What Is Audacious Hope?

What Is Biblical Hope And How Can We Experience It?

Tim Lundy
Jul 19, 2020    31m
Where can we turn when we feel hopeless? God's Word offers us a way to anchor to the biblical hope found in Him and the finished work of Jesus. This message teaches us that biblical hope is a confident, active expectation based on the certainty of what God said and Christ has done. Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Tim Lundy: 00:00 Hey, Venture. Well, I'm excited we're launching a new sermon series entitled, Audacious Hope. And I know when you hear that, you're probably not feeling much hope, much less audacious hope. But as I've been studying over the last several weeks, I think this series is perfect for what we're in right now. Frankly, the news has not been very helpful. Where we thought we were going to be at this point, it looks like we're stepping backwards in so many different ways. And it's in those times that I think we have to dig into God's Word more, we have to look at what he teaches us for times like this.

Tim Lundy: 00:39 And when you think about hope, there's few things more important than hope. You know, as I was just researching the topic of hope, it was interesting to me how it impacts our lives. You know, one researcher, the neuroscientist Tali Sharot, she said that it's so essential to our survival, hope is hardwired into the brain. And as they went down the study, the study shows that hopeful kids in college get higher GPAs. It showed that hopeful athletes do better in the sport, in the game, they do better in their recovery. It showed that patients that were hopeful, it was amazing, the record of recovery compared to those who had given up hope. One of the things that stood out to me is a study of the elderly, it said that those who felt hopeless were more than twice as likely to die during the study, and the follow-up period, than those who were hopeful.

Tim Lundy: 01:36 That's why Dr. Shane Lopez, he's a psychologist, he's regarded as the world's leading researcher when it comes to hope. He said these words, he says, "Hope isn't just an emotion, it's an essential tool for life." And when I hear that, and especially the impact, when you start losing hope. You know, I was reminded of Proverbs, you look at the Proverbs, and in Proverbs 13:12, it says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." Hope deferred, that sense of I'm hoping for something and it keeps getting put off, and it keeps getting put off, and it keeps getting put off, to the point that your heart becomes sick. And I'll be honest, I think that's what we're living in right now a little bit, there's this sense of hope deferred, and I feel it, and I've talked to others. And with that, I don't know about you, but as I've talked to some people, I feel a rising sense of despair in some ways, that scares me a little bit.

Tim Lundy: 02:44 You know, another study that I've referred to it before, but it's so powerful. The psychiatrist, Aaron Kheriaty, he wrote an article based on it entitled, Dying of Despair. And the impact of despair, especially those who had chosen to either overdose or commit suicide, the high risk group. And as he studied the difference between those who made it and those who didn't, listen to his words because he says in this, "Over a 10 year span, it turns out that the one factor most strongly predictive of suicide is not how sick the person is, nor how many symptoms he exhibits, or how much physical pain he is suffering, or whether he's rich or poor. The most dangerous factor is a person's sense of hopelessness. The man without hope is the likeliest candidate for suicide." We cannot live without hope.

Tim Lundy: 03:42 Guys, I think there's a lot of heart sick people right now, I think there's a lot of people that are maybe closer to despair than we realize. And I think that's why it's so important as the church, as Christians, we need to be the people of hope, but to do that, we've got to build a real hope. And part of what I did in preparing for this series, I just went through scripture and every place hope was listed, I looked at it and studied it. And some things really started emerging out of that study, you know, there's between about 165 to 180, depending on how it's translated in English, instances where you'll see the word hope. And as you start reading that, and that's why I entitled this audacious hope, because when I say audacious hope, I'm not just talking about, oh man, we get so audacious in the way that we have our hope, or we pump ourselves up. I'm talking about the kind of hope that when you hear it, it sounds a little audacious, and it can only come from what God's declared. That's why you have to study scripture like that.

Tim Lundy: 04:49 Now, as we do that though, we need to understand our terms. When we use the word hope, and the problem with English, English is pretty clumsy, we use one word to cover a number of different things. It was interesting, I was reading about Eskimos, Eskimos have over 50 different words for snow. Because they're so aware of snow and they, in the context of it, and they're so familiar with it, they have different words to describe it in different ways. And the more, you know, something, the more refined it gets. And so when we say this word, hope, I want us to refine it a little bit, because I don't want to build on a false hope. When we use the word hope, we use it all over the place.

