“Hope in our Lord Jesus Christ”
is only possible when there is
“work of faith, and labor of love”
When is the Gospel…
“not … in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost”?
Oct 27/Nov 9 2009 23rd Monday after Pentecost
We begin 1 Thessalonians in the cycle of readings today. The Apostle uses a very important and often misunderstood word – “hope”:
“We give thanks to God always for you all… 3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father…” (1 Thess 1:2-3)
We cannot understand what “hope” is or be able to “hope” unless we are living a careful, powerful  Christian life. This is why in his prayer for the Thessalonians, he prefaces that they have “hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” by mentioning their “work of faith and labor of love”.
What is “hope”? Here is something that it is not: “wishful thinking”. When we say that we hope that something will come to pass, such as a good test grade, we are expressing our desire for a good outcome, along with some doubt that it may come to pass. This is decidedly not the hope described in the scriptures, such as:
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; (4) and patience, experience; and experience, hope: (5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Rom 5:3-5)
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, (12) Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; (13) Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (14) Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Tit 2:11-14)
In the scriptures, hope refers to something of which we are certain, but have not attained. It is a longing for something not completely realized (or seen, see below), but increasingly realized.
For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? (25) But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. (Rom 8:24-25)
Hope is the expectation of becoming what God became incarnate for, that we each become
“a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”(Eph 4:13)
All this is possible only because of Christ – His incarnation, teaching, example, mentoring of His disciples to continue His work in the church, and above all, His changing of human nature so that it would be capable of perfection.
For a Christian, the expectation inherent in hope is not merely waiting. It is an earnest striving. Hope involves patience, but not in the sense that we passively wait. Scriptural “patience” is continual, steadfast effort to obtain something we believe in. Hope is impossible to have without morality. Scriptural references to hope always have a moral context. To the extent that we live in Christ, following all His commandments, fulfilling the Greatest Commandment , we have strong hope. Any moral problem of any kind, especially one we are not giving every effort to eradicate, weakens hope.
The Apostle goes on to mention power:
“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance;”
From whence comes this power? From the grace of God working in us of course, and it will only work with power when we are making powerful efforts to live morally. The Gospel is not words, it is power. Any word spoken without power, that is without a strong moral foundation, is not the Gospel. Anything we do without strong moral convictions is not done with power; it is not according to the Gospel.
At the end of this short selection the Apostle tells his beloved flock that:
“As ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.”
We cannot hide from who we are. Eventually people will know “what manner of” person we are. No amount of words or prevarications will keep our true nature hidden forever. Politicians do not understand this, or criminals, or habitual liars, or anyone who is not living according to the Gospel. The Apostle was confident that his flock would see him as the kind of man he truly was, and he was not afraid of this. I daresay that many people could not say these words without fear, because they are hiding inner motivations; they are living a lie. The question we must ask ourselves when we read words such as these is: can we say them without hypocrisy?
1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; 4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. 5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. (1 Thessalonians 1:1-5)
Here are a few more references to hope in the scriptures.
Gal 5:5 KJV For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
Col 1:4-5 KJV Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, (5) For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;
Col 1:23 KJV If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
1Th 4:13-18 KJV 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. (14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. (15) For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. (16) For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: (17) Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (18) Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
Tit 2:11-14 KJV For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, (12) Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; (13) Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (14) Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
1Pe 1:3-5 KJV Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, (5) Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
1Jn 3:2-3 KJV Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (3) And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
Priest Seraphim Holland 2009. St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas
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 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. (1 Thessalonians 1:5)
 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? (37) Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (Mat 22:36-37 KJV )
Hope (n)-a feeling that what is wanted is likely to happen; desire accompanied by expectation
Christian hope-the desire and expectation that our efforts will produce the results that God has promised, through the power of Jesus Christ, to bring about.
God has created the seed and the process of growth. He sends the rain and sunshine and causes plants to grow. The farmer to whom the seed is given has the expectation and hope that in scattering the seed, weeding and fertilizing it, that God will send the necessary rain and sun and cause it to grow into a fruitful plant which he then harvests.
And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29