Oh! men and brethren, what would this heart feel if I could but believe that there were some among you who would go home and pray for a revival - men whose faith is large enough, and their love fiery enough to lead them from this moment to exercise unceasing intercessions that God would appear among us and do wondrous things here, as in the times of former generations.
- C.H. Spurgeon
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. (2 Corinthians 3:12, NIV)
“The Christian life, if it is grasped according to God's truth, is a magnificent obsession with an eternal hope, a hope that does not lead to an escapist attitude, but to the pursuit of life on a whole new dimension. It makes you bullish, as we might say today, on the potentials of this life as stewards of God. It gives us power to live courageously, to be all God has called us to be in Christ.” Hope. Bible.org
New Birth to Joy and Holiness
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5, NET)
The law works fear and wrath; grace works hope and mercy. Martin Luther
Peace and Hope 5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:1-4, NIV)
Wildly exuberant fans fill huge sports stadiums. Cheerleaders shout and dance, inspiring excitement and enthusiasm. Some people jump to their feet in great anticipation, filling the air with cheers at all decibel levels. Most are dressed in team colors to show their team spirit, some even with painted faces and bodies. So much energy expended in a frenzy of activity—all for the love of the team, its players, the game and the win.
Communities anticipate and cherish these arenas of competition. They live for the next game! The energy of the crowd and their shouts and whistles of approval spur the participants on, and the fans feel alive with a common purpose. The experience offers a soul-stirring environment, contagious hype, emotional highs, waves of unity, joy, and enthusiasm. In the stadium, we feel the freedom and encouragement to voice passion for a common mission, community, and shared love. Why? Because we love contests, camaraderie, and the display of real talent. Maybe the cause is worthy and important because it is our school, neighborhood, or city. Most commonly, though, there is a desire to invest in and be part of what we think is greatness.
And why not? The desire to be part of a team, and to give it all for a victory delights us and increases the enjoyment of the experience. Fans are single-minded in their support, motivating the team and spurring them on to win. The players do all they can to win. They “feel the fire,” driven by the fans’ passion and energy. The coaches work even harder to motivate the team to even greater accomplishments and success—all to win a game.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if the body of Christ had this kind of passion, zeal, and unity—the drive and determination inherent in a thriving team community where people know Christ and the eternal souls that are at stake?
I have. I have obsessed over it. What if we really realized the greatness we have in Christ? What if we loved our Lord above all, enjoying His presence and power? What if we worked together, following our Creator and Savior, supporting His team to win? Whether fan, cheerleader, or player, our focus would be to bring glory and honor to the name of our Lord and Savior.
We have the Holy Spirit in us to work far more than what we are able to do ourselves. In Christ, we have fellowship with God the Father. We are one with God through Christ. It is our theology, but is it our reality? We have so much in Christ, so much more than any counterfeit the world offers. This in-Christ reality and its joy, power, and authority should give us passion and oneness that is far above any sports crowd’s enthusiasm.
The Bible encourages us, “we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, …so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?” (Hebrews 2:1-4, partial paraphrase from the KJV, emphasis mine).
We are talking about God and His so-great salvation. Can a sporting event even begin to compare? Someday, will we stand before Jesus and wonder why we had more passion at a sporting event than in our worship of our eternal God, His eternal gift and Kingdom, and the salvation of our eternal souls?
Great joy comes from knowing Christ, being fully indwelt by His Spirit, and loving and worshiping the Lord. My mentor sent a quote from Joni Erickson Tada, "When we're gripped by the fact that God lives inside us, pulse-pumping joy splits the seams of our soul, and we can't help but act a little foolish."
The word audacious has been used to describe Margaret Sanger’s views.
“[Our objective is] unlimited sexual gratification without the burden of unwanted children… [Women must have the right] to live … to love… to be lazy … to be an unmarried mother … to create… to destroy… The marriage bed is the most degenerative influence in the social order… The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”
Her shocking statements have appealed to many and impacted generations: she became the founder of Planned Parenthood, an organization with much influence today.
It is time for Christians to be audacious—in a different way. Our audacious, radical love for Jesus fills us with His love for the people of the world in grace and truth. We are called to bring hope to all and to speak up for justice and for the way, truth, and life.
Miracle of Hope
"Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24, NLT). Christ and His abiding Spirit motivate us and bring us together in a deeper, more significant way than the world offers. When we show how we are different—indwelt with God’s Spirit, in Christ—others will long for who and what we have.
Jesus said, “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32, NIV).
