How to Identify False Hope

What Is False Hope, And How Can We Find True Hope In Life?

Tim Lundy
Aug 9, 2020    32m
What is false hope? In a day and age of instant information, we can find many sources of false hope, but this message reminds us that the one true source of hope is the hope that is found in Jesus Christ. Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

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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: 00:07 Well, thanks, Chris and Emily, we appreciate you sharing with us. We're excited about your newborn, we pray God's blessing over you. You know, in a series where we're talking about hope, there's probably nothing that brings more hope than a child, especially a newborn baby, and so we're thrilled for you.

Tim Lundy: 00:28 As a church, we're thrilled, this is a weekend where some of you are watching this online, some of you are watching this live, in the venture live venue. So we're excited to be able to offer that, in a time period where frankly, the news hasn't been great, it's awesome to connect together to be together. So whether you're watching this online, whether you're watching this as part of one of the new live venues, just hear my greeting. We're excited to be with you and to talk about hope, I think it's a subject that we need, that we value.

Tim Lundy: 00:59 You know, I was reminded years ago when I did student ministry, we used to take teenagers up to New York for these outreach weeks. And they would go and share in different contexts, and invariably, when the kids were out on the streets, they would see the different vendors that were always selling goods, a lot of them knockoffs. And it never failed, I'd always have a few students in every group, they would show up at the end of the day, and they'd kind of pointed their wrist. And they go, hey, look at my Rolex, everybody would always buy a knockoff Rolex. And if you stood far enough back, it was pretty impressive. You could look at it, and you'd go, how much did you pay for it? Ten, twenty dollars at most. Now the reality is, it wasn't a very good watch, invariably, it wouldn't keep time for the week. In fact, I had one kid once, he was so proud of it. But about three days later, he goes, hey, I've got a problem. I said, what's going on? He goes, my Rolex is turning my skin green. I said, yeah, that's not a good thing to be happening with your watch, your Rolex. It wasn't a Rolex, it was a fauxex. And the reason people buy that, the reason we fall for that, is a real Rolex is valuable. I mean, it's the kind of thing that if you look at it, you go, man, I'd love to have one of those. But to get a real one, cost something, and so it's a lot easier and cheaper to take a shortcut.

Tim Lundy: 02:25 You know, the same is true about hope. We've been talking about a valuable hope, a biblical hope, we've called it audacious hope. Just to review, when I say audacious hope, it's that confident, active expectation based on the certainty of what God has said, and Christ has done. It's that kind of hope that you can bank on and build your life on, and it is so valuable, but it's costly. It's the kind of hope that cost Christ his life. It's the of hope that cost's people well saying by faith, I'm going to trust in him no matter what. And as we looked at last week, it's a hope that at times you have to walk through a process where you're trusting, and persevering, and enduring as God changes your character and builds your hope.

Tim Lundy: 03:19 You know, as I've looked through scripture and studied hope, it was interesting, another theme came out, it was false hope. Just like a fake Rolex, it's easy to build your hope on something, it's a lot easier, it's a lot cheaper, it's a lot more available, but it doesn't last, it doesn't work. And the reality is, a lot of people are discouraged and they've lost hope because they built it on the wrong things. I want to walk you through five sources of false hope that you see in scripture, five ways that it's easy to build your life on it, only to have it not last or have it not delivered.

Tim Lundy: 03:59 Let's look at the first one, the first source of false hope is power, is power. And here's the delusion we tell ourselves, we tell ourselves when I have enough control, when I get on top of life, when I get on top of the situation, when I get that raise, when I get that next level in the company, when I am in control, when the political party I really pull for is in power, I mean, all the things we tell ourselves that are around power and control. Sometimes it's at home, where there's a power battle between couples, or between families and kids, that shows up in so many different ways. And this illusion is, that if I have more power, might makes right, I get to be in control. And guys, the whole world operates according to this one, it's so easy.

Tim Lundy: 04:54 You know, as you look through scripture, often God would have to remind the people of Israel, you don't operate like all the other nations. He would tell the Kings of Israel, your source of strength is not based on what they would look to. Look at this passage from Psalms, it says, "The King is not saved by his great army, a warrior is not delivered by his great strength." Here's an interesting line, "The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue." Now this term doesn't stand out for us, but back then the war horse was the greatest display of military power you could have. If you had a strong cavalry, it was like having tanks at that time. And so if an army had an army of warhorses, they usually won. In fact, they would talk about how many horses different countries had, as a sign of their strength. And what God's saying in this passage is, I don't care if it's the greatest strength, I don't care if its the greatest technology, I don't care if it's the greatest military power, that is a false hope, if you're trying to build your life on amassing the most power and being in control.

