Hope – Romans 5:1-11 Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.


Romans 5:1-11 (549)

-What is hope? Why do we need hope? What happens if/when we lose hope? How is biblical hope different than the way the world/we often talk about hope?

-Shared this story before, but a study done in 1957 on Norwegian rats compared domesticated rats swimming time vs. their wild brethren. Domesticated would swim for hours and hours before finally succumbing to exhaustion and drowning. Wild rats would give up somewhere between 10-15 min. Spent all sorts of time (and money!) trying to figure out why this was. Tried different water temperatures, different genders, different size tanks, all led to the same outcome. The scientists then stumbled across something that made a difference. If the wild rats were taken out some point before their normal drowning time, dried off and this happened a couple times the wild rats would match or even beat the domesticated rats for swimming time. Why was this? They had prior precedent on which to place their hope. They knew it didn’t have to be like this forever and someone could come in and save them at any point.

-A similar trend is currently taking place among Americans – did you know that for the first time in recorded history, average life expectancy among white Americans between 45-54 is declining due to what has been coined “deaths of despair.” These are deaths from suicide, drug overdose, or alcoholism. Why is there this sharp increase in deaths of despair? Because just like the wild rats in Norway, they’ve lost all sense of hope.

-Hope is a very interesting thing, because if we place our hope in the wrong things, eventually that hope will give way to despair and we’ll begin questioning everything. Yet for those of us who are in Christ, we’re given every reason to hope because of the reality of the incarnation! That Jesus, God Himself, stooped down to our level so that we could put all our hope and confidence in Him, and Him alone. And that hope will never fail us, never leave us, never abandon us to despair.

NCC: What is our only hope in life and death? That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.


-Once again, dropping in the middle of the flow of thought, which is especially difficult in Romans, as it’s the most comprehensive treatise of robust doctrine in the whole Bible! 

-Most scholars believe chapter 5 begins a new focus and application. In his commentary on Romans, Dr. Tom Schreiner summarizes it “In chapters 1-4 Paul has defended the thesis that God’s saving promises are experienced through faith.” Faith is the starting point to all the benefits listed here, as well as the only way to get lasting hope that will survive any difficulties. 

-That also ties in to how Paul begins this section: therefore (connecting this chapter back to everything he’s talked about in the previous chapters)

-Again, really briefly, Chpt 1 is about the consequences of not putting faith in God, 2 is how obedience to the law isn’t the faith God required, 3 is that faith is required to be righteous before God, 4 is the example of Abraham, who was justified by his faith, not by his deeds. Then we land at vs. 1!

  1. Justified By Faith (1-4)

-This starts a new flow of thought for Paul where he’s beginning to apply the outworking of the faith we have in Jesus. 

-The first thing faith leads to is: justification.

-Fancy word that we see throughout the Bible (especially in Romans). Means: is to pronounce, accept, and treat as just – that is, as, on the one hand, not penally liable, and, on the other, entitled to all the privileges due to those who have kept the law.

-Justification was used in legal situations through NT times. So Paul adopted a legal term to describe a spiritual reality. This is helpful and necessary, because we need to begin with the idea that a law has been broken. So Paul has built up to this justification idea by saying in Rom. 3 that ALL have sinned, a spiritual law has been broken, all of us in our own individual standing before God has no hope of being declared innocent. So often we don’t like to admit that reality today, but unless we understand the immense weight of our sin, we don’t begin to understand our great need of a Savior.

-This definition of justification has 2 components: treated and declared as innocent, and then getting all the rights/privileges that would come from having been obedient the whole time. 

-But how do we get this justification? By/through/from faith. Remember, this faith idea is what Paul has been emphasizing through the first 4 chapters.

-Think of a place like Rom. 3:26 “so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” This is saying that God is both the standard and the means by which we can by declared innocent and righteous. That’s crazy!

-For us: our faith is directed towards a person (Jesus) faith is the means by which we are justified, declared innocent and given all the rights and privileges of the innocent.

