In the Bible, the words Faith and Hope do not mean the same thing. To hope is to anticipate a future event with a confident expectation of its fulfillment. However, hope cannot accelerate or impede the event. Romans 8:24 teaches, "hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees."
Old Testament believers waited for the promised Messiah, whose first coming was greatly anticipated. They held fast to prophecies like the one in Micah 5:2: "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting." Christians can look back at the finished accomplishments of Jesus Christ, the One Israel hoped for.
Today, there is another hope, the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul's letter to Titus has heartfelt advice that applies to all believers. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ..." (Titus 2:11-13)
The English translation for the Greek word Looking in verse 13 means waiting or expecting. It is not waiting or expecting as if He will not arrive, but with complete confidence that He will arrive any minute! Romans 8:25 adds, "But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance."
Those living in obedience to God eagerly await the return of Jesus, with perseverance, which means: steady persistence in adhering to a course of action, a belief, or a purpose; steadfastness. (American Heritage Dictionary) The believer with genuine hope is not passive, sitting around wishing and wanting, whining and wallowing. The believer with hope is expecting and active, living life "soberly, righteously and godly in the present age."
The promises in God's Word concerning the believer's hope offer comfort and encouragement. Regarding what is is referred to as 'the gathering together' or 'the rapture,' Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-16: "For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air."
Those referred to as asleep are Christians who have died, whose names are in the Book of Life, whom God will not forget. The information revealed in 1 Corinthians gives additional enlightenment. "Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
Christians can look forward to being instantaneously transformed, changed, as Philippians 3:20 and 21 state: "We also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body." What a thrilling and breathtaking hope Christians have! God's Word and all of the prophecies concerning the King of kings and Lord of lords will surely come to pass. Christians have the privilege of participating in perfection with the Lord Jesus Christ. He will ultimately return to rule the nations, fulfilling all God promised concerning Him.
The hopeful believer trusts the word of God regarding the inheritance (see The Believer?s Inheritance), and knows his good works will procure rewards and crowns. God's people have every reason to live fully for Jesus Christ, rejecting worldly distractions, trusting God day by day, looking forward with hope to the day when they are lovingly lifted out of this world, instantly changed to be just like the perfect Son of God.
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:58)