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March 14, 2013

Are you going through tribulations and crushing circumstances (Gk for tribulation= crushed beneath a weight)? Then Paul has a Word of Truth for you regarding the relationship of HOPE and PERSEVERANCE and PRAYER
. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones says “Tribulation, hope and prayer always go together in the NT and it is a very good way of testing ourselves to ask whether they always go together in our experience. They should.”

In Ro 12:12-note Paul calls for all saints (not a special class but all who by the glorious Gospel have forever been set apart from the world and unto God as His permanent, prized, possession) to continually be: REJOICING in HOPE, PERSEVERING in TRIBULATION, DEVOTED to PRAYER.”

Paul says we are to be “REJOICING in the sphere of HOPE.” The idea is in the “atmosphere” of HOPE. So like a fish needs water to thrive, joy needs hope to be alive. In other words when our hope is fresh and full and focused on “Christ Jesus our Hope” (1Ti 1:1-note), our hope will be like “rain” falling on a barren heart, bringing forth the fragrant flower of joy. Indeed, HOPE fixed on the good that God will do to us in the future is a sure foundation for Christian joy and PERSEVERANCE in present TRIBULATIONS. This joy is independent of circumstances (which may be cheery or dreary), for it is a supernatural joy, a joy that can still survive in the dark night of a believer’s soul. Such glorious joy is a product not of our feelings, but an integral component of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-note). Such joy is also the fruit of PRAYER, so if your HOPE is at low ebb, pray that “the GOD OF HOPE (Who inspires and energizes our hope might) fill you with all JOY and peace in believing (our responsibility = trust His promises), so that you may abound (overflow, be filled to the brim) in HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Ro 15:13-note)

As John Piper says ABOUNDING HOPE pushes “out all contrary emotions-discouragement, depression, fear, anxiety, grumbling, bitterness. Hope does not coexist well with these things. And when hope is abounding and overflowing, it pushes out these contrary emotions!” Supernatural, Spirit-given Biblically-based Hope is a mighty power to promote personal PERSEVERANCE IN TRIBULATION! As Spurgeon once quipped it was “by PERSEVERANCE (that) the snail reached the ark!” As an aside Jerry Bridges makes an interesting distinction: “ENDURANCE is the ability to stand up under adversity; PERSEVERANCE is the ability to progress in spite of it. These two English words are translations of the same Greek word and simply represent two different views of the same quality: a godly response to adversity.” And meditating on the Biblical truth about HOPE serves to energize this godly response.

C H Spurgeon adds that “The old physicians tell us of two antidotes against poison, the hot and the cold, and they expand upon the special excellence of each of these; in like manner the Apostle Paul gives us first the warm antidote, “rejoicing in hope,” and then he gives us the cool antidote, “patient in tribulation.” Either of these, or both together, will work wonderfully for the sustaining of the spirit; but it is to be observed that neither of these remedies can be taken into the soul unless it is mixed with a draught of prayer. Joy and patience are curative essences, but they must be dropped into a glass full of supplication, and then they will be wonderfully efficient.”

Paul writes that “with PERSEVERANCE we wait eagerly” for our HOPE (Ro 8:25-note), knowing that it is not a dead hope but a “LIVING HOPE” for it is firmly founded on “the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1Pet 1:3-note). We now possess “the first fruits of the Spirit”, Who enables us to “wait eagerly for our adoption as sons and the redemption of our body (OUR HOPE).” (Ro 8:23-note) Enabled by the self-same “Spirit of Grace,” (Heb 10:29-note), we can continually choose to “set our minds on the things above (OUR HOPE), and NOT ON the things that are on earth” (Col 3:2-note). Again, Paul reminds us that “our citizenship is in heaven from which we eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who will transform our humble, lowly body to be like the body of His glory (OUR HOPE),” and this will happen “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet, (when) the dead will be raised incorruptible and we shall all be changed (OUR HOPE)” (1Cor 15:52-note) for “it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this HOPE fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1Jn 3:2-3-note) Indeed, when our HOPE (GLORIFIED BODIES IN PRESENCE OF THE GLORIOUS ONE) becomes sight (Ro 8:24-note), in that great and glorious day “when every crutch will be carved up and every wheelchair melted down into medallions of redemption” (Piper), our Lord Himself “will wipe away every tear from our eyes and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away (OUR HOPE REALIZED).” (Rev 21:4-note)

