Sunday Morning SoundBytes – 2/10/2008

Yesterday I preached the second part of a message on Faith, Peace, Hope and Love, taken from Romans 5:1-5.

Romans 5:1-5 – “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

The main idea of the message was that these four qualities are connected. They are like links in a chain or building blocks one upon the other. Faith is the foundation of peace, hope and love. Peace is the result of faith and a necessary condition for hope and love. Hope grows out of peace and provides the environment where God’s love may flourish in our hearts. And love is the fulfillment of hope. Love is the ultimate goal, the greatest thing of all. Here is a brief summary of the message:

(Last week)
I. Faith is the foundation of peace, hope and love.

II. Peace is the result of faith and a necessary condition for hope and love.

(This week)
III. Hope grows out of peace and provides the environment where God’s love may flourish in our hearts.

Christian hope is different from worldly hope. Worldly hope may be no more than wishful thinking. But Christian hope is based on the firm foundation of peace with God. And so Paul says, “We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” As Christians in relationship with God, we are bound for glory.

One day Christ will present us perfect before the Father in our new glorified bodies. How do we know this? In one sense our hope is based on the past. We have placed our faith in Christ and have been justified by that faith. Therefore we have peace with God, a relationship with God which extends into the future. But in another sense, our hope also springs from the present work of God in our lives. This is a process that the Bible calls sanctification. God through his Holy Spirit is making us more like Jesus.

How does God change us in the present? God accomplishes this work of sanctification in the believer through the process of suffering. No one escapes suffering. However, you can choose whether to suffer as a Christian or as a non-Christian. As Christians we rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance.

The Christian can look back on the sufferings and trials in his life and see how God has used them in the past to develop perseverance in his life. Have you ever wondered why some Christians are able to remain steadfast in their faith even during the worst of trials? It is because they have already been brought through the fire before, and God has been faithful. So when you go through a severe trial as a Christian, it is not a sign that God has abandoned you, but rather that God is doing a good work in you, if you will only submit to the process.

Suffering produces perseverance. Not only that, but perseverance develops character. God is working the character of Christ in us through our trials. He is taking the common everyday sufferings that all persons experience, and he is turning them to good for us. He is, in fact, preparing us for heaven. Which is why Paul can say, “We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:2)

IV. Love is the fulfillment of hope; it is the ultimate goal, the greatest thing of all.

Our hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Christian hope is the environment in which love flourishes; love is the fulfillment of Christian hope which does not disappoint.

Paul says that God has poured out his love into our hearts. This is a picture of something being poured out in abundance, being spilled all over the place. This is no cautious filling of a vessel. It’s messy! God pours out his love into your heart with wild abandon. He floods your heart. Our cup runneth over.

God’s love has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit “whom he has given us.” The Greek verb here (aorist) speaks of a single decisive act, a one-time giving of the Holy Spirit. This may refer either to the Holy Spirit given to the church at Pentecost, or to the Holy Spirit given to the believer at the new birth.

Either way, the emphasis is on the gift of the Holy Spirit. Faith, peace, hope and love. These precious qualities are not proudly achieved by human effort. Rather they are humbly received as a gracious gift from God through his Holy Spirit.

CONCLUSION: Faith in Christ leads to peace with God which leads to hope in God which leads to a wondrous experience of God’s amazing love. Love is the greatest because love is the fulfillment of all the others. But faith is the foundation. It all begins with faith. And so I ask you, is your faith firmly grounded in Jesus Christ? Have you trusted him as Lord and Savior? If not, then you are not at peace with God, which means you have no basis for hope, and you are separated from God’s wonderful love for you in Christ.

I urge you, therefore, to turn from your sin which separates you from God, and to place your faith in Christ. When you do, God will justify you. He will declare you righteous in his sight. You will then have peace with God. You will have access to God the Father through Jesus Christ his Son. You will stand in God’s grace. That will give hope, meaning and purpose to your life. Even in the midst of trials you will know that God is working in your life to make you more like Christ. One day the process will be completed and you will stand glorified and perfected before your Heavenly Father. And then you will know the love beyond all loves — the abundant, extravagant, lavish love of God which he has poured out into our hearts by his Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Note: To read the complete message, go to the Sermons tab at the top of the blog.

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