This morning we had our ‘Hope Sunday’ at St Thomas’s – I preached on Romans 5:1-5 – Hope that does not disappoint. I hope to do the same this evening. But here is the morning service (or most of it).
There are a number of encouraging stories associated with this morning but they are personal and will have to wait. Suffice it to say that it is lovely to see how God works through his Word. However there is one that I included in the sermon – the notes of which are below.
Romans 5:1-5 – Hope
Victorians must protect themselves against a loss of hope, mental health expert Patrick McGorry has warned. ““Prolonged lockdowns and a kind of loss of confidence, a loss of faith or a loss of hope, in a way, are things we have to protect against.”
I received this lovely e-mail a couple of weeks ago:
“I was raised a Mormon and left a few years ago as an adult. I am on a faith journey and struggling. I want to believe in God so badly- the hope Christianity provides is so compelling, but I know no matter how badly I want it it doesn’t make it true, likewise that also doesn’t disqualify it from being true. Do you think this can be overcome? I worry that if I do become convinced I’ll always have that doubt at the back of my mind saying it’s all confirmation bias.”
Paul a Jewish teacher who became a Christian is writing this letter from Greece to the Christians in Rome – who have had a tough time and who are also experiencing internal problems as well as external – climate change, pollution, corruption, plague, disease, war, overcrowding, sexual abuse etc. Sound familiar?
He would love to come to them but for now he sends the letter. This is the Gospel – the Good News to the Romans. He is a messenger of that Good News which is about Jesus. He first of all shows in chapter one that all humanity has rejected God and we are messed up because of that…all our problems stem from that broken relationship. In chapter 2 he tells the Jewish people that just having the OT and circumcision is not enough. That religion is not enough. We all need a new heart. In chapter 3 he emphasis the need of all of us for this because we are all sinners – and he ends by stating that the death of Jesus is the way by which we can be made right before God. In chapter 4 he explains this further through using Abraham as the example. Now in chapter 5 he explains what the results are of becoming a Christian. And this great hope.
Secondly it is a great answer to the question – if God loves me why do I suffer? Paul had his own sufferings – and the Christians and Jews in Rome were suffering.
Luther says “St Paul speaks in this chapter with great joy and exceeding exultation. In the whole Bible there is hardly another chapter which can equal this triumphant text.” So lets go…
- A Surprising Hope – we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
All our hopes are about ourselves
In chapter 4 – Paul has said we have nothing within ourselves or works based religion in which to boast. But here he says we boast…yet it is very different – we exult. Instead of ugly boasting this is glorious boasting in hope.
It’s not always like that is it though? Sometimes we transfer our hope onto something else. We exult in someone else’s glory. Football team….
It is the hope of the glory. What does that mean? It is Christ in us the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). His glory is already being revealed – we rejoice in it. In the creation, in the death and resurrection of Jesus…but we see but through a glass darkly – one day it will be totally revealed. Jesus will appear with great power and glory. We will not only see his glory we will be changed into it. Romans 8:21. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
“our vision of future glory is a powerful stimulus to present duty” Stott.
- A Sure Hope
One of the big problems we have with hope is how we use the word. When you say you hope to be there – it’s a wish. You hope to receive something – it’s a wish. Go home and hope there will be food on the table…
Stott ‘ Christian hope is not uncertain…it is a joyful and confident expectation which rests on the promises of God” – Like Abraham.
God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:18-19
- A Suffering Hope
3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
This is maybe the bit we don’t like! Exulting or boasting in hope is one thing but exulting in our afflictions…quite another. Trials and tribulations of life – but especially thilipsis – the sufferings that come about because of our faith.We are to rejoice in them – this is not masochism – the sickness of finding pleasure in pain. We recognize there is a reason…
Suffering is the path to glory – it was for Christ. Look at Romans 8:17 – “if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”It also matures us. It can be productive as long as we don’t respond with anger and bitterness.
It produces perseverance – endurance…we could not have endurance without suffering because without suffering there would be nothing to endure. This is patience. Many of us are active people who seek to fix things. Normally tribulation would be met by complaint, hurt and stoicism. But this is beyond that…its seeing beyond.
Perservance produces character – the character of someone who has been tested. It is that of the veteran rather than that of the raw recruit. Paul uses one of his favourite words – from the blacksmith – where the red hot metal of the horse shoe or plough is beaten into shape.
Character produces hope – because we then rely on God…knowing we cannot rely on ourselves. We are forced to look to God. We are compelled to look to the future and the bigger picture. 1 Corinthians 2:
9 However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him—
Romans 8: We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
- A Spiritual Hope.
Love is Love – God is Love.
We have Gods love poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
Our hope is based on the love of God. Hope does not disappoint us.To be sure of Gods love. Sure of a parents love. Sure of a spouse’s love. But sure of Gods love. Lady in Borders – if that were true it’s the greatest thing I have ever heard. This is the secret of joy, peace, freedom, everything.
This is two fold…an assurance of Gods love for us….and the creation of our love for God – instead of the slave fear.It is into our inmost being from the Holy Spirit. Every believer is given the Holy Spirit. He is after all the one who makes us a believer. It is a permanent flood. What the Holy Spirit does is like a cloudburst…making us deeply aware of the love of God. Romans 8: You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ,they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you……… In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
Conclusion: “For what hope have the godless when they are cut off, when God takes away their life?”
“The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.”
Proverbs 10:28 NIVUK
“On the contrary, Hope causes joy, according to Rom. 12:12, “Rejoicing in hope.” Now the damned have no joy, but sorrow and grief, according to Isa. 65:14, “My servants shall praise for joyfulness of heart, and you shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for grief of spirit.” Therefore no hope is in the damned.” (from “Summa Theologica (Complete & Unabridged)” by Thomas Aquinas)
Better felt than telt.
Let me return to v. 1 Peace with God. Justification through faith. We stand in grace. Go to verse 8. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”
The Christian – “Death is at once “the last enemy” that Christ conquered in His Resurrection and also our only door to Heaven, our only hope. It is so necessary that if it were abolished by genetic engineering and artificial immortality, we would have Hell on earth.” (from “How to Destroy Western Civilization and Other Ideas from the Cultural Abyss” by Peter Kreeft)
“So again for our bodies, they shall have no manner of disturbance or subjection to corruption; then they shall know nothing but glory, glory within and glory without, all glorious. Body sown in corruption not incorruption, sown in dishonour, raised in glory. David – his baby – he shall not come to me but I shall go to him.
Summed up in Colossians 1:27 – ‘the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”
Remember the e-mail I cited at the beginning? Here is the follow up this week….
“On a more positive note, a most happy update to the almost desperate questioning I flung at you, I have started attending a local church here in my city in Utah, after weeks and months of praying “Lord I believe, please help my unbelief,” I accepted Christ. It was the most surreal, emotional yet firmly real thing I’ve felt. It was after a sermon on Isaiah 53- I’m sure you know it well- and during worship before communion it all clicked. I was able to partake of actual communion for the first time in my life as a real Christian. I am currently in the process of speaking to the pastors at the church about baptism and becoming a covenant member of the church. (Is that a thing churches do in other places?)David, Our God is so good. I don’t deserve this, I never could. I still have doubts, I still have questions, but Jesus is so much greater than my weak understanding. “
Several people indicated that they wanted to come to our follow up three week discussion group starting this Thursday. We will probably put this online as well.
Here is the advert we have put out for this –