Tim Lundy: 05:31 A lot of times we use it, the first way you'll see is wishful thinking, I'm hoping for something. And wishful thinking is a want or a belief based on internal desire, it's based on something in me. I want it so bad, I'm hoping for it so bad. And we have taught a generation, and you'll hear it, there's a whole belief system that if you want bad enough, you can have it. I mean, it's Disney, it's the whole principle of it. You remember Pinocchio, and when Jiminy cricket says to Pinocchio, what's the Disney song, you see it every time you see Disney world, When You Wish Upon a Star. Have you ever listened to the words to that song? I pulled them up the other day. When you wish upon a star, it makes no difference who you are, anything your heart desires will come to you. If your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme. When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true. That's great if you're a little kid, I mean, you don't want to pop the bubble of every kid's dreams. It's great if you're wishing to go to Disney world or Disneyland someday. But guys, that is a terrible way to approach life. And yet I am surprised how many adults, they never grow out of that kind of thinking. And the thought of it is, if I want it enough, that if I wish enough. And sometimes they even bring it in theologically, and we treat God that way. That God, if I desire it enough, and you know I desire it enough, or if I'm good enough, maybe I can earn it and you'll be obligated to give it to me, and we wish, and we wish, and we wish. I'll be honest, I think a lot of the health and wealth gospel that's preached, where you're supposed to be healthy and you're supposed to be wealthy, and if you just wish and have enough faith in it, you're going to have that. I think it's built on this kind of thinking, that's not biblical hope, that's not what we're talking about.

Tim Lundy: 07:42 Now, a second category though, we often confuse though, is optimism. Optimism, and optimism is a positive outlook based on personal orientation. It's how you see life based on your orientation, how you're wired in life, and a lot of this can't be controlled. Optimism's a good thing, but when you survey across the group of culture, you're going to have a mix of people. That's just how they're wired, that's that personal orientation. Now I looked at the stats, even this week, of how people would define themselves. And it's interesting, 3% of the population said, well, I don't know or I don't care. 50% defined themselves as optimist. So you're at 3% don't know, 50% optimist, now you would think then, okay, so 47% define themselves as pessimist. You remember an optimist is a person that sees a glass is half full, pessimists, sees the glass is half empty, and so 47%. Actually only 4% would identify themselves as pessimist, the other 43% said they are somewhere in between with that. Now I have a theory, pessimists will never admit they're pessimists. In fact, I'll test this, and the next time, you know someone who's a pessimist, if you ask them, are you a pessimist? You know what they usually say? Well, I'm not a pessimist, I'm a realist in it. I'm not picking on pessimism, there's good things that come out of pessimism, and there's a wiring that's there. Now, optimism is a good thing to develop, it's good to have a positive outlook. It's good to be around an optimist most of the time, every so often you want to smother them in their sleep, but most of the time it's great to be around an optimist.

Tim Lundy: 09:22 But when we talk about biblical hope, it's not based on any one person's wiring. It's not how you were made. It's not even really talking about whether you're an optimist or a pessimist. What is hope? And we're not a biblical hope yet. Just to move our categories. What is hope, when we use the term hope? Hope is active expectation based on perceived reality. Hope is not passive. I can be an optimist, but really passive, and hope it's going to turn out right, or wishing it'll turn out right. No, real hope is someone that's active, I'm making strategy on it, I'm making plans. And I actually have expectations, I've built my expectation on the hope. Now it's based on perceived reality. Notice, hope is not based on something internal, it's not based on the wishes of my heart, it's not based on my wiring, optimist or pessimist. You can be a pessimist, and still be very hopeful.

Tim Lundy: 10:21 And one of the reasons I know this, is if you read through the Bible, some of the most pessimistic sections of scripture, the prophets, are written in a very hopeful way. Oh, it's pessimism about what's going on, and what they're facing, but it's hopeful because they have this biblical hope. And that's why it's so important that when you look at this, hope is based on a reality that's outside of me. Now, the problem is, each of us have to perceive that reality. And so if I perceive the reality wrong, I can have a false hope. In fact, one of the weeks in this study, I'm going to walk you through scripture where it points of all the places you can build false hope, and what it means with that. It's important when you think about hope, hope is not this pie in the sky. Hope, is you still have that faith, you're holding onto it by faith. And in fact, those two are so important, faith and hope next week, the whole message is going to be how do those work together? But when you're a hopeful person, you haven't all of that, but it doesn't mean you're denying reality, you face reality.

