1 John 4 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture. It’s come over the last year or so, and it was huge timing.
I had been struggling with a long time for believing God’s love for me was true. It was that chapter which gave me several assurances of God’s love:
- “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (v. 9-10)
- “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (v. 16)
- “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.” (v. 18-19)
That last set of verses was especially pertinent to me. I had a lot of fear of God, fear of people, fear of the unknown. Knowing that God loves me and works all things together for my good (Romans 8:28) has been such a relief when I’m overwhelmed by my sin, when I wonder about the future. God loves me, all will work out in the end. That kills a good bit of that fear.
But recently I’ve been feeling hopeless. I know I am not hopeless, I know there is true hope. But it’s recently been hard for me to believe it.
One passage that really hit me over the head with a truth yesterday was John 16:33-17:3. It’s incredibly powerful:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
Some context: Jesus had just finished telling the disciples that “the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and believed that I came from God” (16:28). So the disciples were told that God loves them.
In this passage, Jesus gives the disciples, and us, three reasons to have hope, and they all come from Jesus Himself.
Jesus brings us hope of peace here and now.
Jesus says He tells them these things “that in me you may have peace.” Peace can be a feeling. It can be an emotional response to something. But more than anything, peace is a state of being that is not necessarily swayed by emotion.
Jesus says all these things so that they can have peace. There’s a peace that comes from God that is objective. It’s established through the love of God shown through Christ. Jesus earned that peace for us on the Christ. It’s the peace between God and man that could only be won by Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:17-19 describes it as “reconciliation”:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
The peace we have earned is a reconciliation to God that we lost at the fall, that we lost when sin entered the world. Jesus has made the way for us to be reconciled to God and achieve a great peace.
There’s also a sense where there is emotional or mental peace. That truth, that we’ve achieved an objective peace with God, can at times bring us an attitude of peace. We don’t have to worry about our eternal resting place. We don’t have to worry about our salvation. It was earned through Christ.
Because of Him, we can hope.
Jesus brings us hope of overcoming the world.
Jesus tells the disciples that, in the world, they will face difficulties and tribulation. Each and every one of us faces tribulations, difficulties, on a nearly-daily basis, if not a daily basis.
Jesus has overcome all of that. He faced everything the world had to throw at Him and came out on the other side victorious. Granted, He was God and could do that.
But through Christ, we have hope of doing the same thing. We have hope that we can make it to the end because Jesus paved the way for us. He showed us how to live. He gave us the opportunity for grace and mercy through His death on the cross.
One practical example: He can help us defeat sinful temptation in our life when it attacks. Hebrews 4:14-16 explains it perfectly:
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Jesus faced every temptation we did. And He beat it! Because of this (that’s what the “let us then” means), we can come near to Christ when tempted, and we can “receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” We pray. We read what Jesus said in His Word. We observe His behavior in the Word. After all, He is “the Word” (John 1:1).
Because of Him, we can hope.
Jesus brings us hope of life after death with Him.
In His high priestly prayer after speaking with the disciples, Jesus prays and says that God the Father has given Him “authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him” (17:2).
What God the Father gave God the Son was the ability to grant eternal life to those He calls His own. I’m not going to dive into the Trinitarian aspect of this because honestly I have no idea how that works and I don’t think we fully will until we get to heaven. And then it still might remain a mystery.
But what remains is that, through Christ, we are given the gift of life eternal with God. And this life eternal is beautiful. Revelation 22:1-5 captures just a sliver of it:
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
Sometimes I get chills thinking about what this might look like. Again, this is just part of what that eternal life will look like. And we have hope that this is our end because of Jesus. If He hadn’t died on the cross, we would have no hope of this. If He didn’t save us, we would have no hope of this.
This is a thing to rejoice over! This is something we get to be pumped about! Our eternal destiny is secured because of the cross of Christ. In a world where our futures can often be everything and anything but secure, our eternal future is completely set in stone, untouchable by anything on or off earth.
Because of Him, we can hope.
And hope is a beautiful thing in a hopeless world.