|From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase|
Part one of a series
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
We live in a world in the grip of fear - fear of disease, fear of famine, fear of war, fear of economic calamity, fear of the loss of freedom, fear of civil unrest - sinful men even fear their own environment. The world is in bondage to fear in every form one can name. But all forms of fear, at their center, focus on one kind of fear - the fear of death. Apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Word of God, man is in bondage to ever-multiplying forms of fear and possesses no hope.
In this world under the curse, the Holy Spirit uses man's inherent fear to "convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (John 16:8). In the Psalms we read,
The wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not always be forgotten; the expectation of the poor shall not perish forever. Arise, O Lord, do not let man prevail; let the nations be judged in Your sight. Put them in fear, O Lord, that the nations may know themselves to be but men. (Psalm 9:17-20)
Only the regenerated, blood-bought child of God is truly capable of living with a different attitude:
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah Come, behold the works of the Lord, who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah (Psalm 46)
The Gospel, The Christian's Source of Hope
The great theme of the book of Romans is the one true Gospel - salvation by God's grace alone, justification by faith alone, in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. It is because of the Gospel that the believer in Christ is the only one who can live in hope in the midst of a world gripped by fear.
Romans chapter one is all about the Gospel (1:16) - what it is, why man needs it, how to preach it, how to believe it, and how the believer is to live in the light of it. In chapter 1 Paul tells us about the nature of the Gospel - the fact of original sin; the fact that all men stand guilty before God.
In chapters 2 and 3 Paul by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit tells us about the rightness of the judgment of God against all men, both Jew and Gentile. Furthermore, Paul tells us that we are totally unable to save ourselves from the wrath of God by law-keeping or any other means. What we need is the perfect law-keeping righteousness of Jesus Christ.
In chapter 4, Paul tells us about justification by faith alone: salvation depends not on us in our sin, weakness, and fear, but on the perfections of the triumphant Christ who has died for sinners and given them a perfect righteousness that is not their own. In chapter 5, he tells us about our position in Christ, that we now have His imputed righteousness, we now have deliverance from God's wrath, and we now have peace with God.
In chapters 6 through 8, Paul deals with the problem of remaining sin within us, and he leads us through that great "golden chain" of redemption that leads us from our starting position of total depravity and hopelessness all the way to ultimate glory. Paul tells us about absolute certainty of our salvation.
In chapters 9-11 Paul deals with the fact that salvation is the same for both Jew and Gentile by God's sovereign election, and he also deals with the fact that God is not finished with Israel.
And then we come to the place at which we always arrive in Paul's letters to the churches: the point at which he shifts from doctrine to application. Chapter 12 verses 1 and 2 are the lynchpin of Romans:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
Living Life With a Renewed Mind
Because of the Gospel, the life of the believer in Christ is to be the life of a renewed mind - literally, in the original language, a renovated mind. The regenerated mind must undergo a complete makeover, a change in every part of our thinking.
In chapters 12 through 16 Paul focuses our attention on that renovation. He declares how we are to serve to God. He describes the proper behavior of the Christian under civil government. He explains the Christian's liberty in things that are not prohibited in Scripture, and the need to balance that liberty with the weight of our responsibility to our brethren. And then we come to this passage, in chapter 15:
For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.
Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: "For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, and sing to Your name." And again he says: "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!" And again: "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!" And again, Isaiah says: "There shall be a root of Jesse; and He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in Him the Gentiles shall hope."
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:4-13)
Here Paul talks about what justification by faith should do to the believer on the inside.
These verses rest on the foundation of the wealth of doctrinal teaching in all of the preceding chapters, all rooted in the Gospel. This passage deals with a key aspect of the life of the believer in light of the Gospel: We are to live a life of hope.
In the articles that will follow, God willing, we shall focus our attention on three key facts about our hope, and where those facts should lead us in our walk with Christ.
Next: The Scriptures Are Our Source of Hope
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