When a death-overcoming Savior prays that your faith does not fail, know that He has the power to help you maintain your faith. No matter how low you may have fallen, you can stand in Jesus’s keeping power. You can turn again because Jesus, who is risen from the dead and seated at the right hand of the Father, is praying for you. He wants you and embraces you, even when it feels like you have nothing to offer; when you feel like you’ve ruined your chances.
At the well, Jesus revealed His identity as Messiah and said whosoever drinks of the water that he gives them shall never thirst (John 4:14)—the water that Christ gives is a well of water springing up into everlasting life. He also declared we are to worship in spirit and in truth.
As I survey the wondrous cross, the Prince of Heaven hanging there for me, I can’t help but want to be audacious for Christ. There is no greater love than the love of God. (See John 15:13, Romans 5: 7-8, 10, Song of Songs 8:6; Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:35.)
Hope Against All Hope
What happens when your hope runs dry, and any hope you can muster seems contrary to reality? Hoping against hope may seem ridiculous and foolish on all human accounts.
In God, all hope is available even when our human hope seems gone, absent, and completely dead. He is in the impossible. He has conquered sin, the curse of death, Satan, hell, and the grave. He raises the dead! So God brings hope when all human hope falls short and is extinguished.
It is still mustered “hope against hope.” We must choose to place our hope in God, not in ourselves or our own abilities. Our powerlessness for His power: the secret of hope. When I am bankrupt, empty, unable, empty of self, at the end of my hope, then I come before God knowing that He can do what I cannot. And when He comes through for me, I will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that it was completely Him—not me at all!
In Romans 4:17-19 we read a New-Testament account of Abraham and Sarah and their hope-against-hope (also found in Genesis 15, 16, and 18).
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be." (Romans 4:18, NIV)
Abraham, the father of the Jews—though he was close to a hundred years old and his wife, Sarah, was ninety—chose to believe that God could do what He had promised and give them a child of their own, through their own bodies.
And God did. He sent Isaac, their miracle child. By faith we believe in the resurrection power of God! Where we as humans fail, Christ comes through—always has, and always will. Even when it doesn’t look like it from a human perspective, from heaven’s point of view, it’s a sealed done deal.
False religion says, “Get ‘er done!”
Christ says, “It is finished.”
“We believe!” Hope cries out.
This is that New Covenant, the imputed righteousness we see in Romans 4. It’s not earned; it is given. It is not the reward for performance; it is received, not achieved! This is hope realized through Christ. It is not law; it is grace. Our salvation is the great hope-giver. The rewards of salvation are riches more amazing and valuable than anything life on earth can offer. On top of all that, there is the added joy of being with and knowing Christ. He satisfies with living water and provides assurance of our future with Him. If you know Christ, you know hope. Hope anchors the soul (Hebrews 6:19).
Father, fill us with audacious hope in Christ. Thank you for the gift of being the bride of Christ, as your believers. Help us to be prepared for the joy of the holy wedding day in our future and live today as your bride making herself ready. Help us live daily by first knowing we are saved by God’s work and then by putting our faith to work. Increase our love for you. Help us overcome temptations through your presence reigning in us as we allow the Holy Spirit to reign over our mortal body and mind and will. Help us trust your lordship, because we love you, and live a life of incredible, audacious hope. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Conclusion: A Final Thought on Hope
One final story.
Mary and Daniel have an abiding, close relationship with Christ. As born-again committed believers, they have lived their lives with love for Jesus, and it shows. They held fast to their desire to remain sexually pure, and they married as virgins. At their wedding, guests experienced God’s presence, joy, and love. As they exchanged vows, the audience witnessed pure, sacred, lovely covenant faithfulness. They washed each other’s feet at the altar, displaying their desire to show humility and service in their marriage. Their first dance brought people to tears for they radiated a sense of how God meant it to be. How blessed and beautiful; how tender and precious. The favor of God was evident.
The fight for purity and to overcome temptation is a struggle. Mary and Daniel upheld God’s foundational truths of purity, honor, and integrity in covenant marriage and showed the blessedness, reward, and joy that God’s way is the best way.
What a contrast with so many of the stories we have discussed in this book! Their story glorifies God because Mary and Daniel deliberately chose to accept and follow covenant truth.
But even if your story is one of brokenness—even if your past is scarred, and your elephant shackles still shame you—know that when you embrace covenant living, God sees you and your story under the defining blood of Jesus Christ. Your wounds can heal, and your scars can announce His coming and His transformational power!
We see this cycle with Jesus as well.
