The Reason for Our Hope
God loves Israel. But He also loves His church and made many promises to it. Two top them all.
John was the lead pastor of a medium-sized church for 10 years. Things had been running relatively smoothly until the news broke that John’s daughter had been physically abused by her husband, a young man who grew up in the church.
Many sided with the young man’s family, and soon John and his wife felt the pain of rejection. Suddenly they were jobless, with no church, no money, and no hospital insurance. John and his family were in the middle of a crisis.
Yet John clung to the promises of God’s Word, particularly God’s commitment to provide for and protect His children. Consequently, divine peace guarded his heart and mind through Christ (Phil. 4:6–7).
Not surprisingly, the Lord showed Himself faithful. All the bills got paid, including John’s daughter’s tuition for Bible college; and eventually the Lord brought the family to the vibrant church John pastors today.
John’s story is one of millions over the years that testify of the faithfulness of God. Scripture overflows with similar accounts of how God keeps the promises He has made to His people. Although He made many to Israel, He also has made many to the church. Two big ones are the promise of His presence and the promise of redemption.
The Promise of His Presence
Throughout the Old Testament, the Spirit of God came upon individuals temporarily (1 Sam. 10:10; 11:6; 16:14). A unique promise God made to the church, however, was that His presence not only would dwell with Christ’s followers, but that it would be in them: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
The Lord promised His disciples that, after His death, the Father would give them “another Helper, that He may abide with you forever” (Jn. 14:16).
The reality of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit runs throughout the New Testament (Rom. 5:5; 1 Cor. 2:12; 6:19; 2 Cor. 5:5). In fact, God seals believers “with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:13–14). If we have placed our faith in Christ alone, not in our good deeds, for the forgiveness of our sins—if we sincerely believe Jesus took the punishment we deserve, died in our place because He loves us, and arose from the grave—God seals us with the Holy Spirit. Everywhere we go, the Lord is with us because He lives in us. This means there is no doctor’s visit, no job interview, no tragedy, and no graveside where the Lord will leave us alone.
But wait, there’s more!
Not only is He always with us, but He also ministers to us continually. The Holy Spirit bears witness to us of our salvation (Rom. 8:16); teaches us the Bible (Jn. 16:13); intercedes for us in prayer (Rom. 8:26); comforts us in time of need (2 Cor. 1:3–4); empowers us to serve Him (Eph. 3:16); and even lovingly chastens us when we sin, as a father chastens his children (Heb. 12:6).
God’s commitment never to leave true believers is a precious promise that should encourage us to live holy lives for Him.
The Promise of Redemption
The term redemption intimately relates to the imagery of slavery. We are in bondage to the Evil One until we are born again, when He delivers us from the power of darkness and places us “into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13–14).
The apostle Paul reminded his protégé Titus that Jesus “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Ti. 2:14). Using His own blood as payment, Jesus bought us off the auction block of sin—He redeemed us—to be a special people for Himself.
Not only can we look back at our redemption from slavery and our insertion into the family of God, but we also can look forward to a future redemption.
We have been sealed “until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:14).
The word guarantee refers to a down payment someone would make when purchasing land or another commodity. The Holy Spirit constitutes that down payment. He guarantees that one day we will be fully redeemed—body and soul/spirit. The final redemption of our bodies will occur when Christ returns for His church (1 Cor. 15:51–52).
Even though believers are free from bondage to sin, we still possess old natures that are susceptible to temptation and sinful behaviors (Jas. 1:14–15). We still live in a world where cancer and heart disease and dementia exist, and chances are good that at least one of these ailments or others eventually will afflict us.
But this world is not all there is. One day the trumpet will sound, calling us home to be with Him:
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord (1 Th. 4:16–17).
In a split second, the graves of believers around the globe will burst open and release the dead in Christ, and those living will be caught up with them in the air. Clothed in the righteousness of Christ, they will have new, glorious bodies that will be eternally free from sickness, disease, and sin. Best of all, we will be physically with the Lord forever (v. 17).
The Promise Keeper
Most promises are plentiful, cheap, and often broken. Mercifully, we have a God who always keeps His promises. Time does not fog His memory or diminish His faithfulness. He is the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). He has been faithful to His promises to the nation of Israel, and He will be faithful to His church.
Regardless of the hardships we suffer, as John and his family did, we know we have a God who keeps His Word. He has promised the Holy Spirit and redemption to those who call on His name, and those are promises worth building our lives on.