Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:1-8
Three years of walking with Jesus. First hand account of the miracles, so many of them. Most of them won’t be recorded in the stuff written about Jesus – there is just no room. Crowds, especially at first. It grew like a snowball running down a hill, though that analogy is not particularly useful for us here in the 1st Century Israel. Then Jesus started talking about the end – He was going to die, the miracles slacked off, and the crowd went with them. Then things got really strange. We go up to Jerusalem for the Passover, our third. Jesus told us to go and get a donkey with a colt. Well, he rides into the city on that and the crowds started yelling and waving branches – I thought we had arrived. We hit the big time. Things were going to change now! The kingdom was at hand.
Then the Pharisees started arguing with Jesus. The crowds went back to their own stuff – it was a crazy week. We had the Passover meal – and Jesus added some things – strange – about His blood and his body. Then He wanted to go pray, in the garden He loved so much. Judas – betrayer – guards. We fled. Jesus went through the courts, beaten, and crucified. It all happened so fast. We did the only thing we knew – pray. What was a celebration a week ago was a mob of hatred – ending in death.
Then He was there – just showed up, alive! And over the weeks the reports of those who saw Him began to mount. Now what. I needed time to think, so I went back to that which I knew best – fishing. And then He was there, and gave us all a new job, a new purpose. I finally understood what it was all about – Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. It was there all along – but until the Spirit came and we reminded ourselves of what He had said and did, I totally missed it. Now I get it, and I have hope. I have hope not just for myself, but for the world. There is a future, and it is sure.
Can you imagine being one of Jesus’ disciples? Post Easter everything has changed. Post Pentecost things really got radical. You had the “owner’s manual”, but it was for the old covenant. You have the new 2.0 covenant and Paul hasn’t shown up yet to write the new owner’s manual. Questions mixed with revelation abounded. We live in the church, often with the sense that we know it all – we understand because we’ve been taught; we think we have it figured out. Our Christian walk becomes very staid and upright, and usually focused on the short term. The church in persecution, though, gets reborn as an entity of power, because things are no longer simple and safe. Hope becomes much more important, because the short term looks pretty bad.
Hope (noun) – elpis: A favorable and confident expectation in the unseen and the future, including the ground on which hope is based.
- The hope of: resurrection, the promise, righteousness, the Gospel, the glory of God, salvation, God’s calling, eternal life, Israel
- Three adjectives: good, blessed, living
- The God of hope (Author, not subject)
Hope (verb) – elpizo: to trust. Hope is also a character trait, showing what sort of persons they are.
1 Corinthians 15:19 we have hope in Christ… Christ is not simply the ground upon whom, but the sphere and element in whom, the hope is placed
In the passage we read earlier from Romans 5, there are two elements to hope, two kinds of hope. There is the hope that is truth. We recognize this at salvation, that the work of Christ is done, that it saves us, that it promises to us a future in heaven, in the presence of God Himself. This hope is future looking, recognizing that there is a time coming when there will be no more time, and we will be in a place that is for all intents and purposes indescribable – too wonderful for our human language. The phrases include: “justified by faith”, “peace with God”, “grace in which we stand”, “rejoice in hope”. This is the Gospel. It is a Gospel of hope. It paints for us a future, a good future. And we set our eyes on that future, because there is a second element to hope.
There is a hope that is for today, the present. It is a hope that is based on the foundation of the first element of hope. In fact, if you are missing the first element, you really won’t experience the second element. Listen to Eugene Petersen as he paraphrases the second part of our passage: “There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!”
This hope speaks not just to an expectation of the far future, but ties into what our expectation of what God is doing today and tomorrow. We have a future secure, and that future tells us that God is at work today. In that expectation we learn patience (endurance), leading to virtue (or character), and results in hope – hope that is never shamed or wasted, because God is at work in us and through us. Many people go through life running from trouble, trying to avoid it at all costs; but as a follower of Jesus, we embrace it. Trouble is a refining fire for us, produce God’s character in us in a way that nothing else could. It allows us the spiritual sight and understanding to see God at work because we are at the end of our strength and wisdom.
Hope is that piece that allows you to tie a knot and hang on when you are at the end of your rope. Hope is that quality that let’s you stand up again for the 10th time after being knocked done for the tenth time. Hope is that thing that puts a smile on your face, and holds your broken heart when all around you there seems to be only loss and pain. Hope is that thing that allows you to stand firm in the armour of God in the midst of the spiritual warfare. Hope is that thing that ties you to eternity even though you live in the here and now.
The disciples’ life was crazy: teaching, celebration, arguments, death, resurrection, promises, the Spirit. One of the underlying things that grew over that whole time, was hope. Tradition says that each of the disciples died as a martyr. In Hebrews 11, a chapter that celebrates the faith of those gone before us we read these words: “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” The reason for their faith was hope. It was hope that carried them on, and hope in Christ will carry you on.