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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Hope Based on a Promise From God



by Nicky Smith

We live in the Northwest of the United States and we've been having a lot of forest fires. North of where we live is a small town which was evacuated due to a fire. On the first night they were given the evacuation warning prior to the evacuation order, some friends of ours came to stay the night. When everyone went to bed that night I went to pray. I pleaded with God for people to not suffer unnecessarily. After my prayer, the Spirit immediately whispered that the town would be protected. 

A few weeks later most of the town was evacuated. While some of the evacuees seemed to feel calm about it all, there were others who were very worried about their homes. I, however, had hope for those evacuated that their town was going to be spared. I had hope because I had received the word of God on the matter. 

Hope is generally understood to be a desire that something will happen. "I hope I can spend time with a friend this weekend." "I hope my husband keeps his job." And so on. Hope in the scriptures, though, is something much more. The type of hope the Lord wants you to have is meant to be so much more. 

Hope is Based on a Promise From God
Paul wrote to the Hebrews encouraging them to show diligence till they obtain the full assurance of hope for after this life. He then explained that hope ought to be based on a promise from God:
11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:
12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,
14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.
15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
16 For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.
17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:
18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil... (Hebrews 6; emphasis added)
Paul states that when we have hope based on what God says to us, we can know that our hope will be an anchor to our soul and will be a strong consolation or comfort to us, since God never lies. Consider where you believe you are headed after this life. Do you hope you will live in the presence of God? That is what we are all after, but that hope can't be sure and steadfast until God has confirmed that by giving us His word through revelation. If you found out that you were soon to die, you would see that any hope you had for after this life that is not based on revelation given to you would dissipate. While those who have received promises from God can have strong hope, providing them necessary comfort.

Knowing what the scriptures say on a matter (such as who will receive eternal life) can provide a person with hope. Paul wrote: "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope" (Romans 15:4).  However, this is not sufficient for us to have sure and steadfast hope. For example, a person who has repented knowing that Jesus said, "....except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3) would not have as much hope as a person to whom God said through revelation "you will not die." Hope must be based on promises received through revelation for them to be sure and steadfast. Paul invited the Romans to obtain the kind of hope based on revelation: "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. (Romans 15:14)

Conditional and Unconditional Promises
God's promises are either conditional on our obedience to His word or unconditional. Through Ahijah the Lord gave promises to Jeroboam. Some were unconditional, while the last was conditional:

Unconditional
"For thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee:... And I will take thee, and thou shalt reign according to all that thy soul desireth, and shalt be king over Israel." (1 Kings 11:31,37)

Conditional
"And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee." (1 Kings 11:38)

We can be given conditional and unconditional promises. Both of these provide hope, although unconditional promises provide greater hope. Nearly two years ago I received a conditional promise from God saying that if I sanctify myself, Jesus will unveil Himself to me. This promise was the first time I felt real hope that I could see Jesus in the flesh. Before, I knew people received the Second Comforter, but I doubted it would ever happen to me. This hope has been a source of comfort as I have been on the path of sanctification. Without it, it would have been harder to go through all the sanctifying trials I have experienced. 

John wrote about this exact same hope. He said that although we might not have a full understanding of what we are working towards as we repent, we can know that when Christ appears to us we will see Him as He is. This understanding provides hope and when we have that kind of hope we will purify ourselves. 
2 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. (1 John 3)
We can all receive promises from God. Some will be conditional on our obedience, while others will be unconditional. The promise we ought to be after is God giving us an unconditional promise that we will receive eternal life. This is called making your calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10). To obtain this promise we need to show God that we are willing to sacrifice all things. I desire to do this! Joseph Smith said, "After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and received the Holy Ghost (by the laying on of hands) ... then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shall be exalted. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure." (HC 3:380.)

What Do You Hope For?
Consider the things you hope for. Perhaps eternal life is one of your hopes? You can work towards obtaining a promise from God that you will obtain this. Perhaps receiving the Second Comforter is something you hope for? You can ask God to give you a promise you will obtain this blessing. These (and other) blessings are written about in scripture and are available to all if we do what is required. 

Perhaps you also have hopes pertaining more to keeping your job or your home? Maybe you hope to have children? These things are not promised to all. However, you can obtain promises pertaining to your life and the lives of those around you. Much depends on what God's will is but as you inquire, He can give you promises. 

God's promises to you will form an anchor to your soul. They will provide comfort and security. Don't rely on the promises given to others. Obtain those same promises for yourself. Then when troubling times come, you will be able to stand because you have hope founded on promises from God Himself.

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