GRACE – THE FOUNDATION OF CHRISTIAN HOPE

Christian hope is a sure and confident certainty that is far removed from the weak and uncertain ‘hope’ that we express concerning ordinary events when we say things like ‘I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow!’ Such hoping is a groundless wish, expressing a desire, but with no certainty at all that the wish will be granted.

It is unfortunate that we use the word ‘hope’ to refer both to such ordinary wishes and to the grand assurance of our salvation in Jesus Christ.

When we read the Scriptures we come to understand that our sure and certain Christian hope, our confident assurance of permanent salvation, has its basis in one fact: that our salvation is totally by grace, that is, that it depends fully on the initiative and action of God, that it is sheer gift, that it is in no way dependent on any action, merit or quality of our own.

Thus Paul wrote:

‘… he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’ [Philippians 1:6].

And:

‘This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel … I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted for that day’ [2Timothy 1:9-10,12].

And:

Having referred to the ‘grace in which we stand’ Paul states ‘And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God’ [Romans 5:3].

Peter also, assures us of this sure and certain confidence grounded in the sheer mercy of God:

‘In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you … in this you greatly rejoice’ [1Peter 1:3,4,6].

With this hope, grounded solely in the grace of God, we can face the New Year with sure and certain confidence that nothing that happens in 2010 can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord [Romans 8:17-39]. There will, most likely, be trouble and suffering in some form, but the presence of suffering does not deny the Christian hope. In fact, each of the above references to the Christian’s sure and certain hope were expressed in the context of suffering.

If we make any New Year’s resolution let it be this: that this year we will really believe that God saves us by grace:

that this year we will trust his word that states clearly that we are saved not by our own works but by his grace;

that this year we will not interpret anything that happens to us as a denial of this word of grace by which we are saved and because of which we live in the confident assurance of his constant love;

that this year we will live with the knowledge that grace reigns in the kingdom of Christ in which we, by this grace, are permanent members.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2009