Christ’s places of greatest despair and hopelessness brought us hope. When he cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me,” He was enduring the wrath and rejection our sin deserved—so we could be extended grace and acceptance. His relationship with the Trinity was broken—and this was a burden we will never be able to comprehend.
Christ’s death and resurrection allowed for the reversal of the fall of man and the reign of sin, which the first Adam ushered in. Christ was forsaken so we would not have to be. From His places of greatest hopelessness, He birthed our hope. Thus, our greatest places of defeat and sin can be exchanged for Christ’s righteousness, forgiveness, acceptance, and His love. The story of our hopelessness and how Christ overcame can be the birthplace of hope for others. Ours is a great salvation.
In summary, I reiterate: I lived most of my life thinking that all I needed to do was be good. My past failures and sins left me feeling that I needed to be extra good all the time. It’s been a long journey. I’ve tried to make others love me. I’ve tried to make God love me. I could never measure up to the standards that I put on myself. When I meet someone who is legalistic and judgmental, I see myself in their false, hypocritical, and superficial spiritual life. When I came to the end of myself and saw my sinful heart in the light of Jesus, I gave up trying and accepted grace. Giving up on our self-dependence enables God to enable and empower. When you give up on yourself and your own works, then faith to believe in the Lord Jesus and His works comes.
God is called “the God of Hope.” This means He is the source of all real hope. If we are without Christ, we are without God and without hope (Ephesians 2:12; 1 Timothy 1:1-2). If we are going to have hope, which is confident expectation, it must come from Him, for He alone has the power to give it (Psalm 62:5). Without Christ, there is no hope (Charles Spurgeon).
That is the secret: we have to know we have broken covenant with God, but Christ was broken for us and fulfilled the covenant for us. He brings spiritual life and power to us by filling us with His Spirit. Our powerlessness for His power!
I pray that my places of failure help others discover God’s faithfulness as they identify with my story, my sins, and my failures, and discover God’s mercy and grace. I hope you see that Christ restores and redeems. The elephant, once-shackled, now proudly marches to herald the Good News to the nations.
Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God. –William Carey
It is the duty of those who are entrusted with the Gospel to endeavor to make it known among all nations.
Special Prayer for the Heralds of Hope
Based on Psalm 119:46; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; 2 Timothy 1:4,8-14; and 2 Timothy 1:11; Hebrews 10:23, Revelation 22:17,20,21 (HCSB)
LORD, help us not be ashamed to testify about you or those that share in suffering for the Gospel. May we continue to preach, regardless of the circumstances, in accordance with your invincible power. Thank you for delivering us, saving us, and calling us with a holy calling—a calling that leads to a purposeful, set-apart, consecrated life, not because of our works or because of any personal merit, since we could do nothing to earn this, but because of Your own purpose and grace, which was granted to us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
But now that extraordinary purpose and grace has been disclosed and realized by us through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who through His incarnation and earthly ministry abolished death, making it null and void, and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. We therefore are appointed to go and share this Good News regarding salvation. So help us, God, to reap a great harvest.
This is why we suffer as we do. Still, I am not ashamed; for I know Him and I have believed, with absolute confidence in Him and in the truth of His deity. Cause us to be persuaded beyond any doubt that you are able to guard that which I have entrusted to you until that day, when I stand before you.
LORD, help us keep and follow the pattern of sound teaching in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Help us guard, with greatest care, and keep unchanged, the treasure, that precious truth, which has been entrusted to us (that is, the Good News about salvation through personal faith in Christ Jesus), through the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. Bring us to speak of your testimonies before kings. We believe that we shall not be put to shame.
Holy Spirit, protect the good treasure you have entrusted to us, that we may love, live, and give the Gospel we were gifted to give. Empower us and indwell us. Help us honor Christ as holy, always ready to make a defense to anyone who asks a reason for our hope.
For we speak as messengers, approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.
For this Gospel I was appointed a herald and teacher. Cause us to herald the Gospel in Your power and harvest as Paul and the first apostles did.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let all who hear, all who are thirsty, come and take the living water of hope freely.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Appendix: For the Those Who Made the Decision to Abort
Because grief and regret from abortion is the most common experience in our culture today, and because it is such an integral part of my own story, I want to offer a final testimony to any readers who have themselves survived this atrocity.
My situation is different than many post-abortion men and women. I wanted our baby, but I caved to my husband’s insistence for abortion our first year of marriage. For years following, I could forgive neither myself nor the father of our baby—my then and now husband who has loved me consistently for more than 35 years. I have his permission to share this story but have not used our last name to protect our children and him.
