Think with me about one of the most important words in our language. It is one of the most significant terms in the Christian religion. It describes a characteristic that we must not live without.
In Romans 8:18-25, Paul brings us to another great blessing of being in Jesus Christ. He mentions one of the most important words in the religion of Jesus Christ. It is a life changing word when it is a part of life. In Christ we have hope. Paul says, “We are saved by hope.” Hope has something to do with our salvation.
Let us probe this term to see what it means to us, what its real significance is, and how it is attached to being in Christ.
I. THE POWER OF HOPE
Hope is a dynamic power that enables one to do almost unbelievable things. I am thinking of hope as a part of life, not just as religious hope. Many years ago the pilgrims came across the North Atlantic; they battled the storms of winter in those little ships. They made the journey and settled into this new land. Why did they brave those storms? Why did they risk their lives to come to the new land? It was because of hope for a better life in the new world.
In the early days of our country the pioneers moved westward. They crossed mountains, rivers, and plains. They suffered hardship. Many of them died. Many others reached their objective of arriving in the West. Why did they make those journeys? It was because of hope. They hoped that beyond those mountains, beyond the rivers, beyond the plains they would find a great meaning to their lives. The same is still true today. A person is sick. Perhaps he may be hospitalized. He may have to undergo surgery. One of the great healing elements in his life will be his hope of getting better. I believe it goes without contradiction that sometimes sick people do not get well when they are sick because they give up hope. When they give up, they cannot win the victory.
Hope is one of the greatest thoughts that has ever entered our minds.
The hopes and expectations of others inspire us to become more than we would have become otherwise. Hope is one of the greatest concepts that has ever entered our minds. It is a dynamic power that causes people to do almost unbelievable things.
In Romans 8, Paul speaks of hope in the context of the problems of human suffering. In verse 17 he said, “We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ if we suffer with Him.” Paul is focusing attention upon the world as it is, a fallen world, a world into which sin has come. As a result of the fall, as a result of sin, there is sickness, heartache, disappointment, and death in this world.
Basically, suffering is in the world because the world has fallen. How is the man in Christ to deal with the world as it is? His disappointments? His physical pain and mental anguish? Death? Paul’s word is “hope.”
Notice what Paul says in verse 18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
God has something better for His people than the suffering and heartache of this world. That something in the future is the object of the Christian’s hope. But no sooner does Paul refer to the sufferings of this present time than he begins to mention what he calls the “whole creation.” Notice what he says:
For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For We know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pain of childbirth together until now (8:19-22).
What does Paul mean when he talks about the whole creation groaning under the suffering and pain of this present world? Some believe Paul is talking about the trees, grass, flowers, and animals. It is true that at some point in time all suffering in the world, even to lower forms of life, will come to a close.
But Paul does not have in mind those parts of nature which are separated from humanity. When he uses the word “creature” he uses the same term Jesus used when He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Jesus certainly did not mean that the gospel should be preached to the animals and plants.
It is the same word Paul used in Colossians 1:23 when he said that every creature under heaven had heard the word of truth. He is not talking about animals and plants. He is talking about every creature that makes up the human family.
His point is that everyone, regardless of who he is, longs for a better life in another world. Everyone has some concept of life beyond this life. The Indians in the earlier days of our country had their happy hunting grounds in their thoughts. Man longs for a better tomorrow.
Paul says that every man is groaning under the sufferings that the world brings and wants to be released from that suffering. However, Paul’s major point has to do with the Christian and his hope. The man who is out of Christ does not live in hope. If he has a hope, it is a false hope because the hope of a better tomorrow belongs only to those who are in Christ.
2. THE OBJECT OF HOPE
Paul continues in 8:23: “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” The whole family of man longs for a better tomorrow, but those who are in Christ know best of all that a better tomorrow is coming. We know it because we have the assurance of God Himself. The object of what we are looking forward to is the “redemption of our body.” Paul is referring to the resurrection from the dead.
I believe in a bodily resurrection. Why? Because the Bible teaches the resurrection of the body; because Jesus Christ Himself has been raised. First Corinthians 15:22 says, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.” All are going to be raised from the dead.