-This legal declaration, that comes by faith, means we now have peace with God. If we don’t have faith we cannot and will not be justified, which means we would be enemies of God (hold on to that idea, we’ll see it further in vs. 10)

-Peace also has a different idea in Paul’s writing than the way we tend to use it today. We see peace as a place without conflict, but the biblical idea of peace is much more positive: a place where all humans can flourish, where everything is ordered correctly. This means both relationally and societally.

-Think about that idea for just a second: imagine if everything was correctly ordered at your house. Just this week I had to go buy a tool for the second time for a project because I don’t know where I put the first one.

-Now take that idea and multiply it out into the entire cosmos: everything is in its’ right place. Your cells will never produce cancer because they’re working correctly, your relationships will never deteriorate because they’re always in the right place, your house will never break down because it’s made correctly. That’s what we saw from 2 Cor 5 just a few weeks ago!

-Paul then goes on to explain what else this faith leads to: “hope of the glory of God.”

-First time we’ve seen this hope, which gets further fleshed out in a bit

-The faith that we saw justifies also leads to our ability to access “this grace in which we stand.” Paul is saying that grace is now our modus operandi, our current state of life is one of grace! God’s unmerited favor is with us 24/7, and we bring that grace with us as we go about our daily lives.

-Because of that grace given to us, we can rejoice in hope of the glory of God. This means that our rejoicing comes in the glimpses we see of eternity breaking through into today. Our hope in the glory of God is the longing for God’s will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” And every once in a while, we get to see a tiny glimpse of this, a picture of heaven on earth. Christmas is the most visible manifestation of that gift! When Jesus came it was literally heaven come down to earth!

-Paul’s point in these first 2 verses is that when we put our faith in Jesus, we are justified before God. We now walk in grace instead of death and we can rejoice in all circumstance because of God’s glory extended to us. This foundation leads to this next sequence related to suffering.

-One of the most impactful quotes I’ve ever read is from D.A. Carson “all we have to do is live long enough and we will suffer.” If someone guarantees you won’t suffer, they’re either grifting you or trying to sell you something. 

-But we have a choice in how we respond to that suffering. We can either choose to wallow when suffering comes, play the blame game or even get upset with God, OR we can rejoice. Rejoicing is the choice Christ compels us toward.

-Think of a place like James 1:2 “Count it all joy, when you meet trials of various kinds.” Or even 1 Thess. “rejoice always.” This is a theme throughout the Bible: not that we’ll be spared from suffering/difficulties, but that in the midst of those difficulties, God would be walking with us.

-IF we decide to rejoice, it begins a new trajectory for our lives: endurance, character, hope. 

-The biblical idea of hope isn’t a wishful thinking: as in I hope we don’t get more snow today, or I hope the Vikings play defense for the entire game tomorrow night, instead since our hope (like our faith) is positional: toward Christ, this hope is a certain hope.

-But the experience of hope isn’t meant to sit unused, otherwise it atrophies. Believe it or not, I used to be pretty active with sports. Loved basketball! The way you get better at sports is pushing through pain, or pushing through suffering. If you give up as soon as suffering comes, you won’t ever grow/get better. 

-But here’s the other piece to this, the reason we can rejoice is because we KNOW that these other pieces will come through our rejoicing.

-Then we ask the question: what do we hope in?

  • Hope in God (5-8)

-We hope directionally, not wishful thinking.

-This hope that we have (on the other side of suffering) does not put us to shame. Why? Because of God’s love. We saw that last week in 1 Cor. 13. The perfect embodiment of love is God, because God is love.

-The idea Paul is talking about here (God’s love being poured) is a beautiful picture of the point from last week. Remember what we saw last week, true love between people is only possible as an overflow of God’s love toward us.

-So this idea of pouring out is the exact same idea. We hope in God because of his overflowing love that has been poured into our hearts.

-Think of it like a pitcher pouring water into a cup. Unless God’s love has been poured into our hearts, we’ve got no love to give, we’ve got no reason to hope. But since God’s love (through the Holy Spirit) has been poured into our hearts in abundance (the verb “connotes an abundant extravagant effusion.” Doug Moo, NICNT). That means we also should have an overflowing abundance of hope.