I needed to gain the freedom that truth brings. The secret of hope, which I repeat often, is Christ’s full forgiveness and exchanging our powerlessness for His power through living the Gospel fully. That message will be beneficial to those struggling to forgive themselves or others for decisions that have negatively impacted their life. Sixty-six percent of women who have had abortions were coerced or forced. So much for choice. Women who felt they had no choice because boyfriends, husbands, parents, and others made the decision.
And when these women repent, they are doubly victimized by the contempt of religious people who do not extend true Gospel grace. Feelings of guilt and condemnation and even suicide can result.
But here is my message for you: we do not have to live with the shame or guilt anymore. That is why I can write these things—because He has taken them away. Forgiveness does not mean that there are no consequences, yet even in them, there is hope. God knows all and He cares. He has promised redemption, and Romans 8:28 is an assurance and comfort. There is hope in His many promises. Hope in the inheritance, which He promises. Knowing Christ is eternal life and abundant life.
Christ Forgives All
The first time I remember hearing a great biblical answer on abortion was on the radio program Open Line with Dr. Michael Rydelnik. He spoke to a caller named Barbara, who had chosen to have an abortion because doctors said her child would be deformed. “I was born again during a Bible study of Romans years later,” she said. “I know now that I committed a terrible sin, and I just don’t think it can be forgiven.”
The radio host, Michael said, “Barbara, let me reassure you, if you have trusted Christ as your Savior, and it sounds like you have, as serious a sin as I think abortion is, there is forgiveness. The blood of Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness. And so, you have been forgiven as well. There might be consequences that you will continue to carry but the sin has been forgiven.”
In the book Out of the Salt Shaker, Becky Pippert wrote that we shouldn’t be surprised when a murderer is forgiven because all of us have had a hand in killing our Savior! … And so you know, but for the grace of God, who of us would be saved?
When we give testimonies of our abortions, we will have the opportunity to tell of the work of Christ on our behalf. I have much in common with pro-choice people because of my experiences. I was a victim of sexual abuse and I had an abortion. As a nurse, I took care of a baby who had survived a late term botched abortion while I was about 5-6 months pregnant myself. I believe that the Lord wants me to be a bridge to the pro-choice camp—to tell them about the common experiences but give them hope because of Christ.
Most pro-choice individuals don’t want to talk to a pro-life person because, frankly, we have been judgmental and unloving. But the two camps agree on more than you think. Many agree on giving healthcare to born-alive infants who survive abortion. We could work together on that issue. It would be a start.
Building bridges should be easy for us because we know that we were no different from pro-choice individuals, until Christ changed our hearts and lives. With Christ we are to be filled with love and humility and forgiveness extended in grace and mercy.
As those who have walked this hard road, our stories give us even more potential to herald the Gospel for God’s glory.
The Secret of Hope
I had been invited by one of the women in Bible study to attend a Republican luncheon with her and her husband and their foster baby. Her husband was adamantly opposed to abortion. It was my first time meeting him, but I told him a brief account of my story. He thanked me—with tears in his eyes—for trusting him and sharing my story. He said if more people were transparent like I had been, maybe we could end abortion. It was the first time someone encouraged me.
It has been said that there are three gifts a mother gives a child. Birth. Unconditional love. Knowledge of Jesus. As I thought about this in light of our need to accept those who have painful pasts, I believe there are three gifts we can give. 1) Knowledge of the sanctity of human life. We are eternal beings who have been created in the image of God. 2) The incomparable and unconditional love of God that is shown in Christ Jesus our Lord. 3) His desire for us to be with Him and the plan of salvation that He has implemented.
If we offer these three gifts, we will stop abortion from within. God is pro-life, and He hates the shedding of innocent blood. And even if some who are pro-choice bring death, He promises forgiveness and life—and hope.
When we are in Christ, we are a new creation, the old is gone and the new has come. And if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive our sins. Thank you Jesus for the hope we have in you.
LORD, we don’t know where we would be without your love, your compassion, your forgiveness, and your hope. Thank you for making a way where there was no way. Heal us, LORD, and use us. Use us to bring an end to the death of innocent babies. Use us to encourage those who face difficult decisions. And especially, LORD, help those who have had abortions to recognize that you love and want to forgive them and that you died to make their forgiveness possible. Please help those men and women who experienced abortion (especially ones that did not want one), to forgive all involved in the decision. We thank you for the hope that only you can provide. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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