Embracing Hope

Dr. Steve Viars October 11, 2020 Romans 15:1-33
Outline

3 reasons followers of Jesus Christ can abound with hope

I. Because of the Transformation of the Gospel – vv. 1-13

Proverbs 4:23 - Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.

A. With a new motivation for living – vv. 1-3

Romans 15:1 - Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.

Romans 15:2 - Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.

Romans 15:3 - For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.”

Romans 6:13 - …and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

B. With a new source of truth – v. 4

Romans 15:4 - For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

C. With a new ability to be united – vv. 5-8

Romans 15:5-8 - Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers…

D. With a new source of hope – vv. 9-12

Romans 15:12 - Again Isaiah says, “There shall come the root of Jesse, And He who arises to rule over the Gentiles, In Him shall the Gentiles hope.”

II. Because of the Power of the Gospel – vv. 13-21

A. Our supernatural source – v. 13

Romans 15:13 - Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

B. Our challenging call – v. 14

Romans 15:14 - And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.

C. Our focused purpose – vv. 15 - 21

Romans 15:18-19 - For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

III. Because of the Direction of the Gospel – vv. 22-33

A. Plans to serve others in Christ’s name – vv. 22-29

Romans 15:25-26 - …but now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.

B. Plans that require the prayerful support of God’s people

Romans 15:30 - Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me…

one of the many challenging aspects of living through a pandemic is seeing examples of the emotional and psychological effects of what has been occurring…

- perhaps you’ve read some of the literature or heard the reports because the data is mounting already…

- for example, the number of people seeking divorces was 34% higher from March through June of this year compared to the same period of time in 2019…

- 34% is a large jump…yet that’s what’s happened…

- when you dig into that data a bit further, you find several other surprising trends…

- for example, the rates were even higher among people living in the so-called Bible belt…(not sure what to make of that)…

- there was also a peak on April 13th, about 15-20 days into when most states started their lockdowns…

- the researchers said – “This uptick could coincide with what health and human services professionals refer to as the ‘disillusionment phase’…the time when optimism turns to discouragement, stress heightens, and negative reactions often occur.”…(that happened in the 1st 15-20 days…)…

- another surprise was that the group hardest hit was newlyweds…20% of those seeking divorce in that time period had been married less than 5 months, whereas normally they would only comprise 11% of the figure…

- the study suggested – “This indicates that recently married couples were less equipped to deal with the stressors of the COVID-19 virus than mature couples.”

- another piece of the puzzle was the increase in people cashing in their life insurance policies in order to fund their divorces rose as well…

- the amount of sadness and hopelessness is stunning to say the least…

- research is also being done into what experts refer to as “deaths of despair”…and some are suggesting that in addition to those who have actually passed away because of the disease…another 75,000 will perish because of suicide or drug/alcohol abuse…

- we could go on and on because the facts and statistics are readily available…but without a doubt this has been a very challenging time for all of us emotionally…and then when you factor in that we are heading into winter…in the Midwest…I’m not sure there’s enough pumpkin spice beverages in existence to ward off where that reality could take us…

- thankfully, we worship a God who is described in Scripture in part as “the God of Hope…”

­- Please allow that phase to roll around your heart and mind for a moment…

- isn’t that what we all desperately need?...

- in fact, in that same passage of Scripture, we are told that it is possible for people like you and me to be filled with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit…

- the good news is – those words are found in the book of Romans…and that is the very passage we are scheduled to study today…

- with that in mind, please open your Bible to Romans 15…

- we’re landing the plane on this great study…

- Lord willing we’ll work through chapter 16 next Sunday and then be ready the following week for the beginning of Stewardship Month…proof yet again that 2020 is just flying by…

- it dawned on me the other day that we have not had a quiz on the book of Romans for some time now…

- there’s another casualty of the pandemic…perhaps we’ll need to correct that oversight as we conclude this series next week…

- but isn’t it amazing how often this year we have seen that the truths from God’s Word were exactly what we needed?...

- we’re going to read all of chapter 15 which is an extended passage of Scripture…but please follow along carefully….because we’re going to see a number of truths that will help us in the matter of Embracing Hope

- read Romans 15:1-33

- so we’re talking about Embracing Hope, and with the time we have remaining, let’s think about 3 reasons followers of Jesus Christ can abound with hope.

