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. – Romans 5:1-5
We all have things for which we hope. It may be a possession like a new car or house, or it may be the meeting of a goal like a promotion at work or a championship as a team member. When in high school, athletics were very important to me. I was fortunate enough to letter in Varsity basketball three out of my four years in high school and played on the first string team each of those three years. When we won a tough game against one of our rivals, the locker room was a fun place to be after the game. In spite of being soaked in sweat and nursing sore blisters on our feet, there were smiles a mile wide. There was a tremendous sense of satisfaction.
However, when we fought a hard game and lost, it was a different story. The stench of sweat was repulsive, and the blisters hurt enough that I wouldn’t want to walk on them. Our hope was not only deferred to a later time; it was crushed. The game was over, and we lost. Proverbs speaks of this kind of emotion.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. – Proverbs 13:12
Life is full of disappointments as well as successes and accomplishments. So, is it right that we have hope? The hope we have as Christians is like playing in the big game and knowing the taste of victory before the game is over. It doesn’t make sense to those who have not tasted the victory of Christ in their lives. The Apostle Paul in writing to the Romans lays out a fantastic progression in chapter 5.
- We have been justified by faith. That means we had nothing to do with it; God did it all. Justification is passive; it is something that happens to us that Christ did for us.
- The big result of that justification is peace with God. The enmity that was between God and us is now gone and is replaced by Divine peace. There is absolutely no hindrance to an open and transparent relationship with God in Christ.
- Christ brings us, by faith alone, into grace by which we stand.
- Finally, we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
What is this? Biblical hope is not like the comedian who says, “I hope, I hope, I hope” when he knows something will probably not come to pass. Biblical hope is absolute reality, it is just future. In this case, we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, what some would call the “pie in the sky” hope. It is our glorification. It is the resurrection and all that is entailed in the New Earth. We rejoice in this promise of completed redemption.
How do we know that this isn’t a fantasy? This hope will not put us to shame, that is, turn out to be false, and we are derided for our naivete. How do we know this to be true? Because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Experience matters. It is true that our life is not to be based on feelings but on faith in God’s word. But, it is just as true that saving faith does produce fruit and one dimension of that fruit is an experience of the love of God. That is how we know that the glory part of the story is true because the love of God in our hearts in the here and now is true, we have experienced it.
I’m not sure who first said this, but it does hold some truth. “A man with an experience is never at the mercy of the man with an argument.” When you have experienced the love of God in your heart, who can argue you out of it?
So, my believing friend, do as Paul says and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. One day Jesus will come again, and this age will be wrapped up, and we will no longer need faith regarding heaven, it will be sight. A desire fulfilled is a tree of life.