NOW MAY THE GOD OF HOPE FILL YOU WITH ALL JOY AND PEACE : O de theos tes elpidos plerosai
(3SAAO) humas pases charas kai eirenes: (Hope - Ro
5:2, 3, 4, 5; 8:20, 24, 25; 12:12. 15:4, 12) (Fill you with all joy and
peace - Ro 14:17 Jn 14:1,27 Php 4:7
Isa 55:12 Ep 5:18,19)
God of Hope
Power: Holy Spirit
Prayer: For filling
Result: Overflowing hope
Now (de) marks a transition
to a new subject, something distinguished in some way from the preceding.
Paul has just quoted from Isaiah 11:10-note
regarding the Gentiles hope and now he moves from that Scripture to
intercession requesting realization of that hope in the lives of his
Bishop Handley Moule
comments that now refers to...
“the Hope” just cited from the Prophet,
the expectation of all blessing, up to its crown and flower in glory, on the
basis of Messiah’s work.
William Newell exhorts believers
Look at this great thirteenth verse:
how it blossoms out before us! Here is a verse packed full! The name
here given to God thrills our hearts: The God of Hope. Hope looks
forward with exultation for ever and ever! Now, if God is the God of hope,
looking forward with expectancy and delight to the certain, glorious
things of the future, then a dejected, depressed, discouraged saint of His
is yielding to a spirit directly contrary to His will, which is, for each
of us, that we abound in hope. (Romans
If you are not "abounding in hope",
consider importuning the God of hope to give you a Spirit enabled
supernatural hope. Use the words of Paul to beseech the God of Hope.)
Alexander Maclaren gives an
excellent explanation of how this great passage fits with the overall
context of Paul's call in Romans 15 to unity of the saints at Rome...
With this comprehensive and lofty
petition the Apostle closes his exhortation to the factions in the Roman
Church to be at unity. The form of the prayer is molded by the last words
of a quotation which he has just made (quoting Isaiah 11:10-note in Ro 15:12),
which says that in the coming Messiah ‘shall the Gentiles hope.’ But the
prayer itself is not an instance of being led away by a word—in form,
indeed, it is shaped by verbal resemblance; in substance it points to the
true remedy for religious controversy. Fill the contending parties (Ed:
Eg see Ro 15:1, 2, Ro 15:7 for context) with a
fuller spiritual life, and the ground of their differences will begin to
dwindle, and look very contemptible. When the tide rises, the little pools
on the rocks are all merged into one....This is Paul’s conception of the
Christian life as it might and should be, in one aspect. You notice that
there is not a word in it about conduct. It goes far deeper than action.
It deals with the springs of action in the individual life. It is the
depths of spiritual experience here set forth which will result in actions
that become a Christian. And in these days, when all around us we see a
shallow conception of Christianity, as if it were concerned principally
with conduct and men’s relations with one another, it is well to go down
into the depths, and to remember that whilst ‘Do, do, do!’ is very
important, ‘Be, be, be!’ is the primary commandment. Conduct is a making
visible of personality, and the Scripture teaching which says first faith
and then works is profoundly philosophical as well as Christian. So we
turn away here from externals altogether, and regard the effect of
Christianity on the inward life. (From Maclaren's sermon
Joy and Peace in Believing)
The God of Hope - The truths
conveyed are that
God is both the origin of hope and the
object of our hope ("Who inspires hope and imparts it to His children" Harrison).
God is the Source of hope and the Giver of hope. Stated another way, the great benefits
(hope, joy, peace) Paul prays for the saints at Rome, cannot be possessed apart
from God. In the same manner, believers today can possess them only as He gives them to us.
And what is the believer's part in this divine transaction? To believe [in
believing] as explained below by
James Denney explains that the
God of Hope signifies...
the God Who gives us the hope which we
have in Christ. (Expositor's
John Piper in discussing the
name God of hope reminds us that...
Everything starts with God. If there is
hope for joy that is deep and eternal it will be hope that is founded on
God. Any other foundation will fail. God is, and God is a God of hope.
This we must believe. (Word
of Promise, Spirit of God, Hope of Man)
Matthew Henry on the importance
of God's names like the God of Hope...
