Main Idea: Hope in God will not disappoint.
I read a story from 2018 about an exhibit at the Museum of English Rural Life in England. The exhibit showcased a 160 year old humane mousetrap, which was just a simple seesaw mechanism that traps a mouse once they tip the scale. In 1861, the inventor of the trap named it “the perpetual mousetrap,” and claimed that his trap would last a lifetime. Well, apparently, it would last even longer than that, because after the trap had been on display in the museum for some time, someone noticed that the exhibit contained a little mouse. Apparently, the 155 year old mousetrap still worked exactly as it was designed to do.
Many people look at the Bible today, and the gospel, as if it’s a relic from the past. People often think that Christianity just doesn’t work in today’s modern society. But God designed the gospel to be forever. It’s the good news of great joy that shall be for all the people, and as we saw in Romans 1, all of the nations are called to faith and obedience to Jesus Christ.
We took a break from the book of Romans in November and December so that we could talk about thankfulness and the birth of Jesus. But now that it’s the new year, we’re going to continue our study through the book of Romans, as we see how the gospel really is for all peoples of all nations.
So far in the Book of Romans, we’ve established primarily two things. We’ve established that we’re all sinners deserving of God’s wrath, Romans 3:23, and yet we’ve established that we’re justified freely by His grace, Romans 3:24. It doesn’t matter what family you were born in, or what part of the world you live in, or what language you speak, or what nation you call home. God’s grace is for all because Jesus died for all sin.
And when you finally see that God’s grace really is for all, including you, then it will lead you to have your whole life transformed, both for your good and God’s glory.
Right now, what is it that you most want to change in your life? Maybe it’s your job that you feel you’re just stuck in, or a toxic relationship, or even just how you spend your time. Maybe you feel like you’ve been locked into a meaningless life and you just wish everything could change, but you have no hope of that ever happening. If you hear nothing else this morning, hear this: there’s hope. In Jesus, there’s always hope.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we boast in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)
Father, help us to have the kind of faith that helps us to endure whatever life throws at us, so that we would grow and have an even greater hope in You. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Raise your hand if you have kids under 5 years old. If I were to walk into your home right now, what would I see? I would see evidence all over the place of your kids, right?
When a new believer comes to faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside them. So what evidence is there that the Holy Spirit is living in you? If you know Jesus, God is with you wherever you go, and through the power of the Holy Spirit inside us, God has promised to transform us and give us a new hope as we begin a new life in Jesus.
And yet, most of us fight against the change that God wants to do in us, because it’s just too painful to endure.
So, in the life of the church, we often hear people say, “We’ve never done it that way before!” Or, “That’s just the way it’s always been!” Maybe you’ve talked with people before who cling to traditions for the sake of traditions. Or maybe you are the person who clings to certain traditions in the church or in your family. I have absolutely nothing against traditions, as long as we know why our traditions are good to continue, and our traditions are effective for the purpose we have them for, and we don’t just engage in traditions for the sake of tradition.
For example, the U.S. standard railroad gauge (distance between rails) is four feet, eight-and-one-half inches. Federal safety regulations allow for railroads to be within half an inch of this standard, but the standard itself is four feet, eight-and-one-half inches wide.
[Picture of railroad tracks]
That’s kind of an oddly specific number, don’t you think? Why are all railroads four feet, eight-and-one-half inches wide? Well, when you look into it, it’s because that’s the way they built them in England, and American railroads were built by people who were originally from England.
So the question then becomes, “why did the English adopt that particular width for their railroads?” Well, it’s because prior to trains, they had trams.
[Picture of trams]
And so when they built railroads, they used the same tools that they used to build the tracks for the trams, which were four feet, eight-and-one-half inches wide.
But even before that, those people in turn were locked into that width because the people who built tramways used the same standards and tools they had used for building wagons, which were set on a gauge of four feet, eight-and-one-half inches.
[Picture of a covered wagon]
So, the question then becomes, why were wagons built to that scale? And when you look into it, it was simply because it needed to accommodate the rear ends of two horses. So our railroads today are all exactly four feet, eight-and-one-half inches wide literally because of two horse’s behinds.
[Picture of two horse’s behinds]
So maybe “that’s the way it’s always been” isn’t really a great reason for continuing to do things the same way forever, without change.
What is it that you most need to change in your life? While I think we all know that it’s good to be content with what we have, we’re human. We’re sinners, which means that we’re not perfect, which means that we need some things to change. So what is it that you most need to change? Or what is it that you most hope God will change in your life?
Our Scripture passage this morning addresses this in at least a couple ways. Paul was writing to the church in Rome, describing this massive change that happens in our lives when we trust in Jesus.
Notice first that Paul assures us that when a person comes to have faith in Jesus, they will begin to have peace. That’s what it says in verse 1.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
Believers have peace with God. Now, this isn’t our natural relationship with God. By nature, we’re children of wrath. Because of our sin, we were enemies with God. But Jesus died for our sin. So by faith in Him, we’re no longer enemies, but friends.
Corrie ten Boom wrote about her experience in coming face to face with one of the guards of a concentration camp where she and her sister Betsie had been sent after hiding Jews in their home. In fact, it was the very concentration camp where her sister had died. After the war had ended, and years after being released, Corrie spoke in a church in Germany about forgiveness, and this guard approached her, extended his hand to her, and asked for her forgiveness.
