“Believing” and “hope” are terms that are often blurred and used interchangeably in our cultures, but it is important to keep the distinctions between them clear. We can believe for things presently available; we can hope for things available in the future. For example, there are some things that are not available today; and if they are not available, we can “believe” until we are exhausted and we’ll not receive. On the other hand, if we would “hope” for something that is presently available, we’d miss out on God’s blessings.
Knowing the difference between believing and hope is critical to living the more abundant life. God’s Word is filled with promises of great abundance. Many of these promises are available now, and some are yet future. We’ll see believing and hope as they relate to the present and future abundance God offers.
First, what is believing? The Greek verb translated “believe” is to be fully persuaded. The Greek noun pistis, or believing, is a firm persuasion, a firmly relying confidence. Believing is the greatest law in the whole world. Jesus Christ explained it very clearly, as recorded in this one verse.
For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
This is the great truth of the present power of believing: believing equals receiving. Mark 11:23 says “whosoever”; it does not specify Christian or non-Christian. Believing is a law that governs receiving for whosoever applies the law. In other words, what any person says with his mouth, believes in his heart, and acts upon, that person will receive. The law of believing works for saint and sinner alike. However, the believer may bring forth more abundantly because of God’s spirit within.
We are now ready to consider Biblically what hope is. The Greek verb translated “hope” means to expect something. The noun “hope” means the expectation of something future. When we refer to the Hope, we are referring to the expected return of Jesus Christ. The main difference between believing and hoping is that we hope for that which is future, and there is no action we can take to receive it now.
God’s Word teaches that Jesus Christ died and was raised from the dead (I Corinthians 15:3 and 4). As born-again believers, we have hope of a future life because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and our acceptance of God’s plan of salvation, according to Romans 10:9 and 10:
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
We observed earlier that anyone, “whosoever,” can believe and receive. When a person believes Romans 10:9 and 10, he or she immediately, in the here and now, receives salvation. That person becomes born again of God’s spirit. The born-again saint then has the hope of Christ’s future return. Accepting the truth of God’s Word regarding salvation is the only way for a person to have the hope that God makes available to mankind.
In contrast to being born again, an unsaved person has no hope and is without God in this world.
That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.
But God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so a person can have everlasting life. By knowing that God raised His Son from the dead and by believing His promise of salvation, as we saw in Romans 10:9 and 10, any person can be redeemed from this hopeless state.
I Thessalonians 4:13:
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
Ignorance and a lack of hope produce great sorrow. If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, then we have the hope of his return and of eternal life. Having a knowledge of Christ being raised from the dead and the promise of his return provides great comfort.
We’ve seen that believing is a present reality. Whosoever applies the principles of believing toward anything presently available will receive the results. We also saw that not everyone has hope. Today, saint or sinner believes, but only the born-again believer has the hope of Christ’s return.
Believing and hope then are fundamentally different in timing: it’s all the difference between now and the future. We believe for things that are available now according to God’s Word. Once we find out from God’s Word something is available now, the how of receiving is believing, or acting on that promise now….
This is an excerpt from the November/December 2010 issue of The Way Magazine.
Copyright© 2010 by The Way International. All rights reserved.
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