A Persevering Hope
And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
We are in the fourth week of Lent. Lent is the forty days that lead up to Easter. Lent is a time in which we let go of certain things to take hold of Jesus more and more. In this season of Lent we have been looking at the topic of ‘HOPE.”
The first week we looked at the foundation of hope, the second week we found that living hope and last week we heard that we have a saving hope. Today we will turn to Paul’s letter to Romans and find a persevering hope!
Before we turn to God’s Word, let us come to door of Hope and seek God in prayer. “Lord, God, we come to You today to be renewed, restored and filled with hope. Our lives often feel afloat in this world. Let us come and be grounded in Your living words of hope. Amen”
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.[i]
Peace & Access
When we come to this passage in Romans, we come to one of Paul’s great words, “therefore.” What Paul is doing when he writes “therefore” is he is connecting all that he has said and written about in the first four chapters of Romans to a point of connection in chapter in five. Paul has written that we have been saved by grace and that the saving work belongs totally in Christ’s hands. Paul now comes up with a great theological concept called “justification.” Justified--“just as if I have never sinned.” Paul is saying that since we have been justified --- since we have been made “just as if we never sinned” -- we now have peace with God!
Have you ever wondered why people go to great lengths and expense to find peace? I went to Google and typed in “how do I find peace.” 36,600,000 results popped up in 58 seconds! Titles like: “4-Step Guide to Finding Inner Peace,” “How to Find Inner Peace: 15 Things You Can Start Today.” Tiny Buddha, Eckart Tolle, Lifestyle, New York Tines and Wikihow were all consulted!
St. Augustine, an early church father, wrote these words, “You made us for yourself, and our hearts find no peace until they rest in you.”[ii]
This is exactly what Paul is teaching us today! We have peace with God and that peace gives us access into God’s grace.
On Wednesday nights in our “Get A Life Group” life group, we have been studying the book of Genesis. In the opening chapters of Genesis, we are told that Adam and Eve sinned by doing the one thing that God had asked them not to do. Consequently, they are kicked out of the Garden. God kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden and put an angel with a flaming sword there to protect the entrance. In the Old Testament temple there was a place called the holy of holies and only once a year could a priest enter the holy of holies and offer up sacrifices for the people of Israel.
Do you get the picture!? Only once a year could a priest enter the access of the holy of holies. If you weren’t in the priestly line, you would never have a chance to access God!
Do you know that when Jesus died on the cross the curtain of the holy of holies was torn in two and the access to God was opened? This is exactly what Paul is talking about. Because of what Jesus has done on the cross, we have access to the throne of God! Not once a year, but any day of any year.
Friends, that is peace and access!!!
I love the thought we can stand in grace! When we stand in grace, we have access to the holy of holies!!! To stand in grace is to stand in peace!!!
Joy & Hope
Paul goes on to tell us that because we have this peace and access, we can also have joy. The word Paul uses for rejoice is a wonderful word “kauchometha.” It is a present, passive verb that means that the action of rejoicing is to speak loudly, behave with loud tongues and boasting, and to proclaim publicly and ostentatiously, or rejoice.” This action of rejoicing continues forever.
If we know that we have peace with God and that we have access to God at any time, any place, anywhere, our voices should be filled with loud rejoicing all of the time!
This rejoicing fills us with a hope of the glory of God!
The glory of God brings to the reader’s mind the “kabod” or “glory” of God that filled the temple. The Greek word for glory used here is “doke” from which we get the word doxology! This glory fills us with hope!
What does HOPE mean to you?
In the Bible, “hope” means certainty, and the only reason it is called hope rather than certainty is only that we do not possess what is hoped for yet, although we will. Here are some examples of how “hope” is used in the New Testament:
Acts 2:26–27 “ my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave” (cf. Ps. 16:8–11).
1 Corinthians 13:13a “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.”
2 Corinthians 1:7 “And our hope for you is firm. …”
Colossians 1:5“The faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven”
Colossians 1:27 “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Titus 1:2 “hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.”
Titus 2:13 “While we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Hebrews 6:19–20 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.”
1 Peter 1:3 “[God] has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
Suffering to Hope
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Verses three through five are deep and profound. We are left with peace, access, joy, hope and standing in grace as we travel from suffering to perseverance to character and finally to hope!
In these verses what is the greatest word for you? Suffering, Perseverance, Character, Hope or produces?
The Greek word for suffering is “thlipsis’ and it literally means pressing something down.
The Greek word for perseverance is “hypomone” which can be translated “endurance, patience, perseverance or living under.”
The Greek word for character is “dokime” meaning - dependable, reliable, proof, tested or proven.
The Greek word for hope is “elpis” and it means, a confident expectation of the future.
The Greek word for produces is “κατεργάζεται ---- katergazetai” This is the verb in this sentence and the action of this verb is ongoing. The words literally mean --- to preapre, to produce, like working the soil.
What Paul is teaching us is that suffering produces hope. That is a strange thought. For many of us, suffering produces despair. For others, suffering really does produce hope. I think of my friend who was buried this week at the National Cemetery. As a pastor and a friend, I get to joy and suffering to go where not many people go. I had to talk with him about he felt about his death. He didn’t even hesitate for a second. “Dave, if the worst thing that happens to me is that I get to go be with Jesus, I consider myself blessed.” My friend had stage IV melanoma with metastases throughout his body. Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character and character produces hope. And it doesn’t just do this once a year but this hope is produced over and over and over, again and again. My friend had hope. He had a rejoicing kind of hope.
