Rejoicing in Hope Back to all sermons

Date: April 28, 2017

Speaker: Pastor Curt Romig

Category: Topical

Scripture: Romans 5:1–5:11

Tags: rejoice, peace, suffering, hope

Synopsis: Romans 5 shows the believer many reasons to rejoice in God. In chapters 1-4, Paul explains justification by faith. Now in chapter 5, Paul teaches us the implications of being saved by faith. We have a lot of rejoicing to do, even in our sufferings, because we have hope. This hope is not like any other hope; it is secure, because it is anchored in God’s love shown in Christ’s death.

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Good morning, church!

It is such an honor to be here with you all. I still can’t believe that I’m standing here, and that I have the opportunity to preach the word this morning. God is so faithful and gracious!

It was hard for me to pick a passage for this sermon. I was kind of hoping Jeramie would assign me a text, but he said to preach any text I wanted. So I’ve got the whole Bible, and I can choose any passage! What would you choose? After praying and thinking, I landed on Romans 5:1-11. Go ahead and open your Bibles or your Bible apps on your phone, or if you’d like, the text is printed in your bulletin.

The title of the sermon this morning is “Rejoicing in Hope.” In the first 4 chapters of Romans, Paul lays out his argument for us being saved by faith in Jesus. Here in chapter 5, he tells us how we should respond to that faith. And you’ll see as we read the text, there is a lot of rejoicing, and a lot of hope.

What is hope? A simple definition is “to look forward to something.” It’s the belief that there is something better coming. I don’t know about you, but as I live my life on this spinning planet, and see all of the trouble around here, I sure hope there is something better coming. If this life is all we’ve got, then how sad! It’s hard! Without Christ, I don’t know where people find their hope. To make more money? To get a better job? To win a championship? To have a nice family? We can’t really control those things. And all of those things are temporary. We’re going to die, and so all of those hopes won’t last.

Paul is going to give us real hope today. As we read it, you’ll see that this hope causes us to rejoice, because this hope is rock-solid. 

Let’s read the passage, and as we do, be looking for all of the rejoicing and the hope.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Honestly, this passage is so rich with meaning that I’d like to preach 5 sermons about it. You certainly saw all the amazing results of being justified by faith in Jesus, and we can’t cover them all today. I’m going to draw out three main points from the text, which all center around the word “rejoice”. Three times in the passage Paul says “we rejoice”, and we’ll spend our time looking at those three.

First, at the end of verse 2, we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. This first rejoicing actually wraps up verses 1-2, so this “hope of glory” is anchored in all the truths mentioned in the first two verses. Let’s look at them! In verse 1, it says we have “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Brothers and sisters, through Jesus Christ, we have peace with God! This peace that Paul describes is more than a feeling, like the calm you feel when you admire thousands of stars on a clear night (which I hear is amazing in the desert here!) This peace with God is even better than that. This peace with God is a reality, a relational reality of being right with God. We don’t have to be terrified of him. We don’t have to fear punishment from him anymore. We are at peace with him, and it is through Jesus Christ. Jesus is our peace. If you view God as a terror, or if your primary response to God is fear, then you probably are not at peace with him. If you have faith in Jesus, then you have peace with God.

And then verse 2 says we have access into this grace in which we stand. This is another big statement, because what we stand in is very important. What are we standing on? What is our foundation? Paul tells us here that by faith we stand in grace. One night, my 3-year-old daughter asked me, “What does grace mean, Papa?” We had just finished singing “Amazing Grace” for bedtime, so it was a good question. How would you explain the concept of grace, so central to the Christian faith, in a way that a three-year old could understand? I love the definition “unmerited favor,” but she doesn’t know what unmerited or favor means. So I decided to go with this: “Grace is God giving us good things when we deserve bad things.” And this is what we stand in. We stand on the fact that everything good we have is a gift from God. I hope you’re not standing on anything else outside of God’s grace shown in Jesus Christ.

So we’ve already seen two amazing words pop up: peace and grace. And these two are tied with our rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. Before we move on, did you notice that the verbs with peace and grace are both present tense? The text says we have peace with God. That means now. It says we stand in grace. That means now. Because we have the peace, and because we stand in grace, we have hope. Remember, hope points to something future. To hope for something means we don’t have it now. In this case the hope is for God’s glory to be fully revealed. We long for the day that we will see God’s glory. We long to be with Him! And we know that this hope is certain, because of the peace and grace which we already have. And thus, we can rejoice in hope now.

The second reason to rejoice in our passage is in verses 3-5. Paul has already shown us the present reality of peace and grace in our lives. We could stop here and rejoice! But Paul isn’t done. This next reason to rejoice is the surprising one. This one is the one that a lot of Christians don’t like, but it is a powerful truth. “We rejoice in our sufferings.”