Tim Lundy: 11:32 You know, one of the best examples of this that I read about, is in the book, Good To Great. I don't know if you remember the book Good to Great, by Jim Collins. It's a great study, a study in leadership, a study in different companies that were great. And in it, he interviewed Admiral Jim Stockdale, and Stockdale is a personal hero. He spent over eight years, or right up to eight years, in Vietnam as a prisoner of war, he was the highest ranking prisoner of war. And while he was there those eight years, over that time period, 20 times, he was personally tortured. And he went through this time, never knowing what was coming, living in this uncertainty of it. And the whole time, he was also not responsible just for himself, but also for the men that were there, and trying to lift their spirits. And as Collins met him, he noticed that Stockdale walked with a limp and it was from the years of torture. And he asked him, how did you make it through that? In this long time of uncertainty, when you did not know what to expect, how did you deal with that?

Tim Lundy: 12:38 Listen to his words. I love the way that Stockdale replied. He said, "I never lost faith in the end of the story. I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end, and turn the experience into the defining event of my life. Which in retrospect, I would not trade." As Collins heard that, he said, well, who are the guys who didn't make it? Who are the ones that struggled the most? And Stockdale spoke up quick, and it surprised Collins when he did. He spoke up and he said, Oh, I'll tell you the guys who didn't make it. It was the optimist, the optimist didn't make it. He said the optimist, I would think that would be helpful? Again, listen to his words, he said, "There were ones who always said, well, we're going to be out by Christmas. And Christmas would come and it would go, and, then there’d be another Christmas, and they died of a broken heart." See that hope deferred, because they were so sure, oh yeah, it's going to be this, it's going to be this. And he said, you got to let go of what you can't control. In some ways, I think we're living in that right now. Some ways I think we keep feeling these setbacks, because maybe optimistically, we're trying to control something. We can't. Listen to Stockdale's words, he said, "You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end, which you can never afford to lose, he says, you can't lose your faith. With the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be."

Tim Lundy: 14:22 See, you never let go of the faith that this is going to work out in the end, but you have to have the discipline to face reality. So how do we do that? Especially if we're followers of Christ, if we're people who trust the Bible, how do we build the kind of hope that scripture teaches? Because I think what he's describing is exactly what the Bible calls us to. But the scripture actually gives us a foundation to actually grow in that. So how do we do that? You know, there's a great passage in Hebrews chapter 6. If you've got your Bible, you can turn there, I'll have it here on the screen. But in Hebrews 6, it's describing God's promises to Abraham. And I usually teach out of the ESV, on this it's a hard passage, Hebrews can be difficult. And so I'm using the Net Bible here, because I believe it's real accurate, but they also translate in a way that sometimes it's easier to follow. It says in this, "Now when God made his promise to Abraham, since he could swear by no one greater, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you greatly and multiply your descendants abundantly.” And so by persevering, Abraham inherited the promise." Now here's what God's saying here, the writer of Hebrews says, God made this audacious promise to Abraham. Here's Abraham, this older man in life who doesn't have a child. And he looks at Abraham, and he says, not only are you going to have a child, you're going to have many descendants. I'm going to make you great, I'm going to give you a whole multitude that will come from you, audacious promise. And when God made the promise, notice he said any of us, if I'm trying to really convince you of something, I have to swear by something, I have to really call something greater. And God can't call to anything greater than himself, and so he pointed to himself in it. He swore by his character in that.

Tim Lundy: 16:22 Now look as it continues in the next verses here, "For people swear by something greater than themselves, and the oath serves as a confirmation to end all dispute. (You know you can trust it, because they swore on something great) In the same way God wanted to demonstrate more clearly to the heirs of the promise (Anybody else that inherited the promises of Abraham.) That his purpose was unchangeable, and so he intervened with an oath, so that we who have found refuge in him may find strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us through two unchangeable things, since it is impossible for God to lie." See, what he's explaining here is when God gives this promise and he says, hey, here's the basis of your promise, my character. And when you look at his character, one of the things about God is God can't lie, it's impossible for him. His character itself is truth, he doesn't have the ability to lie. And so anytime he says something, you know, it's true. Why? Based on who he is, and you can hold to that.

Tim Lundy: 17:36 Not only that though, look at the next verse here, "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and steadfast, which reaches inside behind the curtain, where Jesus our forerunner entered on our behalf, since he became a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek." Now the priesthood, and the curtain, and all that is probably a little confusing for us because we're jumping in, in the middle of Hebrews. If you're reading through the book up until this point, what the writer has been pointing out is that Jesus fulfilled everything that the temple was pointing to. And so in the temple, there was this Holy of Holy place, and there was a curtain that divided. And once a year, the priest would go behind the curtain. And when he went behind the curtain, he would spread blood of the lamb over the Ark of the Covenant because when the spirit of God came, and he saw the blood, and the people's sins were forgiven because of it. So what he's pointing out here, is all that happened in that temple. Jesus actually fulfilled. And when he died on the cross, here's the great thing about Jesus, he was the priest, he's the great high priest who sympathizes with us. He also was the sacrifice, he's the lamb of God whose blood was shed. He was God himself who made the atonement, who made it right with God. So the writer of Hebrews says, you can trust Him, do you know why you can trust Him? Because of God's character himself. When he makes a promise to you, man, you can bank on Him. It's the hope that you have because he can't lie. And you can trust it, because look what Jesus has done, look what he accomplished.