It is good in prayer to fasten upon
those names, titles, and attributes of God, which are most suitable to the
errand we come upon, and will best serve to encourage our faith concerning
it. Every word in the prayer should be a plea. Thus should the cause be
skillfully ordered, and the mouth filled with arguments. God is the God of
hope. He is the foundation on which our hope is built, and he is the
builder that doth himself raise it: he is both the object of our hope, and
the author of it. That hope is but fancy, and will deceive us, which is
not fastened upon God (as the goodness hoped for, and the truth hoped in),
and which is not of his working in us. We have both together, Ps. 119:49.
What is the "hope" to which Paul
refers? In the Greek text
note that the definitive article precedes the noun hope so
that literally the text reads "the hope". Thus it is not
just any hope, but is a specific hope. In Romans 5 Paul
describes this hope writing that as believers "we exult in
hope of the glory of God." (Romans 5:2-note).
Among other things then, this hope of all believers is the joyful
certainty that we will indeed see the Glorious One Himself, Christ Jesus,
our "Blessed Hope" (Titus 2:13-note).
Note well that Our God is the God of hope, and the hope that He
gives centers on the Lord Jesus Christ (1Ti 1:1). This hope also
includes the confidence that when we see the Glorious One, we will be like
Him--glorified (1Jn 3:2-note).
As an aside dear saint note that Scripture speaks of three different ways
we will experience the glory of God: (1) We will see God in all His glory
(2) We will be transformed to reflect His glory (Col 3:4-note).
(3) We will live in a world filled with God's glory (Ro 8:21-note).
These great truths should cause all God's people to shout "Glory!
Someone once quipped that "The only
thing we know about the future is that the providence of God will be up
before dawn." As we face what lies ahead, we can count on that maxim
(truth). Hope is the God of all our tomorrows provides optimism for our
glorious future and gives strength for the trials of today.
In his classic commentary, Robert
Haldane writes that
God is called the God of hope, because
He is the Author of all the well–grounded hope of His people. All hope of
which He is not the author, in the heart of men, is false and delusive.
The world in general may have hope, but it is false hope. All true hope
with respect to the Divine favor is effected in the human heart by God
Himself (Ed: Specifically birthed by His indwelling Spirit's power
as Ro 15:13 teaches!). Not only is God the author of all true hope, but He can create
this hope in the midst of despair! (Ed: This is clear evidence that
His "hope" is supernatural, not natural, for dire circumstances
"naturally" breed in us a sense of hopelessness. Praise God that He is the
God of supernatural Hope!) The most desponding are often
raised by Him to a good hope through grace (Ed: "Spirit of grace"
Heb 10:29); and the most guilty are in a
moment relieved (Ed: 1Jn 1:9), and made to hope in His mercy (Ed:
Ps 119:156). How remarkably was this
the case with the thief on the cross (Lk 23:42, 43), and with the three thousand on the
day of Pentecost! (Acts 2:41) ...["fill you"] implies that there are degrees of
and peace in the minds of Christians. Some may have a measure of these
graces who do not abound in them. It is a great blessing to be filled with
them; and for this blessing the Apostle prays with respect to the
Christians at Rome.
If there be different degrees of joy and peace, how
important is it to look earnestly to God for the fullest communication of
these blessings! (Commentary
means literally to fill "to the brim" (a net, Mt 13:48, a
building, Jn 12:3, Acts 2:2, a city, Acts 5:28, needs Phil 4:19).
Metaphorically, pleroo means to make complete in every particular, to
pervade, to take possession of and ultimately to control. This is the
same verb used by Paul to command the saints at Ephesus to be
continually "filled with the Spirit." (Eph 5:18-note)
The idea is that what fills a person, exercises control over the
person's affect, attitude and actions.
In the present passage may...fill is in the the
expresses a wish or prayer.
You - Paul
uses the plural pronoun which speaks of all the saints in Rome, whether
they are Jews or Gentile believers.
Beloved, are you looking for a
powerful prayer to pray for someone?
Here is a prime "candidate" - in fact,
consider memorizing this short prayer (see the value of
Word) and using Paul's powerful prayer to
intercede for family, friends and other members of the body of Christ.
Will God answer this prayer? Notice what the apostle John says...
And this is the confidence which we
have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears
us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we
have the requests which we have asked from Him. (1Jn 5:14, 15)
Praying Scripture is a wonderful
pattern for productive prayer.
Why not stop now and pray this prayer for someone in your sphere of
influence? You can be
assured that what you ask for is in God's will and that you will have the
requests you have asked from Him!
