The Gift of Eternal Hope

Steve Viars December 24, 2017 Romans 15

- Do you sometimes find yourself frustrated by items that don’t last very long?...

- it’s almost assumed any more that the item you’re purchasing is going to fail in the very first months or years…

- which is why now an important part of the sale is whether you would like to spend additional money on an extended warranty…

- I was at Sam’s not too long ago…and the checker rang up my order and just automatically asked me if I wanted to purchase the warranty…

- and I looked down and wanted to say – ma’am, I’m just buying a head of lettuce and a gallon of milk…

- and that might be a slight exaggeration of what happened…

- but am I the only one who – hopefully on the outside smiles kindly and says no-thank-you…

- but on the inside thinks – I miss the days when products were built to last…and if they didn’t…the manufacturer took the responsibility to make it right…

- they provided the guarantee that the product would last…they didn’t sell it to you as an add-on because everybody knew it probably wouldn’t…

- now I realize when I raise the question of items not lasting very long…for you this evening that might conjure up something even more painful than a material purchase…

- your mind may have gone to a job that you hoped would last…

- and then all of sudden there was a buyout or a downturn and bam…it’s over…

- I was talking to one woman this year who told me she was leading a meeting with her staff and someone came in, interrupted the meeting, and whispered in her ear that the new owners had eliminated her position and she had a few minutes to immediately leave her own meeting and gather her personal belongings and be escorted to the parking lot…

- a career that you hoped would last…and now it’s over…

- you might be thinking about an acquaintance, a friendship, a marriage…and the hard and painful reality is that it didn’t last…

- there will undoubtedly be families among us tonight who had some reminder of the brevity of life this year…

- and this is the first Christmas without __________

- in this life, things just don’t last as long as we often hoped they would…

- that’s why tonight I’d like to talk to you about a gift…that in many ways is the opposite of everything we’ve just described…

- this gift is dependable…it is proven…the credentials of the manufacturer are impeccable…

- satisfaction guaranteed…

- we’re talking tonight about…The Gift of Eternal Hope

- this Christmas at Faith we’ve been studying Gifts that Come from Being in Christ

- so we’ve talked about The Gift of Regeneration – which means new birth, or the new life we can have in Christ

- we studied The Gift of Adoption…how people like you and me – who were born on the wrong side of the tracks (in trespasses and sins) can be brought into the family of God…not as a result of our works – something we buy/earn – but as a free gift…

- we spoke of The Gift of Justification…which is an accounting term used in the Bible to describe the act of being declared righteous by God when we come to Him in repentance and faith…which forever changes our stand before Him because the righteousness of Jesus has been placed on our account…

- then this morning we discussed The Gift of Eternal Security…followers of Jesus Christ are held in Jesus’ nail pierced hands, which in turn are held in the hands of God the Father…and as if that’s not enough, we’re sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise until the day of redemption…

- that’s a whole lot better than a new I-Phone…and if you would like to catch up on some of those messages – they’re all available on our website

 - tonight we’re thinking about The Gift of Eternal Hope from Romans chapter 15 and we can find in this marvelous passage 3 reasons we can have hope at Christmastime.

- the first one is this…

I. Because the Details of Christ’s Birth, Along with His Death, Burial and Resurrection, Were Clearly Prophesied in Scripture

- I realize you probably don’t have your Bible with you or if you did, you probably couldn’t see it in this light – so we’ll have our main passages up on the screen…

- but this first reason comes from this great verse…

- 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.

- now, I realize you might say…

A. Is this a Christmas passage?

- and there’s a sense in which every verse in the Bible is connected in one, way, shape or form to the Person and work of Jesus Christ whose birth we’re celebrating tonight…

- but in this particular passage, that’s exactly what Paul is talking about…

- and He’s doing it for a very definite reason…

- he’s writing to the church at Rome about how God was in the process of bringing together Jewish Christians…and Gentile Christians…together in the same church family…

- and also people of different levels of spiritual maturity…and different economic conditions and every possible form of diversity…

- and when you think about the tension in our country that has even bubbled up in professional football of all places…some might say – well, that’s pretty hopeless…people who are different learning to love each other…

- and Paul says…no it’s not…please follow the argument…

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

- it’s possible to live for something other than just leasing yourself…then…

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

- it doesn’t matter what color that person is, or how much he makes, or his likes/dislikes…you can focus on pleasing your neighbor more than pleasing yourself…and before you say what?...where’s the hope in that?...here it is…

- 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.”

