‘This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 6:19, 20).’
Alistair Begg has written a book with the title *’Pray Big’. Some of the members of the church with whom I worship, have been participating in an online appreciation of the book. Week by week, on Friday evenings, via WhatsApp, we have been considering a chapter at a time. Alistair invites his readers to analyse the contents of two prayers of Paul found in his Epistle to the Ephesians: 1:15-23 and 3:14-21.
Alistair’s desire is for us to ‘pray big’, and he suggests ways in which we might pray more boldly by being more spiritual – that is praying in line with the spiritual realities of our eternal life.
Our attitude when we come before God in prayer should be one of humility and dependability. We depend upon Him for absolutely everything. He has taught us to pray to Him as, “Our Father in heaven (Matthew 6:9; Luke11:2).”
While He is our Father, we see Him as the majestic Sovereign Creator of the universe, and yet we can converse with Him as our “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6). We can have a very close, personal relationship with our God, who cares for us and knows our every need. We are His children (vv. 6, 7).
An analysis of our prayers reveals our true nature, i.e., what is on our hearts – the things we care about. So Alistair Begg invites us to examine Paul’s prayers to discover what underpins them, and we find they are about his desire for the Ephesians to have a better appreciation of the fulness and greatness of God – the spiritual realities of God, who is Spirit (John 4:24).
How did he come to have this desire? He wanted them to know God as he knew Him. He had had a personal encounter with Christ (Acts 9:3-8) which transformed him completely from being a hater of God to being a lover of God. The mystery of the truths of the Old Testament Scriptures were revealed to Him. Christ personally spoke to him. Christ was the Son of God, the promised Saviour who would free His people from slavery to sin (Romans 6:8) and give them an inheritance in the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21:1).
These truths understood through the revelation of the Holy Spirit shaped Paul, and his conviction of the ‘sure **hope of an inheritance in Christ’ gave him an unstoppable desire to tell others they could have this hope if they were to repent and believe (Mark 1:15).
So what is this Hope?
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words defines the word ‘hope’. as a “favourable and confident expectation”, but for Paul, his hope was a ‘certainty’; for the full manifestation and realisation of eternal life was already his possession. This is evident in the letter He wrote to Titus 1:2: ‘in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,’ and in 3:4-7, ‘But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, that having been justified by HIs grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.’
Strangely, Jesus, according to His words preserved in the New Testament, never used the word ‘hope’. He never said He was ‘Hope’, and yet, through Him, we who believe, have that ‘sure’ hope of an inheritance in the new earth (John 14:2). You might say that Christ is our ‘inheritance’; for Paul called Him ‘our hope (1 Timothy 1:1).’
In Ephesians 1:18 he prayed: ‘the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.’
Writing to the Romans Paul assured them: ‘Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:1, 2).’
And in his letter to the Colossians he told of the ‘mystery’ that had ‘been hidden from ages and from generations’ , but in Paul’s time it had been revealed to God’s saints (Colossians 1:26). ‘ Paul explained, ‘To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (v. 27).’
We are comforted by our hope in Christ, because for to us who believe, it is our **reality. It is not a vague aspiration or pie in the sky.
Paul concludes his second letter to the Thessalonians with these words: ‘Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work (2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17).’
This ‘hope’ is very real, and the core of our faith.
*“Pray Big” by Alistair Begg
**The Reality of “Now”
The Topic of Hope
For further study you may like to delve into some of the following passages found in the New Testament:
Romans 5:1, 2 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Romans 8:23-25 Not only that, but we also who have the first fruits 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 no see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
Romans 15:4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiful.
Galatians 5:5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
Ephesians 1:18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.
Ephesians 2:12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Ephesians 4:4, 5 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Colossians 1:27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
1 Thessalonians 2:19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?
2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.
1 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Saviour and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope.
Titus 1:2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.
Titus 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Titus 3:7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Hebrews 3:6 but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast to the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.
Hebrews 6:10, 11 For God is not unjust of forget your work and labour 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.
Hebrews 6:19, 20 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
1 Peter 1:3, 4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.
1 Peter 1:13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully on the grace that is brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:20, 21 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifested in the last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
1 Peter 3:15, 16 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.
1 John 3:2, 3 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.