Beloved, you can "put it in the bank"
that even in the bleakest times, Christians have the
Feeling a bit down today? As
discussed above, consider beseeching the God of hope with this hopeful
(hope filled") prayer in
Romans 15:13. Consider asking
a brother or sister in Christ to pray it for you. I think they would be
honored at your humble request and consider such intercession a precious
privilege! I took my own advice this morning asking another saint to pray
Ro 15:13 for me as I prayed it for him - I must say my day has been a
wonderful experience of abounding hope by the power of the Spirit.
J B Phillips paraphrases this
May the God of Hope fill you with joy
and peace in your faith, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, your
whole life and outlook may be radiant and alive.
I like Phillips' phraseology, don't you? Isn't this what all followers of
Christ ardently desire...our whole life and outlook radiant and alive? Is
this not your desire?
Abounding in hope ideally should be the description
of every follower of Christ. Of all people, the Christian should be the one who
manifests the inner strength (and Spirit) to look ahead with a contagious enthusiasm. God
has given us hope, the absolute certainty of that God will
do good to us in the future.
All joy and peace - "All"
in Greek means all without exception. In other words Paul is
praying not for a percentage, portion or fraction, but for all the joy
and hope that God has promised to those who love Him! God is not a
stingy grinch (Dr Suess' character) but He is a gracious Giver and Paul
desires that the saints at Rome (and you and I dear child of the Most High
God) experience this supernatural joy and peace to the max!
Notice also that joy and peace
are two components of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-note).
Note the qualifier -- "in believing."
This speaks of our responsibility.
Do you really believe God is "able to
do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the
power that works within us"
Through His prophet ("mouthpiece") Malachi (means "Messenger of
God") God challenges us...
"Test Me now in this," says the LORD of
Sabaoth, LORD of hosts or of armies),
"if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a
blessing until it overflows." (Malachi 3:10)
What impact would it have on the
spiritually dead (Eph 2:1-note)
and irrevocably decaying
world (2Pe 1:4-note)
if it were to witness the
lives of believers continually filled with the Spirit, walking by the
enabling power of the Spirit and bearing the fragrant fruit of the Spirit?
Would the "walking dead" not be convicted by the Spirit of sin and of
righteousness and of the judgment to come as they saw the irrepressible
power of the "Gospel" being lived out in their very presence? And would
not some ask "you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet
with gentleness and reverence"
The impact of radiant Spirit empowered lives on a society vainly
searching for the meaning of life would be dramatic! Indeed, as Paul wrote
to the saints in the moral cesspool of Corinth...
we are a fragrance of Christ to God
among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing to the
one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.
And who is adequate for these things? (2Cor 2:15, 16, See 2Cor 3:5, 6 for
"Who is adequate?")
Charles Hodge - All joy means
all possible joy. Paul here, as in Ro 15:5, concludes by praying that God
would grant them the excellencies which it was their duty to possess (Ed:
But as explained elsewhere in these notes [see especially
Dr Maclaren's explanation],
their part, their "responsibility", was believing or trusting or having
constantly and intimately are the ideas of accountableness and dependence
connected in the sacred Scriptures. We are to work out our own salvation,
because it is God that works in us both to will and to do according to his
good pleasure. The God of hope, ie, God Who is the Author of that hope
which it was predicted men should exercise in the root and offspring of
Alexander Maclaren has a
beautiful description of the joy given by the God of hope...
If I am living in an atmosphere
of trust, then sorrow will never be absolute, nor have exclusive monopoly
and possession of my spirit. But there will be the paradox, and the
blessedness, of Christian experience, ‘as sorrowful yet always rejoicing.’
For the joy of the Christian life has its source far away beyond the
swamps from which the sour drops of sorrow may trickle, and it is possible
that, like the fabled fire that burned under water, the joy of the Lord
may be bright in my heart, even when it is drenched in floods of calamity
and distress. (Joy
and Peace in Believing)
from chaíro = to rejoice) (cf
Ro 15:32-note) is one of Paul's great themes,
with charas being used by him 21x compared to next most
frequent use of 9 by John. The Christian life is to be a life of "JOY". It is founded
on faith in Jesus, whose life on earth began as "good news of great joy for all
people" (Lk 2:10).
Joy is the deep-down sense of well-being that abides in the
heart of the person who knows all is well between himself and the Lord and is
independent of whether circumstances are favorable or unfavorable (Jn 16:20, 21,
is God’s gift to believers, a component
of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal
declared, "The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Neh 8:10). So Paul prays that
they would be filled with all joy, that inner gladness and deep seated pleasure
which is independent of one's external circumstances.
