Biblical Hope: Embracing the Full Counsel of God

by Mamdouh Riad on June 20, 2017

Biblical Hope: Embracing the Full Counsel of God
By Mamdouh Riad

“For I did not shrink from declaring to you the full counsel of God." Acts 20:27
"But if they had stood in My council, they would have proclaimed My words to My people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds." Jeremiah 23:22

In our times, we tend to classify thoughts as either positive or negative. Good news is positive. Bad news is negative. Proclaiming biblical promises and blessings is considered positive. Preaching biblical warnings and requirements is considered unpleasant and largely perceived as negative. Thoughts and messages that are encouraging, affirming, or reassuring are considered positive. Those that are corrective, discouraging, alarming, or threatening to our security are perceived as negative.

In the Old Testament, the true prophets of God were mostly considered negative: "When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, Is it you, troubler of Israel?" (1 King 18:17). "The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, 'There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophecies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlay'" (1 Kings 22:8).

It is easy to embrace positive thoughts and messages because it feels good to do so. It is also easy to filter out negative ones because they are unsettling. Israel had a decisive and efficient way of filtering them out: They killed God's prophets: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you" (Luke 13:34), and with that, they killed the word of the Lord that could have saved them.

In the Scriptures, things are not classified as postive or negative. They are classified as either truth or deception, light or darkness, righteous or unrighteous. What matters according to the Scriptures is discerning whether a message is of God or not, rather than whether it is positive or negative. God’s Word is full of wonderful promises and blessings. Out of His abundant love, He also gives us warnings and corrections. If we value what is affirming and positive more than we value the truth in its entirety, we run the risk of filtering out part of what God is saying to us.
 God charged the false prophets of Jeremiah’s time with deceiving Israel when they wrongly comforted them at a time that called for warning: “They dress the wound of My people as though it were not serious. Peace, peace, they say, when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). By not preaching repentance at a time of impending judgment, the false prophets were described by God this way: “They also strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns back from his wickedness” (Jeremiah 23:14). God charged the false prophetess in Ezekiel’s time with the same thing: “Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and you have strengthened the hands of the wicked so that he does not turn from his wicked way to save his life” (Ezekiel 13:22).
 The Scripture teach us that hope is a central tenet in our walk with Christ. "And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.." (1 Cor 13:13). It teaches us that God is "The God of hope.." 
Rom 15:13. Even at the height of their despair, in the midst of their Babylonian captivity, God's word to Israel was one of hope: "For I know the thoughts that I have for you, says the Lord, thought of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jer 29:11)

However, there is a difference between biblical hope and worldly positive thinking. Biblical hope remembers that God is greatly merciful and even in His wrath, He remembers mercy! “In wrath, remember mercy” (Hab. 3:2). Biblical hope does not live in denial, but cries out with David in times of discipline, “Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for His mercy is very great (1 Chron. 21: 13). It cries out in faith with the saints, in the midst of trouble, True and righteous are your judgments Lord God Almighty” (Rev. 16:7).
 Let us renew our minds, embrace the full counsel of God, and open our hearts and ears to hear what the Spirit is saying, not classifying thoughts as the world does - positive or negative - but as the Scriptures do: Truth or deception, what is of God and what is not.