The beautiful concept for the Christian is that those who are in Christ are to enjoy the final adoption, the redemption of the body. First Corinthians 15 is the great chapter on the bodily resurrection of the dead. In that chapter Paul shows that at some point this mortal will put on immortality, this corruptible shall put on incorruption. When this mortal shall put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” Did you know that those who are in Christ will win the ultimate victory even over death? Death is not the end; it is only a stage in the Christian’s existence. He does not face death by himself. God will be with His children even in death and bring them safely through death to the other side.
What assurance do we have that we will be raised? We could say that our assurance is the promise of God; we could say our assurance is the fact that Christ has been raised. But in this context what is the assurance? Did you notice that in verse 23 Paul spoke of the first fruits of the Spirit? The Spirit of God is given to those who are obedient to God (Romans 5-8). Paul has previously emphasized the concept of God’s Spirit being spread abroad in the hearts of those who are in Christ. Acts 5:32 says, “. . . so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” The first fruit is the giving of the Spirit to the Christian. The first fruit is the promise of an additional harvest that will come later. The additional harvest is the resurrection of the body. Our assurance is the Spirit, “the first fruits of the Spirit.” God’s Spirit is a down payment on blessings to be received in the future.
3. THE NATURE OF HOPE
What is hope? There are two elements in hope. One is desire; the other is expectation. A person can desire something and never achieve it. He can expect something that he does not desire. When he has hope he has both desire and expectation. The desire and expectation of the Christian is that there will be a resurrection of the body in an eternal dwelling place with God. He desires it and expects it because God has promised it.
4. THE RECIPIENTS OF HOPE
Who has hope? Who has hope for the future; who has hope for being raised, exalted, and glorified with God? The man out of Christ does not. Ephesians 2:12 speaks of those who live without Christ, as living without hope. That is one of the saddest thoughts that can ever enter our minds. No hope. Out of Christ. Christians who take their commitment to Christ lightly and never commit their lives to Jesus have no hope.
The church at Laodicea in Revelation 3 was about to be spewed out of the mouth of Christ. Simply being a church member does not mean a person has hope. Who has hope? In Colossians 1:27 Paul said, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The Christian is in Christ. Romans 6 says he was baptized and that act put him into Christ (6:3). He has entered into Christ. Not only is the Christian in Christ, but Christ is in him. Christ’s light is being reproduced in the life of a Christian. The Christian is seeking to think, talk, and act like Christ. As Christ is formed in the Christian, it is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Some time ago, twelve hundred men were gathered together in a meeting, and a preacher said to them, “I want you to be very frank with me. Give me all the objections you have to Christianity.”
One man said, “Church members live inconsistent lives; they do not live up to their professions.” Another said, “Preachers are not what they ought to be. They are not true to their calling.” A third said, “There are too many hypocrites in the church.” In all, twenty-seven objections were given. The preacher said, “Fellows, everything you have said is true; but I noticed one thing. Not one of you could say a word against Jesus Christ.”
Nothing is wrong with Jesus! Pilate said, I have found no guilt in this man (Luke 23:14). The thief on the cross said, This man has done nothing wrong (Luke 23:41). Peter said, Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth (1 Peter 2:22).
Everything about Jesus is wonderful! His birth (Isaiah 7:14), His life (Acts 10:38), His miracles, His sermons, His death, and resurrection. Just suppose Jesus had never come; suppose the angels had never sung on the Judean hills; suppose there had been no star over Bethlehem; suppose the Sermon on the Mount had never been preached; suppose the transfiguration had never taken place; suppose there had been no resurrection morning and no ascension.
Without Him where would this world be? In darkness and despair! It would be hell-bound and without remedy! Those were great events when Adam was created, when Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, and when David wrote the Twenty-third Psalm. Yet, the greatest event witnessed by man and directed by God was the coming of Jesus into the world. What did His coming mean to humanity?
JESUS CAME TO GIVE HOPE TO THE HOPELESS.
When Christ came into the world He found man living in one of the unhappiest conditions humanity had ever faced. Most people were subject to a favored few. A small number were rich, but many were poor and trodden underfoot. A child was worth nothing. Women were worth nothing; they were little more than slaves.
Did these human conditions touch Jesus? Notice His first recorded sermon in our text: “And Jesus answered and said to him, It is written, You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only. And he led Him to Jerusalem and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to Him, If You are the Son of God, cast Yourself down from here (Luke 4:8, 9).
