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? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
Not only they, but we ourselves groan within ourselves!
O how the creation groans and travails in pain! For God subjected it to vanity because of the fall of man into sin. Hence, from the fall until now, the whole cosmos groans in agony, shaking and quaking, erupting and burning, withering and dying. Yet in all its groanings the creature has hope. The creature waits in hope, yearning for the great day of the Lord Jesus, when it will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
And not only they…but we ourselves groan. We experience the sufferings of this present time and, sometimes, we squirm within ourselves in anguish of soul. Why do we who have the firstfruits of the Spirit still groan within ourselves?
For we are saved in hope. Hope…. What a blessed gift of God, a most precious treasure received through His Word and Spirit! It is ranked with faith and love in the trio of great spiritual gifts. But what is it?
Hope is our earnest and sure expectation that God, who has already saved us through Christ, will give us the fullness of that salvation in time to come. Hope looks to the future, to things not yet seen. Hope that is seen is not hope, for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for? We do not hope for what we already have, what we already see. But we hope for what we do not see. In this respect hope is similar to faith. Faith that embraces only what is seen is not faith. No, we believe things not seen. Faith looks to the past and present too, and not just to the future. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things that are seen were not made of things that do appear. But hope looks exclusively to the future, longing and yearning for those things we have not yet seen or tasted.
There is more. The hope that God gives is a sure expectation. O how often in our daily lives do we say, “I hope!” I hope the weather will be nice next week. I hope we can find a time to visit each other. Hopefully, I will get better from this sickness. What we mean is, “I desire it greatly, but I am not sure about it.” But the hope that God gives us is not like that. Rather, it is a sure expectation. Hope says, “I desire it greatly, and I am sure that it will come!” That does not mean we never struggle with doubts and fears about the future. When danger threatens, we often slip into fear. When our enemy tempts us, we sometimes worry about tomorrow. But even in our darkest moments, when we feel as if we are sinking into despair and succumbing to the sin of doubt, we who have this hope always find that under us are the everlasting arms of God and the unbudging rock of our salvation. Our hope is sure! For it rests on the promises of God. And those promises about our future flow from the heart of Him who knows the future, having determined it; from Him who controls the future, as the Almighty; from Him whose promises are all “yea and Amen” in Jesus Christ.
There is more that must be said about this hope. Indeed, the principal thing. Hope is our expectation of future bliss, of receiving unspeakable joy, the fullness of our salvation in paradise. Those without hope do not expect a blissful future but only death and hell. Those with hope expect a glorious future, and they reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with that glory that will be revealed in them. They expect God to guide them through this life and afterward receive them into glory. They hope to see Christ coming on the clouds of heaven in power and great glory to raise their bodies from the dead and manifest that they are the children of God. They have hope that God will not condemn them in the day of judgment but will freely and openly justify them through the righteousness of Christ. They expect to hear their Savior say, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” They have hope that they will be led into the new and beautiful paradise, of which the garden of Eden was but a shadow, where the holy city will rest undisturbed from any foe, where the wolf will lie down with the lamb, where eyes will never shed tears of sorrow, where all will drink from the fountain of the water of life freely, where all who are there will see God in the face of Jesus and be drawn ever deeper into the sweet communion of His holy covenant unto all eternity.
As the apostle himself on his voyage to Rome, when all he could see was a raging storm, had hope through a special revelation from God that they all would arrive safe to the shore, so we, even when all we can see around us are storms of trouble, have hope that we too will arrive safe to the shore of eternity.
Then why do we still groan within ourselves in this present time?
For we have been saved in hope.
It is possible that the apostle did mean to say that we have been saved by hope, as our beloved Authorized Version has it. After all, he elsewhere teaches that we are saved by grace through faith, and faith is the substance of things hoped for. We are saved through faith that not only lays hold on the Christ who was crucified and the Christ who lives, but also on the Christ who will come again on the last day. We are saved by hope in Christ.
But it is more likely that the apostle meant to say, and that the Spirit means to reveal, that we have been saved in hope. That is, we have been saved already in the past so that we are presently saved. But we still groan within ourselves because we have been saved in hope, not yet in full. O yes, beloved, we have been saved already! God sent His Son into the world to save us from our sins. That Christ Jesus has done already by His passion and death on the cross. That He has accomplished in full when He bore our sins and suffered the curse we deserve. Salvation has been fully accomplished for us by the Son of God! Thus, God raised Him from the dead and carried Him up into heaven. Nor is that all. For God has also given His Spirit to Jesus to pour out upon us as the down payment of our salvation. That too He has done already, for the Spirit has rushed into our hearts and quickened us together with Christ. He has already called us to a living faith in Christ, by which we have experienced our free justification. He has already begun in us the good work of delivering us from sinning and moving us to walk in good works. Salvation has already been applied to us!
But we have been saved in hope.
God was pleased not to give us the fullness of our salvation at once. He is pleased to give us the riches of our salvation first in principle and later in fullness.
That is why we still sin and still groan.
The salvation that Christ has fully accomplished and that we have already received in principle is the guarantee that we will receive the rest in time to come.
We have been saved in the hope of full salvation from sinning! What comfort to know that Christ has fully paid for all my sins on the cross and made me right before God! Yet I continue to sin daily against my God. I am so weak in myself that I cannot stand for a moment. When I consider my sins and my wretched nature out of which they flow, I sigh often. I groan within myself. But I do not despair. For God has saved me in hope. I have hope that He will deliver me fully from the body of this death and bring me into the new heaven and earth where righteousness will dwell, and I will never sin again. What hope!
We have been saved too in the hope of full salvation from our enemies. What a thrill of joy to know that Christ has delivered me from all the power of the devil, the world, and my flesh at the cross and through my union with Him! Yet my ancient foe continues to seek me day by day, as a lion seeking whom he may devour, as a red dragon who is full of rage. He whispers lies and accusations to me. He entices and assaults me relentlessly! In the battle against him, I sigh and groan. But I must remember that I have been saved in hope. I have hope that God will crush the head of Satan shortly and cast that old lying serpent and his man of sin into the lake burning with fire and brimstone. Hope for ultimate victory!
Still more, we have been saved in the hope of full salvation from the sufferings of this present time. What comfort to know that Christ has fully satisfied the wrath of God on the cross, so that my present and future sufferings are not the punishment for my sins. Yet I do suffer. Disappointment, loss, sickness, heartache. Sometimes I toss and turn on my bed at night, writhing in pain. Sometimes mine eye runneth down with water, like the weeping prophet of old, because there is none to comfort me. My bowels are troubled. I groan within myself. But then, how wonderful and sweet to hear that God gives me hope that soon these troubles will be over. Soon I will depart from this valley of tears, never to return. Soon I will arrive on the shores of heaven, and my God will wipe away every tear. There will be no more death, no more crying, no more pain. There will be life with God in paradise with all my fellow saints, with all the angels, standing before the throne of God and worshiping Him forever.
If we hope for what we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
Even as the creation patiently waits for the manifestation of the sons of God, we too can patiently wait for that future glory. Without hope, who can wait patiently? There is only fear and anxiety. But with this hope, we can wait patiently. Patience means we bear up under the sufferings of this present time and wait until God will take them away.
A pregnant woman groans and travails with birthing pangs. But she is able to endure and wait because of the hope that she will soon hold her baby in her arms. We too can endure and wait because we have hope that we will soon enter the new creation that will be born from the old, and we will dwell with God there forever.
We have been saved…in hope!