Free to Hope
Last week, we dove into a short series that is going to cover one of my favorite chapters in all of the Bible, Romans 8
We could spend months here, but we are going to have to push through and try to cover it in three weeks.
Why this passage right now? Because as a society, we are a little short on hope.
If you watch the news, you see there are wars, murders, economic instability, and more.
The country seems more and more divided every day, the rhetoric is getting worse, and it all seems pretty hopeless.
As we are going to look through this chapter, my hope and prayer is that this will help you to have genuine, biblical hope.
See, biblical hope isn’t like our typical hope. We say things like, “I hope it won’t rain today,” but those statements are basically just wishes—things we would like to see, but we don’t have any guarantee of.
If that’s all our hope is, just positivity and wishful thinking, then it would make sense to be hopeless right now.
However, biblical hope, as we will see this week, is much deeper than that.
Biblical hope isn’t a wishy-washy, emotional kind of hope. Instead, it is a way we look to the future with certainty, knowing God is going to do certain things.
Biblical hope is more sure than even saying, “I hope the sun comes up tomorrow,” because God could come back tonight and change it all if he wanted!
Biblical hope is saying, “I know what God has promised, I know what he will accomplish, and I am anxiously awaiting what he is going to do.”
That’s the hope I want you to have when we walk away from this study.
Last week, we looked at the first 13 verses of Romans 8.
We began to see in those verses that, as Christians, we can have a great deal of hope because we have been freed to live! We are no longer condemned, but instead, now the Holy Spirit has made us alive and able to do what God has called and created us to do. If you are here and in Christ, you have the freedom to live as God intended you to live!
That gives us hope in our fight against our old ways of looking at life apart from Christ—we don’t have to keep doing those things anymore. Not only that, but we have hope because we are now able to do the things we couldn’t before, because God made us alive and is actually living inside us!
Last week, we looked at the foundation as we saw that we were free to live.
As we dive into today’s passage, we are going to see more clearly that we are free to hope.
In fact, we are going to turn a corner this morning as we look at this.
Not only will we be looking at what God has done, but we are also going to look at what he is doing and what he will do.
As we go through, I want you to take note of something: Paul speaks about things that haven’t happened yet with just as much certainty as he speaks about things in the future.
Before you leave here today, I want you to have four solid reasons to have hope.
If you are here, and you know Jesus, you should have hope today.
I can’t give you any assurance on how the political situation will play out, how your money is going to go next year, whether you are going to graduate on time, or what is going to happen in this relationship or that.
I can, however, based on the authority of the word of God, give you hope that if you are in Christ, you have a greater hope that the world can’t even begin to touch.
Why? Well, let’s look at the text to find four reasons we are free to hope:
Start with me in Romans 8:14-18.
We are free to hope today because...
1) We are adopted.
1) We are adopted.
For some of you, that was a tremendous relief, because I just told you what you’ve always suspected: those aren’t your biological parents; you are adopted.
That’s not what I’m talking about, though.
No, the truth is much better than that.
If you are here today and you are saved by what Jesus did for you on the cross, then you are adopted into the family of God as a son.
Some might say, “Yeah, but aren’t we all children of God?”
Not in the sense the Bible is using here.
Although God is the one who created and sustains the universe, we are not all his children.
No, only those who put their trust in Christ are his sons:
But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born, not of natural descent, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.
Those who trust Jesus as Savior and Lord are his children!
Look at how the Bible describes God’s love:
But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. How much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by his blood, will we be saved through him from wrath. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.
Let that sink in for just a minute: The God of the universe drew you to himself and made you a part of his family, and he did it while you were his enemy!
Verse 15 tells you the depth of this.
God didn’t just bring you into his house as a slave, although even that would have been more than we deserved.
He brought you in as a son!
Do you realize how beautiful this is?
How many of you like the original stop-motion Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? In case you are wondering, it is scheduled for Tuesday night at 8pm on CBS.
If you remember, the whole point of that story is people who didn’t fit in finding a place of love and usefulness.
Maybe that’s why that story is so loved—because it touches so many of us.
Remember the island they travel to? What’s it called? The Island of Misfit Toys.
There’s a train with square wheels and a jack-in-the-box named Charlie
They have been abandoned and unloved.
Is that how you feel this morning? Like you are abandoned and unloved? A misfit toy that no one could ever want?
Listen to me: The God of the universe chose you to be his son! If you are here, and you will turn from your sin and turn to following Christ, then you will be drawn into his family forever!
By the way, using the term “sons” here is important.
In those days, the son received a greater portion of the inheritance than the daughter did.
Paul says, then, when God saved you, he didn’t just adopt you as a child. Whether you are a man or a woman, God adopted you as a son!
You have the full rights of sonship.
Now that we are his sons, we have the Holy Spirit living inside us, confirming that we are his children.
That doesn’t mean life will be easy, though. Look back at verse 17 - we will suffer, just like Jesus did, but we also have hope that we will be glorified, just like he has been!
You are free to hope this morning because, no matter what happens, you are adopted as a son of God.
As we will see next week, nothing can take that away.
Well, we could stop there, but we won’t.
That’s only one reason to hope!
Next, we see that we can hope because...
2) We are being redeemed.
2) We are being redeemed.
Look at Romans 8:18-25.
There’s a lot going on in these verses, so let’s back up and go over them together.
First, Paul makes a bold declaration: The glory we will experience, when God sets everything right, will so far overshadow any suffering we face that it isn’t even worth talking about.
