From Dwight L. Moody's Life Work and Gospel Sermons

Blessed Hope
 

I have selected for my subject this afternoon the blessed hope. We are told to be ready to give a reason for the hope we have within us, and what we want to do is to find out what our hope is. I believe there are a great many people that are hoping and hoping, when they have no ground for hope. I don't know of any better way to find out whether we have true ground for the hope we have within us than to look in Scripture to see what the Scripture has to say.

   Now, faith is one thing, and hope is another. When hope takes the place of faith, it is a snare. Faith is to work and trust. Some one has said that life is to enjoy and obey and be like God; but hope is to wait and trust; to wait and expect; in other words, that hope is the daughter of faith. I heard a very godly man once say that joy was like the larks, that sang in the morning when it was light, but hope was like the nightingale, that sang in the dark; so that hope was really better than joy.

   Most anyone can sing in the morning when everything is bright, and everything going well; but hope sings in the dark, in the mist and the fog, looks through all the mist and darkness into the clear day. Faith lays hold of what is in the Scripture, faith is laying hold of that which is within the veil, and what is in heaven for us.

   Now, we cannot get on any better without hope than we can without faith. The farmer who sows his seed, sows it in

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the hope of a harvest; the merchant buy his goods in the hope to find customers, and the student toils in the hope that he will reap by and by.

   Now, I want to call your attention to the three classes of people that are gathered here today. They are those that have no hope, those that have a false hope, and those that have a good hope. I do not know that there is any one here today that would come under the first head. It is pretty hard to find anyone in this world that has not some hope. Once in a while you will come across a person that has no hope in this life or the life to come. It is from that class that our suicides come. When men or women get to that point that they have no hope in this life, they become utterly discouraged, cast down, no hope in the life to come, believe when they die that is the last of them, atheists in their views, believe there is no hereafter, they put an end to their existence.

   The point I want to call your attention to in the class that has no earthly hope, is this, ''A child is sick; a doctor is called, and he looks at the child and says there is no hope; but the moment the mother loses hope of the child living in this world another hope comes up; she hopes to see the child again in another world. Hope comes and cheers that mother in trouble.

   When Mr. Curtin was governor of Pennsylvania, a young man in that state was convicted of murder and was sentenced to be hung. His friends tried in every way they could to get him released. The young man was holding on to a hope that he would be released; they could not make him believe that he had to die. At last the governor sent for George H. Stuart, and said to him, ''I wish you would go down to that jail and tell that young man there is no hope; tell him that there is not one ray of hope; that on the day appointed he must die; that I am not going to pardon him.'' Mr. Stuart said when he went into the jail the young man's countenance lit up, and he says, ''Ah, I am sure you brought me good news. What does

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it say?'' Mr. Stuart said he would never be the bearer of such a message again. He said that he lay down beside him on the iron bed, and said, ''My friend, I am sorry to tell you there is not any hope. The governor says you must die at the appointed time. He will not pardon you. He sent me down here to take away this false hope you have got, and to tell you you have to die.'' He said the young man fainted away, and it was sometime before they could bring him to. The poor man's heart was broken. He had been holding on to a false hope. In that case, that young man was not without hope, because he could repent, for God does forgive murderers, and become a child of God; become a saved man. Hope comes right in there. Even these men that think that they have no hope, there is hope for them if they will only turn to the God of hope, and to the God of the Bible.

   That is only one class. Job speaks about days passing without hope; but then he does not mean that there was not any hope beyond this life, because Job says in another place, ''I know my Redeemer liveth, and that I shall see Him.'' He was like Paul. He knew in whom he believed. He had a hope in the darkness and fog; when those waves of persecution came dashing up against him, and in the midst of the storm and conflict you could hear Job cry out, ''I know my Redeemer liveth.'' He had a hope. So I say it is hard to find any one that comes under the first head. Most people have some sort of hope.

   Now I come to the second head, people that have a false hope. I contend that a man or woman that is resting in false hope is really worse off than one who has no hope in this world; because if a man wakes up to the fact that he has no hope, there is a chance of rousing him to seek a hope that is worth having. The moment you begin to talk with these men that have a false hope, they run right off into their fortress and say, ''I am all right; I have got a hope.'' You can hardly find a man or woman in all this city today that has not a hope. But how

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many are resting in a false hope, a miserable, treacherous hope that is good for nothing? You can't find a drunkard that has not a hope. He hangs on to the rum bottle with one hand and hope with the other; but his hope is a miserable lie; it is a refuge of lies that he has hid behind. You can't find a harlot that walks the streets of this city but that has some hope. You can hardly find a thief but that has some hope.

