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.

Hope

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.

READ/PRAY

-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. 

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