That’s a tall statement, isn’t it? It can be hard to believe these truths when you have to put on extra makeup so no one can see how puffy your eyes are from crying.
It can be tough when everything inside you wants to scream about how wrong and unfair and painful this is.
Your first thought may have been something like this, “I mean, really, who are you to dismiss my suffering like that? You don’t even know me.”
You’re right. I don’t know what pain you are facing, but let me remind you some about the man who wrote these words.
You see, Paul knew a thing or two about suffering. He listed off a lot of his pain one time:
Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I’m talking like a madman—I’m a better one: with far more labors, many more imprisonments, far worse beatings, many times near death. Five times I received the forty lashes minus one from the Jews. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the open sea. On frequent journeys, I faced dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, and dangers among false brothers; toil and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and without clothing. Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?
Paul knew pain. He knew suffering, and he would ultimately end up giving his life for the cause of Christ.
Yet, what did he say? It isn’t even worth comparing to the glory that is going to be revealed in us.
You see, Paul’s hope took his eyes off the pain of today to the glory of the day when God sets it all right.
He goes on to tell us that creation itself is groaning under the weight of sin.
Don’t we see that more and more as we see earthquakes and floods, famines, droughts, illness, suffering, and pain?
The world is sick, and it is because of our sin.
When Adam and Eve sinned, the ground itself became cursed.
Now, it is groaning, waiting for God to take away that curse.
Not only that, but we are groaning. Look back at verse 23.
It isn’t just our physical groaning, although that is part of creation suffering under the curse.
No, we groan inwardly at sin. We see sin running rampant around us, and the Holy Spirit inside us shows us just how empty that pursuit is. We chase after sin ourselves, and the Holy Spirit is grieved, which makes us long for the day when God is going to take all this away.
So, then, we eagerly await that redemption; that time when God finally and fully removes sin.
Remember the line from the "Joy to the World”?
“He came to make/his blessings flow/far as the curse is found.”
We have hope that he is doing just that.
He conquered death and rolled back the stone. As he did, he was rolling back the curse, and one day, we have the hope that he is going to do it for all of creation!
Man, what great hope we have!
We have hope because we are a part of his family.
We have hope because he is redeeming us, buying us back from sin and the curse, and will one day remove it all.
Need some more? Let’s look at a third source of hope this morning.
We have hope because...
3) We are being prayed for.
3) We are being prayed for.
Look at verses 26-27.
These verses have caused some confusion as some people think this is referring to speaking in tongues.
However, here, we have an even greater promise: Right now, if you are in Christ, the Holy Spirit is praying for you.
Think about it.
We don’t know what we really need.
We’re not much farther along than children. Do your kids, or do you remember as a kid, being 100% sure that you absolutely had to have something, but you really didn’t?
I remember one Christmas, I had looked through the Sears Wish Book, and I decided that I desperately needed and had to have a unicycle.
My parents actually bought me the unicycle for Christmas, but not surprisingly, it was way harder than I expected it to be. It sat in my closet for years until I finally gave up my dreams of ever being a professional unicyclist.
My parents gave it to me as a gift, but I’m pretty sure that they knew me well enough to have given me something I could have used and enjoyed more if I would have let them.
Don’t we do the same thing with God?
We demand that we have to have this or that, and we get mad if God doesn’t give it to us?
Is there a chance we’re wrong?
So, here’s the amazing thing: right now, the Holy Spirit is praying for you, because he knows the heart of God the Father, and he knows exactly what you need.
He isn’t just praying about small things; he is interceding for you on the items that are so confusing that you don’t even know what to say anymore.
Those areas where your heart is hurting so deeply that you don’t even know what you need.
You can hope that God is working, even in those situations, because the Holy Spirit is praying, right now, to God the Father, for you, about those things you truly need.
Here’s a great way of thinking about it:
“God will either give us what we ask for in prayer or give us what we would have asked for if we knew everything he knows.” (Tim Keller)
You can have hope, because God knows exactly what you are facing, and he is praying for you!
If that wasn’t enough, we have one more reason for hope to look at this morning. We have hope because...
4) We are being shaped to look like Jesus.
4) We are being shaped to look like Jesus.
Into that context, we read an incredibly powerful truth.
Read Romans 8:28-30.
As we have seen, this isn’t a promise about a smooth, easy life. God isn’t promising that your life will go well, your health will be good, you will have more than enough money, or anything of the sort.
Instead, he is resting us back on the hope we have.
No matter what happens to me, to my family, to my career, to my education, to my finances, or anything else, I know ultimately that he will use it for my good and his glory.
Everything God brings into your life is with one aim in mind - Romans 8:29.
We could get into a lengthy and entertaining discussion about what it means to be predestined and foreknown, and I would be happy to talk over coffee or a meal about it.
However, for today, we leave it with this: God knew you, called you, justified you, and is shaping you into the image of his son.
He is making you look more like Jesus every day as you grow in him.
One day, if you know Christ, you will die and go stand before him.
In that moment, you will be perfectly glorified, sharing in the victory he won for you.
Did you notice what Paul said, though? It’s as good as done.
Your glorification is as sure and certain as if it happened yesterday.
So, then, take heart. You are his son, and you stand to receive an incredible inheritance. He is going to remove the curse of sin that causes all of creation to groan, and we have hope that it will happen. He is right now praying for you, every step of the way, and he is shaping you into the image of Jesus.
Don’t be discouraged; hope in him.