   Now, what we want to do is to examine ourselves, and see whether we have a hope that will stand the test of the judgment. We want to know whether we have a true hope or a false hope. If it is a false hope, the quicker we find it out the better. We don't want to be resting in a false hope. That has caused nearly all the mischief we have had in this country during the past few years. All these defaulters have come from that class. They were trusting in a false hope. They said, ''I will take a little from the bank or from my employer. I will just overdraw my account a few thousand dollars, but I will replace it.'' But they went on drawing out, and drawing out, and this false hope kept saying, ''I can make it all right in a few days.'' They were led on and on by false hope until at last they got beyond hope, and could not pay it back. They were ruined. They were not only ruined it would be a good thing if they stopped there, but look at their wives and their children and their relatives, their parents and their loved ones that they have ruined. They didn't intend to become ruined men. They didn't intend to bring a blight upon their families and upon their prospects here. A false hope led them on step by step.

   Now, my friends, let us be honest with ourselves today, and ask ourselves honestly before God and man, ''What is my hope?'' Well, there is a lady up there in the gallery says, ''I joined the Methodist church ten years ago.'' Very well, suppose you did, what is your hope today? ''Well, my hope is all right; I joined the church.'' But that is not going to stand the light of eternity. It doesn't say that you have got to join some church. A man or

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woman may belong to a church and have not the spirit of Jesus Christ.

   Yes, and another one says over there, ''I have a better hope than that; I belong to the Congregational church, and go out to all the meetings.'' A person may go to all the meetings and not have a true hope. Do you know that? If you allow the meetings to take the place of Jesus Christ, and let the church come in the denomination that you belong to, and take the place of Jesus Christ, you are resting on a rotten foundation, and you are building your house on a sandy foundation, and when the storms come, the house will fall. There is nothing but Jesus Christ that will do. But these false hopes will be swept away by and by. God's hail will sweep away the refuges of lies. It says in the eleventh chapter of Proverbs and seventh verse, ''The hope of the unrighteous man perisheth.'' Now, if I belong to the church and am unrighteous, I may have a hope, but that is going to perish, and it may be I will not find it out until it is too late to get a good hope. It is a good deal better to find it out here today, when I have a chance to repent of my sin, and turn to God and get a true hope, than it is to go with my eyes closed in the delusion that I am coming out all right.

   There is another passage here, in Job, twenty-seventh chapter and eighth verse, ''For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul? What is his hope good for? The hope of the hypocrite is not good for anything. A man may gain by his hypocrisy; a man may put on the garb of religion, and profess to be what he is not, and may gain by it; there is no doubt of that; some do that, and they gain a little; but what shall it profit a man if he does gain by hypocrisy, and God taketh away his soul? His hope is gone. It was a treacherous hope. It was good for nothing.

   ''But then,'' you may say, ''I am not an unrighteous man; I don't come under that head at all, and I am no hypocrite.'' Well, I am afraid a good many of us that think we are not

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hypocrites are more or less hypocrites after all. The trouble is, men are trying to pass themselves off for more than they are worth. They are trying to make people believe they are better than they really are. God wants honesty. God wants downright uprightness, if you will allow me the expression. He wants us to be truthful and upright in all our transactions. If we are not, our profession don't help us. You may belong to this church or to that church. You may say your prayers, and you may go through the form of religion, but it will not help you. What is the hope of the hypocrite when God shall take away his soul? Suppose he has gained by his hypocrisy, there is not a thing, I believe, that God detests more than He does hypocrisy. He detests that sin more than He does all others. Jesus tore away the false hope of some of His disciples and told them, ''Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of God.'' Ah, there will be many a man and many a woman, I am afraid, by and by, who will wake up and find their hope has been a false one after all.

   Then there is another hope that is false. Men say, ''I think God is very merciful, and that it will come out all right in the end.'' God has declared with an oath that He will not clear the guilty. What folly it is for a man to stand up and say, '' I know I swear now and then; but then God don't mean anything when He says I shan't swear. God is only winking at sin. It will come out all right. The blasphemer, the drunkard, the libertine, and the man who is vile and polluted in heart will be just the same at the end of the route. That is my hope.'' Well, it is a false hope. If there is a drunkard here today, let me tell you that your hope is perfectly worthless, because God says that no drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. That we find not only in the Old Testament, but in the New. And if there is a man here that sells liquor, that is party to the hellish act of putting the bottle in his neighbor's hand, there is not any hope

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for him. I don't care how much money you give to help build your churches. I don't care if you have the best pew in one of your large churches, and walk down the broad aisle every Sunday with your wife and children, and take your seat there. ''Woe be to the man that putteth the bottle to his neighbor's lips.'' God has pronounced a curse against that man. Things look altogether different when we stand before the judge of all the earth.