Look at what Paul says here about our sufferings. He says they produce endurance and character. In a lot of Christian circles these days, endurance and character are hardly emphasized at all. Many Christians think God cares only about our happiness, and not our character. But God desires his people to be both happy and holy, and honestly, in the Bible, I see more emphasis on the holiness than the happiness.  That’s why Paul talks so much about suffering in his writings. That’s why almost every page of the New Testament has something about endurance, or perseverance, or suffering. As a pastor, I care about the happiness of God’s people. I love to smile and laugh and be glad. Gladness is a biblical thing. But you know what? I care even more about our holiness. I want us to walk together, through our suffering, to see endurance and character. This character isn’t just becoming a “good person;” no, I’m talking about the character of Christ formed in us. As we grow in the character of Christ, or what we could call holiness, we have more joy. One theologian said, “God has so wisely ordered it, that our well-being and our well-doing are linked together.” (From Faithfulness and Holiness, JI Packer’s appreciation of JC Ryle, 2002, p. 148.) So brothers and sisters, let’s grow in character, as it will deepen our rejoicing. We will actually have more joy the more we live for God. We don’t fear the suffering; we can actually rejoice in it, because we know God is forming his character in us through it.

Then in the text, Paul goes from character back to hope. We already talked about hope back in verse 2, as our first reason to rejoice. It’s interesting that our second reason to rejoice, in our sufferings, leads us back to hope as well. Hope is a big thing in this passage! Why does Paul have so much hope? How can Paul have such a confident and secure hope? How can he say, as he does in verse 5, that hope does not put us to shame?

Let’s look at verse 5, friends. Some Bible commentators view verse 5 as the key verse in this passage (Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary series, p. 304), because it is the reason for such a secure hope. It’s what gives us confidence, even when we are suffering. It says this: “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” Whoa! God’s love, God’s majestic, relentless, perfect love, has been poured into our hearts. Into my heart. Into your heart. That’s the anchor of our hope.

Now I don’t know about you, but when I first wake up in the morning, or when I’m driving to work, I’m not usually thinking, “God’s love has been poured into my heart.” I’m usually thinking something like, “Uhhhhhhhh.” I tend to feel God’s love more after that first cup of coffee in the morning. But this love goes way beyond how we’re feeling. It is the truth! It’s not butterflies in your stomach. It’s not a romantic movie. If you are a Christian, who trusts Christ alone for your sin, then the Holy Spirit is in you. He has poured God’s love into your heart, regardless of how you feel. It is a promise God has given here in Romans 5. It’s past tense! The love “has been” poured, So even when you first wake up in the morning, or even if you’re not the most emotional, lovey-dovey person, God’s love has still been poured into your heart, if you’re a believer in Jesus. It’s a biblical fact! Think about that when you’re falling asleep tonight. Meditate on that when you’re on your way to work or to the grocery store. It is a life changing truth.

I love the use of the word “pour” here as well. This isn’t just a little bit of love. God is abundantly giving us his love. Have you ever poured yourself a drink too fast, and spilled it all over the place? Maybe the lid of the water pitcher pops off when you’re pouring it, and you get a big mess. The liquid just floods the cup! That’s kind of how I imagine this verse. God’s love is generously poured in. It’s not a trickle. It’s an overflow, because God has plenty of love to go around. It’s gushing over the lid, overflowing the cup.

It’s this outpouring of God’s love that causes us to rejoice even in suffering. A lot of you in here are suffering these days. You are in a valley. We often walk through trials that seem senseless. Why do we have seasons like that? Why is life so hard sometimes? Why are there so many reasons to cry? The reason for suffering is one of the great mysteries of life. But God tells us at least part of the answer: it’s for endurance, character, and hope. Somehow through suffering, we come to know the love of God better. I’m sure many of you in this room can think back on times that our suffering has been built us up.

One moment in my life that comes to mind was a couple years ago in 2015. My wife and I have two beautiful daughters, blessings from God to us. In 2015, we were excited to have a 3rd child, but instead we had our first miscarriage. Many of you have been through miscarriage, and you know it’s a strange feeling. There’s grief and disappointment, and for me, there was a strange sense of emptiness. It also led to some tough questions, like, “God, why did you let us get pregnant in the first place, if it was  going to end 7 weeks later?” It was pretty hard.

As I look back now, I can see how our suffering produced good things. Michelle had to have a minor surgery to fix things up right after the miscarriage, and I’ll never forget the moment she woke up at the hospital. I was sitting next to her bed, holding her hand, and it was maybe the closest I’ve ever felt to her. It was a special moment for us in our marriage, even though it was painful. We were walking through this together. And at the same time, there was a strong sense that God loved us, right there in the middle of it. You know what really stood out? Hope. Our suffering gives us reason to hope, because we know it won’t be like this forever. We know we’re not home yet. We know that one day there will be no more tears, because we will be in the presence of God. All of this suffering that we are walking through today points us to the kingdom of God, where we’ll eternally be in the glory of God.

Be encouraged this morning that your suffering is not pointless. God is working right there in the middle of it, producing hope in you.