It is a depth of assurance and confidence that ignites a cheerful heart. It is a
cheerful heart that leads to cheerful behavior.
Earlier in Romans Paul related
joy with the Holy Spirit writing that...
the kingdom of God is not eating and
drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in ("in connection with,
under the indwelling and influence of" - Alford) the Holy Spirit.
Comment by Denney: One may
serve Christ either eating or abstaining, but no one can serve Him whose
conduct exhibits indifference to righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy
Paul prays for
to fill the saints at
Rome. So as wine fills a man and exerts control over him (just listen to
him slur his words and watch his wobbly walk!), in the supernatural way
the spiritual fruit of joy and peace fill the
believer and "controls" him or her.
John Piper comments...
The pathway that the Spirit cuts through the jungle of our anxieties into
the clearing of joy is the pathway of faith. Luke says of Stephen in Acts
6:5, that he was “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit,” and he says
of Barnabas in Acts 11:24 that he was “a good man full of the Holy Spirit
and of faith,” The two go together. If a person is filled with faith, he
will be filled with the Spirit, the Spirit of joy and peace. The most
important text in Paul’s writings to show this is Romans 15:13, “May the
God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that by the
power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Notice that it is in or
by believing that we are filled with joy and peace. And it is by the
Spirit that we abound in hope. When we put those two halves of the verse
together, what we see is that through our faith (our believing) the Spirit
fills us with his hope and thus with his joy and peace. And, of course
since hope is such an essential part of being filled with joy by the
Spirit, what we have to believe is that God is, as Paul says, the God of
hope. We have to rivet our faith on all that he has done and said to give
us hope. (Be
Filled with the Spirit)
Dictionary of Biblical Imagery...
Joy is a by-product of life with God.
Joy is not found by seeking it as an end in itself. It must be given by
God (Job 8:21; Ps 4:7; 36:8). Therefore, it is received by faith with the
gift of salvation (1 Sam 2:1; Ps 5:11; 13:5; 20:5; 21:1, 6; 33:21; 35:9;
40:16; Is 12:1; 25:9; Hab 3:18; Lk 1:47; 2:10). In the OT, joy comes with
God’s presence (1Chr 16:27; Job 22:21–26; Ps 9:2; 16:5–11). In the NT that
presence is identified as the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:52; Rom 15:13; Gal
5:22; Eph 5:18, 19; 1Th 1:6).
It is by the power of the Holy Spirit
that we experience the joy of salvation and are enabled to rejoice even in
the midst of trials. The Holy Spirit uses His Word to create joy in our
hearts. Romans 15 contains an interesting connection between God and the
Scriptures. Ro 15:4 of that chapter speaks of the endurance and
encouragement that come from the Scriptures; Ro 15:5 says God gives
endurance and encouragement. That God gives endurance and encouragement
through the Scriptures should not surprise us.
God is the Source.
The Scriptures are the means.
The same truth applies to joy. Ro 15:13
speaks of the God of hope filling us with joy and peace as we trust in
Him. How would we expect God to fill us with joy and hope? The reasonable
answer is by means of the comfort of the Scriptures (Christian life--Fruit
of the Spirit)
In another book Bridges writes
the following on Romans 15:13...
One of the most important aspects of
the second bookend is the hope the Holy Spirit provides to believers.
Every believer needs this divine encouragement because our opposition is
relentless, and there are plenty of disappointments along the way.
Sometimes we think we’ve turned the corner on a particular sin, only to
discover a few days later that we’ve merely gone around the block and are
dealing with it again. But there is hope in our battle with sin, and it
lies in placing our dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit, our
ever-present Helper (John 14:16, 17). (The Bookends of the Christian Life)
Warren Wiersbe defines joy as
that inward peace and sufficiency that
is not affected by outward circumstances. (A case in point is Paul’s
experience recorded in Php 4:1ff-[see
notes].) This "holy
optimism" keeps him going in spite of difficulties.
Donald Campbell says
(chara) is a deep and abiding inner rejoicing which was promised to those
who abide in Christ (cf. Jn 15:11). It does not depend on circumstances because
it rests in God’s sovereign control of all things (cf. Ro 8:28-note).