Corrie ten Boom wrote this:
I stood there–I whose sins had every day to be forgiven–and could not. Betsie had died in that place–could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking? It could not have been many seconds that he stood there, hand held out, but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do. For I had to do it–I knew that…
And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion–I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. “Jesus, help me!” I prayed silently. “I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.”
And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.
“I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart!”
For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.
At one time, they were enemies, and it was only through God’s grace and power that they could be reconciled as friends. And God does the same thing for each one of us as we place our faith in Jesus. We become reconciled to God, no longer enemies, but friends.
So no matter what you think you want or need, your greatest needs have truly already been taken care of. Sin separated us from God, and yet Jesus justified us, and even now gives us peace.
Maybe you don’t feel like you have that kind of peace. Maybe you feel like your life is constantly in turmoil, and you haven’t felt peace in a long time. Through Jesus, you can have peace, and God wants you to feel that peace, but there’s also a kind of peace that you can know you have with God whether you feel it or not.
The Bible says that God is at peace with you when you trust in Jesus. God isn’t at war with you. He doesn’t consider you His enemy. When Jesus died on the cross, He died for your sin, so that by grace, through faith in Jesus, you have peace with God. Feelings come and go, but you can know that it’s true.
Furthermore, in talking about the change that happens when we put our faith in Jesus, Paul points out that we have access to God and His grace. Look at verse 2.
We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we boast in the hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:2)
Don’t just skip over that. Through Jesus, we have access to God and His grace. This is massive! The God who created all things wants to have a relationship with you, and you have access to Him. And you have access to His grace. That means that no matter what you’ve done in the past, God wants to know you, and He wants you to know Him, and that’s possible because through Jesus dying on the cross, God forgives you.
I used to answer my phone all the time, but some time within the last year, I’ve been getting a ton of phone calls and texts asking for somebody named Jerome. Every day, I get at least 5 to 10 phone calls and texts for Jerome. I don’t know if Jerome gave out my phone number, or what’s going on, but it’s insane. And Jerome must not be doing too great, because most of these people think that Jerome owes them some money!
So because of all that, I rarely answer my phone anymore. If I don’t have the number in my contacts, or if I don’t recognize the number, I just let it go to voicemail. But my family always has access to me. So when they call, I pick up.
Paul writes that we have access to God. So, are you taking advantage of this access? Do you pray? Do you read His word? Do you rejoice in God? Do you walk in the confidence that comes from knowing that God is on your side? I think that’s at least part of what Paul means when he wrote at the end of verse 2 that “we boast in the hope of the glory of God.”
The Bible says in other places that we ought not to boast. When we point to ourselves and say, “Look how awesome I am,” that’s wrong. That’s pride, and pride goes before a fall. But when we boast in who God is, saying, “Look how awesome He is,” and when we boast in what God has done, and in what God is going to do, that’s the kind of boasting that glorifies God.
So Paul writes that “we boast in the hope of the glory of God.” It’s a sure hope. Even if we have no idea how God is going to bring about His complete and perfect glory, we can be sure that we He will.
It doesn’t seem like it should be possible. How can God be glorified when there’s so much that doesn’t glorify Him in the world? The answer, according to Scripture, is actually quite simple. God is going to restore and redeem everything, as we saw from the book of Revelation just last week. From His throne, Jesus says in Revelation 21:5:
“Look, I am making everything new.” (Revelation 21:5a)
So we boast in the hope of the glory of God. We boast in it because we know that through Jesus, God’s going to do it and is doing it. We know that He’s able, and will bring about His complete and perfect glory. We’re not boasting in ourselves, like we’re so often tempted to do. We boast in our hope that depends on God Himself.
And we also boast in the process by which God accomplishes His glory and gives us this sure hope. Verse 3.
And not only that, but we also boast in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. (Romans 5:3-4)
In order for our hope of the glory of God to be fulfilled, we need to be afflicted so that we learn to endure, so that our character will be built. And if we trust God to do that in us, our hope of God’s glory will not disappoint us. So we even boast in our afflictions because through our afflictions, we know God will be glorified.
It’s kind of like tearing up a room so that you can restore it to something even better. We recently got a bathroom remodeled in our house. But in order for the bathroom to function better, at first, it had to get a lot worse. We had to completely tear it up. But now, the work on it is complete, and we can actually take a hot shower in there again, which we haven’t been able to do in years.
And in order for us to glorify God the way that we ought, sometimes we need to be torn up first. We need to be transformed so that there’s none of what we were, and we’re made completely new.
This is modeled after Jesus Himself. Even though Jesus Himself was perfect, and never sinned, He was afflicted with our sin, which led to God being glorified. And when we trust in His sacrifice for us, God begins to do the same thing in us, giving us a perfect hope in Him. Look at verse 5.
This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:5)
You see, by the power of the Holy Spirit, you can change. Maybe some of the things you want to change in your lives are insignificant when it comes to eternity, because sometimes we can get fixated on changing things when really we ourselves need to be changed, but the point is simply that we’re not hopelessly locked into a meaningless life. Through Jesus, God sets you on a path of growing and changing by the power of His Spirit and the power of His love so that He Himself would be glorified forever and ever.
Pastor Chris Huff has been with us since July 2009. He and his wife, Abby, have four children. Chris is originally from St. Louis, MO and even though he was raised as a city boy, he has a small town heart. Chris is all over the internet, so you can find him on Facebook, Twitter,… (read more)