- written where?...written throughout the Old Testament…

- where the specific details about the birth, life, and the death, and the burial, and resurrection, and the purpose of the Messiah—the Lord Jesus Christ – are given in breathtaking detail…and see…

B. Who would have expected a Messiah to not be concerned with pleasing Himself?

- so the Scripture, hundreds of years in advance…explained that Jesus would be born of a virgin…and even though that would result in both Mary and Joseph and Jesus Himself being condemned and mocked right up to the time of His crucifixion…

- it still have exactly that way…He was born of a virgin…

- why?...because the Scripture said it would occur that way…

- and because there was no way for Him to later die as the Perfect, unblemished lamb of God…

- so it didn’t matter if that Christmas detail pleased Him…that’s not where our hope is found…

- the Scripture…again…hundreds of years in advance explained exactly where Christ would be born…in the little town of Bethlehem…what’s pleasing about that?...

- there was reproach attached to the way He was conceived, and the location of His birth…and we could carry that line of reasoning all the way to the cross…where the prophet Isaiah had predicted 700 years before this occurred…

- Isaiah 53:3–5 - He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried…But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.

- the fact that all of these Christmas prophesies were specifically made and then precisely fulfilled is all designed to grab our attention…

C. Seeing the reliability of Scripture play out before our eyes can give us great hope.

- 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.

- this would have been a strong motivation to the Jewish Christians at the church at Rome who had grown up around the Word of God…which is why Paul says later in these verses…

- Romans 15:8 - 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,

- so here’s a question…how does this give us hope?...

1. As we place our faith and trust in Christ

- Paul’s message throughout this book has not been…work really hard at trying to build unity between a diverse group of people…

- how well is that working for our sin-cursed American culture even today?...

- no, Paul’s message is…you need to admit the depth of your need…and then open wide your empty hands…and receive a gift…not of rules or religion or religion…the gift of a Person…the perfect Lamb of God…

- and if and when you admit your sin and place your faith in Him…be ready for the gifts…of regeneration, and adoption, and justification, and eternal security, and eternal hope…

- at this time of year, I love thinking back of all the men and women who have placed their faith and trust in Christ this year…

- and those who made that decision this year – why they did they do it?...

- one answer is because – they decided that the Word of God is the only reliable source of eternal hope…

- in part because of all of these fulfilled prophecies…who would have expected a Messiah who would not come to please Himself…

- who would have expected a plan of redemption – that would center on reproach falling on Him…

- and then who would have believed in a God powerful enough not just to make the promises, but to keep them…

- and can I just gently remind every person here – some day we will all stand before God and give an account for what we did with the prophecies and promises God entrusted to us about His Son…

- no one in this culture could possibly make the excuse that they didn’t know…you can download a copy of the Bible on your phone for free…

- so for someone who would say – well, I thought I could be reconciled to God simply by being a good person…well then—why did we have to have Christmas…why didn’t Jesus just stay in heaven and yell down to us – be real good?...why go through – instead of living to please Himself – allowing our reproaches to fall on Him?...

- or for someone who would say – well, I heard in a college class once that there are contradictions in the Bible…or I think the church is full of hypocrites…or…

- have you ever noticed how a reason or an excuse sounds really good in our heads…until it comes out of our mouths in the light of day?...[that didn’t sound nearly as convincing as when I said it to myself in the shower this am…]…

- you know – this year was also marked by the eclipse that attracted an incredible amount of attention…

- and people were worried about doing damage to their eyes by looking directly at the sun…

- what do you think it is going to be like to some day stand before the Person who made the sun?...

- friend – even if the message of the Scripture required you to humble yourself, and admit your sin, and believe the gospel – the good of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as your only hope of being reconciled to our Holy God…

- on the day you stand before God – don’t you want to be able to say that it was in the message of the Scripture that you were finding your hope?...

- this is also true…

2. As we choose to joyfully follow His Word every day.

- Paul went on to explain to the Romans -- Romans 15:6 - so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

- [the first mention of driving a Honda Civic in the Bible…]

- so how can a group of diverse people end up loving one another?...

- by deciding that, through the power of Christ, they are not simply going to live to please themselves…

- that will never be the source of their hope because selfishness always disappoints…

- it always overpromises and under-delivers…

- which is why Paul told the church at Corinth…

- 2 Corinthians 5:9 - Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.

