Gospel Hope

This last Saturday night, I received that phone call from the bishopric. Their speakers had canceled at the last moment, and they needed a speaker. I know many people who would hate that call, but I’ve always loved it. I love the challenge, especially when I feel like I’m being guided in what I should say.

This talk was a particularly rich experience for me that really opened my eyes to the concept of Hope and what it is. For your pleasure then, here are the expanded notes written out in essay form for you.

Gospel Hope

When you think of hope, what do you think of? What are your thoughts, your feelings, your impressions? If you are like most people, you tend to think of the concept of wishing, dreaming, wanting, waiting, believing that something might be. In a way, yes, that is hope, but this is not gospel-centered hope. It is worldly hope.

Worldly hope is summed up in the idea that something might happen or might be with little or no action on our part beyond believing. Sure, such beliefs might be good in nature, but it is still worldly in that no action is required on our part. If you think about it even more, such a thought is distinctly recognizable as a perverted form of gospel hope.

So what, then, is gospel hope? When we look at the scriptures, we often see hope in the context of the three-legged stool of Faith, Hope, and Charity. In the cases of Faith and Charity, we readily understand what they are, probably because we have succinct scriptures that clearly define them:

  • Faith–Alma 31:21 and Hebrews 11:1 both teach us that faith is a believe in things which are not seen, but are true.
  • Charity–Moroni 7:47 and 1 Corinthians 13 teach us that charity is the pure love of Christ.

But no such scripture exists for hope. Rather, we get numerous scriptures that exhort us to have hope in Christ and his gospel. For example:

  • Let Israel hope in the Lord…
  • For thou art my hope, O Lord God…
  • I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in His word do I hope…

And of course, there is this gem from Moroni 7:41.

And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.

But even then, these scriptures, nor any other that I found, don’t necessarily define what gospel hope is. Rather, they give us the impression that hope is a divinely inherited attribute that we just have because we do, somewhat like the Light of Christ. Surely we can claim that everyone believes in something and therefore has a particle of faith, right? In a similar way, and because faith and hope are so closely related, we can claim that there must be some modicum of hope in each of us.

So what, then, is the definition of gospel hope? Returning to the three-legged stool of Faith, Hope, and Charity, and especially when we read Moroni 7, we can infer that these three attributes are related and even interdependent on each other with one causing the other. Using this basis, we can then define gospel hope as the knowledge that comes from practiced faith. Gospel hope is the action-based knowledge that is generated by prior experience which results from the initial faith. Finally, we can define hope as the resultant fruit from Alma’s allegory of the Seed of Faith (Alma 32).

  • Alma 32:34–And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand.

If I may, I’d like to draw your attention to two specific things in that verse:

  1. After practicing our faith, the result is that we gain a perfect knowledge of that thing. Because we also know from Moroni 7 that practiced faith becomes hope, we can then associate knowledge with hope. In this case, we may even claim they are essentially the same thing.
  2. After gaining knowledge, our faith becomes dormant. This does not mean, of course, that faith is no longer necessary or useful, but rather that it is dormant in the face of sure knowledge (i.e., hope).

Going back, then, to Alma 32:34, we could read that verse as follows:

  • And now, behold, is your hope perfect? Yea, your hope is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand.

By the way, note how much worldly hope disrupts this entire concept. Worldly hope makes the link between faith, hope, and charity irrelevant because it relies on fantasy belief, not knowledge.

Okay, now that we know what gospel hope is (true knowledge made sure by the practice of our faith), let’s talk about how it is used in our lives. If we go back to Moroni 7:41, we read the following:

And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.

