Rejoice in Hope (Romans 5:1-5)
Topic: Romans Passage: Romans 5:1–5:5
Time Management 101
Rejoice in Hope
August 18th, 2013
(One Mission: Until I Come)
I. That Feeling about the Future
Do you know...do you know that feeling? Let me see if I can explain. Imagine you are having one of those weeks; a week in which nothing seems to go right; a week in which everything that could go wrong...does. Ever had a week like that?
Okay, so can you imagine that? Can you imagine how that feels? But that isn't feeling I'm talking about. So imagine it is Friday morning of that chaotic, erratic, problematic, stress-inducing, hair-pulling week. And you know today will be more of the same. But as you sit there eating your Fruit Loops, trying to think of some excuse to crawl back into bed, it suddenly dawns on you: this weekend is THE weekend! How could you have forgotten?
This is THE weekend in which you and your family or you and your friends are going to on amazing trip that you won by entering a contest a few months earlier: an all expense paid trip to one of the best resorts in the country. Rest and relaxation; good fun, good fun. This is exactly what you need.
So there are you are. A spoonful of cereal stopped a few inches in front of your face. Your mouth hanging open, just slightly. Your mind...racing. A difficult day ahead, but at the end of it, the beginning of something really amazing. And...right there. That's it. There's the feeling. Do you know that feeling?
Hold onto that thought for a few minutes and turn with me to Romans 5. This morning we are once again thinking about the topic of time management. But this isn't time management according to some self-help guru or corporate fat cat. This is time management according to God; according to the Bible. What's the difference? Well as we saw last week, biblical ‘time management’ is about being faithful stewards (managers) of our time as we look at our time through God’s lens.
Did you know that your present is shaped by your perspective on your past and your future. As we've been learning, this is exactly why our perspective needs to be shaped according to the truth as God has revealed it.
II. The Passage: “Hope Does Not Put Us to Shame” (5:1-5)
With all that in mind, let's look at Romans 5 together. For me, this is one of the most amazing passages in the entire Bible. You'll see why. Now let me set this passage up for you, so we can make sense of the context here. Chapter 5 is the beginning of a new section in which Paul is going to talk about the implications of the astounding truths he has revealed in the first four chapters of the book. Look how he does this right away in verses 1 and 2...
A. Hope Thriving in Light of Our Then (5:1, 2)
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  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.
Given what we've been talking about in this series, you may have noticed that Paul, in these two verses, touches on all three of our main time terms: past, present, and future. Do you see that? But why? What is Paul trying to do in this passage? Well, he wants us to, once again, enroll in God's 'school of time management'. He wants his readers (including you and me) to see our time through God's lens. He wants our perspective to be refined.
Notice what he tells us about the past: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith... Okay, what does that mean? Well, like I mentioned, this is a transition point in Paul's letter. In the first four chapters of the letter, Paul has been demonstrating how 1) every single person is guilty of turning from God, 2) he shows how our attempts to justify ourselves (to prove ourselves innocent) through religion and religious works are useless, and 3) he demonstrates how God has provided a way of forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ.
As we see here in 5:1, if we trust in what Jesus accomplished through His death and resurrection, we will be “justified”, that is, “declared innocent” before God. He pays our debt, our balance is zero. He accepts our sentence, we are set free. And it's all by faith. All we can do is believe that Jesus did it all.
But having made that case in chapters 1-4, here in chapter 5, Paul wants them to understand how the radical love that Jesus demonstrated in the past, how His death and resurrection should radically affect their present. Isn't this what we talked about last week? God wants your past to be ultimately defined by His past, specifically, His past work of redemption.
Okay, so if my perspective on the past is overwhelmingly shaped by what Jesus did, if that past reality is THE past reality of my life (not any other failure or success, not any other painful or pleasant memory), then how does something that happened so long ago really affect my present...my NOW? Well, look again at verse 1...listen for two amazing features of our present reality...
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have (#1) peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also (#2) obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand...
Did you hear that? Because of what Jesus did back THEN, our NOW should be defined by the astounding reality of peace with God and grace from God. Jesus did not set us free and then cast us off. No, God redeemed us for Himself, that we would know Him, love Him, and serve Him.
What does it mean to have peace with God? Look at Paul explains it a few verses later in 5:10...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. We were once enemies of God, but now we have peace with God. And that peace is not simply the absence of conflict. We have been reconciled. That means the restoration of a relationship.
But even if we are reconciled to God, don't we sometimes go back to that 'enemies' mindset? Don't all of us at times still resist God and reject His commands? Doesn't that jeopardize our peace? No, because that peace with God is grounded in His grace, in His undeserved favor. Grace is not simply a door we passed through in the past. Grace is also the place we stand in the present. The death of Jesus has not only cleansed us, it also covers us...forever!
Okay...all of that, up to this point...just introduction. Here's our main focus this morning. Paul has talked about how the past work of Christ should affect their present perspective. But he also talks at the end of verse 2 about how the future work of Christ should affect their present perspective. Yes, we have peace with God. Yes, we stand in the grace of God. But we also (verse 2)...we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Do you see the future and the present in that phrase? “Hope” is always a term tied to the future. What future is it connected with here? A future immersed in “the glory of God”. What does that mean? Well, Paul has already talked about how apart from Jesus we have no hope, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (3:23) But because of Jesus, this glory is now our hope. What is this glory? It is the glorious, the glory-filled presence of God. One day we will enjoy the peace of God and the grace of God in the presence of God!
But even though hope is a term tied to the future, the other end of the rope is being held onto right here in the present. Hope is a present help in light of a future happiness. Now, before we go any further, let me clarify what I meant when I talked about a future work of Christ. Remember, everything in these first two verses is tied to that first phrase...Therefore, since we have been justified by faith...and that includes this part about hope.
