Search This Blog

Monday, May 5, 2014

We Rejoice in the Hope of the Glory of God

Romans 5:1-5 (ESV)
1  Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  3  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  4  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  5  and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 

Let me see if I get this. Sufferings for the Lord produce endurance, which produces character, which produces hope. Am I the only one that thinks this is backwards? 

I would think that hope would produce character which would produce endurance which would carry us through our sufferings for the Lord. But that's not what the Bible says. Why is that?

Let's look at the scripture more closely. We are justified by faith. We identify with the Lord Jesus which results in our salvation. Salvation is peace between us and God. That peace causes us to realize the grace that has been given to us. We cannot really understand this while we stand as enemies to God. We are enemies until we join His side. We identify with Him and become a part of His army. Therefore we have peace. Then, we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Realize we started with faith received peace realized grace and have hope.

Then we suffer because we are committed. We already have hope before we suffer. We hope in His glory. The scripture says that we are His glory.

Hope produces rejoicing in our sufferings because we know they have a purpose. We know that they change us into what we were created to be. We were created to be conformed to the image of Jesus. We will be as we endure the sufferings. Character is steadfast action under adverse circumstances. We decide to continue in our commitment to the Lord even though we don't like what we are going through. Eventually, we become a people who don't have to make the decision to continue. We just do so because it becomes who we are. We become people of true character. That creates hope again in us for we know the Lord's love.

People of character walk with the Lord for there is nothing that keeps them from Him. People of character realize their own new creation. They rejoice over the very different way in which they walk with the Lord.

I once knew of a young lady who was living with a young man. They were not married though they came to church. Eventually, he quit coming. I felt like she was making him come to church anyway. She began to really walk with the Lord and realized that their relationship was not in line with what the Lord wanted for either of them. She moved out. The young man thought he could shame her by saying, "It appears to me that you love the Lord more than you love me." He didn't realize that he was actually praising her. She was developing character.

I like to think I am developing character too but I still have time rejoicing in the sufferings ( however slight they are ). But how could character ever develop if everything was always good? Character is steadfast action under adverse conditions. I suppose I would never really be different if I wasn't faithful during the tough times.

And here lies the hope: That a nobody like me would become somebody because the Lord has made me a new creation which He changes to become like His Son. That is really a huge hope. I can be like Jesus. What is greater than that?


Anthony Chia said...

Ps Prentis, sorry this is long, but I strongly believe it is good.

This Romans 5 text is a follow-on from Romans 4 where the author, believed to be the Apostle Paul, talked about the persevering faith and hope, of our Father of Faith, the patriarch Abraham.

Starting from Rom 4:16, we can see Paul held up Abraham as our Father of Faith. God told Abraham that He was going to make him the father of many nations. In Rom 4:17, Scripture tells us that Abraham believed the God whom he believed, to be “the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not”; in other words, he believed his God (and ours, too) was/is almighty God who is the creator of all things, that nothing was/is impossible with God.

Ps Prentis is right to say, we already possess a hope and a faith, to begin with, if we have indeed accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior; in Rom 4:18-21, it is said the same, of Abraham. Rom 4:18 (NIV), Paul said “Abraham IN HOPE believed, and so became the father….” In fact, there was the phrase “against all hope” preceding “Abraham IN HOPE believed ….”; what does it imply? It was meant to say, despite many challenges to his hope over time, Abraham continued to believe.

He did NOT lose hope despite the odds staring at him. Hope is made stronger and persevering when it “has survived” challenges thrown at it. Again, was Abraham with some faith already? Yes, Rom 4:19 (NIV) said this, “WITHOUT WEAKENING IN HIS FAITH, he [Abraham] faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead”. As is the case for hope, faith too, is made stronger and persevering when “it has survived” challenges thrown at it. That is what Rom 4:20 said, “Yet he [Abraham] did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but WAS STRENGTHENED IN HIS FAITH ….” V21 – “being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised”

The Apostle Paul went on to explain how righteousness is accorded (counted/credited) to us. In Rom 4:22, Paul explained, “This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”” How? Righteousness is credited to Abraham in his persevering in hope and faith, giving up, NOT. And Paul said (in v23) how “it was credited to him” were written not for him [Abraham] alone, (v24) BUT ALSO FOR US, to whom God will credit righteousness— ….”. It is the same for us, through our perseverance in hope and faith, and it begins with our initial faith (salvation faith) [that the works of Christ Jesus wrought us our justification], and with our hope of going to Heaven (salvation hope/hope of glory). That was how Romans 4 ended, and in Rom 5:1, we read, “Therefore, since ….”.

The “Therefore, since …” is what links the Roman 5 text we are looking at, to Paul’s talking about we need to be persevering of hope and faith as illustrated by the patriarch Abraham’s life.