-Think of a ship – it sinks or rises with the tide (at least one that’s seaworthy!) so our hope is meant to rise or fall with God’s love. And how high does God’s love go? Rom. 8:38-39 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God’s love goes into eternity.

-And how do we know that we can place our hope in God’s love? Look at vs. 6. “While we were still weak.” Just how weak were we?

-Think of the old hymn ‘Rock of Ages’ “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling.” What do we bring/offer God to make us anything BUT weak? Weak isn’t really even strong enough of a word to describe our state! In Eph. 2:1 Paul will describe us a dead in our sins before God saved us. Jonathan Edwards quipped “You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.”

-While we were still weak/dead, at that point, Christ died for us. Let that sink in. Christmas we spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about Jesus’ arrival, but if he didn’t die and rise again, we have no reason to celebrate his coming!

-Paul then uses a lesser/greater argument in vs. 7 to impress how incredible it was that Jesus died in our place. How much would you have to love someone in order to be put to death for them? It makes absolutely no sense in our human minds. But in God’s mind, that’s the only way to bring us back in to rightly order relationship with Him.

  • Saved For Reconciliation (9-11)

-Paul brings us back to the beginning of this argument here in vs. 9 by bringing up justification once again. Remember, that justification is legalese, but that justification leads to restored relationship, which is the reconciliation piece. 

-Notice the extent to which God has gone to reconcile this broken relationship. This wasn’t “good” people that were being reconciled, this wasn’t “righteous” people being reconciled, this was enemies. If you’re not on God’s side (saved) then you’re against/opposed to God, at war with Him. 

-Have you ever thought about that? Those that are not saved are God’s enemies. They are actively fighting against Him and His plan for their lives and the world. And we, before we were saved, were in the same boat! Actively opposed to God.

-Read this week an old story that you may have heard about a pastor named Peter Miller. He was a friend of someone you may have heard of: George Washington. 

-“He lived near a fellow who hated him intensely for his Christian life and testimony. In fact, this man violently opposed him and ridiculed his followers. One day the unbeliever was found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. Hearing about this, Peter Miller set out on foot to intercede for the man’s life before George Washington. The General listened to the minister’s earnest plea, but told him he didn’t feel he should pardon his friend. “My friend! He is not my friend,” answered Miller. “In fact, he’s my worst living enemy.” “What!” said Washington. “You have walked 60 miles to save the life of your enemy? That, in my judgment, puts the matter in a different light. I will grant your request.” With pardon in hand, Miller hastened to the place where his neighbor was to be executed, and arrived just as the prisoner was walking to the scaffold. When the traitor saw Miller, he exclaimed, “Old Peter Miller has come to have his revenge by watching me hang!” But he was astonished as he watched the minister step out of the crowd and produce the pardon which spared his life.” (from Romans: Righteousness from Heavenby R. Kent Hughes)

-If Christ’s boundless, eternal love is our compelling drive/motivation, then just as Christ loved his enemies enough to die for them, that means we can have hope that our enemies can be won through our demonstration of God’s love toward them. Read a quote from G.K. Chesterton this week that fits this theme well: “The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.”

-Christian, because of God’s unending, never giving up love for us that was demonstrated on the cross, we can hope that no matter what happens on this side of eternity, that God is walking with us. That’s the hope that we have, and need to be reminded us all the time, but Christmas offers us an opportunity to be especially reminded of that because our hope will never pass away.

-So what have we learned together this Advent season:

Week 1 – Peace (2 Cor. 5:11-21) peace comes through rightly ordered relationships, beginning vertically with God, and then moving horizontally with each other. This leads to:

Week 2 – Joy (John 15) A joy that isn’t dependent on circumstances or fleeting like happiness, but comes from a deep well connected to God’s loving grace

Week 3 – Love (1 Cor. 13) What does love look like? It looks like a whole lot more than a feeling! It looks like a perfect God who willingly sent His Son to become the most true human to ever live, and then die in our place. And because of that reality, we have:

Week 4 – Hope (Rom. 5:1-11) a hope that won’t give up on us, a hope that won’t change, an eternal hope regardless of our earthly circumstances. 

Love – 1 Corinthians 13 Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.


1 Corinthians 13 (559)

-Love seems to be everywhere around us.

