The Hope Keeping Character of God
All points about Christian hope all hang on what Jesus has done, and will continue to do according to the surety of His own Character.
Continuing in Hebrews, there are a few brief statements about the Character of God which lend weight to his claim to be the sure, fixed hope of His people. After all, our God is not a god of good intentions, a god who wishes he could help, but simply can’t.
The first clear statement I want to consider is from Hebrews 6:18b “…it is impossible for God to lie.” Let’s pair this with Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” (We will look into the relationship of “hope” and “promise” later, but let me foreshadow that these are absolutely inseparable.)
In order to create a fuller picture of the God of our Hope, we must briefly touch on a few more aspects of His Character. Any even cursory study of the character of God which neglected His power and the force of His will would be a mere caricature. Psalm 135:6 “Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.” In other words, the Lord does whatever he wants to; nothing can thwart His plans. God’s power to act in history is unchecked, but this would be very bad new for people if this all-powerful God were also uncaring, or stupid (as frequently the Greek gods were).
The Apostle Paul, in the middle of his deep theological letter to the Roman Christians, can’t help but burst out in praise as the glory of the wisdom of God acting in history, overwhelms his mind.
Romans 11:33-36 “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has know the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counsellor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
We could and (shall) spend eternity exploring the character of God, but let me do my best to sum up the essentials gleaned. . .
1. God is faithful – he will not abandon anyone or anything he has begun
2. God cannot lie – if God has made a promise, it carries more value than anything we can imagine because it cannot be revoked
3. God is powerful – There is nothing God can undertake (within his character) that he cannot complete. He speaks, the universe, and dead human hearts obey.
4. God is wise beyond human comprehension – While we rarely (if ever) understand what God is doing, we can be sure that He does, and that he does so perfectly to accomplish his plans.
There is one more attribute that must be added to this list. God could be faithful, truthful, powerful, and wise, and still not have any obligation to be favourably disposed toward human beings.
Among hundreds, two scriptures, should suffice for the moment.
1 John 3:1-2 “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are… Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” (I plan to spend some considerable time on this later.)
Romans 8:28 “and we know that for those who love God all things work together for Good.”
5. God loves his people, and his pleasure is to provide exactly what they need to be maximally happy for eternity – including, and perhaps especially, the suffering which we all endure as his children.
Why Hope?: Summary
If you are not yet a Christian and you are reading this, I would be liable if I did not tell you that you have no claim on the word “hope” in any sense above that of the meaning of “wish”.
But for those of us who have come to know Christ in a living way, we know that he has accomplished everything necessary to make us acceptable to God. We know that he has promised us multitudes of things both for this life in the next. We know that he is faithful, and cannot lie, so these promises are more precious than gold. We also know that our God cannot be frustrated or thwarted in his plans for his people, possessing both the power and the wisdom to carry them out down the the location of an atom.
It is good to have our minds focused on such things, but I’m afraid that it can be incredibly difficult to move these truths past the form of doctrines of mental assent, to steadfast convictions of the heart. Only when this occurs do we see lives genuinely transformed.
This is when we see people rejoicing in incredible suffering. This is when we see God glorified and valued over bank accounts, titles, security, acclaim, and all manner of lesser things. This is when we see people go to the parts of the world that everyone want to get out of, all for the name of Jesus.
When the character of God and the countless other facets of his work and nature that we haven’t touched on, get into your soul as a convictions, you are connected to your anchor in Heaven, and no storm, no matter how violent, can dislodge you or I.
I confess that this is something I need more and more. If this benefits no one other than myself, I will be content, but Lord willing, some of you will also gain by following along as we consider the magnitude of the hope that we have in Christ Jesus.