The Banner Of Truth 2014
Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. (Psalm 60:4 )

"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).


The Stewardship of Hope
By Al Stoner
“And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end” (Heb. 6:11).

A Present Day Example. Frequently it will be observed that men and women who apparently make no profession of faith, when beset with a grievous tragedy or calamity of one sort or another, are yet found to be persistent in hoping that good will be the final outcome of their present misfortune. It seems that the faculty of “hoping for the best” is written in man’s constitution. Regrettably, more often than not, the “good” that is hoped for by them finds its fulfillment and gratification in this present evil world, and has no respect to the blessedness promised by God in the ages to come. Hope that is not rooted and grounded in eternity, and in the eternal God, will be of no profit to men salvationally.
Let us Reason Together! By way of contrast, how much more ought the children of God to be noted for an immovable and abounding hope? And how much more must they be good stewards of that hope? If the ungodly are able to have a tenacious “hope” of some sorts without recourse to the promises of God, how ought the godly to be able to excel in hope by means of those promises? (cf. II Pet. 1:4). To them belongs “the hope of salvation” (I Th. 5:8) and “everlasting consolation and good hope through grace” (II Th. 2:16).  These things are the portion of believing men and women. They have an unshakable, unchanging foundation for hope as it is revealed in Scripture (cf. Heb. 6:17-18), and it behooves such ones to “give diligence to make” their “calling and election sure” (II Pet. 1:10). Only such individuals have exclusive rights to the certainty of hope that reaches far beyond this brief “threescore and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years” (Ps. 90:10). Consequently, with regard to the stewardship of this hope, as is the case with all custodianships, “it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (I Cor. 4:2). The day is fast approaching when all shall be called upon to give account of their stewardships.
The hope of which we speak reaches beyond this mortal existence unto “the ages to come” (Eph. 2:7). The objects of the “blessed hope” (Tit. 2:13) lie beyond this vale of tears and sorrows in the blessed domain where tears and sorrows are no more. Hear the Apostle Paul express the absolute certitude of our hope in Christ Jesus! “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (II Cor. 5:1). “For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon [with our eternal bodies], that mortality might be swallowed up of life” (5:4). And again, “Now He Who has fashioned us [preparing and making us fit] for this very thing is God, Who also has given us the [Holy] Spirit as a guarantee [of the fulfillment of His promise].” (5:5, Amp. Bible).
On Perfecting this Stewardship. With these things in mind, let us consider some scriptural references to hope with the intent of perfecting our stewardship thereof. Hope is a work that men do as a direct result of believing the promises. Wherever there is a steadfast hope in God, there has been also a diligent attendance upon “the promises” (cf. Heb. 6:12) in the ones possessing the hope. And wherever there is faltering hope or no hope there has been also a corresponding neglect on the part of the stewards of that hope.
Time, an Impudent Intruder. “And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end” (Heb. 6:11). If ever there was a matter that called for earnestness and the aborting of slothfulness, it is that of the full assurance of hope. The present time, with all of its associated distresses and distractions, is as an intruder, impudently seeking to consume away the complete attention of men from their hope in Christ and in the gospel. Let us therefore, in full cognizance of this situation, continually expel this intruder from our hearts’ affection, that we may give the due regard in our hearts to the exceeding great and precious promises.
Hope’s Dominating Work. “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for (set your hope fully upon, RSV) the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Pet. 1:13). Hope is a full-time work for those who have named the Name of Christ. For hope to be strong, effort must constantly be put forth by men. In order for them to be dominated in mind and heart by a fervent expectation of the promised future blessedness (rather than by the present uncertainties and miseries), constant attention must be given to what God has promised. “Faith” must ever be “the substance of things hoped for” and “the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).
It is Armor to be Put On. “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation” (I Th. 5:8). We do not come into the kingdom of God with this armor already put on. Let us see that we constantly give the due attendance to our being divinely panoplied with faith, love, and hope.
The Resolute Confidence and Rejoicing. “But Christ as a Son over His own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (Heb. 3:6). Hope persistently and joyfully pursues after the realization of that which has been promised and it is not easily distracted therefrom by discouragement and oppositions.
Hope’s Divine Wellspring. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13). For those who are in Christ, there are the grievously difficult seasons when hope is called upon to believe “against hope” (Rom. 4:18), and then there are also the blessed times when hope is enabled to mount up with “eagles’ wings” (cf. Exod. 19:4; Isa. 40:31) and to marvelously abound. Let us, therefore, ever commit the keeping of our souls to Him who is able to sustain us in the toilsome and uphill times and who also is able to cause us to “abound in hope.”
A Sanctifying Constraint. “And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (I Jn. 3:3). The fervent expectation and rejoicing of “this hope” is that of forever dwelling with Him who is “the Holy One” (cf. Rev. 21:3). As it is written elsewhere, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). Thus, we can conclude that those who are not
presently engaged in the work of purifying themselves do not have this hope in possession.
Hope’s Witness to the Unbelieving. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (I Pet. 3:15). Hope’s testimonial to those outside of Christ is one that is not easily ignored or gainsayed. The unregenerate may be quick to challenge the philosophizings and theorizings of religious men, but the testimony of hope that is had in possession is as an undefeated champion that the ungodly would rather not take on. Let us, therefore, give ourselves to the faithful attendance upon the stewardship of our hope in Christ, that we may, among other things, leave this evil generation with an inarguable witness to the truth of the gospel. --Editor

"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;  and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).