- that’s something else that is very exciting to me as a pastor this year…

- the significant number of men and women who would be able to say – to the praise and glory of Christ – that you have taken specific steps in some practical area of life to base your thoughts, your words, and your actions…on the truth of the Scripture…

- perhaps you’re doing that more than ever before in your marriage…at your workplace…

- with your children…with your neighbors…with your extended family…at our church…

- Merry Christmas…

- if Christ didn’t live to please Himself…to confirm the promises given to the fathers...

- and you choose to allow Him to empower you to follow in those steps…

- my guess is that you would also say…it was hard at times…God’s Word went against my grain…

- but the peace and harmony it has brought to my life is so very, very worth it…

- James 3:17–18 - But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

- now, I realize you might say – well, that’s well and good for those Jewish people in the church who had grown up around the Scriptures and would have had such a high value for God’s truth…but that’s not my story…

- you might say that you’ve been far away from the Lord…

- that’s not where you have been basing your hope or finding your joy…

- this passage specifically addresses people like that by telling us…

II. Because Christ’s Birth Makes Hope Available to Everyone Because of His Great Mercy

- the flow of thought here is fascinating…

- Romans 15:8–9 - 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, and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy…

- see, please don’t ever think about God’s truth revealed in His Word as being hard, or cold, or sterile…

- a God like that doesn’t send His Son to be born in a manger…

- a God like that doesn’t orchestrate the initial angelic announcement to be made to a group of lowly shepherds…

- a God like that doesn’t light up the sky with a star that could be observed by a group of wise men…from where?...from Jerusalem (were they Jews)…from the east…possibly Babylon…the Jews had some historic tension with them you know…that Babylonian captivity thing…their ancient arch enemies…the epitome of the hated Gentiles…

- and do you know what the next words are in Romans…when Paul wants to explain to this church that it should surprise no one that in Christ…mercy was also being offered equally to the Gentiles…to what does Paul turn their attention as the basis of that hope….

- Romans 15:9 - and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written…

- as it is written where?...in the Word of God, the OT Scriptures…so Paul gives an extended quote of several passages including Isaiah chapter 11…

- he says…

- Romans 15:9 - and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written, “Therefore I will give praise to You among the Gentiles, And I will sing to Your name.”

- Paul’s point is – Jewish Christians – don’t be surprised that the birth of Christ is making the possibility of salvation available to everyone – God’s Word has been saying that for hundreds and thousands of years…His mercy extends to all generations…

- so, Romans 15:10-11 - Again he says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people.” And again, “Praise the Lord all you Gentiles, And let all the peoples praise Him.”

- like the old hymn says – there’s room at the cross for you…how could that be possible?…please think about the very next words…

- Romans 15:12 - Again Isaiah says, “There shall come the root of Jesse…

- who in the world was Jesse?...wasn’t he on Dukes of Hazzard?...

- not this Jesse…Jesse was the father of King David…and the OT made it clear repeatedly…that the Messiah would be in the house and lineage…of David…

- why a root?...because Isaiah explained that the nation of Israel had to be judged because of their sin…they would be chopped down like a stump…but because of God’s mercy…out of that would grow a root…a branch…he would be born at Christmastime…He would die on Mount Calvary…and he would be resurrected as our Great King…

- who could provide salvation for His people…and could unite a very diverse group of individuals who would treat others with mercy because that’s the way God had treated them…

- 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.”

- and when you have your hope in Him…because of both the truth and the mercy of the Scriptures…you can…

- Romans 15:7 - Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.

- so friend…if you’re wondering tonight…

- have you been so far from the Lord that there’s no hope for you?...

- not if you’re going to base your hope on the inspired Word of God…

- it’s delicious…better than the best holiday cookie or piece of candy you’ll consume tomorrow…

- the delicious truth of the Word of God is that He is filled with mercy…

- and maybe your I-Phone is going to fail…and I know that new toaster will…

- so why don’t you join these Jewish individuals…and these Gentiles…and come to the birthplace of root of Jesse…and place your faith and trust in Him…

- Christian friend, you might say – sometimes I still struggle in the midst of my hurts and disappointments and trials to have hope…that’s why this third reason is so important…

III. Because the Hope that is Available to Us is Supernatural

- Paul says…

- 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.

- don’t you love a God who identifies Himself as the God of Hope…which means what we’re talking about tonight isn’t a world “I hope so” but it probably won’t happen…

- no – this gift is hopeful certainty – because it finds in source is our all-knowing God

 

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

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