Tim Lundy: 06:08 Look how Proverbs puts it, Proverbs says, "When a wicked person dies, expectation parishes." And I love this line, "Hope based on power has perished." Guys, I think we need to hear this, because you can tell when a people are basing their hope based on power, things get very heated and they get very divided. Tempers raise that much more, everybody gets afraid and they grab at that power. And you feel that in our culture today, you know, it's interesting how much it sounds like the early church in Rome, the Roman culture that they came up against. And I was reading one historian, Garrett Fagan, he describes it. He says, "More than most Romans lionized strength over weakness, victory over defeat, dominion over obedience. Losers paid a harsh price, and they got what they deserve, and they were to be ruthlessly handled." And hear this line, "Roman politics became a ruthless game of total winners and abject losers, the drive to dominate and not be forced to bow before a rival was paramount. You feel that today, that same sense where everyone is grabbing at power. Because if power is the way that you have hope, you're going to fall into it every time.

Tim Lundy: 07:41 You know, years ago, the journalist, the statesman, Malcolm Muggeridge was speaking at a prayer breakfast in Washington, DC, and he spoke about world affairs. And as he walked through the different things that were happening in the world, he talked about a lot of negative events. In fact, someone said to him, they said, Malcolm, you sound very pessimistic. Are you pessimistic? Listen to his words. He said, "Oh my friend, I could not be more optimistic than I am, because my hope is in Jesus Christ." And he let that settle for a few seconds. and then he said this line, he said, "Just think if the Apostolic church had pinned its hopes on the Roman empire." Just think if the early church had put all their hope with what was going to happen in the empire. See, here's the reality, the early church look to change the empire, to bring in the Kingdom of God, to follow a savior who says I don't rule like other people rule, my kingdom is not like other people. We don't Lord it over, those who have power, use it to serve others. And how can you operate like that? Because you're not looking for that power to be the source of your hope, when you serve the God of power as demonstrated through Jesus Christ. Guys, if you're basing your hope on power, you're going to stay frustrated all the time, you’re going to stay angry all the time, you're going to stay upset all the time. Trust in Christ.

Tim Lundy: 09:16 Look at the second source of false hope, you see this one often as well. Well, here's what we tell ourselves with this one, when I have enough money, as soon as I have just enough, just a little bit more, when I get to that next level, when I finally have it and I've arrived with it, then I'm going to be secure, then I'll be okay. The reality is it doesn't prove true. You know, the New York times had an article last year, it was interesting in it. And the title of it was, Can Money Buy Happiness? And as they went through it, they did a recent survey, it was based on it of 25 to 64 year old’s, of affluent people in the United States. And they found in certain parts of it, there are some things that money does help with happiness, some of the basic security and life with that. And so I don't say that to diminish, some of you are in real struggle right now, and there's a certain level that you need that income. But it's interesting once you've hit that, there is diminishing returns on it. And almost invariably as they went through the survey, here's what came back time and time again, the word, regret. Because at that level, the more people pursued it, the more they gave themselves to it, the more they built businesses with it, the more they were just determined to get that. Do you know what they said over and over again? They could feel themselves distancing from family, and friends, and people they love,` that was the cost. And many of them in a moment of honesty said, was it really worth that? I don't think so.

Tim Lundy: 10:52 Now, is scripture against money? No. In fact, I love the words of Paul, I think Paul is the best when it comes to this issue of money, because he was never attracted to it, nor was he repulsed by it. He never looked down on people, whether you were rich or poor, he didn't really care, he was so consumed with the gospel. But he gives great advice, look at Paul's words, he says, "Command those who are rich in this world's goods, not to be haughty, don't look down on anyone. Don't set their hope on riches, even if you're already rich. Notice, he's not talking to just people that want riches, he says, if you have money, don't put your hope on that. You know why? Because it's uncertain. Boy, we've been riding the uncertainty of that habit way. He says, put your hope on God who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment. He says, God actually wants you to enjoy what he's given you, but you don't base your hope on what he's given you. Tell them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, to generous givers, sharing with each other. In this way, they will save up a treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the future, and so lay hold of what is truly life. Do you see what he's saying here? He said, instead of making wealth the source of your hope, use your wealth as an expression of hope. Use what God's given you, give generously, share with others, give your life away. And when you're doing that, do you see what he's saying in that? When you're doing that, you're storing up treasures in heaven, your hope for eternity. What a great expression in it, instead of basing your life on it.