-Almost as if it’s in the air we breathe! Hallmark movies are plentiful this time of year, jewelry stores seem to double their commercials to air during Vikings games that proclaim “every kiss begins with kay.” 

-A yard sign in my neighborhood proclaims “love is love.” That runs contrary to the first rule I was taught in defining words: can’t use the word in the definition. 

-But even think about the way we use that word every day. I love that song, I love the snow, I love my wife Cara, I love my kids. Surely those don’t all mean the same thing, right?

-I’m going to give away the ending to this sermon at the beginning: love isn’t a feeling, as dc talk taught me in my formative years, love is a verb. More precisely, love is a list of characteristics that are meant to be demonstrated in all our lives, and even further than that, love was perfectly encapsulated in 1 person who came to earth 2,000 years ago.


-Dropping in the middle of a flow of thought. 1 Cor. 12-14 serve to break down divisions regarding spiritual gifts in the church. 

-Most often when we hear this text it’s at weddings, and while it’s certainly appropriate at weddings, that overly narrows the focus of the text.

12 talks about the wide variety of gifts given from the HS to the church. Natural tendency among humans is to elevate certain gifts. We do the same today! Do you realize the variety of people we have serving here every week? Decorating, coffee, cleaning, running sound, playing instruments, teaching kids, welcoming people, safety team unlocking doors. That’s just Sunday! Paul ends this section with an exhortation to “earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.”

14 then applies 12, 13 to prophecy and speaking in tongues, with a final exhortation for how the church should structure their weekly worship services. These 3 chapters are all centering around spiritual gifts and their use in the church, so even the love chapter is meant to be demonstrated not in marriage, but the church. 

-Let’s take a look at the 3 ways Paul talks about love in this passage.

  1. Love Lacking (1-3)

-These verses serve as a transition point from 12

-All about spiritual gifts being needed together to build up the church.

-Quick sidenote about that: there isn’t a JV squad in the church. There’s not even bench warmers! How often do we compare ourselves to what seem like “better” gifts and then become discouraged? Or even comparing ourselves to someone with the same gifts, but manifested differently and then beat ourselves up. Happens ALL THE TIME in preaching!

-Music and teaching/preaching seem to be highly elevated in our culture today. Did you know God doesn’t view it that way? Now, that being said, God DOES care that you’re actually using your gifts and growing in them (the parable of the talents speaks to this). If you don’t know what your gifts are, reach out to one of us, we’d love to help you discern your gifts!

-Paul does some comparing in these first 3 verses. 

-It seems that comparing gifts has been an issue for thousands of years! The church in Corinth said the best gifts were prophecy and speaking in tongues. Don’t have time to dig too far into those gifts today, but someday we’ll talk about them!

-First gift is speaking in tongues. This was viewed the best gift in the church, which is why Paul starts here. Some people today even use this as a way to determine whether or not someone is truly a believer.

-Look at the words Paul uses though: tongues of men and of angels.

-Some debate about what the gift of “speaking in tongues” is in the NT: either a known, earthly language or an angelic heavenly language that is untranslatable on earth. But Paul includes both! Whichever “tongue” it is, it needs to be done from the outpouring of love.

-Notice the comparison Paul makes here. If I have these amazing gifts of language, if I can speak every language on earth, AND in heaven, but don’t have love I’m just as helpful as a noisy gong, or clanging cymbal.

-In certain contexts, gongs and cymbals are great! Like in the movie ‘Shang-Chi’ that just came out. The gong as the war starts is super epic! But if you’re trying to have a conversation and you’re standing next to a cymbal how helpful is it?

-I love playing drums! But if I were to sit back here and play drums while I’m preaching, how helpful would it be? Does this help or hurt your ability to hear what I’m saying? Paul doesn’t stop with tongues though, does he?

-Up next is prophecy and interpretation of prophecy.

-If I can prophecy, speak on behalf of God to a group of people. And understand, notice the qualifiers: ALL mysteries, and ALL knowledge. AKA if I have the same level of understanding as God. And even beyond that, if I can do what Jesus said his followers could do with faith that can move mountains. If I can do all these things, but don’t have love, how helpful is it? It’s worth NOTHING.

