In today’s Little Lesson, we’re going to talk about faith and hope. Faith and hope are not the same. And Scripture gives us a very clear explanation that differentiates between the two.
Hebrews 11:1 says that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for.” So clearly faith has an assurance that hope doesn’t have. Hope is always saying “maybe,” but faith is always very confident. Much more confident than is hope.
Let me give you a couple of examples and then explain why it’s important to know the difference between faith and hope.
The Difference Between Faith and Hope
You could say today, “I hope that I’m going to win the lottery.” And that indicates that you’re wanting—you’re desiring—to win the lottery. You’ve probably bought a lottery ticket. But you’re not certain that you’re going to win the lottery.
And of course you realize that there’s a much better chance that you’re going to lose a little money than win a lot of money in the lottery. So I’m not advising anyone to play the lottery!
So that’s hope. Hope always says ‘maybe’, but it leaves room for the possibility that what I want, I may not get. Faith however, is the assurance of things hoped for. So, if in fact they had the drawing for the lottery and, lo and behold, your number was the winning number, then you could have faith. “I’ve won the lottery!”
You’ve got evidence. You’ve got assurance. You’ve got proof. And now it’s just a matter of time until you go and actually realize your winnings by redeeming your ticket.
Why Knowing the Difference Between Faith and Hope Matters
Now why is this important to differentiate between faith and hope? Well, one reason is because we often hear ourselves saying, “I’m hoping and praying that [fill-in-the-blank] is going to happen.” Hoping and praying. And so that shows I desire for my prayer to be answered. But I’m leaving room for the possibility that I may not receive the answer to my prayer that I’m hoping to get.
And there’s nothing wrong with hoping and praying. But Jesus said, “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Matthew 21:22, emphasis added).
So it’s not hoping that gets our prayers answered, it’s believing. And obviously, in order to believe that God is going to answer your prayer, you have to have some kind of a promise from the Lord that will give you that assurance. Just like when they announce on TV the winning number, now you’ve got the assurance. Well, when God gives you a promise and He says, “I want you to have this,” then you could have faith to receive it.
Another Illustration About Faith and Hope
Here’s another example. You might say, “I sure do hope that Jesus comes back today.”
Well, you don’t know if He’s coming back today, right? You can’t know that. It’s not promised anywhere in the Word of God that Jesus is going to come back today. Now, what could you believe? You could say, “I believe Jesus is coming back.” Because that’s a promise in the Word of God!
So you can have faith; you can have assurance that Jesus is coming back. You can hope that He’s coming back today but you can only believe that He’s coming back someday. Right? A
The Danger of Believing Things God Has Never Promised Us
We get into trouble when we try to believe things that God has never, ever promised us. Think of the foolishness of praying this prayer: “Lord, I pray that today adultery will not be a sin, just for this one day.”
Well, how you are going to have faith for that? You’re not going to able to have faith for that because, clearly, from the Word of God, adultery is a sin every day, right? Right.
We Can Have Faith That God Will Heal Us
Jesus often credited people’s faith for the determining factor of why they were healed. And although this makes some people angry, it shouldn’t make you angry because this is Jesus. This is the Lord speaking, and He says numerous times to people, “Your faith has healed you. Your faith has made you well.”
And so, it wasn’t their hope. Although, of course, everybody who is suffering with some kind of sickness hopes to get well. But Jesus said, “Your faith has made you well.”
So you have to have a confident assurance based upon a promise. Well, there are a lot of reasons from Scripture that we can believe that the Lord will answer our prayers for healing. Just like we have lots of promises in the Word of God to give us confidence and assurance that we could have faith to have our sins forgiven, right? Yeah, how do you have faith that when you ask God to forgive you of your sin that He does that? Because it’s so often promised in the Word of God.
God Promises to Heal
God forgiving people is so often illustrated in His Word. That’s one of the major things that He does. And when you look at all the people that the Lord healed in the Old and New Testaments, then there’s a lot of reason to think that maybe—more than maybe—you’re no different.
We read sometimes in the gospels of days when Jesus healed everybody who came to Him. Everyone who touched the hem of His garment and so forth were healed. If you would have been there on one of those days and you would have been sick and you would have done what they did, you would have been healed.
So I’m just saying that if I was suffering an illness, I personally would be feeding myself with stories from the Bible and promises from the Bible that would build my faith. So I go beyond hope and get into faith.
What James Wrote About Faith
Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up… – James 5:13-15
James talked about faith for healing, and not just healing but many things.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him – James 1:5
Wow. There’s a promise for wisdom! How many of us could say we could use wisdom every so often?
But James goes on,
But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. – James 1:6-8
So James says that you not only have to have faith as you pray for wisdom, but anything! It lines up with what Jesus said: “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive”(Matthew 21:22, emphasis added). And there are other promises very similar to that.
Okay, out of time for today. Thanks for joining me. Hope to see you next time! God bless.