Tim Lundy: 12:32 Look at the third source of false hope, intellect, intellect. And here's the illusion here, when I'm smart enough, when I know enough, when I have enough information. And we live in the information age, and so we're absolutely determined on any subject. And right now there's so many subjects, and everything's coming at us, and everybody is an expert. Everybody's a self-proclaimed expert, because they've read this study, and that study, and whether you're a for mask or against mask, and whether you think it's this, and whether it's that, whether the economy's doing this or that, whether this has happened in the world. All this stuff, we've got all this information coming at us, and the illusion is, if I can just get on top all that, then I'll be calm, then I'll have peace, then I'll have hope.

Tim Lundy: 13:20 Look how Proverbs describes it, "Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?" That's a self-proclaimed expert. "There is more hope for a fool, than for him." If you study Proverbs, being a fool is about the worst thing you can be. And the writer here says, yeah, there's one thing worse, the person who's so wise in their own eyes, the person who thinks they know it all, they've learned it all, they're on top of it all. They lack humility, they lack the ability to learn, and I think personally it increases our anxiety. See, we're blessed with so many great tools to be able to access information that generations before us didn't have. But it's interesting what we do with those tools, you know, there was an article in Esquire magazine that was attacking a lot of the Silicon Valley companies and just what we've turned them into. I didn't think the article was fair in many ways, it was interesting though, as he described in it, how we've turned Google into almost a God. How people use it, listened to his words with it. He says as more and more people become alienated from traditional religion, we look to Google as our immediate all-knowing knowing Oracle of answers from trivial to profound. Google is our modern day God. And then he asked this question. and I think it's a valid question. Think back on every fear, every hope, every desire you've confessed to Google search box, and then ask yourself, is there any entity you've trusted more with your secrets? Does anybody know you better than Google? According to Google trends, the term Google is searched for more than the terms, God, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism combined, it's searched for more. Now again, I love Google, I use it all the time. It's so helpful in it, it's an unbelievably powerful tool. But it's a terrible God. And the reality of what this is showing is it's not really about Google, it's about us. We say, I like these tools, and if I can get enough information, if I can stay on top of everything than I'm going to be in control and I'm going to have power. And then there's my hope guys, it doesn't work.

Tim Lundy: 16:00 Now, I'm not saying go out and be blissfully ignorant, we're supposed to be informed. But you need to realize this, information is not knowledge. You can have reams of information, but you don't know how to turn it into knowledge. And knowledge itself is not wisdom. Proverbs tells us, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Until you bring God into the equation, I don't care how much knowledge and information you have. you're not going to have the kind of hope that we're talking about. And it's interesting to me, if information would solve this, in the age where we have the most amount of information we're dealing with the highest levels of anxiety. And I think it's because we put our hope in it, and we've put our hope in ourselves of being self-proclaimed experts.

Tim Lundy: 16:49 Look at the fourth one, accomplishment. Accomplishment. And this is easy one to do, because here's what we tell ourselves, when I've done enough, when I've arrived, when I've finally succeeded. And my hope in life, my joy life, everything I'm looking for in life, is when I have accomplished. Do you know, again, there's a whole fallacy they call it, they call it the arrival fallacy. The New York times did an article on the arrival fallacy. And it looked at all these successful people who basically do that same pattern again, of if I can get there, if I can accomplish, then I'm going to be happy, then I'm going to really feel like I've arrived in it. And the reason they interviewed successful people, is once they got there, there was emptiness on top of it. You know, one of the doctors in the study, Dr. Ben Shahar, he described his work with Hollywood stars. He says, so many Hollywood stars struggle with the rival fallacy because a lot of them are unhappy as they're starting out, but they tell themselves once I make it, I'm going to be happy. And then they make it, I mean if you make it in Hollywood, you really make it. But they're still stuck with them, and it comes crushing in. I've seen it with stars, I've seen it with a lot of pro athletes, but the reality is all of us can fall to this one. Listen to the words of the article, it says, "The problem is that achievement doesn't equal happiness over the long term. But this message is almost antithetical to the American dream, which tells us that hard work and achievement deliver a happy life. And so we push our children to become captain of the soccer squad, or student body president, because we want them to be successful and happy. And then when they're 34, fresh off a big achievement and so deeply unhappy that they find themselves sobbing in their truck in a Walmart parking lot, they could end up feeling as though something is inherently broken with them." That's a powerful picture, guys, this is from the New York times. This wan't some Christian psychiatrist, or somebody trying to point out something, it wasn't a pastor saying this. This is someone who's studying it across the country, and they're seeing it happen again and again where people tell themselves, if I could only arrive.

