have been going through this series, I have been thinking about the difference between faith and hope. Some believe that faith and hope is the same thing while others believe that they are so vastly different that hope counteracts faith. The Scriptures talk about faith and hope with both being beneficial to the Christian. We say so often that “I hope this or I hope that” and for some people this is as close to walking in God’s kind of faith as they get. This morning I will focus on the difference between faith and hope so that you will understand the relationship between the two. Faith and hope are not the same, they are fundamentally different. Although some would disagree with me, I believe that hope has its place in helping us align our thoughts and expectations towards the appropriate exercising our faith. I will discuss more of this later.
Webster defines faith as “unquestioning belief, complete trust or confidence.” Hope is defined as “a feeling that what is wanted will happen; desire accompanied by expectation.” When you look at Webster’s definition of both words, one deals with a belief while the other is a feeling with an expectation. I especially like the second definition of hope, “desire accompanied by expectation.” The Hebrew and Greek words for hope also means to have an expectation. It’s a concept involving trustful anticipation, particularly with reference to the fulfillment of the promises of God. By definition, we can see that hope works with faith, but it is not faith. Paul says in Romans 15:13 “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Paul describes God as being a God of hope in that He placed the hope within us. I believe that God also has hope. His Word says He desires that all should be saved, although we know this is will not be the case. Hope involves having a confidence and a desire and that is what leads us to exercise our faith. When we are walking in faith, we actually abound in hope because our “feelings” are aligning with God’s Word and our desires are now accompanied by an expectation with confidence. When that expectation is materialized, we know that God has acted on our behalf and we start the process of fully exercising our faith. Remember I told you earlier that you cannot walk in faith if you are not expecting God to do anything for you. You must have an expectation and this is where hope comes in.
I. Faith, Present Tense vs. Hope, Future Tense
Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is….” Faith is present tense, what is taking place right now. Mark 11:24 puts this into perspective. Jesus said “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them and they will be granted you.” The two words I want you to focus on are believe and received. When you pray, you have to believe immediately that you have received what you have petitioned God for. Believe is in the present tense – it should be immediate once you have prayed. Received in this verse is past tense. What Jesus is saying is that once you have prayed, you believe that you have already received it. Again, although you have not physically seen the manifestation of your answered prayer, you believe (and act) as if you already have because you have by faith. This is you faith in operation. When you pray in faith, expecting God to hear and to perform, you get up off your knees knowing that you have received from God what you have petitioned Him for according to His Word. You are not waiting wondering if you will receive it; in your spirit through faith, you know you have received it. This is faith, not hope.
Hope is future tense – something that we expect to happen in the future. Hope is one of the finest responses of which the human spirit is capable. It has kept people alive and fighting when the conditions of life were most unbearable. Many people have died because they lost all hope. Hope is a vital part of our spiritual and our natural lives. But as I stated before, hope is future tense, having an expectation of something happening in the future. We have a hope that Jesus Christ will return for His Church. We know this is going to happen and we continue in hope for it. We rejoice in the knowledge of it happening, but it is still something that will happen in the future. In Galatians 5:5 Paul says “For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.” Also notice what is found in Romans 8:24 which says “For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope, for who hopes for what he already sees?” When we are hoping, we are hoping for something in the future. We should never “hope” that God is hearing our prayers and “hopefully” will answer them. We must know, by faith, that He has heard and has answered them. Turn with me to Luke chapter 17.