What gives us hope?

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

In our service last week the message concluded Paul’s “proper” letter to the church in Rome. Before finishing the letter with a few concluding thoughts and personal messages, Paul summarizes the entire letter by reminding us to keep hoping in God.

Hope in the Bible is not the same as we might think or use the term hope today. We quite often mention “I hope it doesn’t rain” or “I hope I get some rest tonight” … and this really gives us the idea that there is a chance, a 50/50 kind of “good luck” .. “wish” .. kind of sentiment. The Bible however, doesn’t use the idea of hope in that way. The Bible uses the word hope to refer to the idea that something is definitely going to happen – 100% true.

In this section Paul says that our hope is in God. So, God is doing something and because God is doing something it’s going to work! He is 100% successful and everything He does because He is God. The thing that God is doing is found in Romans 1-11 – the gospel. He is offering forgiveness and healing. He is offering reunion with Him and eternal happiness and joy. Paul points back to the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as a way to remind us that God is a keeper of promises. God is working today, albeit sometimes in the background, sometimes hidden, to bring about the promises that He has made. This is something that we can grasp now .. and something we have to look forward to .. but only because God is the one doing it. Therefore we can hope with all knowledge that it’s going to happen.

Paul also says that can hope in God because of what He has done to bring together Jew and Gentile. Remember the context of this chapter is church unity. Paul says, both Jew and Gentile are included in God’s plan of salvation and both are the recipients of Christ’s work. If God can heal the divide between Jew and Gentile, what do you think about your squabble with your Christian friend? Do you think God can be Lord over that too?

And to demonstrate what he means, Paul quotes from four Old Testament passages to prove that God’s plan was always Jew and Gentile together. The most fascinating of which is from Isaiah 11 which predicted that the Messiah would rise from the dead:

Romans 15:12 – “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.”

When did Jesus rise to rule? Of course in his resurrection from he dead. That is where He defeated sin and according to Ephesians broke down the wall of seperation. And so Jesus rose to rule over the Gentiles so that now the Gentiles will hope in him. It is this hope and this rule that will bring the warring factions in Rome together as the basis of worship and praise: because Jesus overcame and conquered death we can overcome our differences too.

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