Tim Lundy: 19:18 You know, I love in the Bible that there's a book for the arrival fallacy, there's one book of the Bible that just speaks directly to it. Solomon, who accomplished everything in life, who did everything, there was no one wiser, there was no one richer. He gave himself to total pleasure, he gave himself to creating massive art and beauty, he did everything in it. In fact, if you read through the Book of Ecclesiastes, the whole book sounds a little bit like Frank Sinatra song My Way. I mean, it's I did it my way, I took the blows, God only knows, I did it my way. That's what Solomon says the whole book, he said, I did it all. Do you know what he came to in it? Look at Ecclesiastes, He said, "I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun." He's about a few thousand years ahead of the New York times going, hey, the arrival fallacy, I know it for a fact because I lived it out.

Tim Lundy: 20:30 And if you're pinning your hopes on this accomplishment, it won't deliver, it never has. It can’t, because there's one more category in scripture, and it's an interesting one, and I think it's an important one because it might surprise us. Some of the other ones you might go, yeah, I get that wealth, power, accomplishment, yeah, I've heard that. Do you know what the last category of false hope is, it's based on belief. Belief, now as I say that you'd go, Tim, wait, isn't our hope based on belief? Yeah, but here's the idea we tell ourself with that, if I just believe enough, if I just believe enough. And here's what you're told today, it doesn't really matter what you believe in, as long as you believe. Man, you've just got to believe, you've just got to have faith. And so the strength of it is based on the person, if they have enough belief, if they have enough faith. And as you look at that, I just want to tell you the Bible points out over and over again, it's not just having belief.

Tim Lundy: 21:37 Because the reality is, there's a lot of people will tell you something to believe, and a lot of times they tell you what you want to hear. Even people within the church, even in the nation of Israel, the prophet Jeremiah, he spoke about the other prophets. This was a time when the people were an exile, they were going through this hard time, they're under this persecution. And so the prophets wanted to start telling people what they wanted to hear, that it's going to be okay, that God's not judging. You look at Jeremiah's words in it, and God's speaking here. He says, "Do not listen to what those prophets are saying to you. They are filling you with false hopes. They are reporting visions of their own imaginations, not something the Lord has given them to say. They continually say to those who reject what the Lord has said, ‘Things will go well for you!’ They say to all those who follow the stubborn inclinations of their own hearts, ‘Nothing bad will happen to you!’" Do you hear what he's saying here? See, these profits come along and the people are being disobedient, the people are not obeying God, the people are doing whatever their own heart’s desire. And instead of speaking truth to them, look what the prophets say, It's going to be okay, nothing bad is going to happen to you. Don't listen to Jeremiah, he's a kill joy. In fact, Jeremiah was one of the lone voices speaking truth, because it was so easy to tell people what they wanted to hear.

Tim Lundy: 23:10 We hear this all the time, you hear it in the world today. I mean, you'll hear so many people say, you just have to have belief, it doesn't really matter what you believe, don't be judgmental, don't be exclusive. And sometimes you'll hear, maybe you've heard this phrase, you know, in the end of the day, all roads lead to God, all paths get there. Now just hear that, and isn't there a part of your brain that goes, wait, no, really? How could that really work? I mean, it doesn't work in life. I mean you could you imagine if I was driving in a car and I pull over, and there's a guy on the side of the road and I say, hey, I'm trying to get to Levi's stadium. Can you tell me how to get to Levi stadium? And if he looked at me, he said, well, son, the reality is all roads lead to Levi stadium. I'd roll up the window and go, thank you, very helpful, you crazy old coot. I mean, I'd look for someone that goes, tell me something rationally that works, tell me how I actually get there. And as I say that, now some people go, yeah, but Tim, here's what people are saying out of that, that everything's going to ultimately lead to God. And so it doesn't matter how you follow him, as long as you faithfully follow him, as long as you believe. Do you hear what they're saying in that? You put your hope in the belief itself, not the object of the belief, that's far different than what Christianity teaches.

Tim Lundy: 24:38 And when I say that, I don't even think that they believe that, really all roads lead to God, all paths lead to God. So if someone teaches a racial genocide like Hitler, which is basically what he taught, and people thoroughly fervently believed it. You're going to tell me that leads to God. You're going to tell me something like the doctrine of the KKK, and the racism, and the looking down on racist, if somebody fervently believes that it's okay, because it's going to lead to God. See, even as I say those examples, people immediately go, well, maybe not all roads, so now we're down to some roads. And once you get down to some roads, you have to start asking yourself who determines the some, who determines who gets there. Because guys, if you look at the systems just like roads today go all different directions, the roads of belief are so different. Some are based on a whole system of karma, and lifetime after lifetime that you do the right thing so that you can ultimately reach Nirvana. Some are based on an obedience to a strict standard of five pillars of Islam, or maybe the eightfold path of Buddha. Some are based on very much what you do in this life, so that the scales of justice are measured right? There's all these different systems, there's all these different voices. And the question you have to ask yourself is not whether I just have enough belief, because there's people out there, they have fervent belief. It's not faith in the belief, it's faith in the object of that belief.

