by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 3 Study # 11 January 8, 2008 Lincolnton, N.C.
24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
1901 ASV Translation:
24 For in hope were we saved: but hope that is seen is not hope: for who hopeth for that which he seeth?
25 But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
I. Paul's Admission That "Hope is Not Seen".
A. This is as clear a declaration as can be found that "hope" is a word that centers upon how the future will develop into temporal reality. As soon as what is to come, comes, "hope" ceases to exist in regard to that "what". Hope is altogether a "not-yet" reality so that it cannot be a present, or past, issue. This is highly significant because human beings cannot function without "hope". The past establishes certain possibilities based upon an experience of the function of the physical universe and the present insists that we decide what we will and will not do in the light of the future (near -- as in five minutes ahead -- and far --as in establishing a retirement plan while relatively young). But, what we decide will be based upon "hope" in that whatever we decide will be rooted in certain expectations -- which are the essence of "hope".
B. The problem with the "unseen" is that there seems to be a genuine "law of unintended consequences" that very often gears up to deny the fulfillment of the very "hope" that kicked the actions into gear that unleashed the law of the unintended. The reason for the unintended consequences is often not a misapplication of the "rules" that would typically bring the desired consequences to pass, but a careless inclusion of certain "rules" that came in alongside in the thoughtless ignorance of the distracted that had the ability to undercut those other "rules". When "rules" compete against each other, those that are the most germane to the outcome typically make their control felt. There are two fundamental rules in engine rebuilding: carefulprecision in the manipulation of the parts so that they fit together in a way that allows them to work together with a minimum of conflict; and cleanliness. If a person follows the first rule meticulously, but ignores the second one, the result is very often engine failure because grit can destroy even the most carefully machined parts.
C. It is this "problem" of the unseen that highlights the more basic problem: ignorance. If a person has a significant blind spot that has a crucial part to play in the outcome of his "hope", it is highly likely that he will, in ignorance, kick some process into gear that will undercut his efforts of "hope". And the problem of ignorance is more of a problem than we often realize: the only real solution to ignorance is omniscience. And men will never have that. So are men invariably doomed by the law of the unintended by reason of their ignorance? No...if they are willing to accept what the Omniscient says to them in respect to their blind spots. But this is "faith". Men must be willing to accept the testimony of the Omniscient by "faith" -- the willingness to risk on the basis of the testimony -- in order to keep the law of the unintended from coming into play. God does not suspend His laws. This is the essence of the divine warning through Paul in Galatians 6:7 ["Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."] The only hope of man is the willingness of God to "utter" words of wisdom to give him the guidance he needs as he walks in the darkness of his ignorance. And this hope does man no good whatsoever unless he "believes" those utterances.
II. Paul's Point in the Reality of Hope as Unseen.
A. At every point of Life are three issues: Love, Faith, and a Cause/Effect Universe.
B. Assuming "Love" (which is a large assumption), the "Faith" issue comes into sharp focus.
C. At issue is the question of "what" is going to be done. There is nothing more risky than taking action in a cause/effect universe. Given the "risk", the issue is "what" is going to guide my decision? It goes without saying that for Paul "hope" will always "guide". But, also for Paul, "hope" comes in two kinds. The first, and most dangerous, is the "hope" that is fundamentally rooted in the experiences and rationality of the person who will make the "action" decision, whose experience and rationality has been devoid of divine revelation. This is the "hope" that is rooted in the kind of experience that is developed by trial and error. The second, and most productive, is the "hope" that is fundamentally rooted in the experiences and rationality of the person who will make the "action" decision, whose experience and rationality is flooded with the revelation of God. "Hope" that is rooted in experience that is devoid of divine revelation has no expectation whatsoever of being exempt from blind spots. But "hope" that is rooted in experience that is flooded with divine utterances not only has a basis for good decision making, but also has the divine promise of supernatural guidance and oversight through the darkness of ignorance.
III. Paul's Application: We Patiently Wait For That Which We "Hope".