Ephesians 1:18-20, “18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,”
The knowledge of God is foundational to knowledge of all things, including ourselves. When we understand the character of God, we can have a genuine understanding of ourselves, along with our need for Him to take care of our sin through Christ, so we can endure in the presence of His holiness. Isaiah learned this truth when our Creator called him to his prophetic office in Isaiah 6:1-7. Christians throughout the centuries testify to similar experiences as Isaiah’s of having the sovereign majesty of God revealed, grasping the immensity of their transgressions against the Lord resulting in them seeing their need for the sovereign grace of God to save them.
Knowing God does not end with a knowledge of His character. Scripture also tells us of the work He has done for His people (Exodus 20:2), along with the tremendous blessings that are Christians because of Christ. Paul continues his prayer for the Ephesians in Ephesians 1:18-20 adding that he is praying the Lord will give them knowledge of the “hope” to which He calls Christians, in addition to a knowledge of the divine character of God (Ephesians 1:18).
The New Testament speaks of the content of the hope of Christians in many different ways. In Galatians 5:5 we await the “hope of righteousness.” Colossians 1:27 refers to our “hope of glory.” Jesus Christ is our hope according to 1 Timothy 1:1. In Titus 1:2, Paul tells us that the Lord God has given people the “hope of eternal life.” All of these many multi-faceted diamonds of hope in Christ refer to the same thing- the eternal resurrected existence God’s people will enjoy in the New Heavens and New Earth, face to face before a holy God as beings who cannot sin, because of the redemption the Savior- the Lord Jesus has purchased for them (Revelation 21).
Hope in the Bible is not a reference to uncertainty or to a lack of confidence in what the future will bring. Instead, hope is another word for confident anticipation. Hope has both an objective and a subjective aspect. Objectively, Christians have a hope that exists outside of themselves for Christ will surely return to reign visibly over all (1 Corinthians 15:12-58). Subjectively hope is the inward confidence; Christians have that they will participate in the benefits of the objective future reality (Romans 8:25). One of the central ministries of the Holy Spirit’s work in the lives of Christians involves the subjective hope to God’s people (Ephesians 1:16). Paul also prays along these lines in Ephesians 1:18-20.
The subjective confidence that Christians belong to Christ is a great blessing from God. It is also only available to those who are in Christ. The Holy Spirit will give assurance to Christians even when they are alone (assuring them that they are never alone for He is with us). Sin often makes us deaf to the reality of this hope. This is why we need the Word of God and the sacraments regularly, for in them the Holy Spirit reassures God’s people that Jesus lived, died, and rose for all who cast themselves upon the righteousness of Christ for salvation.