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Expectation -- the Key to Believing God
by Peter Wade
Imagine a farmer with his plow, and hour after hour he is plowing in the field. He is doing this work in expectation that there will be a harvest. If he was convinced that those seeds would not grow, do you think he would take the time to go out and plow, perhaps just so that the other farmers could see that he knew how to plow? No, he would not waste his time. But if he believes that the seeds will grow, he plows in expectation; he plows with the distinct understanding that this is the necessary and logical thing to do, because there is going to be a harvest.
The same agricultural illustration is brought to our notice in I Corinthians 9:10: "...he that plows ought to be plowing in expectation; and he that threshes should be partaker of his expectation." You will notice that in place of the word "hope" in the King James version I have used the word "expectation". Hope is rather an unfortunate word to use in this context, because hope is something which has no certainty of fulfilment. There is no guarantee; Well, I just hope so, if it doesn't come about, well, it will not really matter, but I hope it does." That is what the word "hope" means in today's language, and it is far too weak to express what God is saying to us here in the original text.|
There is a lot of difference between expectation and hope. Suppose I am expecting a visitor to arrive by plane tomorrow morning. I am not just hoping that he will come, I am expecting him to come and because of my expectation I have made certain arrangements regarding his visit. To expect something means that there is a strong possibility, even a certainty that the event is going to happen. Just to hope so has no feeling of certainty at all, it is only a pie-in-the-sky dream. Now I want you to keep these two words sharply separated in your mind, for it affects the principle of believing and your enjoyment of all that God has made available.
The farmer in I Corinthians 9:10 who was plowing his field, putting his energy into it, was not just hoping, he was really expecting a harvest. This becomes an interesting study, because the action most people take between the moment of believing and the manifestation of the answer, is not to express their expectation but to make preparation for the non-arrival of the answer. It seems as if they mostly spend their time as if the answer was not coming. The plowing in hope is a real plowing in expectation of the harvest. You are really expecting, you are putting all your effort into it, you are expecting the supply of your needs. Yet the reverse is true in most Christians that I have counselled. Even people who say they are walking on the Word, when they have a need, seem to spend as much time, if not more time, trying to find some way around the problem as if the answer is not coming, than they do in an attitude of expectation.
The most vital key in the period between believing and manifesting the answer is this matter of expectation. Are we really expecting God to supply that particular need? Oh yes, we expect it the moment we first believe, yes, that day and maybe a day or two after, but if there is any length of time between the believing and the manifestation we cease the attitude of expectancy. Too often we get into a hope situation, It sure would be nice, you know, it would be great if we got the answer to that need; wouldn't it be terrific? We are no longer expecting it, and Satan has tricked us on that one little point. I am sure to some of you that there is only a hairline distinction between expectation and hope, but it is there and Satan is very anxious to give you a nudge over from the side of expectation into hope, because he knows that by so doing he can cancel the whole project. You must be on your guard all the time and keep your mind geared to the fact that you are standing on the greatness of God's Word.
Examples of Expectation
The truth of expectation is so important that I want to take you deeper into its understanding by sharing some of the usages of the word expectation in the New Testament. In the vast majority of cases in the Bible as well as in classical Greek literature, it is used of expecting the best. In the New Testament there are only a few times when there is any indication in its usage of expecting the worst. In contrast, most usages in the Church Epistles deal with expecting the best. But what do we find most Christians doing? Expecting the worst to happen. I've heard it time and time again from various people; most people seem to spend their lives thinking: What is the worst thing that could happen to me? They fill their mind with this and it influences their whole life. Now, what can possibly go wrong today? This has gone wrong, that has gone wrong, there must be a third disaster somewhere! And they usually get what they are expecting -- the worst. And yet what does the Word indicate? The Bible teaches that we should be expecting the best. Now here again is an area where we must adjust our thinking to agree with God's Word. If we are going to get the result that is promised, it will not be by expecting the worst that can happen, it will be by expecting the best. Always expect the best!
There is an example in the Word that I want to share with you of expecting the worst. In Acts chapter 27 there is the record of the shipwreck during Paul's enforced journey to Rome. After describing the fury of the hurricane that was battering the ship, verses 18-20 state: "And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; And on the third day we cast out with our hands the tackling of the ship. And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all expectation that we should be saved was then taken away." Now why did they lose all expectation? They took their eyes off the goal. (Paul was the only one believing at the time.) The people on board had their eyes on the sense-knowledge circumstances around them: no sun or stars to guide them, just the tempest blowing day after day after day. When they looked at this situation, the record states that all expectation that we should be saved was then taken away." Who took it away? They did -- they took it out of their minds.
Read through to the end of the chapter, and you will notice that not one person on board lost their lives. They were all saved because of a believer on board who knew how to believe God, and a great part of believing is expectation. Look at verse 25 (this is Paul speaking): "Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: For I believe God..." There is expectation, "I believe God," and God had told him by revelation that everyone on the ship would be saved because he (Paul) was there, but that they would lose the ship. And they lost the ship but every person on board was saved. In this example all expectation was taken away, they took it out of their mind, they gave in to sense-knowledge evidence, but when a believer stood on the greatness of God's Word, success was assured.
Nearly every other usage of this wonderful word expectation is in a positive sense. Romans 12:12 gives a vital key to an understanding of the subject of expectation. The first clause of this verse is packed with truth: "Rejoice in expectation." Rejoicing is a repeated experience of joy. Here it is obvious it can also refer to being so excited about what you are about to receive, so joyful and excited that you are on tiptoe waiting for it to arrive. This enthusiasm is generated not by outside circumstances but by the renewing of our mind to the greatness of God's Word. It is not a case of sitting there with a straight face and a sour look, and saying, "Yes, I'm expecting the answer." There is a rejoicing in expectation, there a thrill about it, because you are seeing the Word coming alive. God has said that He blesses you with all spiritual blessings, you have believed -- now you are expecting the manifestation of the answer, and ,you are getting excited about it. There is a rejoicing in expectation.
In Romans 15:13 God is declared to be "the God of expectation". God is characterised as having this attitude of expectation. His ultimate purpose in creating this universe and in placing man upon the earth, is to have somebody with whom he could fellowship. This will come to pass, and therefore He is called the God of expectation. Now let me show you the rest of the verse: "Now the God of expectation fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in expectation..." To abound means to be over above in number or measure. Expectation is not just saying every morning, "Today is the day", and then forget it for the rest of the day. This verse teaches a rejoicing, an abounding, an enthusiasm -- it becomes a real expectation. Perhaps you are waiting for your girl-friend to call you on the telephone and you are sitting there just waiting for that phone to ring; or perhaps you are waiting for your boy-friend to visit you, and every time a car drives down the street, you look out the window and see if it is him. Expectation -- it is certainly not a dull, straight-faced thing! Why should it be dull when it comes to spiritual realities? Rejoicing in expectation, abound in expectation; there is some emotion involved. You supply the excitement, the expectation.
You Have a Sure Foundation
"For whatever was written before, was written for our learning, that we, through the endurance and comfort of the scriptures might have expectation" (Romans 15:4). On what is our expectation based? On what God says in His Word. And when God says in His Word, Luke 6:38, "Give, and it shall be given unto you..." then our expectation is, "Lord, I have given and now I am expecting the pressed-down, shaken-together, and running-over solution." Our expectation comes from the Scriptures. I think this is an important point, important because if you find yourself losing the enthusiasm, the rejoicing, the abounding in expectation, there is only one thing to do: get back to the Scriptures. Get back to the Word and see what God promised. In other words, go back to the contract, the document, read the fine print, and see if the guarantee is good. See if there is a seal on it, see who signed it -- God Himself! Check the truth out and reassure your mind that the result is sure. Then get back to this enthusiasm, this expectation, this excitement about the Word.
Now there is another verse I particularly want to share at this time. When God says to remember something, He means for you to remember it; and when God says to forget something, He means for you to forget it. However, I want to bring to your notice something that I have learned from the Word: when God says to remember something that is past, He is only bringing it to my notice because He wants to compare it with something glorious about the present. He is not asking me to dwell upon it, to re-live the past again. I want you to notice Ephesians 2:11-13 in this light: "Wherefore remember, that you being in time past Gentiles in the flesh... That at that time you were apart from Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no expectation, and without God in the world." That is a record of what you were, not how you are now. There is now no need to be in the state of having no expectation, for you can have all the expectation in the world. But at that time you were without expectation because you had no certainty -- you were living in a hope situation.
The first word in verse 13 is "But", a conjunction that indicates a contrast. You were without expectation, "But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ." You were without expectation, but in Colossians 1:27 it declares, "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is, Christ in you, the expectation of glory." It is because you have Christ in you that you have an expectation. Now you can go ahead, you can walk in the light of "Christ in you", you can walk poised and balanced in Christ because you have an expectation, a certainty that you will always get what you are believing for, since believing equals receiving. This is a tremendous truth: Christ in you, the expectation of glory.
Acts 16:16-19 gives an example that will show that if you have your expectation on anything but the Word, then there is no guarantee of results. Now by saying this, I do not mean that you will not get results from expectation in material fields, but I am saying that there is no guarantee unless you are believing God's Word. "And it came to pass, as we [that is Paul and Silas] went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying [that is, fortune-telling, precognition, E.S.P., and so forth]. The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto you the way of salvation. And this she did many days. But Paul being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And it came out the same hour. And when her masters saw that the expectation of their gain was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the market place unto the rulers." Her masters were naturally upset when they saw their source of income disappear. They had an expectation of making a gain out of this young lady, who was operating devil spirits to give fortune-telling to people. And so long as they could keep her going in that state, they made a gain from it. But the moment Paul dealt with the situation by casting out the devil spirit, then they lost all expectation of gain. Now, if their expectation of prosperity had been based upon the greatness of God's Word, in some other situation they would have become prosperous, but their expectation was based upon the devil spirit in this woman and so they lost. We must remember that if our expectation is based upon material things, our job, the prosperity of the country, the word of a good friend, it may or may not come to pass. But if it is based upon what God says in His Word, it is guaranteed, for His Word is truth.
Another tremendous statement of Scripture is found in Romans 8:24-25. It too throws light on the fact that expectation is the key to believing. "For we are saved by expectation: for what a man sees why does he yet expect it. But if we expect for that we see not, then do we with endurance wait for it." The farmer who is plowing his field, cannot hurry up the process. He must have patience and wait until the day of harvest. Every morning when the harvest gets close, he will go out into the field and check his crop. If he is a modern farmer he will take a sample of the grain, say corn, and have it tested for its moisture content. Then he can reap it at the right moment when it will bring the greatest gain and income to him. It can become very technical, but the farmer must have patient endurance to wait until that right day, for if the moisture content is too high, then it is going to cost him so much per bushel to have the corn heated and moisture removed before the crop can be stored. There is the key of expectation. You do not expect something you can see in manifestation, according to the verse I have just quoted, but if you do not see it, then expect it to be manifested at any time. As Jesus, said to doubting Thomas in John 20:29, "Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet believe."
Here is another great statement concerning expectation, from II Corinthians 1:7-10. "And our expectation of you is steadfast..." There is something that you can learn immediately: if your expectation is going to be effective and bring results, it must be steadfast. You cannot be down one day and up the next. There must be a constant expectation; poised on tiptoe and yet firmly balanced on the Word. "Our expectation of you is steadfast, knowing, that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so shall you be also of the consolation. For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life: But we had the answer of death in ourselves, that we should not have an expectation in ourselves, but in God, Who raiseth the dead." When Paul went to a certain part of Asia, outward circumstances were constantly fighting against him, and in his own mind at one stage he almost came to the point of despairing of life itself. Now that is certainly getting depressed, isn't it? That is what I call a real tight corner, but Paul declared that he had the answer in himself. He had the answer all the time, and it was not to trust in his own abilities to get deliverance from these various tight corners caused by people and circumstances, but to have his expectation in God, "Who rescues us from so great a death, and will be rescuing us: in whom we expect that he will yet rescue us" (verse 10). Expectation is the attitude that brings into reality the answer that we need.
I Timothy 6:17 has always been a favourite verse of mine ever since I first discovered it in the Word. "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor have an expectation in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us: richly all things to enjoy." That verse really lives when you realise that the word "trust" in the King James version is the same word that we are currently studying, the word "expectation". You should have a real live expectation "in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy." The last part of the verse becomes greater now that you understand it is a matter of expectation. Your expectation is to be in the living God and in His Word, not in the uncertainty of riches, not in your circumstances, nor in your tremendous ability to earn a living.
The fact that expectation and believing are closely associated. is made plain in Hebrews 11:1. "Now belief is the assumption of things expected, the exposing of things not seen." You are expecting something which you cannot as yet see, but as you believe, it will be exposed to view, made manifest, in the material world, for believing equals receiving. This verse is the only place in the Word where belief is defined in such exact terms.
The first clause declares that belief is an assumption. Now an assumption is that state of mind where something is taken for granted but it cannot as yet be proven by the five senses. You assume that certain results will eventuate but you cannot prove that they will. Because you assume this, then you take a certain action-there is your believing and expectation. "Now belief is the assumption..." or as the margin of the King James Version renders it, "the ground, or the confidence". It is a mental state, an assumption of what is being expected. Of course, that assumption will be based on the truth of God's unchanging Word, and your expectation will bring the cold print to life as you believe and receive.
Expectation Demands Action
How do we show our expectation? In what ways do we make it evident that we are expecting what the Word declares, we can have. Notice Hebrews 10:23. "Let us hold fast the confession of our expectation without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised)." The King James translation employs the word "faith" but it is not the Greek word pistis which is usually translated "faith". The word here is the one I have been sharing, the word "expectation". You are encouraged to hold fast the confession of your expectation "without wavering". Now there are two things you can immediately learn from this, and the first is that it is possible to waver. Don't fool yourself, it is very possible to waver: your best friend will try to get you off the Word, Satan will try to get you off the Word, the society in which you live will try to get you off the truths of the Word.
It is very easy to waver, and this is why God reminds you of your part, "Let us hold fast..." There is no automatic protection from wavering which becomes yours at salvation; it takes work. You and I have the privilege of deciding if we are going to hold fast. And if we want results, then we must hold fast without wavering. This is a powerful truth, yet it is possible because God has never asked you to do one thing that is not possible for you to do. For example, God has never told you to touch your ear with your elbow! (That is not possible unless you cut off either your ear or your arm!)
Let us, the believers, "hold fast the confession of our expectation without wavering." The word "confession" is a translation of the Greek word homologia -- homo means "like" and logia comes from logos, "a word or saying". The confession then is not what you and I would understand as a "profession" (King James version), because we can use that word in the sense of a person who is making a profession of something that they are not. This is not its meaning here. It means "to say a like word", or as I like to express it, "to say the same as the Word says", agreeing with the Word. The English word that gives a more preferable translation is the word "confession", not the traditional form of religious confession, but a confession with the mouth that agrees with the Word. Notice a similar form of the same word in Romans 10:10: "With the mouth confession is made unto salvation. "
Your expectation will show itself by your speech and by your actions; your talk and your walk. Everything you do will either show that you are expecting what God has said you can have in the Word or that you do not really expect it will come to pass. God exhorts you to "hold fast", not just keep up appearances but "hold fast to the confession of your expectation without wavering." And why should you hold fast to it? "For he is faithful that promised." It is God that promised it, and when God promises something, it is guaranteed. Now you must say what the Word says, not what the circumstances seem to say, not what the economy says, not even what your wife or husband, your best friends, or your neighbours say. This is one vital way in which you demonstrate the fact that you are expecting results. Now if you do not believe the Word, if you do not believe the law of believing, you will not talk about it. But if you really believe it, then your expectation will come into manifestation by saying what the Word says.
Whatever I am expecting will come out in my confession. If I am expecting the worst to happen, sooner or later I am going to confess it. If I am expecting to be bankrupt by the end of the year, sooner or later in my conversation it is going to come out that I am short of cash, that I have a liquidity problem. But if I am expecting the very best, sooner or later it is going to come out in my conversation that the very best is just around the corner. "Let us hold fast the confession of our expectation without wavering." Why should you waver? Because suddenly you are flooded with bills or there is a credit squeeze and nobody is going to buy anything this month? You are solidly standing on God's Word and are operating the principles it teaches. There is no need for wavering; it will only occur when you take your eyes off the Word and get them on people or circumstances around you. So long as you are totally convinced that you are poised and balanced in Christ, poised to the point of being on tiptoe in expectation and yet firmly balanced on the Word, there is no need to waver. It is when you are not convinced that you start wavering.
The story is told of Charles Blondin, who in the 1860s pushed a wheelbarrow on a tightrope across the Niagara falls. He wheeled it across to the other side, and everybody cheered and clapped him for the tremendous feat he had performed. He then turned to someone in the crowd, and said "Do you believe I could get back over again?" "Yes, yes!" Everybody had seen him do it once and they were sure he could get back. "All right," he said, "who would like to get into the wheelbarrow?" Now true believing would be to get into the wheelbarrow. If those people were totally convinced they would have sat in the wheelbarrow "without wavering".
That is the truth we must grasp. Most believers get tricked by Satan because they waver on this matter of expectation, because they are not 100 per cent convinced. Now if you want results, expectation will work every time. All you need to do is operate the law of believing and "hold fast the confession of your expectation without wavering". And why should we do this? The word "for" always tells us why a statement is true, "for he is faithful that promised". Does the Word mean what it says and says what it means? Is the Word reliable? Can I place my life, my future, my finances on the Word? Does the Word really work? If you are convinced it does, then you can, as it were, be wheeled back and forth in a wheelbarrow across the Niagara falls. Now this is what the Word teaches: you show forth your expectation by confession, saying what the Word says.
Another example of the usage of the word "confession" is in I Timothy 6:12: "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast confessed a good confession before many witnesses." This is what we must do, for words can work wonders on the one hand and words can work blunders on the other hand. A good confession of our expectation is based on God's Word. If God says it, that's sufficient. There is a song that declares, "God said it, I believe it, that settles it." Say what the Word says every time.
"If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and shall believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made, unto salvation" (Romans 10:9-10). In both verses 9 and 10, the exhortation is to confess with the mouth. The word "confess" is homologeo, to agree with the Word in your speech. But first you must believe in your heart, the seat of the personal life. Believing is an assumption, and you assume that when the Word states that God raised Jesus from the dead, it is correct. You were not there, but you assume it to be so, you confess it, and you are saved. Because Christ died for your sins, then you are free from sin, and you are a son of God. This is how you were saved.
Now notice Colossians 2:6: "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him." Here we have a comparison introduced by the little words "as" and "so". In the same way in which you received Christ Jesus the Lord, you must walk in Him. We have just read in Romans 10:9 that you receive Christ by believing and confession, agreeing with the Word. Now in Colossians it teaches us to continue living the Christian life, the walk, in the same way -- by believing and confession. "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him." How do you receive anything from God? You believe and you confess.
All the Christian life is based on believing, which is action, and the renewing of the mind so that the confession from your lips agrees with the Word. Now since confession is saying what the Word says, when God says in Philippians 4:19, "My God shall supply all your need", are you going to say what the Word says, "My God is supplying all my need." If you will do your part in expectation, God is going to do His part, so that at the time of receiving there will be an abundance, which is God's will for every believer.
Thank the Father for the Results
"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him," Let us go on to Colossians 2:7: "Rooted and being built up in him, and being stablished in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving." This verse brings us to the second point that I want to share about demonstrating your expectation. You will show your expectation of the results not only by saying what the Word says, but also by thanksgiving, "abounding in it with thanksgiving." Now you say, how can I be thankful for something I do not have? But you do have it according to the Word, you just have not seen the material manifestation of it as yet. The Word has guaranteed it, so thank the Father for it and by thanksgiving you are again demonstrating your expectation of the manifestation of the answer.
This is also a tremendous key: if you are really expecting something, thank the Father for it. Keep thanking Him until it becomes reality. Thank Him for what He is as well as for what He gives. Yet the Word does not say to only thank Him perhaps for half a minute before you get into bed. It is clear: "abounding in it with thanksgiving". To abound is to be over and above in number or measure; you will not spoil the situation, you cannot overdo it. I am convinced that here again is where Satan tricks believers and stops them from manifesting the more abundant life. They may have started operating the principle, they may have believed, but next morning the answer has not arrived. They forget the verse that states "You have need of endurance, that, doing the will of God, you should receive the promise" (Hebrews 10:36). They cannot see the answer, and so they immediately drop their bundle. They should be affirming: "Praise the Lord, what a great day to be alive. Father, I thank you for the answer in manifestation."
"Through him, then, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips confessing to his name" (Hebrews 13:15). That is a beautiful verse and just so much in line with what we are discussing. It exhorts you to offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually. You praise God for what He is, and for what He has done for you. You ought to be developing "the attitude of gratitude". This verse also states that praise is "the fruit of our lips". The words "giving thanks" in the King James version are again a translation of the Greek word homologeo, better translated "confession", saying what the Word says. The fruit of your lips is saying what the Word says, agreeing with the Word, and this is the sacrifice of praise that we are exhorted to give to God continually. If you continually thank the Father for the results, then you are going to see it come into reality.
Now all this agrees with what we have previously read in Hebrews 11:1: "Now belief is the assumption of things expected, the exposing of things not seen." Believing assumes that to be truth which it expects to become fact in the future. Believing is the key to receiving; all believing equals receiving. There will be no receiving without believing; there will be no results without believing. Expectation is the key to believing and this is shown by confession and thanksgiving.
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