Question:

We speak of "hope" a lot. Hope in eternal life is great, but the idea of hoping doesn't mean a guarantee. If I hope for something, then I am thinking it may happen. With the critical issue of eternal life one does not want to rest in the idea that belief in Jesus's sacrifice on the cross for us may get us to heaven. The word "hope" is used many times in the Scriptures. Do we have a guarantee of eternal life or is it just strong wishful thinking? Thank you for your response in advance.

Answer:

"Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance" (Romans 8:23-25).

As Paul states in the passage above, hope exists because we do not yet possess what we hope to obtain. I might hope to get a watch for my birthday. I might even be absolutely certain that I'm going to get one because I accidentally saw a receipt showing that my wife bought a watch. But until I actually receive the gift, it remains a hope.

We have a hope of eternal life because God has promised it to His faithful children. "We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth" (Colossians 1:3-6). Hope is what drives Christians to strive to win the good fight. If I had no hope, no earnest expectation, of reaching heaven, then why would I strive to live my life pleasing to God?

You are correct that hope is not a guarantee. Salvation is guaranteed to the faithful by the Holy Spirit. "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:13-14). For those who have faith in God, there is no question that reward awaits because God keeps His promises. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).

But I must also admit that there is an element of uncertainty -- not in God, but in myself. "Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: "So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest,'" although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. ... Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience" (Hebrews 4:1-3, 11). I have to take care that I remain in service to God, so that I may enter that rest. "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12).

But if we hold on to the end, then we can join with Paul in saying, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing" (II Timothy 4:7-8).

Thank you so much. Your answer is a very good one and is scripturally backed up. It has helped me. I still have a question though from your answer. If salvation is guaranteed why is there any uncertainty? We are saved by faith, not by works, and yet you say that we must hold on to the end, remaining in service to God, doing the good works He would have us to do. There does seem to be a contradiction here. Are you saying we can lose our place in eternity, if we don't keep working at it after we are saved? Again, thank you for taking the time to help me.

There is a contradiction, not in what is found in the Bible, but between your assumption and what the Bible says. You start with "We are saved by faith, not by works," yet this statement is a direct contradiction of "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only" (James 2:24). When you start with a contradiction, it is logical that you will also conclude with a contradiction as well.

Yes, we must hold on to the end, not because I said so, I'm just stating what is found in your Bible.

"And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved" (Matthew 10:22).

"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart" (Galatians 6:9).

"And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight-- if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister" (Colossians 1:21-23).

"But Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end" (Hebrews 3:6).

"Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end" (Hebrews 3:12-14).

"For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises" (Hebrews 6:10-12).

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:23-25).

"Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: "For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him"" (Hebrews 10:35-38).

"But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations" (Revelation 2:25-26).

"Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown" (Revelation 3:11).

Thank you for taking this time to offer answers to my important questions. Thank you for all the Scripture verses. Undoubtedly there are others that speak the point you are explaining. There are other verses, which I share with you now that clearly speak of the fact that salvation comes from faith alone, believe in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. They too are pretty convincing.

The Bible says.......

"..whosoever hears what I say and believes in the One who sends me will have eternal life. That person will not be judged guilty but has already left death and entered life" John 5:24

"The work God wants you to do is this: believe the One he sent..." John 6: 29

" I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing." Ephesians 2:8

"He saved us because of His mercy. It was not because of good deeds we did to be right with Him. He saved us through the washing that made us new people through the Holy Spirit."
Titus 3:5

"Then anyone who calls on the Lord shall be saved." Acts 2:21

"But to all that did accept Him and believe in Him He gave the right to become the children of God." John 1:12

"I tell you the truth, whoever believes has eternal life." John 6:47

John 3:16.........."whoever believeth in Him shall not be lost but have eternal life..."

and.......there are many other passages that speak the same message. I am not desiring a verbal of logical or scriptural battle here. I am genuinely seeking God's truths and understanding. This is so critical for me. The scriptures seem to speak different truths. Many fundamental, Bible believing churches and pastors differ greatly on some of these critical issues ie election, once saved always saved, sincere faith is all one needs and now your idea from Scripture that we are saved by faith and works. Please try and illuminate me because I am very confused.

Again, thank you in advance,

Not one of those verses say faith alone, which is what you claim to prove. None state that it is exclusively by faith that we are saved. God doesn't contradict Himself. Even in the selective verses you gave state that salvation is by faith, mercy, and grace. Yet, that isn't close to a complete list of all that God says is connected with salvation.

When you take only a portion of what God or anyone else states of course you will come up with contradictory ideas. That is why God said, "The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever" (Psalm 119:160). What you have been doing is subtracting or taking away from the whole of the truth.

So take a look at: "Things that Accompany Salvation."