Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE HOPE OF ABRAHAM”

Romans 4.18 

May I confess to you this evening that I am not a completely consistent human being? I am fallible. I make mistakes. I commit sins. But I do seek, despite my glaring humanity, to be a consistent Christian. And to be a consistent Christian requires that I strive, by God’s matchless grace, to be consistent in the different areas of my life.

I could hardly be a consistent Christian if my giving to the cause of Christ were inconsistent, or if it was consistently less than what God has revealed that it ought to be.

I could hardly be a consistent Christian if my testimony belied my Savior and communicated a false message about Him.

I could hardly be a consistent Christian if my participation in my Church were hit or miss, dependent upon whim or fancy, and not as faithful as clock work.

I could hardly be a consistent Christian if I did not set an example for my wife and daughter to follow that is worthy of my calling.

In short, I could not be a consistent Christian, could not expect to reach any reasonable level of consistency, unless the various parts of my life demonstrated some reasonable level of consistency.

By the way. Another word for consistency would be faithfulness. Faithfulness, I’m sure any sensible person would agree, is a virtue that every Christian should strive for.

Follow my reasoning for just a moment. For faith to translate into faithfulness, it must be of the proper character. And since genuine faith does translate into faithfulness we know that it does have the proper character. The character of faith lies in its hope. A person with Biblical faith is a person who has Biblical hope. In my text for this evening’s message, we look, once again, at the patriarch Abraham.

Specifically, we look at Abraham’s hope. Stand for just a moment and read along with me Romans 4.18: 

“Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.” 

Here we see the character of Abraham’s faith lying in his hope, his Biblical hope. 

IN THE FIRST PART OF THIS VERSE WE HAVE OPPORTUNITY TO COMPARE HOPES 

Notice what Paul wrote about Abraham’s hope: 

“Who against hope believed in hope.” 

How can a man against hope, in hope, believe? We answer that question by pondering three things:

First, we ponder the descriptions of hope. There is a great difference between what is meant by most people when they use the word “hope” and what is meant in the Bible sense when the word “hope” appears. Even in Paul’s day, this divergence of meaning existed. When most people use the word “hope”, they are referring to wishful thinking. “I hope someone gives me a Rolls-Royce. I hope my mother wins the Irish Sweepstakes. I hope I get that $75,000 a year job that I have no qualifications for beyond a high school diploma.” That’s most people’s idea of hope. In the Biblical sense of the word, however, that is not at all what is meant by hope. The Biblical concept of “hope” has to do with a confident expectation of some kind. Our text shows us that Abraham had absolutely no logical reason for wishful thinking, but he did with great confidence expect a great blessing from God.

Next, we ponder the domain of hope. Though there are two concepts of “hope,” one humanistic and wishful and another Biblical and confident, both the false and the true concept deal with a single domain, the future. And therein lies a facet of hope that distinguishes it from faith. Faith has to do with the present, while hope has to do with the future. Faith has to do with confidence and trust in Who and what God is, while hope has to do with confidence in what God is going to do. Hope, real hope, springs from faith. If a person has faith in a sufficient object, then there is a sufficient basis for hope. If a person presently trusts God, which is what we call faith, then there is good and sufficient cause for a blessing to be expected in the future, which is hope.

Let’s conclude our comparison of hopes by pondering the decision of Abraham: 

“Who against hope believed in hope.” 

Abraham had two hopes before him, as do you and I. He wanted an heir. He wanted someone to carry on after him. On the one hand he could examine his body and the body of his aged wife. Doing that would convince him that he had no basis on which even wishfully to think he would ever sire an heir. On the other hand, which was the option that had nothing to do with the physical evidence that presented itself, which was the option that didn’t seem to make any sense from a human standpoint, Abraham could confidently expect a blessing from God to come his way sometime in the future. Which option did Abraham choose, the former or the latter? Did he base his decision on the condition of his and his wife’s physical bodies, or did he base his decision on the promise of God? If genuine hope can be defined as “the confident expectation of future blessing based upon the promises of God,” then we see that Abraham’s decision was to choose the latter of the two options. It was the hope which is wishful thinking, and it was based on the hope which rests in God’s ability to keep His promises. 

IN THE LAST PART OF THIS VERSE WE HAVE OPPORTUNITY TO CONSIDER THE PROMISE 

“that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, ‘So shall thy seed be.’” 

Two phrases:

The first phrase shows us the result of believing. The first phrase that we are looking at reads 

“that he might become the father of many nations.” 

Question. Does this phrase have to do with Abraham’s present or Abraham’s future? His future. Having to do with Abraham’s future, this phrase deals with Abraham’s hope. Because he believed God, at a time in his life that was in the present, he did it now; he would someday receive the blessing of being the father of many nations. His faith, then, was not in what God was going to do. His faith was in God, Who was going to do it. Confidence in God is faith. Confidence in God keeping His promise is hope. This, then, is Abraham’s hope, which is the result of Abraham’s faith.

The last phrase shows us the reason for believing. Abraham’s reason for believing lay in God. He believed God because God is believable. Because God is believable, what He says can be believed. But what if what God says has to do with the future? What if what God says is a promise made? That gives rise to hope. Does it not? God made a promise to Abraham. He told Abraham that He would bless him and make him the father of many nations. He told him to look at the stars innumerable and said, “So shall thy seed be.” What God offered to Abraham was hope. In responding to the hope that God held out before him, Abraham responded to God. When you respond to God in faith believing, and when you have the hope that is based upon the integrity and truthfulness of God, you will have followed in the footsteps of Abraham. 

Let me tie this rather abstract message up into a knot. Some people have “hope” which is not Biblical. It is little more than wishful thinking. Usually, they call it faith, but since it has to do with the future, it is rightly understood to be hope. But just because you want something to happen in the future bad enough is no guarantee that it will happen. For the hope to be certain, it has to rest upon two things: First, it must properly spring forth from genuine faith in God. Second, it must be the result of a promise made by God.

If there is no genuine faith in God, the hope is not Biblical. If there is no promise made by God to guarantee the future blessing the hope is not Biblical. Abraham’s hope was genuine in these two respects, for his faith was in God, and he had God’s guarantee of future blessing. I have hope that is just as genuine as Abraham’s, though my hope is not the same as Abraham’s. My faith is in God, and I have God’s promise, as well. Abraham’s hope was to be the father of many nations. My hope is to be caught up with Jesus Christ into heaven someday. My faith is in God. It is Him Who I trust. And His Word guarantees that Jesus Christ will come back for me someday.

Do you have hope? Just about everyone has hope. But is it Biblical hope or wishful thinking? Make your hope sure, today.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org