Tim Lundy: 19:19 Guys, when you look through this passage, here's what we see in it, we see the basis for our hope. And then out of it, I'm going to give you a definition, and then we'll close with the image that really jumps out. Look at the basis of our hope, because hope has to be built on certainty, reality. And in two things, the first thing is what God has said because he cannot lie. See the basis of our hope is the words of God, we can trust what he said, we can trust what he said in the Bible. We can trust what he said in his word, knowing that he's never wrong. He knows all things, and he never lies because that's his character. I've got to tell you these days, I'm getting to where I appreciate that more and more and more, the fact that God never lies. Because we live in a culture, and I don't know what is true most days. You hear different disputes on it, we have politicians who lie to us, we have news organizations that lie to us. We have scientists who, I don't think they're trying to lie to us, but you never get clarity on it. It seems like one day, this is true, the next day that's true. And when you live in that swirl long enough to be able to step forward and go wait a second, God never lies. And what he declared thousands of years ago, and what he did 2000 years ago, and what he's declared in his word, and what Jesus declared and who he is is the same yesterday, and today, and tomorrow. I've got to tell you, it means more to me than ever before to know I have that consistency of God, and that I can trust it and build my life on it. See it's the basis of what God has said.

Tim Lundy: 21:01 But secondly, look what he says, what Christ has done, because it changes everything. It's not just what God has said, but it's so what Christ has done. The fact that he died on the cross, the fact that he shed his blood, the fact that he took my punishment, the fact that he rose from the dead, he was resurrected. So when God makes a promise to me, in a time like this during a pandemic, that no matter what it happens to my body, I know my soul is secure. No matter how I go out of this life, in that moment, I'm in the presence of Christ. When he promises me that I'll be resurrected. Do you know why I trust that promise? Not just because he said it, because he already did it, because he was resurrected. See, we serve a God who doesn't just look at us and say, oh, you can trust me, just trust what I say. You know what our God says? Our God says, watch what I did, trust it because I came down in human history, because I did what no one else could do, because I did for you, what you couldn't do for yourself. And not only died upon the cross, I rose from the dead. And because of that, when you hold those two things together, when you take the consistency of what God has promised, and then you put with that, what Christ has done, the hope that comes out of that.

Tim Lundy: 22:25 So look at our definition of hope. Here's our biblical definition of hope, biblical hope. And when I use that term audacious hope, that's what I mean, I'm talking about a biblical hope. There is no other kind of hope that has the kind of audacious hope that you see in the Bible. Biblical hope is confident, active expectation based on the certainty of what God I said and Christ has done. Now look at that, it's confident and it's not a confidence that's based on me. Guys, I am not based on me, I give every reason to myself not to be confident. But it's confident because it's not based on us, it's active. It's active, this is not the time to go passive. If there was ever a time for the church to be active, it's now. It's expectation, I'm actually building my life on it. I'm actually making decisions on it. I'm actually letting it control emotions instead of the circumstances. And as I do that, here's what it's based on, it's based on the certainty of what God has said and Christ has done. It's not only his promises, but also his person. It's a certainty of those two things.

Tim Lundy: 23:38 Now, here's where it's really important, this is why we have to study the Bible, this is why have to be careful that it is a certainty on what God has actually said. Because a lot of times people will pull a Bible verse, or they will say, God has said this, and they'll build a false hope or a false expectation on that. And we're going to see this as we go through this series the importance of how do we build this in the right way, that it's built in the certainty of that, but the certainty of the gospel of what Christ did that the gospel changes everything in my life. See, in it, we get a basis, and out of that, we build the definition.

Tim Lundy: 24:14 You know, the final thing that I'm left with. And I love this in that passage, I love the image. Did you notice the image that he pointed out there? He said based on this, and look at the image here, it's an anchor, it's an anchor for the soul. When you think about a boat anchor, that's what he's talking about, about anchor. A boat anchor serves two things, two purposes in it. One, it provides stability, man, especially if you're in storms, it helps provide stability. And here's the key thing, it keeps you from drifting. So you can secure with an anchor, especially when the currents are strong, especially in a time period when you see drift happening all around, to have an anchor that sunk into the bedrock of his promises, the bedrock of the person of Christ.