Tim Lundy: 26:14 And so if you're going to have to listen to a voice, if you're going to have to pick a road, if you're going to have to listen to a system, if you're going to base the hope of your life on something, let me tell you what I base my hope on. I based my hope on the one God who came to this planet, who lived on this earth, who died on a cross. And then, you know what he did, he Rose again, and he did it in human history. I listen to his words. And do you know what he declared in John 14? He declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." No one gets there, except through Jesus. And that truth claim may make you uncomfortable, that truth claim doesn't match a lot with what's going on in culture, where it's a lot easier to tell people what they want to hear. Hey, you're going to be okay, God's good with you. But Jesus loved you enough that he'd even tell you the uncomfortable truth, that he is the only way.

Tim Lundy: 27:23 You know, years ago, in 1915, one of the saddest stories, the sinking of the Lusitania. The Lusitania was going across the Atlantic, and it was struck by a torpedo from a German submarine. And as the boat began to sink, the panic that was happening on the ship. And a lot of people don't know why, but for some reason, and I think it was just, the captain was trying to calm everybody down. When they asked the captain, they said, captain, are we okay? And he called out and he said, we're fine, we're not going to sink. And one woman said, how do you know, did you call the engine room? And he said, I've talked to the engine room, we're fine. And so people who had been scrambling to get on lifeboats suddenly stopped. A cheer, went up among the crowd, and they were so believing what the captain told them. And I don't know what he was believing, maybe he truly believed it was an unsinkable boat. Now 2000 people went down with that ship, 1200 of them drowned. I don't blame it all on him, we don't know how many would have been saved.

Tim Lundy: 28:44 But there's a time for uncomfortable truth, especially when life is at stake, especially when decisions are at stake, especially when hope is at stake. And some of you need to hear that truth, and you need to hear me today, it is so easy to build your life on all of the false hope I talked about. Here's what you need to hear, there is only one source of true hope, and that source is Jesus, it's Jesus. That's why Colossians 1:27 says, "He's the hope of glory." I love how J B Phillips translates it, he says, "The secret is simply this, Christ in you. Yes, Christ in you bringing with him the hope of all the glorious things to come." The secret of life, the secret of eternity, the secret for all people, the secret of all hope do you know what it is? It's no one else, it's no other system, it's no other belief, I'll say it unequivocally and exclusively, it's only found in Jesus Christ. And if you're building your life on anything else, it's a false hope and it won't deliver.

Tim Lundy: 29:57 So here's my questions for you as we finish. For some you, I just ask you, have you put your faith in Christ? Have you, as Romans 10 says, "If you confess with your mouth, and believe in your heart, confess that He is Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Have you taken that faith step? Have you made that the basis of your belief? Because if you haven't, hear me, you have no source of true hope, you have no source of true life. There's only one path to God, and it is through Jesus. So take that step today, confess him as Lord, believe that he died for you, and know for a fact that he's your savior, and you have an eternal hope, the hope of glory.

Tim Lundy: 30:52 And for those of us today that we would say, yeah, I've got faith in Christ. Here's my question, are you growing in your hope in him? Do you have more hope today than you did yesterday? Do you have more hope today than you did six months ago? You go well, Tim, that's not fair, we're in a pandemic. Oh, so our hope goes down if it's based on pandemics, if it's based on economy, if it's based on what's going on in the world and power, or is it based on Jesus Christ? Guys, there's one source of hope, and his name is Jesus, and I challenge you trust him today. And I challenge you, maybe God's brought these circumstances to expose, maybe some of the areas of our lives that we are building our hope on and they're false, and God's taking us through this to strip it away, so that the only source of our hope is Jesus Christ.

Tim Lundy: 31:55 Let's pray. God, I thank you. I thank you for your word, I thank you that it's so clear. I thank you that what you gave us over 2000 years ago in this powerful book, points directly to our life today. I thank you that what Christ did 2000 years ago, is the basis of our hope today. Lord, I pray for anyone, maybe they've not taken that faith step. Would you give them the courage to take that step right now, to trust you now, to know that that is true for their life? And for each of us who've taken that step, Lord, would we live based on that hope? If we've been basing it on anything else, strip it away, reveal it to us. We want our lives rooted and resting in Jesus Christ. And we pray this in His name. Amen.

Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
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Venture Christian Church
16845 Hicks Road
Los Gatos, California 95032