Paul who devoted a lengthy percentage of the letter to the Romans to talking about the unity of Christians finally talks about his conclusion. That is to be careful not to have your eyes on the wrong things. Look at God. Depend upon God. That is because God is the God of hope. Look at verse 13.
Human endeavor or policies can’t bring about unity in the church. God gives the unity. Therefore, we must not have our eyes on the differences in each other, but must look to God and depend upon God.
Today let’s look at 3 points about the God of hope
- 1. Accept one another just as Christ accepted you.
- 2. God accepted us so that God would be glorified. God being glorified is what is important.
- 3. Therefore, let’s depend upon the God of hope.
- I. Just as Christ accepted you (vs. 7)
First let’s look at verse 7.
“Then” (7) refers to all that Paul said about the unity of Christians which takes up a lengthy percentage of the letter to the Romans. The way Jesus accepted us is to be the model for all Christians, the key to all solutions. Here it tells us “Accept one another, then just as Christ accepted you.” (7) In chapter 14 we learned how Christ accepted us. In chapter 15 Christ appears as dying in our place. Christ died for those whose faith was thought to be weak. Not only that, but he also died for those whose faith was thought to be strong. In other words, Christ died on the cross in exchange for the sins of all people. He loved us so much as to give away his life. How can we judge someone that Jesus loved so much that he died for him!
Until I believed in Jesus I really didn’t know how great the cross of Christ was. However, I believed, was saved, and gradually, I was able to realize the greatness. God’s love is so huge! He loved us when we didn’t deserve it. He continues to love us, forgive us, and accept us even now. This huge love is the foundation of our fellowship. If we judge a person that God loves this much then we are the person that is the big problem. In the church we are apt to judge people who are different from ourselves, but this is the result of the left over sin that we still have left in our hearts how. We must not forget this reality.
We are all sinners. We are flesh and blood humans put together having faults, defects, and weaknesses. We definitely aren’t saints. There is no one that is perfect. Therefore, it is inevitable there are things about other Christians that you don’t like, or that you can’t accept, and it is difficult to like them. However, Christ accepted us so much! That it so that we will love each other and accept each other. The problem is that it is hard to stand in the love of the cross.
This is the will of God. This is only possible to do by standing in the love of our Lord who said, “As I have loved you” (John 13:34) In other words, whether we have accepted the love of Jesus’ cross will determine whether an attitude of loving each other will appear or not. “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) This is the key to unity in the church.
- II. God being glorified is what is important (vs. 8-12)
In verses 8 to 12 Paul is talking about the necessity of Christian unity from another angle. That is to glorify God.
Here it tells us how Christ accepted us. First look at verse 8 and it says, “Christ has become a servant of the Jews.” Christ was born as a Jew and was born into the Jewish community because this was promised in the Old Testament. That Christ would be born as a Jew was the fulfillment of the promises made to them.
However, Jesus didn’t just accept the Jews, but also the Gentiles. Verse 9 says, “So that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy.” Christ died on the cross not only for the Jews, but so that all people will know the truth and be saved. It is so that the Jews and the Gentiles “with one mind and one voice…may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (6) To demonstrate this Paul quotes in verses 9 to 12 four Old Testament passages.
- 1. Vs. 9 Psalms 18:49 This is a prophecy of David that the name of Lord would be praised among the Gentiles. The name of the Lord will be praised among the Gentiles too.
- 2. Vs. 10 Deut. 32:43 Both the Gentiles and the Jews will rejoice.
- 3. Vs. 11 Psalms 117:1 This too is a prophecy that the Gentiles will praise God.
- 4. Vs. 12 Isaiah 11:10 This too is a prophecy that the Gentiles will praise God. “The Root of Jesse” refers to the Messiah, but this Messiah was for the Gentiles. He was the hope of the Gentiles and would come for the purpose of saving the Gentiles. This was prophesized long, long ago. Even the Gentiles who didn’t know the real living God up until now, will “sing praises to him.” (11)
In other words, both the Jews and the Gentiles were accepted by Christ so that “with one mind and one voice” (6) they might “glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (6)
I think some of you may have noticed this about this passage, but up until now Paul has been talking on the theme of those of strong faith and those of weak faith accepting each other, but here he is not talking on the level of weak and strong people, but has moved his theme to the unity of the Jews and Greeks. For the Jews and Greeks to be unified was unthinkable. They had a relationship like water and oil that can’t be unified. However, by Christ being put on the cross, he “has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14) and peace has been realized.
This means it is not impossible to become one in Christ. In other words, what is important is to seek to keep our eyes on and worship God. This is everything.