   Yes, but then there is another man. He says, ''I can go on as I am, and by and by when I am sick, I can repent on my death-bed.'' I think that is a false hope. And let me say, I think there is any quantity of lying in the sick-room, a good many false hopes held out to the sick. Here is a person dying, and the doctor comes in, and he knows very well that the disease is fatal, and knows that person can't live ten days, and he says, ''I think you will be well and out in a few days, in the course of thirty days.'' He knows very well it is death. They say to these consumptives when they see that awful look in the face; when they see his form is wasting, they say, ''Well, I think you will be out again in the spring; when the flowers begin to blossom, and nature begins to unfold itself, you will be out again,'' when they know it is downright lying. O, the false hopes that are held out to the sick and the dying! Then at the funeral people will stand up and pronounce a eulogy over a man that died in his sins when there is not a chance for his soul. God says, ''The soul that sinneth it shall die. He has not sought eternal life. He has spurned the gift of God and trampled the Bible under his feet. Look at the lying at funerals; false hopes that are held out. What God wants is to have us real, as He is real, and if our hope is not a hope that will stand the test of eternity, then the quicker we find it out the better.

   Then there is another false hope, which I think is worse, perhaps, than any other, and that is that a man can repent beyond the grave. There is a class of people who say, I can go on in

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my sins and live as I am living, and I can repent beyond the grave.'' Now, if there is a chance for a man to repent beyond the grave, I can’t find it between the lids of the Bible. I believe that if a man dies in his sin he is banished from God, and I believe that when Jesus Christ said, ''If ye die in your sins, where I am ye cannot come,'' he meant what he said.

   So, if our hope is false, let us find it out today. Let us be honest with ourselves, and ask God to show it to us. If our hope is not in the solid rock, if we are building our house on the sand, let us find it out. You may say, ''My hope is as good as yours. My house is as good-looking a house as yours.'' That may be. It might be a better looking house than mine. But the important thing is the foundation. What we want is to be sure that we have a good foundation. A man may build up a very good character, but he may not have it on a good foundation. If he is building a house on the sand, when storms and trials come, down will come all his hopes. A false hope is worse than no hope. If you have a false hope today, make up your mind that you will not rest until you reach a hope that is worth having.

   Now, here is a test that I think we can put to ourselves. If we have got the spirit of Jesus Christ, our life will be like His; that is, we will be humble, loving. We will not be jealous, will not be ambitious, self-seeking, covetous, revengeful, but we will be meek, tender-hearted, affectionate, loving, kind and Christ-like, and we will be all the time growing in those graces. Now, we can tell whether we have that spirit or not. ''If any one have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of His.'' Now, that is a sign that we have a good hope, and we haven’t got the spirit of Christ, our hope is worthless.

   Now, I was speaking about that house on the foundation. If you will turn to Isaiah, twenty-eighth chapter and sixteenth verse, you will find that the foundation is already laid. ''Therefore; thus saith the Lord God. Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation;

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he that believeth shall not make haste.'' There it is tried; it is a precious corner stone; it is a sure foundation. It was tried when Christ was here. He is the chief corner stone. He was tried. The Scribes tried Him. The Sadducees tried Him. He was tried by the law. He kept the law. He was tried by, and He overcame death. He was tried by Satan. Satan came and presented temptation after temptation, and He said, ''Get thee hence.'' He overcame Satan. He was tried by the grave and He conquered the grave. This stone has been tested and tried. Now, if we build on that, we have a sure foundation. There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must saved. ''There is no other foundation that man can lay than that is laid,'' and all that build on that foundation shall be saved. Let the storms come then and try that foundation. It has been tried. Your foundation, if you build on any other, has never been tested. It has not been tried. Your hope has not been tried. Our hope has, because our hope is in Jesus Christ, and it was put to the test, and we have got a hope that is sure and firm, if we are in Christ. Now, a false hope just flatters people. It is a great flatterer. It makes people think they are all right when they are all wrong. Someone has said that false hopes are like spider webs. The maid comes in with a broom and sweeps them all down. When a storm comes, the foundation of our false hopes is all gone. Suppose death should come and look you in the face this afternoon, and say to you, ''This is your last day,'' and should begin to lay his cold, icy hand upon you, and you should begin to look around to see if you had got a foundation and a good hope. Would you be ready to meet God? That is the question. Now, what may happen any day let us be ready for every day. You know very well there is not one of us but that may be summoned this very day into the presence of God. Have you got a hope that will stand the dying hour? Have you got a hope that will stand the test? If you have not, you can give up your false hope today and get a

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good one, a hope that is worth having, that has been tried and tested.

