Both faith and hope of gifts from God. They work together to bring heart and mind into submission so He can release His peace and joy into our lives as a living testimony to His glory and power. When we abound with hope based on real faith, the world will see Jesus.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
I once heard a Christian blithely tell another that Christians have faith and non-Christians have hope. The logic behind this is that we have faith in Christ and non-believers don’t, so they can only have hope. It puts hope into a vague place of wishing for or desiring something without any real expectation or assurance that it will happen. Yet hope is constantly mentioned throughout the Bible, so it’s not limited to those who have not been saved. It’s as much a part of our lives as faith. Hope doesn’t replace faith or visa versa. It’s not a case of having either one or the other. They are also not synonyms for the same thing. Faith and hope co-exist and are closely linked. To understand this better, a useful analogy is that faith is the rock and hope the rainbow. Believers should never have one without the other.
Faith is of the heart.
This is the fundamental difference between faith and hope. Faith is based on the Rock, on truth, and on our knowledge of Christ. It is all about the heart and what we believe, our strong foundation which is rooted in God Himself. Faith is never of the mind, will, or intellect. It’s a spiritual and supernatural belief in things we cannot see based on God and on His Word. Faith can, when surrendered to Jesus, control and transform our minds. But it is never something of the mind. The moment that we make faith natural or intellectual, it’s no longer ‘real’ faith. When we try to define faith with logic and reasoning, we’re making it natural rather than supernatural. That’s because God’s ways are not our ways. They simply don’t fit into neat little boxes. The mind can never ‘make’ faith nor sustain it.
Another difference between faith and hope is that it’s nature is defined by believing things that aren’t seen. It’s entirely supernatural and sees what God sees rather than what self sees. It is based on supernatural knowledge received from God which allows us to believe what we cannot see. Faith cannot be separated from the Word or from a deep, intimate knowledge of God. That’s because it’s a free gift, one placed in us by God to empower us to believe supernaturally. It has nothing to do with the ‘real’ world and everything to do with the spiritual world. At the same time, it has no ‘mysticism’ attached to it. Faith is immensely practical – God said it and so it must be. It’s is always centred and focused on God and who and what He is and what He is able to do.
Hope is of the mind.
As human beings, our control has always been centred in the mind. Because of this, there can often be conflict between faith and hope. Self does not want to relinquish control. It still wants to determine the what, why, and how of life. This is what creates conflict that will manifest in two ways. Firstly, the mind will seek to dictate what we believe, thus undermining our faith by leaving out those truths self doesn’t want to hear. Secondly, it will shape hope based on incomplete faith. This is simply want-based hope, not faith-based hope. When our hope only picks out the warm and fuzzy things, it’s time to step back and examine ourselves. Any hope we have that is outside of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is counterfeit. It’s a spiritual forgery created by the mind. It has separated from true faith and is of our own making.
None of this means that believers should never have hope. Today’s verse reminds us strongly that faith and hope are necessary for every follower of Christ. This doesn’t mean that hope will somehow ‘relocate’ from mind to heart. Hope will always be of the mind, but for a believer, it’s of a renewed mind. The old, sinful, rebellious mind is transformed. Like faith, hope is also a gift of God. Real hope is a spiritual experience that transcends the fleshly nature. It’s a hope that is based on faith and on the promises of God. We have hope because we have faith. Our faith and intimate relationship with Jesus transforms us through the renewing of our minds. The hope that emerges through this is part of the renewing process. But it also continues to work at renewing our minds by replacing the old, negative thought patterns with things of God.
Faith and hope work together.
We cannot have real hope without first having real faith. But we also cannot have real faith that does not result in real hope. This is the crux of today’s verse. Hope grows out of our faith. It is the result of peace and joy in believing – having faith – and so is the embodiment of what we believe. Through faith in who and what God is, we can receive the peace and joy that transforms us. These are the catalysts that release sincere faith-based hope. Remember that it’s the hope of the helmet of salvation that protects the mind in the armour of God. It is the power of expectation that God releases into our lives through peace and joy. Faith believes for something based on God and His Word. Hope expects something based on faith. Hope is the joyful anticipation of what we believe in faith.
The nature of our hope reveals the nature of our faith. God alone is the giver of joy and peace, and He always gives these in the context of faith. In other words, ‘real’ faith opens the way for us to receive joy and peace. These are God’s peace and His joy. They are entirely supernatural and cannot be affected by the things of this world or the flesh. They are God-given and eternal and are undergirded by our faith in the absolute truth of God. In this respect, faith and hope are the same. Both are gifts of God given to enable us to firstly believe, and secondly, to manifest that belief in expectation. God-given hope looks to God and His Word alone. It is released and received through faith according to His will and purposes. To abound in hope is to have more than enough.
Faith and hope are both a living testimony.
We must always remember that our purpose is to bring glory to God. Both faith and hope work to reveal His truth to the world. To have strong faith is a powerful testimony. But to also have a joyful abundance of hope adds a deeper dimension. Together, they provide a message that others cannot ignore. They point always to the glory and power of the I AM and to the risen, conquering Saviour. The principle here is the same as ‘giving thanks in all circumstances’ even when it seems crazy to do so. It transforms us, yes, but it also reveals the nature and character of God in a mighty way. The very fact that faith and hope are supernatural sets them apart as something unique and extraordinary. Living these two things means living in His power and glory, humble vessels of truth that point always to Jesus.
Father God, Your gifts to us Your children are limitless and good. Help us to never lose sight of the things you give so freely. Help us to live joyful testimonies through faith and hope that reflects only You. Continue Your work in us, transforming our minds by the power of Your Spirit, so that Your joy and peace shine through.