Webster's definition reflects the world's view of joy "the emotion evoked by
well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one
desires". Obviously this is not an accurate description of the JOY independent
of circumstances that is available to every believer.
from verb eiro = binding or joining together what is
broken or divided) (10 uses
of eirene in Romans - Ro 1:7; 2:10;
3:17; 5:1; 8:6; 14:17, 19; 15:13, 33; 16:20) means
literally that which has been bound together. It is freedom from disquieting or
oppressive thoughts or emotions. Peace in this verse is that inward state of
quiet which is independent of circumstances and is that inner attitude which God's Spirit (Gal
gives His people. Note that this peace is only possible after one has been
justified by faith and experienced peace with God (Ro 5:1-note).
In short peace with God must precede and is the basis for the peace
God (Php 4:7-note).
Webster defines peace as a state of
tranquility or quiet, freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or
emotions, harmony in personal relations, a pact or agreement to end hostilities
between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity, state of repose in
contrast with or following strife or turmoil. (Click for discussion of "gospel of peace" the believer's
IN (the) believing: en to pisteuein (PAN):
In believing - The Greek
literally reads "in the believing" or as Kenneth Wuest renders it "in
the sphere of the act of habitually believing."
THE VITAL ROLE OF
FAITH IN FILLING
WITH JOY AND PEACE
(don't read his explanation too fast) says that here Paul links...
man’s faith and God’s filling...as the foundation of everything. ‘The God of
hope fill you...’—let us leave out the intervening words for a
Now, you notice that Paul does not stay
to tell us what or whom we are to believe in, or on. He takes that for
granted, and his thought is fastened, for the moment, not on the object
but on the act of faith. And he wishes to drive home to us this,
that the attitude of trust is the necessary prerequisite condition
of God’s being able to fill a man’s soul, and that God’s being able to
fill a man’s soul is the necessary consequence of a man’s trust. Ah,
brethren, we cannot altogether shut God out from our spirits. There are
loving and gracious gifts that, as our Lord tells us, He makes to ‘fall on
the unthankful and the evil.’ His rain is not like the summer showers that
we sometimes see, that fall in one spot and leave another dry; nor like
the destructive thunderstorms, that come down bringing ruin upon one
cane-brake and leave the plants in the next standing upright.
But the best, the highest, the truly
divine gifts which He is yearning to give to us all, cannot be given
except there be consent, trust, and desire for them.
You can shut your hearts
or you can open them.
And just as the wind will sigh round
some hermetically closed chamber in vain search for a cranny, and the man
within may be asphyxiated though the atmosphere is surging up its waves
all round his closed domicile, so by lack of our faith, which is at
once trust, consent, and desire, we shut out the gift with which God
would fain fill our spirits. You can take a porous pottery vessel,
wrap it up in waxcloth, pitch it all over, and then drop it into
mid-Atlantic, and not a drop will find its way in. And that is what we can
do with ourselves, so that although in Him ‘we live and move and have our
being,’ and are like the earthen vessel in the ocean, no drop of the
blessed moisture will ever find its way into the heart.
There must be man’s faith
before there can be God’s filling.
Further, this relation of the two
things suggests to us that a consequence of a Christian man’s faith is the
direct action of God upon him. Notice how the Apostle puts that truth in a
double form here, in order that he may emphasize it, using one form of
expression, involving the divine, direct activity, at the beginning of his
prayer, and another at the end, and so enclosing, as it were, within a
great casket of the divine action, all the blessings, the flashing jewels,
which he desires his Roman friends to possess. ‘The God of hope fill
you...through the power of the Holy Ghost.’ I wish I could find words
by which I could bear in upon the ordinary type of the Evangelical
Christianity of this generation anything like the depth and earnestness of
my own conviction that, for lack of a proportionate development of that
great truth, of the direct action of the giving God on the believing
heart, it is weakened and harmed in many ways. Surely He that made my
spirit can touch my spirit; surely He who fills all things according to
their capacity can Himself enter into and fill the spirit which is opened
for Him by simple faith. We do not need wires for the telegraphy between
heaven and the believing soul, but He comes directly to, and speaks in,
and moves upon, and molds and blesses, the waiting heart. And until you
know, by your own experience rightly interpreted, that there is such a
direct communion between the giving God and the recipient
believing spirit, you have yet to learn the deepest depth, and the
most blessed blessedness, of Christian faith and experience. For lack of
it a hundred evils beset modern Christianity. For lack of it men fix their
faith so exclusively as that the faith is itself harmed thereby, on the
past act of Christ’s death on the Cross. You will not suspect me of
minimizing that, but I beseech you remember one climax of the Apostle’s
which, though not bearing the same message as my text, is in harmony with
it, ‘Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at
the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.’ (Ro 8:34) And
remember that Christ Himself bestows the gift of His Divine Spirit as the
result of the humiliation and the agony of His Cross. Faith brings the
direct action of the giving God.