-So speaking in tongues, prophecy, interpretation of prophecy, all faith if they aren’t done from love are literally worth nothing in God’s kingdom. But that’s not all!

-Finally, verse 3. If I force poverty on myself, if I do HUGE acts of charity and mercy for others, or even deliver up my body 

-Text says “to be burned” alternative text is “that I may boast.” Couple letter differentiation in Greek. The point is the same: either I offer my body to death, or sell myself into slavery for the sake of someone else.

-If I even do these unbelievable charitable things, but do it without love, how helpful is it in God’s economy? Worthless!

-Think about these 3 things like this:

-We all know how money works, at least most of us do! I still remember one time asking my mom to get a toy and being told “we can’t afford that.” I confidently told her “just write a check!”

-Imagine getting up to heaven, and acting like that with God! I prophesied! I spoke in tongues! I gave away everything I had! I can base my salvation on that! And God saying “depart from me, I never knew you. You can’t afford to enter here, your spiritual bank account is empty.” It’s like me trying to tell my mom to just write a check – it’ll bounce!

-Paul’s point is not that spiritual gifts are bad AT ALL! Remember, he just said to “earnestly desire the higher gifts.” But the point of these gifts isn’t to be used to build ourselves up (as we’ll see in the next section), instead the gifts are meant to be used from the foundation of love, to flow out into the building up of the church, the people of God. So how does Paul define love?

  • Love Lived (4-7)

-Here’s the most fascinating part about this, look at what Paul describes. Are these ethereal, pie in the sky definitions, or are these character traits that should be evident in our lives? 

-Paul lists 15 character traits of love, and he’s breaking love down into 2 lists: what characteristics should be demonstrated by love (7), and what characteristics should NOT be demonstrated by love (8). Let’s start with the negative, what love isn’t.


-If you love someone, you cannot be jealous of their gifts, strengths, accomplishments. That is antithetical to how God has commanded us to live.


-The other side of being envious is turning into someone who thinks you’re the bees knees. In Greek, this is literally translated as “wind bag” so if someone is demonstrating this characteristic, tell them they’re like a whoopee cushion! 


-Similar to the “wind bag” is arrogant. Self-centered and cocky about their own giftings/strengths instead of recognizing where those gifts are from. 


-Descriptive of misbehaving/acting out, behaving in a way that doesn’t fit with societal norms. Like if you’ve seen those kids at Target who start throwing fits (always at Target, never seem to have those kinds of meltdowns in the car!) Think of an adult acting out like that, antithesis of love!

-Insisting on its own way

-This is a hard one! Especially when you KNOW you’re right. See the gospel compels us to “outdo each other in showing honor,” and to consider others interests even higher than our own!


-You know people who always seem on the verge of blowing up at you? You never know what’s going to set them off.


-This is keeping a record of wrongs. This is knowing life’s not fair, and keeping track of the ways you’ve been wronged. Another way of thinking about this is being unwilling to forgive an offense.

-Rejoicing at wrongdoing/injustice

-ESV says “wrongdoing” other translations have “injustice.” This is not celebrating when someone who is created in the image of God is treated poorly

-That’s what love ISN’T let’s take a look at what love IS.


-Long-suffering, understanding, opposite of irritable and resentful. This is someone who won’t let circumstances dictate their responses.

-Have you ever had the privilege of going on a cross culture missions trip? Joining up with brothers and sisters from across the world who seem SO much more content with their life than I am here. They’re patient even in how God is working in their lives.

-“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” Chuck Swindoll


-loving, merciful. Opposite of rude/irritable. 

-Do you know anyone who just never seems shaken up? They’ve got an inner core that’s always at peace. No matter what happens they’re kind to everyone.

-Rejoices with the truth

-This is the one that most stood out to me this time reading through these characteristics. Because our world likes to define love VERY differently than this! You’ve probably even heard people talk about sharing MY truth. You can speak of your experience, but there is 1 truth. And all truth finds its consummation in the source of all truth, Jesus. 