I. Because of the Transformation of the Gospel – vv. 1-13…(Look at how the gospel changes us)

- one of the primary principles that flows out of this passage is that our choices, and beliefs, and emotional state are not fundamentally determined by our circumstances…

- that is a radical way of thinking about life…because so many philosophies of the world take the position in one way or another that what is happening outside of you is what determines your destiny and identity…

- in other words – you’re a product of your environment…you’re being ruthlessly determined forces outside your control and maybe even outside of your knowledge…

- yet God’s Word says that the most important aspect of who you are is your heart…your inner person…that cluster of beliefs and desires and motivations…

- Proverbs 4:23 - Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.

- that in and of itself potentially gives hope…because while we can’t control what happens outside of us…the gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful enough to transform what is inside of us…and we saw in the first three verses that this includes…

A. With a new motivation for living – vv. 1-3

- there is a sense in which Paul is building on the themes of chapter 14 we’ve studied the last 2 weeks…

- Romans 15:1 - Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.

- please think about the last part of that verse for a moment…not just please ourselves…that’s a radical way of living…and the gospel empowers us to live that way…

- that’s why for decades we’ve used this little poem around here – just two choices on the shelf, pleasing God or pleasing self…

- then Paul says…Romans 15:2 - Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.

- we’re investing our time and our energy into edifying, or building up our neighbors…in fulfillment of the second great command…and when you think about the needs that exist around us at a time like this…the change of focus involved here is astounding…

- But thankfully we have someone who went before us and did exactly the same thing…

- Romans 15:3 - For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.”

- please think about those unfortunate stats we mentioned a moment ago…something that will keep marriages and families together during a pandemic or any other time is when each person determines in the power of the gospel to live not to please themselves…but their spouse or other members of the family…

- and Jesus Christ is powerful enough to make that happen…

- that’s why Romans 6-8 were such an important part of this study…it’s one of the most extended and comprehensive discussions on the doctrine of progressive sanctification or Christian growth anywhere in the Bible…

- so we read Romans 6:13 - and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

- living in light of gospel truths like those is what enables Christians not just to live to please ourselves, but to “please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.”

- Now, in order for that to happen, we also have to have…

B. With a new source of truth – v. 4

- Romans 15:4 - For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

- The Scripture, uniquely, is the book that helps us focus on living in this fashion.

- and as we receive both its perseverance and encouragement, we find hope…

- isn’t that true – that as you’re seeking to serve someone else regardless of any benefit you might receive – there’s hope that comes from that?...

- by the way, parents, if you see your children functioning in that way…even in small demonstrations, I hope you’re making a big deal of that…

- children who grow up focused on ways to serve others with have hearts that are filled with hope…

- now, what impact does that have on the church family?...

C. With a new ability to be united – vv. 5-8

- Romans 15:5–8 - Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers,

- please think of that – to be of the same mind…when you get a group of God’s people together who are all trying to live this way…it is a beautiful thing…

- and we see the same action that was emphasized in the previous chapter…accept one another…

- and we’ve already dealt with the issue in previous weeks of how that is certainly not speaking about areas where a brother or sister is living in clear disobedience to the Word of God…but so many of the ways that individuals wrongly judge/separate from one another are simply based on opinions or preferences…

- let the gospel empower you to de-emphasize the amount of value or importance you attach to ideas that are not clearly articulated in Scripture…

- and what happens, according to verses 9-12, if you allow God to do that kind of transforming work?...

D. With a new source of hope – vv. 9-12

- Paul says, others will choose to place their faith in a Savior who makes this kind of lifestyle possible…

- Romans 15:12 - Again Isaiah says, “There shall come the root of Jesse, And He who arises to rule over the Gentiles, In Him shall the Gentiles hope.”

- This is why the church can have such a powerful impact in the world.

- In this case, Isaiah’s prophecy of the Gentiles finding their hope in Christ can be fulfilled in part as they see the unity of God’s people.

- so why can people like you and I have hope?...answer #1 – because look at the way the gospel changes us as the people of God…

- then Paul gives a second reason in verses 13-21…we can also abound with hope…

II. Because of the Power of the Gospel – vv. 13-21…(Look at how the gospel empowers us)…

- I wonder if the categories of persons we mentioned in the introduction this morning made the choices they did in part because they felt powerless?...

- like when the energizer bunny runs out of gas…how can you have hope when you feel like that?...the answer in our case is, because our hope has a…

A. Our supernatural source – v. 13

- don’t you love verse 13?...

