Thursday, 16 January 2014
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
As Paul does at time during his writings, at the end of a formal exposition on a particular matter, he ends with a benediction before moving on. This treatise, which really began at Romans 14:1 is no different. He has gone through several over-arching issues with one ultimate goal.
He addressed the difference between the weaker and the stronger of the faith. After this, he instructed one to not show contempt for the other. He followed directly with the matter of not judging one another over “disputable matters.” He also went on to implore one to not cause another to sin over such things. Following that, he showed the need to make allowances for one another in a Christian manner, focusing on the spirit and bond of love. The example for this was next identified – the Person and work of Christ who willingly bore reproach. And finally, he demonstrated that all, both Jew and Gentile, should glorify God together.
Considering the length of his epistles, Paul has put an immense amount of time and consideration into this issue. It is one then which should be considered as the highest importance in maintaining fellowship between believers. In hopes that his instruction will take root and be effective, he now makes his short invocation for divine blessing, guidance, and help.
“Now may the God of hope” is noted by scholars as having two applications. The first is that He is the God who provides hope; the second is that He is the God in whom we hope.
1) The God of hope doesn’t just provide hope at certain points during our walk, but He provides a continuous stream of it for those who keep their thoughts and minds on Him. There is never a moment that the hope He provides is either lacking or insufficient to calm His child in the storm.
2) The God of hope is the eternal God. He isn’t just our hope the day we call on Him for salvation and forgiveness, but He is the same God who arranged the universe at the beginning and the One who will be there for His people for all the ages to come. No matter what our station at any given moment; no matter what trial we face; no matter what loss we have encountered – He is the true Source of our hope. Nothing in creation can separate us from Him and therefore our hope is grounded in what is eternal.
It is to this beautiful Creator that Paul makes his petition for us. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing.” May you be filled with the continuous knowledge that your faith is grounded in that which doesn’t perish and may that thought bring you constant and complete joy. It is from this wondrous state “that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” The God of hope, who provides hope and who is our hope, is petitioned to bring us to a hope which abounds. And this is, in fact, possible. Because he has sealed those who believe with the Holy Spirit. The key to unleashing this joy and peace then isn’t external but internal.
We are granted access to it upon belief. The Spirit from that moment resides in all His fullness in the believer. However, the Spirit can get more of the one who believes. This is the state that Paul is praying for. He has given the instruction on how to achieve this. Now, by applying what he has taught, the Holy Spirit can accomplish this condition in the obedient soul. By expecting an external demonstration of the Spirit to come upon the believer, the joy is far too often missed. Only by reading, understanding, and applying Scripture in a right manner will the Spirit effectively accomplish His work in us.
Life application: Paul’s benediction is directed to those who already have believed and been sealed with the Holy Spirit. They have full access to the power of the Spirit already. The way to receive the joy and peace is to apply the instructions of the Bible as given. This is how the Spirit works in us; filling us as we yield to Him. Be sure to read, understand, and apply the words of the apostle and you too will be filled with all joy and peace in believing. In this state, you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Heavenly Father, having called on Jesus I know that possessing a life filled with joy and peace is already available to me. Through belief in Him, I have been sealed with Your Spirit for the day of redemption. So in what should I worry? In what should I fear? In what way should I be distressed? The end is sure and my hope will not go unfulfilled. Thank You for the promise of everlasting life because of Jesus. Amen.