-We should be on the lookout for truth around us, celebrate it, and find out how it points us to the ultimate source of truth in Jesus. Christmas is a GREAT time to be reminded of this. Our neighbors are decorating, presents are being bought, stockings are hung by the chimney with care, and it’s an opportunity to talk about the reason we all celebrate Christmas. Look for and utilize those opportunities! 

-Bears all things

-Love means being willing to be burdened for someone else. It may mean you emotionally help them carry the weight of their emotional issues.

-Ever had some issue that comes up that feels like it’s literally weighing you down, then sharing that emotional weight with someone else feels like the weight is lifted off your chest?

-Believes all things

-Do you assume the best in others, or do you approach everything they do with suspicion? Our world views everything through the lens of suspicion today! We’re not supposed to. Doesn’t mean be foolish, but if we’re extending love to others, we’ll hope for the best in them.

-Hopes all things

-Can you imagine never giving up hope?? Even when it feels like there’s not a chance in the world, love convinces you to continue on.

-Brothers and sister – I realize Christmas/Thanksgiving may be difficult for you if you’ve got estranged relationships, this text is reminding us to not give up hope. Pray, seek reconciliation, and trust God’s sovereign guiding hand.

-Endures all things

-Summarizes everything else, it will endure forever! Which you’ll see in the next section.

-The crazy thing about these characteristics is all of them are meant to be descriptive of us! So you should be able to replace “love” in these verses with “I am.” Just think about that. I am…

-God gets to define what love is because God is love. (1 John 4:8)

-Then the world gets to determine whether or not we’re Christians by how we love. (John 13:34)

-This is meant to be true individually, yes, but it’s also meant to be descriptive of us as the church. In fact, Jesus says in the previous verse that our love demonstrated visibly is meant to serve as a witness/example to the world of what God’s love looks like. That’s super hard to read/think, isn’t it? It seems like our world generally thinks of Christians as the opposite of these descriptions (some of it is because of our commitment to the truth). But similar to the gentleness idea we saw in Phil. 4, what would it look like for us to grow in love for God and each other over the next year?

-Love lived is demonstrated by these both positive and negative characteristics. But here’s the even more incredible part, compared to even the most miraculous spiritual gifts we saw, love is more important, because love lasts.

  • Love Lasts (8-13)

-Look at that first phrase: love never ends. When will it end? NEVER

-I remember trying to comprehend eternity when I was growing up, and it would freak me out. I’m so used to having an end point, it’s TERRIFYING to really sit down and think about forever. But because God is love, and God is eternal, so love is eternal. 

-At some point, prophecies will be done because we’ll be with Jesus! At some point tongues will stop because we’ll be able to understand each other. At some point knowledge/understanding won’t be necessary because we’ll be with God. But love? Love will still be going strong. 

-The reason for this is because we only know partially. These next few verses are different ways of saying the same point: right now we can’t see everything as it SHOULD be, we can only see/comprehend partially, we see glimpses, but only the rough outline, like looking in a distorted mirror.

-Think of how the world would be viewed through the lens of a child. Their perspective, their views are so profoundly influenced and shaped by their parents and what their parents expose them to. Calvin’s starting to ask questions about heaven and why Jesus had to die, and why people used spears on him, and Cara and I have to try to figure out how to explain it in a way a 4-year-old will understand. He one time asked me if God could pick up our house. 

-Do you ever view your questions of God like that? I don’t think I think of God the same way my 4-year-old does, I would hope that my perspective is a little farther and broader than his, but in God’s eyes 33 and 4 aren’t that much different! 

-“Even as I have been fully known.” God knows everything about you, and He still loves you. We’ll never fully know God (part of the reason we get eternity with Him), but he fully knows you and still sent Jesus to die for you. Christian, you’ve got nothing to hide today, nothing to prove, nothing to do that Jesus hasn’t already done.

-This love is something we get to tangibly see, taste, and touch when we celebrate communion together. 

-And we drink this cup and eat this bread together to remind us that our love for God needs to be visibly demonstrated by our love for each other. Our love is the way God works in and through each other to continue drawing us to Himself. 

-Because Christ is perfectly lovely, he can make even unworthy and unlovely people like you and me perfectly lovely.