Paul was in this Romans 5 text saying, therefore, we, as believers, we have had also righteousness counted to us, and we will continue to have righteousness counted to us, just as we could expect it to have happened to Abraham, that God continued to count righteousness to him, when a life of persevering of hope and faith is being pursued.

“Initiation” has a place in God’s scheme of things or His ways. What it means is that from then on (from “initiation”), you are counted as ……. whatever the counting is for. So, for our entry into salvation, we are counted righteous, we counted as citizen of Heaven, we are counted as children of God, we are counted as disciples of the Lord, etc.


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

The idea is similar to (metaphor) when we are recruited into a company, as (say) the Accounts Manager (Accounting Manager) of the company. So, when you report for work, after the recruitment process (“initiation”), you are introduced as the Accounts Manager of the company. Now, you have then to function as the Accounts Manager of the company. You are in name or status, the Accounts Manager of the company, and you are to function as such. Now, suppose you made a mistake and the company (the recruiter) also made a mistake; you were a Sales Account Manager (previously), but you are recruited as the Finance Accounts Manager. Now, you do NOT know and cannot perform your role; you may be the Accounting Manager in status, it is a matter of time, you will be discovered of your unfitness for the position, and you will stripped of your position, and asked to go. What would have made you fit for the position that you have been named into? The accounting schooling and experience thereof would have fitted you for the position; you have none of it, actually. (I am NOT suggesting, though, that we can easily have our names erased from the Lamb’s book of life – this is a metaphor. But justification and sanctification are both required for you to get into the company of Heaven, so to speak).

That is why we can find such texts in Scripture:

1 John 3:7 (NASB) – “Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one WHO PRACTISES righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous,” and

Rom 8:14-17 (NASB) - 14 FOR all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, IF INDEED WE suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

Phil 2:12 - Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my [Paul] presence only, but now much more in my absence, WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION with fear and trembling.

The notion (of some) that all we need, is righteous standing, and there is NOT the necessity of right living is incorrect.

Yes, when we entered into salvation, we are counted (adopted) as sons, yet Romans 8:14 said that (truly) sons of God are the ones led by the Spirit of God. The adoption or conversion is the “initiation”. We still need to walk worthy of the counting or crediting (or calling); and how is that ever able to be accomplished? Rom 8:14 said it, by being led by the Spirit of God. If you are no longer being led by the Spirit of God (not referring to occasional lapses), you are no longer the sons of God.

People like to jump to Rom 8:16-17, and say we are children of God and heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ Jesus, of the Kingdom of Heaven, but many just imagined the last bit away – the “IF INDEED WE suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” This is NOT the right way to handle scriptures.

I will NOT go into what suffering is, here, but it suffices to say that, it, at least includes sacrificing, even though that, sacrifice, may need to be explained for some to understand. We do need to make some sacrifice (for sacrifice is part of love, that we love God), so that we may share in the Lord’s glory. The Apostle Peter painted for us the same picture of suffering-participation (or sacrifice for Jesus) as being part and parcel of our salvation walk.


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

1 Pet 4:12-19 - 12 Dear friends, DO NOT BE SURPRISED at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

If you look closely, in v18, the Apostle Peter did imply it is NOT as easy as some think, we will get to Heaven (like we just need to accept Jesus as our Saviour by saying the Sinner’s Prayer). Reading v18 with v17, the “righteous” of v18 should be referring to the believers (God’s household); not so easy for righteous to be saved! Why? Because many do NOT love the Lord enough, for their version of love has no suffering and no sacrifice for the Lover (God) of their life. Perhaps, rather, they suffer and sacrifice for other reasons other than as a “participation in the sufferings of Christ”. What does the v19 mean by “those who suffer … should commit themselves to their faithful Creator ….”? It implies we have to persevere in hope and faith in our Creator God.

In 2 Cor 1:5, the Apostle Paul said this: “For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”

And he went on to say that if they (Paul and his company) get comforted, it was for the Corinthians’ comfort, which would produce in them (Corinthian) patient endurance of the same sufferings they (Paul and company) suffered. What Paul said was that we can expect to be comforted by God, in our present life (if NOT, in our after-life, when we come into the sharing of the glory of our Lord), when we do participate in the sufferings of Christ.

When Paul and his company did get comforted by God, then they would have a (positive) testimony for the Corinthians to take comfort in, and to help them (testimony “encourages” hope and faith) in patient endurance of the sufferings they, too, might have to face (believers, generally, may have to, too).