- Romans 15:13 - Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

- if you haven’t already done so, you might want to consider committing this one to memory…

- isn’t it amazing that one of the names of our great God is that He is the “God of hope”…

- whenever anyone asks you how you can keep going through all of this…you can point them to the character of our God…

- Paul even says we can be filled with all joy and peace in believing…

- this is part of what happens emotionally when we follow the principles of verses 1-12…

- if you are constantly arguing with people about your preferences and your opinions…its brings anything but joy and peace…

- have you ever walked away from a political debate thinking…that just brought so much peace and joy to my heart…

- how about a debate about vaccines, or any number of things that can catch our attention these days?....

- but what happens when you take time to please your neighbor for his good, to his edification…

- there’s peace and joy that comes from that, isn’t there?...

- and sure it’s difficult – especially when our circumstances are hard…that’s when we want to fold back in and only care for ourselves…but Paul says you can abound in hope by the power of who?...by the power of the Holy Spirit…we’re talking about a supernatural source of hope here…

- did you see the story this week about a pastor in GA who left his waitress a $12,000 tip?

- this is Bishop Eusebio Phelps…and he called in a take-out order at the Waffle House…

- and the waitress who served him was Hannah Hill…

- Pastor Phelps said that Hannah was especially kind when he placed his order, and when he arrived at the restaurant, he noticed that she was expecting what turned out to be her second child as a single mother…

- he said he had about $40 in his wallet and gave it to her and encouraged her to buy some things for her new baby…

- then he asked her what she was going to name her baby, and she said “Samuel” – which unbeknownst to her—was the name of Phelps son whom had died seven years earlier in Atlanta…

- when he got home, he told his wife about the encounter and they decided to put the story out on FB and try to raise $1000 for this young lady…

- within 24 hours, they had raised $12,000 – and let’s just say that Hannah received the shock of her life…

- now, this pastor could have started an argument about who she was going to vote for…or maybe judged her for the choices she made…

- but instead he just let the power of the Holy Spirit working inside of him cause him to love his neighbor…

- Hannah told the media that she hadn’t been to church in a long time, but now she wanted to go back…

- hearing that story brought joy and peace to me…and it happened several states away…imagine how it impacted the actual people involved…

- in the middle of that, Paul also gives…

B. Our challenging call – v. 14

- Romans 15:14 - And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.

- when we’re talking about men and women inside the church…we first have to deal with problems if we want our hope to genuine and long-lasting…

- those who have been members here for a long time have heard me say many times that our former pastor -- Pastor Goode – taught us that problems in a church are like guppies, you can either deal with the two you have today or the 1000 you’re going to have next week…

- so sometimes the hope, and the joy/peace – come after getting the problem solved…

- you wonder how many of the difficulties we mentioned in the introduction could have been avoided if men and women allowed the Holy Spirit to empower them to do this?...

- next Paul pointed out…

C. Our focused purpose – vv. 15 - 21

- why does the Lord want us to have this kind of hope and power?...

- Romans 15:18–19 - For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

- I really do believe this pandemic has given us witnessing opportunities like never before…

- men and women are searching for the kind of hope this passage offers…the question is, are we clearly proclaiming the gospel to those in our spheres of influence in as many ways as we possibly can?...

- you probably saw the news this week that John Scheumann, the man whose family provided the lead gift for the Northend Community Center, passed away the week before last…

- with COVID, the family chose to keep the gathering small…they selected 150 persons from the community that John had worked with over the years and had the service outside at the Country Club…

- I had the opportunity to conduct the service…[develop the purpose of proclaiming the gospel]…

- so how can people like you and me abound in hope?....look at how the gospel changes us, and look at how the gospel empowers us…

- then lastly, Paul talks about the…

III. Because of the Direction of the Gospel – vv. 22-33…(Look at hoe the gospel directs us)…

- all of this is affecting Paul’s specific travel plans…

A. Plans to serve others in Christ’s name – vv. 22-29

- Paul explains that thus far he has been prevented from coming to see them…

- he says…Romans 15:25–26 - but now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.

