Steadfastness of Hope

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The final of these cardinal Christian virtues Paul mentioned was their “steadfastness of hope” (ESV) or “endurance inspired by hope” (1 Thess. 1:3). Christians are motivated by the future promised by God and guaranteed by Christ himself. “Endurance refers to a faith that persists even through trials because of the end-time hope in Christ’s coming and related events.”[1] This Christian hope moved Paul and Barnabas to risk their lives for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 15:25).

Paul proclaimed that Christian hope in Romans 8:18-25 when he proclaimed that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:28). That assurance of the “glory to be revealed” is the hope in which we are saved (Rom. 8:24). But at the present time it is still hope or expectation. It is not our current experience. “For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Rom. 8:25).

The message Paul taught the Romans is the same message he would have taught the Thessalonians and us too. Christians have the firm expectation of glory with Christ because of Christ. Paul reminded the Corinthians of why we can be confident of Christ’s resurrection and then said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Cor. 15:10-11). We should continue to work in hope because “in fact Christ has been raised from the dead” (1 Cor. 15:20). Paul modeled that “endurance inspired by hope.” He wrote, “Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? Why are we in danger every hour?….I die every day! What do I gain, if humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die” (1 Cor. 15:33). Why did Paul serve so vigorously? Why did he have such a great hope? It was because of Christ. It was because of the certainty of our resurrection based on the certainty of Christ’s resurrection.

Christians, we must follow that pattern of steadfast hope modeled by Paul (2 Tim. 3:10). Paul commanded Timothy “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” (1 Tim. 6:11). Jesus said, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). Hebrews 3:6 teaches that “we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope” (Heb. 3:6).  Revelation 12:10 describes the reward of the faithful martyrs. John wrote, “they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”

This expectation governs the entirety of our existence. All our investments are to be heavenly investments. All our relationships are to be sacred relationships. Jesus said, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” (Jn. 12:25-26). Christians are steadfast in their hope in Christ. Nothing in this world is worth shaking that hope. Nothing in this world is even remotely close to the value of the Christian’s heavenly expectation.

[1] G. K. Beale, 1–2 Thessalonians, 47.

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