Title: Building Hope
Text: Romans 5.3-4
Introduction: we’ll also be in 2 Cor 12.1
Our text has taught us that Justification comes through faith in Christ. There is this moment when we surrender our wills to God’s. And through faith, by grace, we surrender. We’re saved. We begin this new, wonderful, beautiful life with God. But is life then, perfectly wonderful? Well, in some respects we can say yes. But in other respects, we would say no. For sin still dominates us and we struggle. Trials, Tribulations, Struggles, Afflictions – they all come at one time or another.
Growth occurs for the believer. Slowly. Steadily. We grow. We begin to experience benefits or blessings: Peace, Grace, Joy and Hope. We looked at them last week in v 1-3. Rd. 1-3; Some of these can be possibly seen in a dualistic way…
It is this last one (hope) that we pick up with and continue this morning.
- Rejoice in hope of the glory of God –
- Rejoice in our suffering, because it builds or strengthens our hope.
We’re going to look a little closer at this idea of hope and how it is strengthened in our lives this morning. In our text we find a three-step progression which produces hope:
- Suffering produces endurance
- Endurance produces character
- Character produces hope
- Hope doesn’t disappoint
Let’s look 1st at this topic of suffering:
Topic: Suffering (3)
exp.: rd v3; 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, not only what? 2we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. I believe this is a reference to heaven – which is what I expressed last week and where we ended the message. So we pick up here… 3 Not only that (rejoicing in hope), but we also rejoice in our sufferings. To be honest, the first one makes sense. When we talk about heaven, yeah, there is rejoicing – but in suffering? Who rejoices in suffering? Well, according to Paul – you and I should! Suffering here on earth leads us to hope – the hope of glory. Paul is making a connection here, through these steps, from hope to heaven.
Hope is a theme that sticks out in this passage and if you make your way to chapter 8, you’ll see that 5 and 8 serve as bookends to this theme of hope in suffering. He pulls it all together again in 8.18-24a: 18I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed in us… …24For in this hope we were saved.
Side note: If you missed it somehow, (if you didn’t get the memo) we have been warned ahead of time that, as believers, we would experience suffering in the world.
- We are not greater than our master John 15.20
- If the world persecuted him, it will persecute us, too. John 15.20
- There will be suffering in this world. John 16.33
To be sure, these instances deal with suffering for being a Christian. But I think suffering can be felt and experienced in so many ways. At this time in the history of the world – so much suffering is coming from Christian persecution. But I think Paul’s context for suffering covers even more. Turn to 2 Corinthians 12.1-10. In this passage, boast is the same Gk word in our passage that is translated ‘rejoice’. Paul declares that suffering is so much more than just persecution. He says: weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.
ill.: I have a friend – a partner in the ministry who texts me every Sunday morning to let me know he has been praying for me before I enter the pulpit. I told him about my back and he shared this verse with me.
app.: I don’t know if you’re suffering right now – or even if you’d classify what you’re going through as suffering. But suffering isn’t just being persecuted as a Christian. Paul lets us in on some pretty broad categories that cover this topic of suffering. Remember that. It fits this context of suffering.
t.s.: So we begin with suffering and we see it produces in us Endurance.
I. Suffering produces Endurance (3b)
exp.: endurance is the first effect of suffering; rd 2b-3; 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 sometimes this word is translated as patient expectation. Let that just wash over you for a moment. You might say it this way: Suffering produces patient expectation.