And one more word about this first part of my text: the result of that
direct action is complete—‘the God of hope fill you’ with no shrunken
stream, no painful trickle out of a narrow rift in the rock, but a great
exuberance which will pass into a man’s nature in the measure of his
capacity, which is the measure of his trust and desire. There are two
limits to God’s gifts to men: the one is the limitless limit of God’s
infinitude, the other is the working limit—our capacity—and that capacity
is precisely measured, as the capacity of some built-in vessel might be
measured by a little gauge on the outside, by our faith. ‘The God of hope’
fills you in ‘believing,’ and ‘according to thy faith shall it be unto
thee.’ (From Maclaren's sermon
Joy and Peace in Believing)
Joy is linked with faith in Paul's letter to the Philippians...
And convinced of this, I know that I
shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the
faith (Php 1:25-note)
obedience of faith)
means to consider something to be true and therefore worthy of trust.
To have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy or ability of
something or someone. Pisteuo means to entrust oneself to an
entity in complete confidence. To believe in also conveys the
implication of total commitment to the one trusted. To be confident
about or to be firmly persuaded as to something. Pisteuo is in
which pictures this believing is one's practice or lifestyle. See Ray
Stedman's explanation (below) regarding the importance of
continually "believing" as it relates to joy and peace and
It is in a believing
heart that these blessed results are brought about. When asked by the
Jews in the Sixth of John, "What must we do that we may work the works
of God ?" our Lord replied, "This is the work of God the one thing He
asks of you, that ye believe on Him Whom He hath sent." The believing
of Romans 15.13 is, of course, that "living by faith in the Son of God"
of which Paul speaks in Gal 2:20. It is stepping out on the facts God
reveals about us; and learning to live the life of trust. (Romans
Charles Hodge comments that
in believing means to
fill you with that joy
concord among yourselves, as well as peace of conscience and peace towards
God, which are the results of genuine faith. (Commentary
of the Epistle to the Romans)
James Denney explains that...
The joy and peace which He (the
God of hope) imparts rest on faith (in believing). Hence they are
the joy and peace specially flowing from justification and
acceptance with God, and the more we have of these, the more we abound in
the Christian hope itself. Such an abounding in hope, in the power
of the Holy Ghost (cp the power of the Holy Spirit in Acts 1:8, Luke
4:14), is the end contemplated in Paul’s prayer that the God of hope would
fill the Romans with all joy and peace in believing. (Romans
15 - Expositor's Greek Testament)
Ray Stedman helps us understand
how all joy and peace is related to the
phrase in believing...
I want to stress that briefly because I
think that we have gone astray in this respect. Oftentimes people come to
me, and say,
"What is the matter with my
Christian life? I have come to a plateau where I seem to be so bored, and
nothing interesting is happening, and I have lost all vision and joy and
victory in my life. It seems to be so dull and lifeless. What can I do?"
For years I think I
gave a wrong answer to that. I said to them, "Well, are you reading the Bible?"
And usually it turned out that they weren't. Or, "Are you having times of
prayer?" And I gave the pat answer which is so easily given by most of us,
you need is time for prayer
and reading the Scriptures -- prayer and the Bible."
But I have come to see that this isn't the answer. What they need is to
what they read in Scripture, and believe what they pray--that is the answer.
These other things are merely mechanics which make possible the believing, but
believing is the real answer. It isn't Bible reading, or prayer or Christian
fellowship that unlocks the power of the Holy Spirit. It is
believing what you
read or what you pray: When you believe that Jesus Christ indwells you, when you
believe that He is all that you need, when you believe that He intends to act
through you, then you can act! You discover that all that He is becomes visible
through you and accomplishes all that needs to be done. The result is power and
joy and peace, as Paul prays here....
The God of hope cannot fill us with
peace if we don't believe -- which means to act on what we know. But it is when
we believe and act that the power of the Holy Spirit begins to work through us
and causes us to abound in hope -- for all around us are the evidences that God
is at work accomplishing his purposes in our lives. (Read the full message
Power to Please) (bolding added)
In summary, Christian joy and peace are IMpossible apart from trusting in
Him in Whom they are eminently HIMpossible!
