Summary: Heaven is not just a reward for those who have remained faithful. It is the place where Christians hope to eternally dwell because Heaven is Jesus!
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines hope as “a desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment, or “success”, or “obtainment”. Hope is most often thought of as a way of thinking, feeling, and acting that may help a person find the means to live with difficult situations and challenges, no matter how discouraging the future may seem. It is the belief that there might be a remote chance of getting something desired.
Hope is far more than just a optimistic expectation of success, or a better outcome of a current situation or challenge. When the world uses the word hope, it is actually an expression of uncertainty rather than certainty. It makes no sense unless there is a personal and loving God. Biblical hope is not a denial of reality.
Strong's Bible dictionary states that the Greek word for Hope is “elpis”, which is defined as ”meaning to anticipate, usually with pleasure; an expectation or confidence.” Biblical hope is not just a desire for something good in the future, but an honest, realistic confident expectation and desire for something good, or a positive outcome in the future, to happen because the promises of God are already in the process of fulfillment.
More importantly however, is that hope is not a thing, or a feeling, or an object, or way of thinking – simply put - hope is Jesus! The confident certainty and expectation of hope that is provided to every Christian emanates from experientially knowing and understanding the character and nature of Jesus. Hope is actually the placing of Trusting-Faith in Jesus because He is the Believers hope!
Trusting-Faith is all about living in the moment, taking no thought for tomorrow, casting all one’s cares upon Jesus and then leaving them at His feet. However, the present world was never intended to satisfy man.
The Full Assurance of Hope
For the Christian hope is confident and fully assured because God is in control. Hope and Trusting-Faith are virtually synonymous. The Bible implores the Christian to diligently demonstrate the full assurance of hope by pursuing it as the Saints of old who, through Trusting-Faith and patience, inherited the promises of God.
“And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Heb 6:11-12 NKJV)
The term "full assurance" in the verse above is found in only one other passage of Scripture. However, instead of "full assurance of hope" it says;
"let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…”.. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” (Heb 10:22,23 NKJV)
Hope is something that should not waver because it is rooted in the faithfulness of God. It is a necessary part of Trusting-Faith because it is directed into the future. Biblical hope is a strong confidence in Jesus and not wishful thinking. Hope and trust are related. Without trust in God hope is futile and meaningless.
It is often said that the biblical definition of faith is found in Chapter 11 of the Book of Hebrews. However, I would say that it is more of an explanation of the working of faith and not a true definition.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1 NKJV)
Take away hope and the explanation of faith in the verse above is destroyed. Christians are not just saved by grace through faith (Acts 15:11), they are saved by grace through hope because hope is Jesus!
"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior, and Lord Jesus Christ, OUR HOPE." (1 Tim. 1:1 NJKV - emphasis mine)
The Bible says that the faith which justified Abraham was faith in the future work of God. Abraham was "fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised." (Rom 4:21 NKJV).
Abraham's faith was his strong confidence in the reliability of God's Word, and Abraham's hope was his strong confidence in the fulfillment of God's promises. In other words, whenever Trusting-Faith in God looks to the future, it can be called hope. And whenever hope rests on the Word of God, it can be called Trusting-Faith.
Biblical hope is never based on what is possible with mankind. Biblical hope looks only to the promises of God. When the Christian does this it becomes the "full assurance of hope" which is the expectation of great things from God.
Fear and hope are very similar because they are both forms of anticipation of the future. Fear is a form of negative hope. Quite often one’s thinking is dominated either by hope of success or by fear of failure.