   There were two millers that used to take care of a mill, and every night at midnight the miller used to get into his boat from his house, and go down the stream to the mill; used to get out about two or three hundred yards above the dam, and go to the mill. His brother miller would take the boat and row back to the house. One night this miller went down as usual at midnight and fell asleep, and when he woke up found he was almost going over the dam, the water going over the dam having waked him. He realized in a moment his condition, that if he went over that dam it was sure death, and he seized the oars and tried to row back, but the current was too strong, and he could not pull against it, but he managed in the darkness to get his boat near the shore, and he caught hold of a little twig. He went to pull himself out of the boat, and the twig began to give way at the roots. He looked all around, and could find nothing else to get hold of; but he could just hold on to the twig and keep his boat from going over the dam. If he pulled a little harder and tried to pull himself up, the little twig would give way; and he just cried then for help. His hope was not a good one. He would perish if he let go, and perish if he held on. He just cried at the top of his voice for help, and help came. They came and threw a rope over the cleft of the rock, and he let go of the twig and laid hold of the rope, and was saved.

   I have come here to throw a rope over to you, and to give you a good hope. Now, we have a hope here that is worth having. Let that false hope of yours go; you will perish if you will hold on to it. Let it go and lay hold of a hope that is set before you.

   Now, you know that hope in Scripture never is used to express a doubt. When people say they hope they are Christians, it is not really proper. You cannot find any Christians in the Bible who say they hope they are Christians. It is something that has already taken place. We don’t hope we are Christians. If a man

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asks me if I am a married man, I would not say I hope I am. That would cast a reflection on my marriage vows. If a man asks me if I am an American, I would not say I hope I am. I was born in this country. I am an American. I am not anything else. Now, if I have been born of God, born of the spirit, and I contend it is our privilege to know, I don’t say, ''I hope I am a Christian.'' I know in Whom I have believed. I will tell you what hope is used for in Scripture. It is used to express our hope of the resurrection, or the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, something to take place. It is a sure hope. About every time that hope is used in Scripture, it is used either to express our hope of the resurrection, or the coming back of our Lord and Master. That is the blessed hope in Titus. We are waiting for our Lord and Master from heaven. We have not a doubt. It is a sure hope. And yet a great many people seem to think that hope here in the Bible is used to express a doubt. ''We hope that we are Christians.'' We ought to know that we are His. We ought to know that we have passed from death unto life. We ought to know in Whom we have believed, that we are looking forward to the time when these vile bodies shall be raised incorruptible; when that which has been sown in weakness shall be raised with power. We are living in the glorious hope that when our dead shall come back again, the loved ones that are laid away in the cemeteries shall come when the Lord of heaven shall descend with a shout. ''When the trump of God is heard, the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up, together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.''

   So we stand with our loins girded and our lights burning, waiting for the coming of the Master.

   Now, it says here in Proverbs, ''The hope of the righteous shall be gladness.'' ''Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his hope, whose hope is in the Lord.'' It is not in some resolution that he has made; it is not in some act of his; it is not that

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he has joined some church; it is not that he reads his Bible, or that he says his prayers. His expectation is from God; his hope is in God. Never was a man disappointed who put his hope in God. God will fulfill His word. There is no such thing as a man being disappointed that puts his hope in God. But the trouble is, you know, we are putting our hopes in one another, and we are being disappointed. We are putting our hopes in ourselves, and our treacherous hearts are disappointing us, and then we are cast down. But what we want is to put our hope in Him, not ourselves. A well-grounded hope is good for all time. It is good in poverty. It is good in sickness. It is good in the dying hour; and when we lay a body down in the grave, we have a hope in its coming back again. We lay down with sure hope, a glorious hope. O, how hope cheers us! You know it was Hopeful (in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress) that came along and cheered Christian. That is what hope is for. We are looking forward to a blessed hope.