THAT YOU MAY ABOUND
HOPE: eis to perisseuein (PAN) humas en
So that is the preposition eis, which is the Greek preposition
of motion, and literally can describe motion into any place or thing.
Figuratively as used here by Paul eis marks the object toward which
his supplication points--abounding hope.
May abound (4052)(perisseuo
from perissos = abundant,
exceeding some number, measure, rank or need, over and above -
from peri = in sense of beyond)
means to cause to superabound, to be superfluous, to overflow, to be
in affluence, to excel or to be in abundance with the implication of being
considerably more than what would be expected (and in the present context
certainly far more than we deserve!) Notice also that perisseuo is in the
which pictures the saints
as continually abounding in this great quality of Spirit empowered hope.
carries the idea of exceeding the requirements or of overflowing and is
pictured by a river which
overflows its banks! It means to exceed a fixed number or measure and so to be more
than enough. Thus perisseuo was used to describe what was "left
over" of the loaves after Jesus had fed the 5000 (Mt 14:20)! God's
supply exceeded their need. When
the God of hope supplies hope there is more than enough so that some is even
"left over" so to speak!
How quickly we forget the infinite nature of our great God's capability
"to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according
to the power (dunamis
- in the present context the power of the Holy Spirit Who
indwells us) that works (energeo
= is continually
"energizing") within us." (Eph 3:20-note)
Milligan give usages of perisseuo in extracts from secular Greek
writings - “more
than enough has been written...if you find any purchasers of the surplus
And so here we the purpose of Paul's
prayer - that they would
be continually overflowing with hope. The joy and peace given by
God to the believing saint would result in an overflow of hope.
As an aside we note that a common goal in
Paul's prayers was that the saints would not be "ain'ts"
so to speak but that they would
''super abound'' spiritually (See 1Cor 15:58-note
Phil 1:9, 10-note, 1Th 3:12-note).
In one great passage Paul used perisseuo twice
to emphasize our Great God's ability to give and give more...
And God is able (present
= is continually able) to
grace abound (perisseuo) to you, that always having all sufficiency
everything, you may have an abundance (perisseuo) for every good deed
the context of Paul's argument in Romans 15, saints who abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit have
no time to quarrel over nonessentials. Our common hope is a powerful unifying
force in the Christian life. Hope binds us together in the midst of a world
which without Christ is hopeless!
James Witmer writes that...
Paul desired God to fill his readers with
all joy and peace (Ro
relates to the delight of anticipation in seeing one’s hopes fulfilled. Peace
results from the assurance that God will fulfill those hopes (Ro 5:1-note;
These are experienced as believers trust in Him (cf. He 11:1-note). As a result
believers overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (cf. Ro 15:19-note)
J. F., Zuck, R. B., et al: The Bible Knowledge Commentary. 1985. Victor
Ray Stedman adds this comment...
What a magnificent verse! Whenever I
am asked to give an autograph, I almost always include this verse in it. It
is such a beautiful expression. Look how much you have got going for you.
All the great words of the Christian faith appear here: hope, twice (once it
is called "overflowing hope"); and joy, great joy; and peace, calmness and
confidence; and trust, belief in a living God; and finally, the power
Holy Spirit, the invisible force that can open doors and no man shuts them,
and can shut and no man opens -- the power of God released among us....What
the apostle is urging us to do is to unite on the great positive words of
our faith, and that we allow these qualities of hope, and joy, and peace,
and trust, and power to be visible when others see us gathered together as
Christians. When they hear us talking about each other we are to reflect
these qualities, rather than the miniscule divisions and arguments that many
of us have. (Read the full message
Romans 15:1-13: Our Great Example)
It is the will of God that you and I--all
believers--be filled with all joy and peace in believing---blessed
spiritual state! that we may abound in hope in the power of the Holy
Ghost. Some are content if they merely find the way of salvation through
faith in the blood of Christ. They are much given to talk about being "saved
by grace, " but they are not much exercised about holy living.
A second class of believers become deeply
exercised as to a life of "victory over sin." These, of course, if
instructed aright, accept the wondrous fact that they died with Christ, and
are now on resurrection ground, freed from sin, and from that which gave sin
its power, the Law.