The truth is that most of us are waiting on a change in our circumstances in order to produce hope but what Paul is teaching us that we need a change in our perspective not our circumstances.
Back in the 1940’s and 1950’s the Green Bay Packers were a terrible football team. For eleven years they only won 28 percent of their games. That means that they lost over 70% of their games. In 1958 they had an embarrassing one win and ten losses, the worst in Packer history.
On February 2, 1959 Vince Lombardi was hired as the new head coach and leader of the team. That year the Packers had the first winning season in more than ten years. Rookie head Coach Lombardi was named Coach of the year. The next nine years were winning seasons for Green Bay with five national championships and two Super Bowls championships.
What happened? What took a team that was suffering defeat and discouragement for elven years in a row and turned them into a championship team? Simple! One person arrived and brought with him a completely different perspective.
Repeatedly in the Bible we have stories of men and women who did that same thing.
Nehemiah came to Jerusalem after Jerusalem stood destroyed and defeated for 92-years. He rebuilt the walls around Jerusalem in 52 days.
David came to a giant named Goliath who had taunted and defeated the Israelites for 40 days straight. David took five smooth stones and a slingshot and killed the giant.
Daniel suffered a long night in a lion’s den. He walked out untouched.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood in a fiery furnace. They lived to tell about it.
Esther stood before her king and interceded for the people of Israel. They were saved.
Ruth lost her husband, family, home and moved to a strange land. She became the great grandmother of King David and stands in the lineage of the Messiah.
John Mark suffered so on the first missionary journey. Paul refused to take him on the second missionary journey. John Mark writes one of the Gospels!
Peter denied Jesus not once but three times and yet was restored and given a hope that would never disappoint him
Listen to Paul’s own words: “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?[iii]
This is what Paul is reflecting on when he writes to the church in Rome.
Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
John R. W. Stott, wrote the book “The Cross of Christ.” Stott is well aware of what our worst fears are about God when we consider the suffering that surrounds us in this world. Stott say, “The real sting of suffering is not misfortune itself, nor even the pain of it or the injustice of it, but the apparent God-forsakenness of it. Pain is endurable, but the seeming indifference of God is not. Sometimes we picture him lounging, perhaps dozing, in some celestial deck chair, while the hungry millions starve to death... It is this terrible caricature of God which the cross smashes to smithereens. We are not to envision him on a deck chair, but on a cross.”[iv]
During his presidency, Abraham Lincoln regularly attended worship services at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. The pastor was Dr. Phineas Gurley. Barry P. Boulware relates how on one particular evening, while walking home from church, an aide asked President Lincoln about Dr. Gurley's sermon. The President replied in fragmented phrases: "The content was excellent...he delivered it with eloquence...he had put work into the message..." "Then you thought it was a great sermon?" asked the aide. "No," replied the President. "Dr. Gurley forgot the most important ingredient. He forgot to ask us to do something great!"
I don’t want to be guilty of Gurley’s mistake. I want us to do something great with this passage. I want us to be able to go from suffering to hope. But in order to do that, we will need to spend a few quiet moments reflecting on this passage. That’s your “so what” homework for this week.
Think about a time or a season where you were suffering. Write that down. Write down what is it that caused you to suffer. Then look back and see if your suffering has produced any perseverance. Did the thing that pressed you down produce any kind of patience, endurance, perseverance in you? I’m guessing it did. I’m guessing you learned how to live with whatever it was that was pressing you down. I’m guessing it has made you more compassionate with other people who have the same kind of suffering.
Suffering, perseverance, character. After you’ve suffered, and after this suffering has produced more patience in you—the next thing is for us to produce character. How did your suffering make you more reliable and dependable? Do you feel tested and proven for the good from all the suffering? And finally, has your suffering given you any hope? If not, hang in there because it will and it’s worth waiting for.
In 2012 I came down with a severe, painful rash. I’ve suffered with this rash for the past six years. I hate to admit this, but this whole rash, surgery and chelation thing has made me a better pastor. I have so much more empathy and compassion for those who are hurting. From suffering, perseverance; from perseverance to character, from character to hope. And this hope that I now have—does not disappoint me. I may not have 100% health like I hope for…but the Holy Spirit has poured out God’s love into my heart…and I am still waiting for what I hope for.
I think about my friend. Each day when I went to visit, I brought him a coffee. On the way there, I’d think about what I could do or say that would give him hope. After spending an hour or so with my friend, I’d drive home, and I’d wonder, “How is it that I’m the one who is filled with hope?”
I encourage you to stand in grace!
I encourage you to stand in peace!
I encourage you to stand in the access you have been given!
I encourage you to stand in joy and rejoice in all circumstances!
I encourage you to stand in suffering!
I encourage you to stand with perseverance!
I encourage you to stand in character!
I encourage you to stand in the love of God that has been poured out into your heart!
I encourage you to stand in hope!
Let us pray ….
The Seed Christian Fellowship
Rancho Cucamonga, California 91701
March 11, 2018
Pastor Dave Peters
[i] The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Ro 5:1–11). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
[ii] Saint Augustine, Confessions, trans. R. S. Piné-Coffin (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1961), p. 21.
[iii] The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (2 Co 11:23–29). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
[iv] John R. W. Stott, The Cross of Christ, Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1986], 329)