Advent "Hope" - 12/2/18

ADVENT “HOPE” 12 02 2018

Romans 5: 1-5

“The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who
know themselves to be poor and imperfect, who look forward to something greater
to come. For these, it is enough to wait in humble fear until the Holy One himself
comes down to us, God in the child in the manger. God comes. The Lord Jesus
comes. Christmas comes. Christians rejoice!” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dietrich
Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons.)
Advent is the season of preparation for welcoming Jesus into our lives and into our
world. … Now, I worded that very carefully; … not as “the season of preparing for
Christmas” … but rather, … I jumped to the end point. … At Christmas, … we
celebrate that Jesus came, … the manger story, … the shepherds and angels, …
the gift given and then passed on.
The point of that, … or the application of that story for our lives today, … is we
welcome Jesus into our lives and into our world.
That we would be transformed by the living reality of God, with us.
Every moment, … every day, … every decision, action and purpose, … lived with
the reality of a God who loves us so much that He would leave Heaven and walk
this earth with us. … Christmas takes us to that place … of welcoming God into
our lives, … choosing to make Him the center … and so the season of Advent is
the season of preparing to welcome Jesus into our lives.
I began with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor killed just at the end of WWII
for his involvement in a plot to assassinate Hitler because of his world view!
It begins with our need. … With our recognition that we need God to be a part of
our life, … that we know we are “poor and imperfect”, … that we need to be
rescued, … we need to be forgiven, … we need to be adopted by God and
transformed from slaves to children of our King.
One of Bonhoeffer’s account is those … “who look forward to something greater
to come.”
That line is all about hope.
A Kingdom of Hope:
This first week of Advent, … we focus our preparation on the theme of hope.
We lit the first candle, … which leads us in reflecting on the hope that we have; …
that just as God came once in flesh, … God still comes. … Our role, as “Joy To
The World” reminds us, … is to … “let every heart prepare Him room.”

2

Hope is one of those words that I always feel the need to re-define. …
In our daily use, … the word “hope” generally means; … “something I’m unsure
about, but would really be nice.”
For example, … “I hope it would be 76 degrees tomorrow”, … or … “I hope my
brother is in a better mood”, … possibly, … “I hope I get lots of Christmas
presents”.
When we turn to Scripture, … which we will in just a moment, … the word “hope”
carries a much different meaning.
In Scripture, … “hope as expectation of good is closely linked with trust… this
hope is not a consoling dream of the imagination… this hope is thus trust… this
hopeful trust is always demanded. The righteous are always referred to what God
will do, so that hope is not directed to anything specific, nor does it project its own
view of the future, but it consists rather in general confidence in God’s protection
and help.” (from Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT)  , 2:522-
523).
We see the difference: … when Scripture uses the word “hope”, … it is a confident
assurance of something good in the future. … It is trust; … a trust based on the
character of God and the promises of God, … the “general confidence in God’s
protection and help”.
We need to keep that definition in mind as we read Romans 5:1-5: “Therefore,
since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through
our Lord Jesus Christ.  2  We have also obtained access through Him by faith into
this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  3  And
not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction
produces endurance,  4  endurance produces proven character, and proven
character produces hope.  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.”
To unpack this Scripture: …
This is classic Romans; … jam packed with truth. … It is full of beautiful words
and concepts, like; … “declared righteous”, “faith”, “peace” “obtained access”,
“grace”, “rejoice”, “hope”, “endurance”, “character”.
We don’t have the time this morning to address each of those, so instead I want to
read the passage again, … this time from a different translation.
It unloads a number of those concepts in the translation … and helps us to
understand it a little better:

3

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace
with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.  2  Because of our
faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now
stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
3  We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they
help us develop endurance.  4  And endurance develops strength of character, and
character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5  And this hope will not lead
to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us
the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (New Living Translation)
Before narrowing our focus to the topic of hope, … I want to point out the passage
is focused on Jesus. … That is clear in vs. 1; … all of this is because of what Jesus
has done. … Also in vs. 2; … Jesus is the one who “brought us into this place”.
Vs. 5 brings us right back to that same focus; … now on God the Father and on the
Holy Spirit.
This is critical because that is where our hope comes from.
Our hope is not the; … “I hope it will be warmer soon” variety; … our hope is the
“my hope is in Jesus … and in Jesus everything will be good” variety.
We have confident assurance, … not wishful thinking … because Jesus came, …
died … and rose again!
What do we realize about hope?
With this foundation, … what does the Holy Scripture tell us about hope?
The last line in vs. 2 (in the first translation) says, … “we rejoice in the hope of the
glory of God”. …
The second translation declares; … “we confidently and joyfully look forward to
sharing God’s glory”.
It tells us that our hope is something to rejoice in, … to be excited about, …
to draw strength from because our road, … no matter what potholes, … mountains
… and struggles it may contain today; … our road leads to the glory of God!
That is our destination … because of what Jesus has done!
The second point we need to understand about hope … is that it is the end point of
the process that suffering causes us to go through. … Paul tells us that suffering
yields perseverance (or endurance), … next comes character, … and after character
comes hope. … When God allows us to go through suffering, … He wants to bring
us to hope (that may be difficult for some of us to grasp).

4

That makes sense when we remember this idea that hope is trust for the future
based on the character of God; … through suffering, … God’s desire is that we
come to rely on Him more than ourselves, … that we have this confident assurance
that because of God’s character, … everything will work out for good!
The last encouragement we grasp about hope is in vs. 5: … “this hope will not
disappoint us.”
Why?
Because of God’s love, … experienced in us through the person of the Holy Spirit.
Our hope is solid. … Our hope is sure. … Our hope is a certainty; … it is as
certain as the very love of God for us.
How do we apply this?: …
What does it mean to live in hope? … This is where I tie back in to our theme of
the Kingdom of God. … We know we live, now, … in the Kingdom of God.
It is not just something for after we die. … Hope ties the “now”, … which is real
but incomplete … and the “not yet” together.
Hope is the anchor, … the cable that ties those two together.
We can live now … because of the hope we have for tomorrow, … which is based
on the character of God … which is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Living in hope is about trust, … it is about confident assurance, … it is even
about recognizing that whatever struggles and sufferings we face today, …
God’s love is stronger.
God’s love is permanent. … God’s love is constant … and that is something we
can hold on to.
AMEN