It is o.k. to have different thinking about little things. However, what is important is to keep our eyes on the most important things. If we really keep our eyes on the most important things, then the little things won’t matter to us anymore. The important thing is to keep our eyes on and worship God. If we live seeking this then the trivial different points that occur among people will not concern us at all and we can accept each other.
- III. Keep you eyes on the God of hope (vs. 13)
Therefore, the third point is to keep your eyes on God. Don’t let the differences between you and others or your emotions flourish, but keep your eyes on God. That is because God is the God of hope. When your eyes are looking in that direction, for the first time you are able to accept the other person. Please look at verse 13.
Here Paul is calling God “the God of hope”. (13) In verse 5 he said “the God who gives endurance and encouragement”. The God of endurance and encouragement can give us hope. The God of the Bible that we believe in is more than anything “the God of hope”. (13) “The God of hope” (13) is the God that can give us hope. Man all live with some kind of hope. If you have no hope, you are not able to live. Even if you are alive, you will be a living corpse.
During the second World War, the German Nazis sent the Jews to the concentration camps where they were killed and died. Among them there were a few people who survived. Almost without exception those who survived had some clear hope like that God was going to save them, or that they were going to see their family again. Hope gives us strength to live.
However, there are all sorts of hopes like the hope to become a millionaire or the hope to be famous, or a hope for an easier life. .Such a kind of longing or desires or ambitions can temporarily give us satisfaction, but it won’t continue. Therefore, such hope ends in despair. However, the hope that God gives definitely never ends in despair. That’s because God is “the God of hope” (13), the source of hope. There is a real God who made everything out of nothing who is the source of “hope”. When we depend on him, “hope does not disappoint us”. (5:5)
Also when we look at Romans 5, we can see that God’s love is poured into our hearts so “hope does not disappoint us”. (5:5)
God didn’t for the righteous man or a good man, but when we were “still powerless” (5:6), “ungodly” (5:6) “still sinners” (5:8), moreover “enemies” (5:10) God loved us. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (5:8) “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (5:10)
Moreover, the absolute evidence that our “hope does not disappoint us” (5:5) is the fact of Christ’s resurrection. Christ rose from the dead confirms that the hope of Christ can’t be locked up by anything and also that hope is eternal. Therefore, those who hope in Christ, their “hope does not disappoint ” (5:5) them.
God gives this hope. And Paul prays that “the God of hope” (13) will fill the Roman church’s members “with all joy and peace” (13) so that they might “overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (13) It was not by their effort that they will have hope, joy and peace, but by faith, and by the Holy Spirit. After all it is “the God of hope” (13) who gives us such things and we must depend upon God. Problems that cause us to lose hope arise in the church and we fall into despair. By depending on “the God of hope” (13) we are given joy and peace and we “overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”. (13)
This is not just in the church. In our life over and over again things happen that cause us to fall into despair, but at such times “the God of hope” (13) by the power of the Holy Spirit, continues to give us hope. The problem is where are eyes are looking. If our eyes look at such problems we will fall into despair, but if we look at God, we are given hope.
When David was hated by King Saul, his life was on the stake, and he wandered 10 years in the wilderness of Judea. H“rest in God alone” (Psalms 62:1)e confessed in Psalms62:1-8 about where hope and salvation came from when he was in the midst of life’s trials.
David in the midst of the trials in the wilderness, he found “rest in God alone” (Psalms 62:1). To find “rest in God alone” (Psalms 62:1) is to put complete trust in God, and do away with all human power, and earnestly turn out hearts toward the Lord, and seek salvation only from the Lord. The word used for “rest” (13) actually means “silence”. To be silent means ①Don’t murmur or complain. ②Don’t do evil. A person that depends upon God is content with doing just that so he can be silent. David in the midst of an attack by Saul’s army confessed in verse 6 of Psalm 62, God “alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” When many thoughts floated to the surface, like the flow of the river, he was able to just rest and move with the flow. He poured out his heart to God. To rest in God isn’t to put a lid on your emotions. It is to give to God all the anxieties, anger, and sadness that rise up. By pouring our hearts out before the Lord like this causes the storms of emotions to calm. By looking at the realities of life we lose heart. If we aren’t quiet before the Lord, we worry about what others are thinking and become a slave of men. Then we lose peace. Therefore, in the background of what we are seeing, we must be looking at God. “He alone is my rock, and my salvation; he is my fortress” (Psalm 62:6) “my refuge” (Psalm 62:7) By looking to him, and depending upon him we will be given the perfect answer.
Where are you looking? What are you depending on? Just as David found “rest in God alone” (Psalms 62:1) and depended upon the Lord, let’s trust in the Lord. That is so that “The God of hope” (13) will by the power of the Holy Spirit pour out hope upon you.