John the Baptist, in prison, sent word to Jesus, Are You the Coming One, or shall we look for someone else? (Matthew 11:3). The report Jesus sent back reveals Jesus compassion: The blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them (Matthew 11:5).
Jesus’ words and deeds showed that the needs of mankind were close to His heart. The poor were devoted to Him. Mark said, David himself calls Him Lord; and so in what sense is He his son? And the great crowd enjoyed listening to Him (Mark 12:37).
He was their best friend. Notice that He taught them not to be anxious about what they should eat or wear. God knows and cares! (Matthew 6:25ff.). He loved the rich people too. He was no respecter of persons. Nicodemus was His friend; Joseph loaned Him his new tomb; John used his influence at His trial; Matthew gave a feast in His honor; he went home with Zacchaeus!
Jesus was interested in everyone. The world has changed and Jesus is the One who changed it. Today children are loved and cared for. Few slaves exist in the world. Women are highly honored. Many hospitals and homes are available for children and the aged. All this has happened because Jesus placed a high value on people. But remember this, although Jesus was interested in the body, His chief interest was the soul! This is why He wanted to see men saved (Luke 19:10). All in all, He brought hope to the helpless (1 Timothy 1:15).
JESUS CAME TO GIVE GUIDANCE TO THE LOST.
How can a man marred by sin get into a right relationship with God? Read these verses: Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light (Matthew 11:28-30).
And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me (John 14:6).
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7).
But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
For this is My blood of the covenant, which is to be shed on behalf of many for forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28).
Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18, 19).
JESUS CAME TO GIVE KNOWLEDGE TO THE IGNORANT.
How does God feel about us? Does He love us? Does He care when life hurts us? What kind of being is He? Jesus said, If ye have seen Me, ye have seen the Father. I and My Father are one. As we see Jesus loving, lifting, leading, we know the kind of God we have. He cares for the lilies of the field; He sees the sparrows fall from the air; He cares for you (Matthew 10:29ff.).
Jesus pictured God as a loving father in the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15). Come, therefore, with your sorrow and burdens. Peter said, Casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).
The Hebrew writer wrote, Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you, so that we confidently say, The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me? (Hebrews 13:5, 6).
JESUS CAME TO GIVE MEANING TO THE MEANINGLESS.
We want to know how to be useful and how to find happiness. Only in Jesus can we find lasting happiness. Jesus said, The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly (John 10:10).
He also said, Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions (Luke 12:15).
Many of us are not happy because we live only for ourselves. We see only our own needs. Jesus teaches us that if we want to find happiness we must look away from ourselves. He said, If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me (Matthew 16:24).
JESUS CAME TO GIVE A FUTURE TO THE FUTURELESS.
Job asked, If a man die, shall he live again? All of us are going to die. Paul wrote, Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned (Romans 5:12).
We are told, And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
At death, what then? Jesus said, I am the resurrection, and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies (John 11:25).
He also said, Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds, to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment (John 5:28, 29).
Before Jesus came, there was no light beyond the grave; it was all darkness and despair. Jesus taught us that there is a back door to the grave. If we follow Him, it opens into heaven.
Read these verses: Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones (Psalm 116:15).
And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on! Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them (Revelation 14:13).
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Death may conquer us; graves may hold our bodies for a while. But Jesus is coming back. Our bodies will be raised and made like His glorious body. Our souls will have new bodies. Then, we shall be carried to a mansion in the sky to live with Him forever.
CONCLUSION. Yes, Jesus is our hope in all things: our hope in life, our hope in death, our hope in the great beyond. How we ought to love Him!
“I saw One hanging on a tree In agony and blood, He fixed His languid eyes on me, As near His cross I stood. Sure, never till my latest breath, Can I forget that look;
It seemed to charge me with His death, Though not a word He spoke.
My conscience felt and owned the guilt, And plunged me in despair;
I saw my sins His blood had split And helped to nail Him there.
Alas, I know not what I did, But now my tears are vain; Where can my trembling soul be hid?
For I the Lord have slain. A second look He gave, which said, I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid, I die that thou may’st live!
Oh, can it be, upon that tree, The Savior died for me? My soul is filled, my heart is thrilled
To think He died for me.
You can have that hope. But if you have hope it will be because you made the effort to enter into Christ and are daily developing into His image. It is a great concept. Those in Christ have hope for the future.