You’re probably most familiar with it’s use in Rev. 1.9: 9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient (expectation) endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. To endure and persevere is one thing, but I think this word means more than just putting up with something for an extended period of time. There is the patient expectation of something more to come. Most of us will endure anything if we believe something more is coming in the end. The waiting must be worth the reward. And for believers, we know that it is.
ill.: David expresses to us his suffering in Psalm 5 and really brings out this idea of expectant patience. We especially notice it in the NIV. Beginning in v1 of Psalm 5 he says: 1 Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing. 2 Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. 3In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
app.: Suffering, with an eye to the future, produces in us a certain patient expectation – a patient endurance.
t.s.: And endurance produces…
II. Endurance produces Character (4a)
exp.: we see that in v3b-4a; we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character… Character is hard to define. The Gk word δοκιμήν is defined as the quality of being approved. So, it is the idea of proven character. A person lives out their life in front of others and proves themselves over time to posses this quality we call Character. In Philippians 2.22 Paul writes: 22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. You could read this: But you know Timothy’s character…
I’d like to clear up a misunderstanding about this word, Character. Character is something you either have or you don’t. There isn’t good character and bad character. It isn’t like everyone has character and it is displayed as either good or bad. There is either character or a lack of character. And character is something that is proven. A person doesn’t just say they have character – they prove it with their lives and actions. Character is identified. Like Timothy: You know his proven worth…
ill.: In this same passage in Philippians chapter two, Paul refers to Epaphroditis in the same fashion. Paul goes on and on about his work and how he has proven himself.
app.: Consider those you know who possess the quality: Character. My guess is, as you think through their lives, you can trace this pattern of suffering to patient endurance to character.
t.s.: and Character produces hope…
III. Character produces Hope (4b)
exp.: rd 3b-4; 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope… Now, the question for us would be: just how does that happen? I think it is a natural progression as a believer. This progression appears to me to be a growth process. We suffer. We suffer and patiently endure. We patiently endure with a sense of expectation that God is at work in it all. Over time, character is revealed. If you’re a baby Christian, this isn’t a set of hoops you jump through and wah-lah, you’re there. This is like creating a beautiful piece of pottery.
ill.: The clay is chosen and kneaded. And then, it is worked. It has to go through pushing and prodding. It is turned in and out, over and over again. It is made soft and pliable. Then, it is shaped. This is a long and slow process – this shaping. It takes patience and time. It takes pressure on the inside and the outside. The master presses on the clay from both sides, tenderly molding and shaping the piece of clay into something useful and beautiful. But it isn’t done. Then it has to go through the fire. Then, and only then, does it become something useful – something strong.
app.: That is a lot like hope and how it is borne in us. And, that is why we can rejoice in sufferings.
3 Not only that (rejoicing in hope of the glory of God), 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.
t.s.: And this is the final effect – hope that doesn’t disappoint or put us to shame.
Conclusion: This should be our final point this morning, but we’ve come to a good stopping point. Paul says here: your hope, born out of struggle, patient endurance and the revealing of character, will not disappoint you. It will not be put to shame. For God has given us the precious gift of the Holy Spirit.
We’ll come back to this specific topic next week. For now, let’s look at some take-a-ways
Application: When life’s struggles come your way:
- Don’t doubt God. He knows what he is doing. I wonder if too many people have bought into the lie that only good things happen to Christians. God wants you to prosper. They quote Jeremiah 29.11: 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Maybe they continue on with verse 12-13: 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. And all the Christians say Amen. But what is missing is context. Verse 10 says: 10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. Oh, that changes things. And v 14 says: 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. I say this because I don’t want you to fall for the lie that God will only prosper you. He might not. And when hard times come, do you trust him
- Pray. There is reason for rejoicing. Rejoice in what God is doing. Yes, be active and do everything you can. But pray like it all depends on God – because it does (Henry reminded me of this, this past week). 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
- Patiently endure. He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. I want to encourage you to endure because I believe Paul is teaching us that suffering has a purpose in our lives.
My thoughts are scattered. And if mine are, I’m guessing yours might be also. There is a lot to take in here. I’d love to visit with this about you one on one. I know our elders, our staff, and other members would love to visit with you about this, too.
In a moment we have a time of silence before being dismissed. We’ll have a time of fellowship at the back with some coffee and cookies – maybe some doughnuts. Let’s meet back there and talk. I’d love to answer any questions you might have. If you’ve never accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, I’d like to offer him to you today. Maybe there is another decision on your heart. Let’s talk about it.