Gospel Hope!

I preached at Grace Fellowship of Augusta this past Sunday on the subject of the hope (The sermon can be found on YouTube -https://youtu.be/aV-Be16OmOM) found truly and solely in the gospel of God, using one text in particular – Romans 15:13. In this verse, Paul prays that believers will be continually being filled with joy and peace that is the fruit, of which hope is the root. (Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.)  Notice that God is called the God of hope, because He is the author of all the true, well–grounded hope of His people. All hope of which He is not the author, in the heart of men, is false and delusive. Not only is God the author of all true hope, but He can create this hope out of the midst of despair. The most desponding are often raised by Him to a good hope through grace; and the most guilty are in a moment relieved, and made to hope in His mercy.

Yesterday’s message is still at the forefront of my thoughts today, because everywhere I turn, I sense on the part of the people of God, depression, despair, and desperation that stems primarily from the loss of hope in Christ’s promises and provisions made available in the gospel of the kingdom. For this reason, we are failing to experience all the hope that we were meant to have, and this is causing multitudes to quit on God in one form or another. And very few Christians ever get asked about the hope that is within them (see 1 Peter 3:15) because their only hope is that the world ‘s condition will continue to worsen so that they can get rescued by the rapture, as quickly as possible.

Suicide has become the number one killer of American youth. What’s the primary cause of these suicides – hopelessness. The number one use of firearms in America isn’t in killing other people, but in suicides! Fifty-five percent of the use of guns in murders is connected to suicides.

Again, the primary cause? Hopelessness! Making a wide sweep across our country and around the world, one cannot help but see, despite the abundance of the things we have and the modern conveniences we enjoy, that despair, depression, and hopelessness is being experienced on an unprecedented scale.

James Reapsome agrees with my assessment as he writes: “Hope appears to be in short supply; discouragement reigns. But God’s people are supposed to be people of hope. The church’s world mission is supposed to be energized by hope. This is the time for people of hope to make a difference, to dispel discouragement and darkness ... to see God’s revelation in the person of Jesus Christ. If our world mission means anything, it means we must be ministers of hope for despairing people!”

Therefore, I’m convinced that for the sake of God’s glory within His people and among the nations, this crisis calls for multitudes throughout the Church to be re-awakened, intentionally, and thoroughly, to fresh hope and passion found in the gospel of God and focused on Christ – the hope of glory.

Contrast the view of the American Baptist preacher, R.C. Campbell, eighty-three years ago, with that of most preachers and teachers today as he wrote concerning the gospel: “It has made conquest of individuals, communities, nations, and continents, and leapt across oceans. It has aroused the complacent, indifferent, and dying churches into virility. It has caused the breath of God to burn in souls and flame on lips. It has as its prime objective the salvation of the world. Think of the opportunity given by God to win the lost, convert sinners, reform communities, transform nations, revolutionize continents and completely evangelize the whole world.

“It proffers salvation, radiates sunshine, binds broken hearts, opens prison doors, liberates captives, soothes sorrows, preaches the gospel to the poor, as it points to the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. What did William Carey do for India - start paganism on a fast retreat...The progress of Christianity can be traced by the sacrifices of those who have given themselves for its promotion.... The gospel is our supreme possession. Its power will destroy the babel towers of this world...it will send the fragments of pagan thrones and dictator crowns floating down the streams of decay...the world's security does not lie in great standing armies and navies, impregnable forts, fertile soil, gushing oil wells, bank vaults nor in vast undeveloped resources Our security lies in the proclamation and acceptance of the gospel of Jesus Christ...just think of having by our side the One who stood upon the hill of time and saw the rise and fall of empires; rapid growth, colossal in their maturity, and grand in their decay...yes he who stood at the rise of a thousand governments, walks, talks and companions with and gives strength to his children as they serve him.”

Dudley Hall was right when he declared: “Hope is the foundation of all purposeful behavior. Something has happened in history that makes everything make sense. There is a future that makes the present meaningful. The recipients of the gospel have a reservoir of blessings in the bank of heaven. They can draw on the account now and forever.”

What is Biblical hope? It is the confident expectation and desire for something good from God in the future with the expectation of receiving It!

When the Bible says, "Hope in God!" it does not mean, “Close your eyes and make a wish.” "Cross your fingers and hope for the best." It means, to use the words of Missionary William Carey, "Expect great things from God."

Romans 15:13 declares that we are to abound in this true and sure hope because it is life-giving, faith-supporting, love-affirming, joy-creating, peace-giving, power-imparting, and victory-assuring. This hope in future certainty is based upon the gospel of God; it springs from the power of the Holy Spirit; it centers in and celebrates the presence of the Person of Christ. This hope is designed to permeate, enliven, fill, embolden, and energize the believer – enabling them to enjoy God, irrespective of how dark the times, difficult their troubles, or how powerful the enemy appears!

Borrowing from Dudley Hall once more: “The apostle Peter states that our “living hope” is all about resurrection, not rapture. We have hope for living, not for escaping. The resurrection of Jesus made possible our receiving resurrection life, and that brings hope. We have hope that we can not only face, but also conquer any obstacle this world can present. We have “other-world” power. We offer hope to the sinner for forgiveness. We offer to the addict the hope of deliverance and freedom. To the sexually confused, we offer the hope of wholeness. To the lonely we offer the hope of a family who cares. To the oppressed we offer the hope of justice and to the guilty we offer the hope of mercy. In fact there is no human dilemma too great for the power that raised Jesus from the dead, and that power is in us who believe Jesus is the resurrection and the life.”

Our steady, solid hope in this, and every hour of history - is that having heard the gospel and then trusting Christ as our precious Savior, and worthy Sovereign, who has come to reside in our hearts as the “hope of glory” (Cols 1:27),  we have been united into the love of God in a way that no terrorist, no torture, no demons, no disasters, no disease, no man, no microbe, no government, and no grave can destroy. That's the hope of the gospel of God and the hope of the Christian life. It is not a political hope, or a military hope, or a financial hope, or a geographical hope, or a psychological hope, or an escapist hope. It is a blood-bought, Holy Spirit-wrought, Christ-exalting, God-centered, fear-destroying, death-defeating confident expectation combined with desire that everything God promises, He will perform!

So, take King David’s advice: “Hope in God!” And the Apostle Paul would add: “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope(Romans 15:4).