Anchored — A Study of Hope
“Which hope we have
as an anchor of the soul,
both sure and steadfast.”
An anchor serves one purpose: to keep its vessel from moving. An anchorless boat is quickly displaced by the slightest wind or current it encounters at sea. The presence of an anchor doesn’t mean storms won’t come, but it does ensure the ship will be able to withstand them.
The author of Hebrews obviously recognized the significance of hope in the Christian’s life, and he refers to it in this passage as “an anchor of the soul.” The implication is that without hope, we will be “like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed” (Jas. 1:6) — quite the opposite of our calling in 1 Corinthians 15:58 to be “steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.”
But what exactly is hope anyway?
“Christian hope is not based on presumption, but on absolute faith in the promises of God.”
As John Piper aptly points out at Desiring God, “Christian hope is when God has promised that something is going to happen and you put your trust in that promise. Christian hope is a confidence that something will come to pass because God has promised it will come to pass.”
In modern usage, hope is often little more than wishful thinking. In Biblical usage, however, it connotes a “full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:22). In fact, nearly every translation of the word hope in the New Testament comes from the Greek elpis, meaning “expectation or confidence.” It also suggests joyful anticipation. Christian hope is not based on presumption, but on absolute faith in the promises of God. “And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life” (1 John 2:25).
Where does our hope come from?
A house is only as good as the foundation it’s built on. Similarly, baseless hope is meaningless hope. Absolute confidence may be admirable, but it is only valid when placed in absolute truth. As Christians, we place our hope in Him who declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
This claim was made boldly and confirmed dramatically through Christ’s death and resurrection. Paul describes the significance of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:17: “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” Without the resurrection, we would undoubtedly be “of all men most miserable” (vs. 19), but instead we rejoice knowing that “God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by His own power” (1 Cor. 6:14).
Put simply, our hope comes from God and is founded upon the goodness of God, the Word of God, and the work of God in accomplishing our redemption.
What does hope do?
The Apostle John answers this question best in his first epistle: “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure” (3:3). The hope being referred to here is that of eternal life and fellowship with God. Without that hope, we can see only our present circumstances — and those circumstances are frequently unpleasant. But when hope abounds, so does our joy and commitment to purity.
In Matthew 7:24-27, Christ told of two houses: one was built in the sand, and one upon a solid rock. Both were subjected to fierce rain and violent storms, but only one was left standing. Hope in Christ doesn’t mean the storms of life will be less severe; it simply means we have an anchor by which to endure them, and “a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1).