   Now, there is a passage in the sixth chapter of Hebrews that I want to call your attention to, ''That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who had fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us; which hope we have as an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that within the veil; whether the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made a high priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.'' What the anchor holds, the ship is perfectly safe.

   Now, if I were to die this afternoon, and were to give a reason for the hope that is within me, I will tell you where I would find it; not in my feelings, not in my resolutions, not that I joined the church twenty odd years ago. I believe it is all right to unite with the church, and work for it. We ought to love the church; it is the dearest institution on earth. If I was going to die this afternoon, my faith would be right here, ''Verily,

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verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.'' Now, if I did not get eternal life by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ when I came to Him, what did I get? If eternal is not the gift of God, what is it? Then, if we have eternal life, we have something that cannot perish. It is a life that carries me beyond the grave; that reaches away over on to resurrection ground; that carries me on and on forever. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. Eternal life is a gift, and I just took it. That is my hope. I don’t want any other hope. If I had to die today, I could just pillow my dying head upon the truth of that verse, and rest it there.

   A man said to me the other day, ''How do you feel?'' I said, ''It has been so long since I have thought of myself, I don’t know; I would have to stop to think it over.''

   I thank God my salvation doesn't rest upon my feelings. I thank God my hope is not centered in my feelings. If it was, it would be a very treacherous thing. I would be very hopeful one day and cast down the next day. I would not give much for a hope that is anchored in my feelings. I would not give much for a hope that is based upon my treacherous heart. But I tell you that a hope that is based upon Jesus Christ’s word is a hope worth having. Now, he said it; let us believe it; let us lay hold of it by faith. ''Verily, verily,''which mean ''truly, truly,'' he that heareth my word'' I have heard it. Satan can’t make me believe that I have not. I have read it. I have handled it ''He that heareth my word and believeth on Him that sent Me hath everlasting life.'' It doesn't say that you shall have it when you come to die, but hath it right here this afternoon, before you go out of this church. That is a hope worth having, isn’t it? ''Hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation,'' which means ''into judgment,'' but ''is passed from death unto life.'' There is my hope. I have stood there for twenty odd years.

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I have been assailed by doubts. I have been assailed by unbelief. I have been attacked by the enemy of all righteousness; but I tell you for twenty odd years I have been able to stand fair and square right on that rock. God said it. I believe it; God said it. I lay hold of it, and I just rest right there. What we want is to let our hope go down like an anchor into the word of God, and that gives us something to rest upon.

   A great many people are waiting for some feeling. I will venture to say that more than half of this audience have come here today, and taken their seats in the hope that something will be said that shall impress them. You say, ''I hope that man will say something that will impress me.'' You are waiting for some impression, something to strike you. There is a man up in my native town, now fifty-eight years old, with whom I have talked I don’t know how many times, and every time I talk to him he says, ''Well, it hasn’t struck me yet.'' ''Well,'' I said, ''that is a queer expression. What do you mean?''  He would come out to meetings, and wait through the meeting for something to strike him. ''What do you mean?'' Well, I say it hasn’t struck me yet.'' You laugh at it, but that is yourself. You need not laugh at yourself. You will find that the church is full of people who are waiting for something to strike them. What we want is to take God’s word, and let the feelings take care of themselves. God said it. I will believe it, and I will rest my soul upon the word of God, not upon my feelings. Just take another word, ''He came unto His own, and His own received Him not; but to as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.'' To as many as received Him. It is not dogma; it is not creed; it is not doctrine, it is not feeling; it is not an impression; but it is a person. ''As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.'' We get power to serve God, power to live for God, power to work for God by receiving Christ, and

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there is no power until we do receive Him. What we want is to receive God’s gift to the world. When He gave up Christ, He gave all he had. He literally emptied heaven. And He wants you to take Christ as you would take any other gift and receive it. Lay hold of that gift, and it will give you hope, and if you should, inside of twenty-four hours you can say, ''The anchor holds; I have a hope.'' God said if I would receive His Son, He would give me power to receive Him. I trust Him, and that is all He asks us to do. Let not any one here today say he can’t believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. You have the power if you will. The will is the key to the human heart. ''Ye will not come unto Me that ye might have life.'' Ye will not come unto Me and get this good hope. You can have it. Take it. God offers it to you. You can lay hold of this hope today. You can become His if you will.

Chapter Fourteen  ||  Table of Contents for The Best of D.L. Moody