“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” – Romans 5:1-5
In this post I want to take some more time to unpack the true meaning of Biblical Hope, and look at how this hope applies to the lives of the Biblical Counselor and those whom He minsters to. Offering hope is such a vital part of counseling, because the vast majority of people that the Biblical Counselor interacts with are people who have in some way, shape, or form, lost hope. The hope of change is something that the Word of God offers to all those who are His children. We are daily being transformed into the image of Christ (Rom. 12:2) and have the hope that one day we will be like Him (Phil. 1:6). As we know, it is vital in giving those whom you counsel Biblical and lasting hope, so today we are going to look at what Biblical hope actually is, the hope a counselor must have.
(I) What is Biblical Hope? We have spent some time looking at examples from the Scripture of hope offered to others (Gen. 3), and have also seen that when we identify sin we can have hope for change. But what exactly is the hope that we have? False hope, as we saw previously is a hope that is placed in something that is not a guarantee. As we know false hope is a “hope for” type of hope. In fact, in today’s culture, what we mean when we say we hope for something is nothing like what the Biblical writers meant when they spoke of hope. Biblical hope is not a “hope for” type of hope. The writer of Hebrews gives us a good description of Biblical hope. He says, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us…” Is this the “hope for” hope that the world has? Not at all! Biblical hope is an anchor of the soul. It is steadfast and immovable. Biblical hope is a hope that is certain and secure, it is a guarantee. When the Biblical writers talk about placing their hope in things, they talk about having hope in things that are certain to happen (See: Rom. 5:2-5; Tit. 2:13). When Paul spoke to Titus in Titus 2 of the appearing of Christ He calls it a “…blessed hope…” We notice that the apostle speaks with great certainty about the coming of Christ. It was not that he “hoped” Christ would come, but that He had hope knowing with certainty that Christ will come! This is Biblical hope!
Entwined in the gospel are two specific forms of hope. The first hope is what we just looked at in Titus 2. This is an eschatological (End Times) hope. We have hope that in the end Christ will return. We have a hope that we will be taken to be with Him. We have a hope that sin will be gone, pain will last no more, and He will wipe away every tear from our eyes (Rev. 21:4). This is the great hope of the Christian (See I John 3:1-3)! The second form of hope that is manifest to us through the gospel of Christ is the hope we have in this life, right here and right now. We who are children of God, because of our hope of the coming of Christ and our salvation in Him, can be free from both the power and penalty of sin in this life (Rom. 6:14) We can live in a way that honors and magnifies the Lord in this life, we can be pleasing to Him (Col. 1:10), and we can change into His image (2 Cor. 3:18). This is biblical hope, this is the hope of the gospel, this is a hope that is completely certain (Col. 1:5).
(II) The Hope and Love of a Counselor: When counseling others then, the Biblical Counselor must be a man or woman who conveys great hope to their counselees. When someone comes for counseling and they have lost all hope, it is very distressing. To see a person who has nothing to hope in, is to see a person in a very low place. For this reason the Biblical Counselor must be strongly committed to two things as they disciple and counsel others. First, they must be committed to loving people, second they must have an immovable hope in the Word of God. If a Biblical Counselor loves his people he will be broken hearted with them over their sin (Rom. 12:15b). Because he loves them and wants to see them honour the Lord he will be distressed when a person he knows loses hope. But even though distressed, this is where his fierce commitment to the Scriptures comes in. Because the Biblical Counselor has the hope in the gospel and God’s Word that we described above, his distress can only last for a short time. Why? Because He holds in his hands the good news of the hope and the power of the gospel! For this reason a Biblical Counselor must not be surprised when people share their sins or struggles, rather he must infuse the person he disciples with the hope of the Word! The Biblical Counselor will recognize that no matter the sin, struggle, temptation, trial, or hardship the Word of God has the answers! This hope should be infections with the person he counsels as he inspires them to trust in the Lord’s faithfulness that He can help us in our time of need (Heb. 4:16). We can see then that it is vital for the counselor to be a person who shows great love to those in distress and great hope in the Word of God. God is always faithful and His Word is always true. It offers us a lasting hope, a hope that cannot be shaken. In our next post we are going to take a look at specific groups of people who need this hope of change so they can live an abundant life in Christ.