November 22, 2023
Have you ever felt like there is no hope? Possibly you are dealing with a personal problem that seems overwhelming? Maybe, you are experiencing troubles within your family and the answers are not coming? Or, your local church is struggling with strong personalities that are seeking to push an agenda? It could be the present global unrest, disasters, and wars that bring the hopeless feelings to the surface?
This may have been what believers in Thessalonica were experiencing as they faced persecution and opposition to their new-found faith. Ray C. Stedman, in his book Adventuring through Paul’s Epistles, talks about certain archaeologists who uncovered a Grecian cemetery dating back to the first century A.D. In their excavation, they found tombstones with the words, “no hope” inscribed in Greek. The believers he wrote to lived in the same city, in the same time period, and for this reason Paul highlights the hope that is found in the gospel he preached.
There are 4 direct references to the word “hope” in 1 Thessalonians.
Firstly, as Paul thinks about what the gospel did in their lives, he says, “Remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).
The hope they had was rooted in the person of Jesus Christ. The constancy or endurance they had was linked to their hope in Him. He was the victorious risen Savior, who had gone before; He had endured, and He was alive.
The hope they had is our hope!
Secondly, as he considers the future, he says, “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?” (1 Thessalonians 2:19).
The believer's hope is embedded in the living Savior and the promise that He will return. For Paul, it will be a joyous occasion. He will not only get to see His Lord, whom he loved, but also all the faithful believers who will be there having believed his gospel.
What is true for him is also true for us. Every person God brings into your life is an opportunity for you to impact that person either to accept Christ or to continually live in His faithfulness. You will be surprised when Jesus comes to see all those on whom you had a positive influence!
Thirdly, he speaks about the difference between the mindset of a believer and a non-believer by saying, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
We are informed by God’s Word and therefore we have hope. We also have grief! Standing at a cold open gravesite having lost someone you love brings sorrow beyond words. I remember the feeling so clearly as my brother John was lowered into the icy, hard ground.
But our sorrow is mingled with hope. This death, this loss, this cemetery is not the end. The Word of God gives clear solid instruction that believers will be reunited and life will be enjoyed in a blissful, eternal future.
Lastly, as he thinks about their present spiritual battle, he states, “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8).
The world has been in a spiritual night condition ever since the entrance of sin. It is corrupt, oppressive, and under the spell of the evil one (1 John 5:19). Paul tells these believers that they belong to the day, which is the kingdom of light. The same kingdom of God that we are a part of.
The full armor of the believer is listed in Ephesians 6, but here 2 pieces are mentioned: the breastplate and the helmet. The helmet protects the mind, and it is described here as hope of salvation.
The hope of salvation reminds us of the up and coming results of our deliverance from sin. While there are many present blessings, there is a bright future for the children of God. This truth will sustain us in dark days and enable us to wage war with confidence that God is in control, that we are on the winning side, and that Jesus Christ is coming again.
Thank you for praying today for our prodigals and for revival among us.
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel