“A good hope is a hope that rests entirely on Jesus Christ.
What says St. Paul to Timothy? He says that Jesus Christ ‘is our hope.’ What says he to the Colossians? He speaks of ‘Christ in you the hope of glory.’ (1 Tim. 1:1. Coloss. 1:27)
The man who has a good hope founds all his expectations of pardon and salvation on the mediation and redeeming work of Jesus the Son of God.
He knows his own sinfulness; he feels that he is guilty, wicked, and lost by nature: but he sees forgiveness and peace with God offered freely to him through faith in Christ.
He accepts the offer: he casts himself with all his sins on Jesus, and rests on Him.
Jesus and His atonement on the cross,—Jesus and His righteousness,—Jesus and His finished work,—Jesus and His all-prevailing intercession,—Jesus, and Jesus only, is the foundation of the confidence of his soul.
Let us beware of supposing that any hope is good which is not founded on Christ. All other hopes are built on sand.
They may look well in the summer time of health and prosperity, but they will fail in the day of sickness and the hour of death. ‘Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.’ (1 Cor. 3:11)
Church-membership is no foundation of hope. We may belong to the best of Churches, and yet never belong to Christ.
We may fill our pew regularly every Sunday, and hear the sermons of orthodox, ordained clergymen, and yet never hear the voice of Jesus, or follow Him. If we have nothing better than Church-membership to rest upon we are in a poor plight: we have nothing solid beneath our feet.
Reception of the sacraments is no foundation of hope. We may be washed in the waters of baptism, and yet know nothing of the water of life.
We may go to the Lord’s table every Sunday of our lives, and yet never eat Christ’s body and drink Christ’s blood by faith.
Miserable indeed is our condition if we can say nothing more than this! We possess nothing but the outside of Christianity: we are leaning on a reed.
Christ Himself is the only true foundation of a good hope.
He is the rock,—His work is perfect.
He is the stone,—the sure stone,—the tried corner-stone.
He is able to bear all the weight that we can lay upon Him. He only that buildeth and ‘believeth on Him shall not be confounded.’ (Deut. 32:4; Isa. 28:16; 1 Peter 2:6)”
–J.C. Ryle, “Our Hope,” Old Paths: Being Plain Statements of Some of the Weightier Matters of Christianity (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1877/2013), 94-95.