This scripture teaches us that our hope through (note that word) the Atonement of Christ and His resurrection leads us to the knowledge that we can be raised to life eternal. So let’s talk about each of those two things:

  1. Hope through the Atonement. Isn’t it interesting that Moroni said that we should have hope through the Atonement and not in the Atonement? If you remember back to our definition of worldly hope, you can clearly see that such wishy-washy wishing cannot be through anything. Through implies action. It implies that we have hope as a result of the Atonement. Worldly hope in this case could never cause salvation, let alone lead us to have true hope in it because there is no action.
    If we remember that gospel hope is a principle of knowledge that comes through practiced faith, we recognize that having hope through the Atonement is a natural consequence of using the Atonement. As we continually rely on the Savior, our faith in Him and His Atonement grows to the point of dormancy at which point (remember Alma 32:34) our faith is replaced with knowledge, even the sure knowledge of His power to save. It is in that that we find ourselves having hope, and it is fairly simple in that case to understand how we might have hope through the Atonement to be saved.
  2. Hope through the Resurrection. Similar to the Atonement, Moroni tells us to have hope through the resurrection. Like the Atonement, this hope is based on knowledge and action, not wishing. Our hope in the resurrection is based in two parts: The resurrection of the Savior, and our own personal resurrection after this life.
    Hope, in this case, comes from the faith we exercise in the Plan of Salvation. To put it another way, we understand the reason we are here, we understand that this life is not the end, and we understand that our experiences here are foundational to helping us achieve the glory our Father has promised. This faith, practiced and exercised, can and will lead us to knowledge (hope) of the resurrection. As with the Atonement, that knowledge is the hope through which we seek eternal life. Much like hope in the Atonement, this hope encourages to work out our salvation, coming increasingly closer to the Savior.

So let’s go back to that three-legged stool of Faith, Hope, and Charity. Moroni 7:44 makes the connection of the three quite plain:

If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity.

NOTE: The phrase “meek and lowly in heart” is a resultant attribute of faith and hope (see vs. 43).

This scripture demonstrates the relationship between these three attributes, where one creates the other and eventually leads to the end point of charity. Again, note how worldly hope does not fit that progression.

So to review:

  • Faith–The dream, the initial belief in what may be, that moment where are hearts and minds whisper, “Oh that this were true….”
  • Hope–The practiced knowledge of our faith, the witnessed fruit of faith, the promise made sure.
  • Charity–Hope made internal, the personal change effected in each of us as we come ever closer to the Savior and His Gospel, the nature of Christ-like people.

One final point then: Charity is a determiner of salvation.To have it is to be saved.

Moroni 7:48–Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.

We can see here that to have charity results in some very specific things happening:

  • Having charity is a gift that is given to true followers of Christ.
  • Those followers are made sons of God.
  • Having that charity means that we will be like Him when He comes.
  • We will have that hope (knowledge).
  • We will be pure as He is pure.

While the three-legged stool is an accurate image for the principles of Faith, Hope, and Charity, I am beginning to see it more as a road map. Our spiritual journey could be described as a broad valley with faith sitting firmly on one mountain side and Charity (i.e., salvation, see Moroni 7:48 above) on the other. In the middle of the broad valley we call life, is where we gain hope. It is hope that creates the firm foundation on which we will walk. It is faith that launches the first steps. It is faith that encourages to take those steps into darkness. It is faith that gives us the dream. And as we practice and test that faith, it is replaced with the sure knowledge–the hope–that there is salvation.

As we practice our faith in the Atonement and the Resurrection, we are granted the hope through the Atonement and Resurrection to be raised up. Such hope, carried forward and used, certainly leads us to Christ, to become more like Him, to adopt the charity that defines who He is, and, in the end, the sure knowledge that we are the Children of God, the true followers of Christ, and that we are indeed like Him, bearing in our hearts the countenance of the Savior.

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1 Response to Gospel Hope

  1. angela52689 says:

    Hey Dave, thanks for your insight the other day! My talk improved a lot after incorporating some of what you said, some bits from your talk here, and stuff from that Pres. Uchtdorf talk (which may or may not have been the one to which you were referring). https://angelawroteit.wordpress.com/2018/09/30/hope-through-the-gospel/

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