So we’ve seen the two powerful reasons for us to rejoice in verses 1-5. We rejoice in hope and we rejoice in suffering. Now let’s look at verses 6-11, which give us our third reason to rejoice. It is in verse 11: “We rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” That sounds pretty basic, right? We rejoice in God. Of course!

What’s happening in the flow of this text is that verses 6-11 unpack more about God’s love from that key verse, verse 5, by capturing the essence of the gospel itself. God’s love is shown in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Did you notice when we read it that there are 3 “while we’s”? Three times Paul says, “while we” were…something, then Christ or God did something. Let’s look at those, as they build up to that final rejoicing in verse 11.

First, in verse 6, it says, “while we were weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” We were weak. Not strong. The word for weak here isn’t simply unmuscular; it is more referring to morally weak. (ESV study Bible footnote on page 2165, Crossway Publishers.) Our ability to fight sin was weak. We easily give in to temptation. And Christ died for us. Have you ever had a time in life that you just caved to temptation? You saw the temptation and just gave in. We are like robots going to the sin. We are weak. But, while we were weak, Christ died for the ungodly.

One of the things that I love about this church is all of the different cultures represented. Every culture has its unique strengths. For example, when I lived in China, I learned that the Chinese respect their elderly way more than Americans do. It is a good cultural value. When I’ve made friends with people from Saudi Arabia, I’ve learned that they place a high value on hospitality. When I went to a Saudi Arabian friends’ home, they treated me like a king! A nice big rug was rolled out with lots of snacks. Coffee and tea were abundant. It was great!

But I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a culture that values weakness. It’s just not a trait that is respected! I’ve never heard anyone say, “I really want to be a weak person.” Right? And yet, weakness is at the heart of Christianity. Christ died for us while we were weak, even ungodly. And if we can’t recognize that we are weak, no matter what culture we’re from, we can never come to Christ. Trying to impress God with our moral strength will never work. Imagine that. Look how strong I am God! Look at how much I pray! Look at how much money I give! As if God will be impressed with us. Our morality will never reconcile us to God. We can only come to him weak, and that’s good, because we are weak.

The second “while we” is in verse 8. Not only are we weak, but we are sinners. He says, “while we were sinners, Christ died for us.” Verse 8 is one of those verses that you should have memorized. It is one of the easiest evangelistic verses for you to share with someone to summarize the Bible. Let’s read it again: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I actually memorized that verse with a song when I was about 5 years old.

You see in verse 7 how Paul builds up to this point by showing that us humans will scarcely die for someone else. Sure, occasionally someone might die for a really good person, but for the most part, we don’t want to do that. We might be willing to die for a spouse or a child or a dear friend, but for a horrible person? I doubt it. Yet God loves us so much to have Jesus die for sinners. His death wasn’t for righteous people, because no one is righteous. Jesus’ death for sinners, his blood that we see in verse 9, is what saves us from the wrath of God.

In verse 10, it says “while we were enemies.” “If while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” This isn’t a popular truth. But before we knew Christ, we were enemies of God. We were against him. And his wrath was on us, and rightly so.

But instead of wiping us all out, which he could’ve done, God made a way for us. He reconciled us. He brought us back into peace with him, through the death of his own Son. That is the grace that we talked about earlier: God giving us good things when we deserve bad things.

I’ve read a few stories about prisoners of war from World War 2. You didn’t want to be captured and taken to a prisoner of war camp. As an enemy, the prisoners were often treated terribly, and at times even tortured. That’s because they were enemies. It would be unheard of for a prison guard to trade places with an enemy prisoner. Can you imagine? The enemy prisoner of war, sleeping in a tiny cell on the ground, getting a piece of bread per day for food, and then the guard saying, “tell you what, you go take my room, with a bed and 3 meals, and I’ll sleep in your cell.” I’d be willing to bet that has never happened. But Jesus died for his enemies. He didn’t just trade rooms. He took the torture. He took the punishment. And he died in our place. Church, you can’t get bigger love than that.

So through the three “while we’s” in verses 6-11, we’ve seen that God loves us, even though we’re weak, sinful, enemies. And we know he loves us, not because our lives are going well, not because we have some warm feeling in our heart, but because of the cross. Praise be to God! It’s no wonder that in verse 11, Paul concludes with this simple rejoicing: rejoicing in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

If you’re sitting here today and this is your first time to ECC, or you’re not sure about Jesus, I hope you’ll consider all that we’ve talked about today. This is good news for you! You’ll never be good enough for God on your own. You could never pray enough or give enough money to be good enough for the kingdom of God. But God gave you a way to Him. While you were a weak sinner, he gave you a way. Jesus died in your place on the cross, and the Bible says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” Friend, I urge you to believe in him today, so that you can have peace with God, no matter what it costs you in this life.

And if you’re sitting here and you know Jesus, then rejoice. Let’s rejoice together at all that God has done for us in Christ. God has given us peace. We can stand in God’s grace. God gives us hope in our suffering. God has poured his love into our hearts. God reconciled us to himself through the death of his son, even when we were weak sinful enemies. Yes, let us rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.