The Anchor Of The Soul
The atheist contemptuously refers to the object of the Christian's hope as "pie in the sky." This implies immaturity in those who have "hope toward God .... that there shall be a resurrection both of the just and the unjust" (Acts 24:15). This assumption of superiority reflected in the phrase "pie in the sky" cannot be reconciled with facts. How can even a hard case unbeliever continue the pretense of superiority in the face of the bitter fruit observed in the lives of those "who have no hope" except the hope of secularism. Hope set on the uncertainty of riches, whether those riches be in money, technology, education etc., is secular; it is limited to this life only. Hope so limited can never provide sufficient incentive to the righteousness or justice which is an essential pre-requisite even to civil peace but hope based upon the promises of God is an anchor of the soul; it is both sure and stedfast; its desire and expectation reaches beyond death into the glorious sphere of existence enjoyed by the very son of God (Heb. 6:17-20). "We shall be like him!" (1 John 3:2). This is adequate incentive to righteousness — "everyone that hath this hope set on him purifieth himself, even as he is pure" (1 Jno. 3:3).
Knowing What Is The Hope Of His Calling
The apostle, "Having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which is among you, and the love which ye show toward all the saints . . .," prayed that "ye may know what is the hope of his calling" (Eph. 1:15-18). These Christians at Ephesus, like the Colossians, had heard of the "hope which is laid up for you in the heavens" when the gospel was preached to them (Col. 1:4,5). But concern for growth in knowledge of the hope connected with God's calling was in order. Although they had faith in Christ and loved the brethren, it was urgent, for their spiritual well being that they "know what is the hope of his calling." We will never be too familiar with hope regardless of how much we study "the word of truth of the gospel" and we can entertain no substantial expectation of knowing what is the hope of his calling in any way other than diligent study of the Word.
Greater efforts need to be directed toward acquainting ourselves and others with the character of our hope. We "put the cart before the horse" when we tell people what to do to go to heaven, when they are ignorant of what it is like. The gross concept of hope so generally held is not adequate to sustain one in the afflictions and pressures of this life -- it was not of such that the apostle wrote "and hope putteth not to shame" (Rom. 5:5).
Hope yields dividends in the life that now is as well as in that which is to come. In Romans the fifth chapter the apostle traces the process and product of hope. "We rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Rom. 5:2) The pleasurable anticipation of the glory which God has prepared for them that love him is a dividend for the Christian in the life that now is. He can rejoice now!
Not only can we rejoice in hope in the pleasant circumstances, but "we also rejoice in our tribulations" (Rom. 5:3). Hope expresses itself in steadfastness. This is because the Christian knows that endurance in the face of pressures develops into steadfastness of character, which the informed Christian knows has God's approval. With conviction of heaven's approval, hope is healthy and vigorous — it sustains us rather than letting us down. Hope is "an anchor of the soul" (Heb. 6:18, 19), it stays, steadies us amidst the storm of this life. Hope is the great stabilizer.
Reference has been made earlier in this article to the dividend of incentive to righteousness. John wrote, "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this cause the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we children of God and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is. And everyone that hath this hope set on him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."
The character of the love of the Father is exhibited in his provisions that we be his children. Realization by those who have been "baptized into Christ," that they are "children of God" leads to acute concern to "know how men ought to behave themselves in the house (family) of God." Children of God now-with the future prospect of the child of God, of being like Christ — " and every one that hath this hope set on him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." Hope set on being like Christ is a powerful incentive to righteousness — to purifying of self.
Without hope of heaven no adequate incentive to righteousness exists. Why should one who is without hope refrain from lying, stealing, murder or anything else that he is big enough to do?
"Wherein God, being minded to show more abundantly unto the heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel, interposed with an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong encouragement, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us: which we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and stedfast and entering into that which is within the veil ...." (Heb. 6: 17-19).