Tim Lundy: 25:09 You know, if you go back in Rome in the early years, those first couple of centuries, the church went through tremendous persecution. And there was a period of time where they would have to hide in the catacombs, these series of caves that were underground. And we can go through the catacombs today and you can see in it, they engrave different images on the wall. It's interesting, it was kind of like the emoticons of their day. You know, we have these images that we post with that, well they couldn't post it, so they would draw them on the wall as a way to express, as a source of security. Look at some of the images from that time period, and one of the key ones you'll see, and you can see it kind of scratched there, here's a real one from that time period, is the Chi-Rho. These are actually two Greek letters, the Chi and the Roh, or the beginning of the name, Christos, Christ, and so they would often put this in the stone as a way to remember Jesus. Another image you see a lot, we even see it still today is the fish, you know, sometimes you see it on the back of people's cars. A lot of times people don't even know what that's from. The fish, the word fish is ichthys, and the letters of it formed an acrostic. If you take each ichthys, it was Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior. And so when they drew the fish, that's what they're declaring. You know, one of the most predominant symbols you'll see in the catacombs is the anchor. You can see one that was drawn here. There's another anchor here that actually has the fish on the side of it. And I love that, because I think about these people and think about what they were going through in this, guys. You're on the run for your life, you're hiding in caves, you're despised by the government and by society. When you think of all the things that they could look at, the symbols that would express what they were holding on to, they chose an anchor because they were absolutely putting their hope in what God had promised and what Christ had done. You know, what are the symbols that mark us today? What are the emoticons you're posting these days? What are our expressions in it? Can we say we're showing the same hope. See, when you lose that, you lose the anchor. Guys, it is so important.

Tim Lundy: 27:34 You know, I'll close with one last image of that. If you go up to the Niagara river, the Niagara river leads ultimately to Niagara falls, 180 foot drop in it. And as you get closer to those falls in the different places, the river becomes whitewater. But if you go up far enough upstream, it's calm enough that people boat up there in different rivers that lead into it. In fact, there's a place where the Welland river goes into the Niagara river and a lot of people boat there. And there's a footpath, a bridge, that's a foot path over [inaudible]. And on one of the pylons of that bridge, as you're going down the river, it's got a little sign that's warning people because they're about to hit whitewater. And here's what the first sign says, do you have an anchor? And then you go a little further and there's another sign and it says, do you know how to use it? I think those are great questions, especially for people who are facing whitewater. Let's be honest, we're in a lot of whitewater right now. I mean, we have the whitewater of a pandemic all around us and we can't control it. And we may be optimistic in ways, but it may go longer than we thought. We're in the whitewater of political upheaval, I've never seen politics more divided, and the screaming, the anger back and forth. We're in social whitewater, we're dealing with racism, and having to deal with it in maybe some ways we haven't wanted to face in the past. But in the middle of that, I see the backlash, and it almost feels like racism's rising back and forth in it. We're dealing with cultural whitewater, you see a rise of cultural Marxism, you see institutions attacked like never before. We're moral whitewater, where it just feels like anything goes in that. And you may look at all of that, and our first response is to get a little afraid maybe, or to pull back.

Tim Lundy: 29:51 Here's my question for you though. Do you have an anchor? And when I ask that, I mean, do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, that you know, that he died on a cross, you know, he was resurrected, you know, that what he has promised is true for you? Do you have an anchor? And then if you do have an anchor, if you would say, yeah, I'm a follower of Christ, I have a relationship with Christ. Here's my second question. Do you know how to use it? Do you know how to secure yourself right now in the bedrock of his promises, in the bedrock of the gospel, so that you don't drift? See, he's the anchor of our soul. And as a people, we're prone to forget that, we're prone to get caught up in it.

Tim Lundy: 30:49 And so one of the things I love about Jesus, he knows this about us, he knows that propensity. And so in the same way that they had those symbols that they would use and look at to be reminded, Jesus gave us some physical symbols. He gave us a tangible way of remembering him, and specifically his sacrifice, and it's called communion. In fact, we're going to do that, even though we're not collectively together, we're going to do that together to remember Jesus. And so if you have those elements, I want to encourage you to go get them, get them ready. And why don't you take a minute? You know, I found this song and I love the words of it because it reminded me of what I'm preaching about, and it reminded me of the importance of Christ as our anchor. And so I asked the worship team to sing this song, and I want you to take this and just take this time, get the elements ready. Listen to this song, reflect, and maybe even ask yourself, do I have an anchor and do I know how to use the anchor? And then when we come back after the song, I'll lead us in taking communion together.

Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
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