God wants us to manifest a more abundant life, both now and in the future. He makes available promises we can claim now and promises we can anticipate coming to pass in the future according to His timing.
Among the promises God makes available for us to claim today are prosperity and good health (III John 2), sufficiency in all things (II Corinthians 9:8), being more than conquerors in every situation (Romans 8:37), and being strengthened with might by God’s spirit in the inner man (Ephesians 3:16). Among the promises God makes available to born-again believers for the future are the hope of Christ’s return (I Thessalonians 4:13‑18), new bodies (Philippians 3:21), and no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:4). What is our responsibility in receiving what God has promised us now and for the future? What does the Word say?
To answer this question, we need a Biblical understanding of two words—believing and hope. While believing and hope have similarities in meaning, they also have distinct differences. Understanding these differences helps us know what our responsibility is in receiving what God has promised us now and for the future.
The predominant Greek word for the verb “believe” in the New Testament is pisteuō. Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible describes the verb pisteuō as “to adhere to, trust, rely on.” Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament contributes: “to be persuaded of” and “place confidence in.” We “believe” as we trust God’s Word, as we place our confidence in Him to bring to pass His promises.
Jesus Christ taught his disciples how to pray with believing and that in doing so they would absolutely receive what they asked for.
And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing [pisteuō], ye shall receive.
The word “all” relates to all that God makes available for us to receive today. And what we believe for according to God’s Word, we receive when we take believing action.
The root of pisteuō is the noun pistis. Bullinger’s Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament defines it as “firm persuasion.” In James 2, pistis is understood as “believing.”
James teaches us more about what is involved in believing.
Even so faith [pistis, believing], if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Seest thou how faith [pistis, believing] wrought with his works, and by works was faith [pistis, believing] made perfect?
Believing involves acting on the Word. It’s more than just agreeing with a promise of God—it’s taking action on it. We claim prosperity by applying the principles of tithing and abundantly sharing. We claim good health by confessing the Word, refusing to fear, and taking other believing steps involved in healing wholeness. Believing appropriates God’s promises that are available now. It is our responsibility to take believing action toward receiving what is available now.
Next, let’s look at the Greek verb elpizō, often translated as “hope.” Bullinger’s lexicon and concordance and Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible define this verb elpizō as “to expect.” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words defines the related noun, elpis, as “favourable and confident expectation,” noting that it has to do with the unseen and the future.
Romans 8:24 and 25:
…hope [elpis] that is seen is not hope [elpis]: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for [elpizō]?
But if we hope for [elpizō] that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
Hope that is seen is not hope. What we hope for is that which we do not see, that which is not available right now, and we hope with patience. If a promise of God is not available right now, then there is no believing action we can take toward bringing that promise to pass right now; however, we can confidently expect the promise to be fulfilled by patiently waiting for it with hope.
We have hope for Christ’s return.
I John 3:2 and 3:
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and [but] it doth not yet appear what we shall be [in the future]: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
“This hope” in verse 3 is the hope just spoken of in verse 2: “…when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” The word “hope” is used here because this relates to that which is available in the future. God will bring this to pass—He will send His Son—but Christ’s return is yet future. It is God’s responsibility for the timing of this future promise. It is our responsibility to maintain hope for that promise.
These definitions for believing and hope help us to see similarities and differences between the terms. Biblically, believing and hope are similar in that they are rooted in the certainty and absolute trustworthiness of God and His Word, with the result that one is fully persuaded and confident that God’s Word will come to pass. They are different in that whatever God says is available right now to claim, we can believe for and take believing action toward receiving; and whatever God promises us about the future, we can hope for with patience….
This is an excerpt from the January/February 2019 issue of The Way Magazine.
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