Phil 2:12, that “work out our salvation” is a reminder to us, that salvation is NOT a one-off incident of saying the Sinner’s Prayer; if it were, there is no “working out” to talk about. Salvation is justification followed by a life of sanctification before culminating in sharing of the glory of our Lord, in Heaven. In that life of sanctification, there is testing of the faith and hope, “that it may prove genuine”. In 1 Pet 1:6-7, we read this: “6 In all this [inheritance in Heaven] you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

I return to the Romans 5 text; again say, therefore, we, as believers, we have had also righteousness counted to us, and we will continue to have righteousness counted to us, just as we could expect it to have happened to Abraham, that God continued to count righteousness to him, when a life of persevering of hope and faith is being pursued. Through justification, by faith, we are initiated back into peace with God (Rom 5:1), but it does NOT stop there, unless you die straightaway!

For Rom 5:2, some Bible translation use the word, “introduction” in place of “access”, and I think that word is a better word. Through the works of Christ Jesus on the Cross (and the resurrection thereof), we obtained introduction into this grace in which we stand. What is this “this grace in which we stand”? It is the state of God’s favour. What is this state of God’s favour? It is the favour of God counting out righteousness to us as we continue to persevere in our hope and faith.

What is so important about this God’s counting of righteousness to us, you may ask. It is most important, for without it, righteousness (being counted to us), we lose the reconciliation with God, or we, ill-able to stand before God. Righteous believers stand tall before God (unrighteous ones dare NOT look up, so to speak!)

Through the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, we get into this – the grace of God counting out righteousness to us. But it is God continues to count to us righteousness as we continue to persevere in our hope and faith. If we do NOT continue to hold on to our hope and faith, we disqualify ourselves from this counting out of righteousness to us, by God.

Paul said (Rom 5:2) we rejoice in our salvation hope (the hope of glory), which the works of Christ has secured for us; but why? Because it (hope) lets us see we can be led to the end-point of sharing in the glory of our Lord in Heaven. Paul, in v3, said it is NOT only that, that we rejoice that we have that hope, we rejoice in our sufferings, too; but again why? Because it (sufferings), when we go through them, it builds up in us, perseverance (of hope and faith), such perseverance defines us, what we will and will NOT do, or our character (One’s character characterises him); and the character from perseverance of hope and faith, is NOT an anyhow character, but a tried character of hope.

Some find it astonishing this passage seems to start from hope and then, in a round circle comes back to the same – hope! I have said, from hope (and faith), through perseverance through sufferings where our hope (and faith) are stretched and tested, we develop of a tried character of hope. And this tried character according to Rom 5:4 produces hope!

How are we to understand this (the tried character produces hope)? One way, discernible from the above exposition of mine, is that the resultant person will be one NOT easily persuaded from his hope and faith; in other words, he will die, die persevere in his hope and faith. Another way of looking at it, is that after perseverance, in sufferings, has finished its work, the person will NOT just be a person of hope (and faith) but a person with persevering hope (and faith).

I believe it is more than that (above), it is also that Hope has taken hold of him. What is Hope? Or who is Hope? In 2 Cor 4:7-12, we read this:

7 But we have this TREASURE in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

The treasure in this 2 Cor 4 text, has been said to the Gospel, God, Spirit of God or Spirit of Christ; they are all NOT incorrect. I say, it is also Hope. What do we say Christ is? Yes, He is hope of glory (Col 1:27 – “Christ in you, the hope of glory”).

Such a tried character, NOT only the hope in him will be able to see him through the harshest scenarios, some of which was given us in 2 Cor 4:8 (see above), Christ (the hope of glory) lives out of him; he becomes the hope, because Christ or the Spirit of Christ or the Gospel lives through him; he becomes the bearer of light, the bearer of hope.

Lastly, we find the last verse, v5, of this Rom 5:1-5 text said that (the tried) salvation hope, it will NOT shame us, or disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us; what does it mean? To understand this, we need to go back to the Rom 8:14-17 text I have given above. The understanding is like this:

Rom 8:15 tells us that upon entry into salvation, we (our spirits) get counted or adopted as sons of God. But when we take the whole text together, we will realise that, with vv14 & 16 & 17 in, it is, as we are being led by the Holy Spirit, including when we do suffer with Christ (participate in sufferings of Christ), the Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are children of God. As we let the Spirit leads us through all the good times and the bad times we face and pass through, we become knowing (ginosko-knowing) of God’s love as it is showered into our hearts through the Holy Spirit as He leads us.

A person having through such, undergone perseverance of hope and faith through sufferings, will know (ginosko-know) the hope he is having will NOT shame and will NOT disappoint, ultimately.

Have NOT you heard it being said, “If Christians are wrong about the Gospel (the hope therein), they would be most miserable people to have lived!” By “miserable”, these people mean we, Christians, in their eyes, gave up all the liberties and so-called opportunities to indulge one-self, which they did NOT (as non-Christians). If we are wrong, we have been stupid and “don’t know where to hide our faces”, is what they are thinking. What do you think? For me, I say my hope will NOT shame or disappoint, for I know the love of God poured into my heart through the Holy Spirit indwelling and leading me (as I let Him to; you have to let Him lead you).

Anthony Chia, high.expressions