In Jesus Christ, our future is inextricably connected to His past. This future work of Jesus is not a new work. It is simply a full outworking of the deliverance He's already secured by His death and resurrection. Look at how Paul expresses it in verses 9 and 10:
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  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.
We are saved, and we will be saved. And look at how Paul goes on in chapter 8 to get more specific about our hope and our future deliverance:
...we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:23-25)
But there's something else there at the end verse 2; something else about that hope. Paul reminds his readers that we “rejoice in hope of the glory of God”. As a present help in a future happiness, this faith-fed hope also produces happiness in the present. Hope produces joy. It's like the happiness of Christmas Eve day. It's a happiness that flows into the present from a happiness we have yet to experience. It is the gift of an excitement that anticipates the gifts to come.
Isn't it amazing how the past, present, and future are intertwined here? What Jesus did, transforms what we are doing, and that in light of what He will do.
B. Hope Threatened in Light of Our Now (5:3-5)
But wait a minute. That sounds really nice, but what about...life? Life is hard. Life is messy. What happens when hope is accosted by the messiness of life? What happens when the idea of fullness forever is pushed way, way back by the emptiness of right now? Can our present suffering really be squared with a future comfort? Well, this is exactly where Paul goes in verses 3-5. One commentator describes Paul's logic in this way:
“No sooner has the Apostle pointed to 'the glory of God', as a light shining afar to cheer the believer on his course, than he thinks of the contrast between that bright distance and the darkness that lies around him here.” (E. H. Gifford)
Look at what Paul writes about this idea of rejoicing in hope. Verse 3...
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  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.
Paul makes the bold claim that our struggles and our suffering should be viewed, not as enemies of hope, but as building blocks of hope. We can rejoice in our sufferings because those sufferings are teaching us to hang in there. And as we hold on through the storms, there is a proven-ness in regard to our character. And that proven character goes on to strengthen hope. Why? Because as one writer puts it, “Hope, like a muscle, will not be strong if it goes unused.” (Douglas Moo) God grows hope when we are forced to look to the future with faith instead of trusting in ourselves now.
In II Corinthians 4:16, 17, Paul also speaks of suffering and glory: So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison...
The Apostle Peter encourages his readers with these same ideas: And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (I Peter 5:10)
And as a final encouragement, Paul reminds the believers in Rome of another past reality that should shape their present perspective. Hope does not and will not put us to shame. We will not be left standing at the altar. We will not be stood up. This is not the wishy-washy kind of hope that is talked about today: “Well, I hope the money will come by Friday...I hope she will say 'yes'...here's to hoping!” No, this hope is grounded in the certainty of what God will do.
How do we know? Because God has already filled our hearts with His love through the Holy Spirit. He hasn't simply given us His love. He's “poured” it into our hearts. That's a picture of abundance. And in Ephesians 1 and II Corinthians 1, Paul talks about the Holy Spirit as a down payment of our future redemption. Christ will come for us. We will not be let down. The love we have from God now testifies of the love we will enjoy forever and ever.
III. What are You Looking Forward To?
Do you know that feeling? A difficult day ahead, but at the end of it, the beginning of something really amazing. THE feeling I have in mind is that willingness to press on, to endure, to push through the difficulties in light of something wonderful up ahead. Has the hope of a weekend ever gotten you through the weekdays? Has the hope of a graduation or a promotion ever gotten you through the workload, through the daily grind?
Brothers and sisters, friends, God has something far greater in store for us than any vacation or promotion, or anything this world could ever offer. Listen, all of us live for the future. Your perspective on your future can’t NOT affect your present. It’s already happening.
We might be driven in the present by the hope of a future success, or the hope of future health, or the hope of a future relationship, or the hope of retirement, or recognition, or some other kind of ‘here and now’ reward. OR, maybe your perspective on the future might is devoid of hope. Maybe it’s dominated by fear, by uncertainty, by despair. And yet there is something that keeps you going. That’s hope in something.
Did you know there are people who are living right now in the hope that the iPhone 6 will be even better than the last one? They think about it. They blog about it. They save for it. They rejoice in hope of better apps and a better interface. What are you looking forward to?
Here’s the rub: the things we so often hope for or hope in, that keep us going, all of them, will eventually put us to shame. They will stand us up. How do I know that? Because everything will wear down and waste away and disappear…everything except God and His Son Jesus Christ, and His love, and…us. Yep, you and will live forever. But we will either live forever in the glory of God, or in the shame of men.
It’s okay to look forward to a vacation, or to graduation, or to retirement, or to some other milestone moment. It’s even okay to look forward to the new iPhone. But we cannot hope in any of those things. All of those hopes have to be anchored in the one hope that will never put us to shame. No more sickness. No more death. No more hurt. No more pain.
Life is like one of those weeks we talked about at the beginning. Life is hard. But God wants to fill us with hope, the hope of being in His presence and enjoying His love forever. A difficult day ahead, but at the end of it, the beginning of something really amazing.
Do you have this hope? If you don’t, God is calling you to faith this morning, to simply trust Him; to trust that Jesus did everything you needed, but could never do for yourself. If you know this hope, then is it transforming your time, right now? Is your present being lived in light of His future, specifically, His future work of redemption. Are you REJOICING in hope? If you understand all that lies in store for you, how could you not rejoice?
Jesus is coming again. But is He coming as your Savior, or as your Judge? You don’t have to be uncertain about that. I love how the Apostle John talks about this hope, and how God’s future should transform our present: Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (I John 3:2-3)