Alexander Maclaren writes that “True joy is not a matter of temperament, so much as a matter of faith. It is not a matter of circumstances. All the surface ground may be dry, but there is a well in the courtyard deep and cool and full and exhaustless, and a Christian who rightly understands and cherishes the Christian HOPE is lifted above temperament, and is not dependent upon conditions for his joys. You must choose what you THINK ABOUT (BIBLICAL HOPE) and FEELINGS will follow THOUGHTS. One great source of the weakness of average Christianity amongst us today is the dimness into which so many of us have let the HOPE OF THE GLORY OF GOD pass from our hearts.” Indeed, God has given His children a new and better way to navigate the rough seas of suffering and affliction in this world. Paul says one way is by having our mind and heart renewed by thoughts of HOPE which focus on the COMING ONE and the COMING WORLD, enabling us to PERSEVERE IN TRIBULATIONS in this present world.

As John Piper says we must “Hope in Jesus Christ, the ground of all our hope. Bank your hope on Him. Not yourself, not your intelligence, not your health, not your money, not your job, not your reputation. None of these can sustain your hope (nor enable perseverance). They can collapse in a moment. God means for our hope to be firm and unshakable and so He put underneath it His Own Son. At every turn in your life, say ‘Jesus, You are My Hope.’” Or as Edward Mote (note) so eloquently said it: “My HOPE is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name. When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil (Heb 6:18-20-note). On Christ the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand; All other ground is sinking sand.”

Writing to the saints in Thessalonica who had received the Gospel “in much TRIBULATIONI with the joy of the Holy Spirit” (1Th 1:6-note, 1Th 2:14-note), Paul reminds them of their “PERSEVERANCE OF HOPE in our Lord Jesus Christ (1Th 1:3-note). In other words, their perseverance was characterized by hope, inspired by hope and sustained by hope in spite of set-backs and difficulties. This hope includes the assurance that one day we will be saved from even the presence of sin and receive perfect glorified bodies enabling us to have eternal unbroken fellowship with our Lord and all of His children. This is the hope that supernaturally inspires the believer to not just HOLD ON but to PRESS ON assured that the victory has already been won at Calvary. This perseverance is not characterized by a GRIM WAITING but a JOYFUL HOPING. The Greek word for perseverance (hupomone) does not simply accept and endure but always has a forward look in it. For example Jesus “for the joy that was set before Him, ENDURED the Cross, despising the shame.” (Heb 12:2-note). That is Christian perseverance motivated by a confident, sure hope which functions like an anchor for our souls (Heb 6:19-note). It is the courageous acceptance of everything that life can throw at us or do to us, for we know that the best is yet to come! 

In Romans 5 Paul writes that we “exult in HOPE OF THE GLORY OF GOD.” (Ro 5:2-noteAs Piper says “The chief cause of joy in the Christian life is the eager expectation that we will see and share in the glory of God. Hope for God’s glory is the heart of our gladness.” Paul then encourages us to “exult (boast) in our TRIBULATIONS” knowing that our tribulations accomplish PERSEVERANCE which enables us to endure the winds of affliction, which ultimately produces even more HOPE (Ro 5:3-5-note). Piper explains that “the reason we exult in tribulations is not because we like pain or misery or discomfort or trouble (we are not masochists), but because tribulations produce what we do like, namely, a stronger and stronger sense of hope which comes through the experience of patient perseverance and a sense of being approved…. The people who know God best are the people who suffer with Christ. The people who are most unwavering in their hope are those who have been tested most deeply. The people who look most earnestly and steadfastly and eagerly to the hope of glory are those who have had the comforts of this life stripped away through tribulations.”

Finally, we see HOPE and PERSEVERANCE in Ro 15:4-note where Paul explains that “whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through PERSEVERANCE and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have HOPE.” In other words the OT stories of Abraham, Joseph, Job, etc were written so that we might see how God worked in their lives, controlling their circumstances for their good and His glory. These real events in the lives of real people happened to give us real encouragement to continue to REJOICE IN HOPE, PERSEVERE IN TRIBULATION, BE DEVOTED TO PRAYER! Let it be so Lord.

“Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus” (Ro 15:5-note) and may you “be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all STEADFASTNESS and PATIENCE; joyously giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light, having transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son.” Amen (Col 1:9-13-note).

The Solid Rock (My Hope is Built) by Edward Mote

Romans 12:12 In Depth Commentary

The Blessed Hope: Part 1
The Blessed Hope: Part 2
Other  Resources on the Blessed Hope

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