- this is the same offering we read about in 2 Corinthians chapter 8…where Bible students believe there was a localized famine around Jerusalem…so the brothers and sisters in the Gentile churches were taking a voluntary love offering to help those who were suffering…

- please think about how God used that famine to bring about unity between people of various ethnicities in the church…

- anyone who thought about that prospect apart from the power of God would say that proposition would be hopeless…

- but our God can even use something like a famine to bring about His purposes…and so His servants can hope as they direct their feet to the accomplishment of His plan…

- that’s a pretty short walk to the situation in which we find ourselves, isn’t it?...

- we don’t have to say during a pandemic – what should we do?...the answer is always – look for opportunities the trial provides to live and proclaim the gospel…

- [develop the issue of the brevity of life with John Scheumann’s death]

- this is true on several different fronts…

1. It certainly starts individually – praying and asking the Lord to give you opportunities to talk to those the Lord has placed in your life about Christ…is your evangelistic zeal increasing or decreasing during the pandemic?

2. I appreciate those who are involved in gospel centered serving at our church right now…

- and yes we need to be careful, and we’ll continue to err on the side of caution until all of this is behind us…

- but people who are serving in children’s ministries…understanding that our children need to hear the gospel…

- men and women serving in our school…

- those volunteering at the Hartford Hub and in Northend teens…

- the point is – people whose hope is find in Christ have direction even when times are hard…

3. please also pray as we plan the Living Nativity…and I appreciate our leadership team of pastors and deacons…

- I had been operating on the assumption that we just wouldn’t do the LN this year…

- and I remember when I first mentioned that on a zoom call meeting with our pastors and deacons…I could tell there wasn’t universal agreement on that idea…

- which is great – that’s why God gives us variety in our church family at every level and we need to learn from and listen to one another…

- but as we continued to discuss that…it became apparent that the consensus was that we should try to offer the LN this year…

- in fact, perhaps, it’s more important to try to make it available to our community this year more than ever…

- so we’re working with the medical folks in our church, and with the county health department…because we’re concerned for the health of all of our guests, but also for everyone in our church family serving…

- but we think we can make adjustments and host it this year…so we’ll keep watching the stats and be ready to pivot if we need to…

- the overall point is – people whose hope is found in the finished work of Christ are on a laser-guided mission to know Christ and make Him known…

- now, all of this has to be bathed in prayer…which is exactly how Paul ends the chapter…

B. Plans that require the prayerful support of God’s people

- Romans 15:30 - Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me,

- hopeful people…are prayerful people…

- because if we truly have access to the very throne of God because of our position in Christ, that’s certainly a privilege we are going to exercise every time we have the opportunity…

- and because we realize we need God’s strength and enablement to proclaim this message well…

Conclusion

- there’s a sense in which chapter 15 is the formal conclusion to the book of Romans…

- chapter 16 contains some very important greetings to people and we look forward to studying that, Lord willing, next week…

- but aren’t you glad that the most theologically robust book in the entire NT ends with a message of hope…because—think your way back through the book…you could rightly ask – hope in what?...

1. Remember the first several chapters – about the universal and total depravity of man?...the immoral are lost, the moral are lost, and the religious are lost?...

- but because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ – every person who admits his/her sin and then places their faith in the finished work of Christ alone for their salvation can have hope (settled assurance) of reconciliation with Him in this life and the corresponding hope of heaven in the next…

- that’s because of the doctrines of propitiation, redemption, and justification

- the price of our sin has been satisfied, paid for, and Christ’s righteousness has been placed on our accounts…

- in chapter 5, Paul refers to this as a hope that does not disappoint…

- friend, are you sure there has been a definite time when you’ve made this transaction?...

2. Then there’s the hope that we can change – chapters 6-8 which explain our identity on Christ and because of the power of the gospel, not even trials and suffering can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord…

- we’ve died to sin and been raised to newness of life so God can work everything for our good and His glory as wee seek to become more and more like Christ…

- there’s incredible hope in that…

3. In chapters 9-11, we can hope because of where the church of Jesus Christ fits into God’s eternal plan for His people…

- God has a plan for us, but He has also not cast off His people Israel…because of the marvelous truth that the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable…

- our hope is not in our faithfulness, but His…

4. And then the hope that we can change practically in the here and now…

- presenting our bodies as living sacrifices…

- learning to return good for evil…

- responding properly to human government…

- accepting one another on matters of opinion and preference…so that we can enjoy the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace…

- if all of that is possible – pandemic or not – we can be hopeful people, because we serve a God of hope…

- final assignment – read through the book of Romans one last time this week – and be ready in case a quiz is on your horizon…

Authors

Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video