A third class go further, to the Twelfth
of Romans, and enter on true Christian service, by presenting their bodies a
living sacrifice to God (Ro 12:1); and discovering thereby His good,
acceptable, and perfect will for them (Ro 12:2) -- whatever measure of faith
He may give them, and to whatever gift or peculiar service He may call them.
But here, in this great fountain of water
in Romans 15.13, we find that a daily, hourly life filled with all joy
and peace in believing, abounding in hope, is the normal state for every
one who is in Christ!
It will not do for us to make excuses for
ourselves: God is the God of hope! His yearning is to fill you and me
with all joy and peace, if we will just launch out and believe.
Others just as unworthy as we have believed; we will never become "more
worthy" of believing. "This poor earth is a wrecked vessel," as Moody used
to say. Man is drifting on into the night, and judgment is coming. All the
more, then, may the God of hope fill YOU with all joy and
peace in believing, that YOU may abound in hope! Many cherish
their doubts, even adducing them as a proof of their humility, which is sad
indeed. As Charles F. Deems used to say, "Believe your beliefs, and doubt
your doubts; most people believe their doubts, and doubt their beliefs." You
can believe. What a wonderful
thing to be among those (sadly few!) believers who are filled with all joy
and peace, and abound in hope!
[word study]) in Scripture is not the world's definition of "I
hope so", with a few rare exceptions (e.g., Acts 27:20) Hope is
defined as a desire for some future good with the expectation of obtaining
it. Hope is confident expectancy. Hope is the looking forward
to something with some reason for confidence respecting fulfillment.
Believer's Blessed Hope
Hope as the world typically
defines it is a desire for some future occurrence of which one is not
assured of attaining. The ancient world did not generally regard hope
as a virtue, but merely as a temporary illusion. Historians tell us that a
great cloud of hopelessness covered the ancient world. Philosophies
were empty; traditions were disappearing; religions were powerless to help
men face either life or death. People longed to pierce the veil and get
some message of hope from the other side, but there is none outside of
The book of Hebrews
defines hope as that which gives "full assurance" (He 6:11-note).
Thus we can have strong confidence that God is going to do good to us in
future. The opposite of hope is despair, (hopelessness; a hopeless
state; a destitution of hope or expectation) which is all that those
without Christ as Savior can know, for Paul defines hope as "Christ Jesus,
Who is our Hope" (1Ti 1:1). Thus genuine Biblical hope is not a concept
but a Person, Christ Jesus!
Hope is a unique word in
Scripture, where it indicates “confident expectation.” The person with hope
has complete assurance about the future. And the overflow of the hope
we have as we trust in God fills us with joy and peace. (The 365 Day
William Barclay tells the story
It is easy in the light of experience to
despair of oneself. It is easy in the light of events to despair of the
world. The story is told of a meeting in a certain church at a time of
emergency. The meeting was opened with prayer by the chairman. He addressed
God as ‘Almighty and eternal God, whose grace is sufﬁcient for all things.’
When the prayer was ﬁnished, the business part of the meeting began; and the
chairman introduced the business by saying: ‘Friends, the situation in this
church is completely hopeless, and nothing can be done.’ Either his prayer
was composed of empty and meaningless words, or his statement was
untrue....There is something in Christian hope that not all the shadows can
quench—and that something is the conviction that God is alive. No individual
is hopeless as long as there is the grace of Jesus Christ; and no situation
is hopeless as long as there is the power of God.
BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: en dunamei
By the power - Literally "in" the
power. In the sphere of His divine, enabling power or as Wuest
Now the God of the hope fill you with
every joy and hope in the sphere of believing, resulting in your
superabounding in the sphere of the hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Bishop Handley Moule comments...
“in His power,” clasped as it were within
His divine embrace, and thus energized to look upward, heavenward, away from
embittering and dividing temptations to the unifying as well as beatifying
respect of your Lord’s Return.
Let us meditate for a moment on this
important phrase "the power of the Holy Spirit"
- Remember that when Jesus was on earth, having emptied Himself of His
divine prerogatives (albeit still fully God - mystery of mysteries! See Phil
2:5, 6, 7-note),
He presented us the perfect example of how to live a supernatural life. And
what was Jesus' "secret"? Luke unfolds the beautiful truth that at the
beginning of His ministry, "the Holy Spirit descended upon Him"
(Luke 3:22, compare Isa 11:2, Isa 61:1, 2, 3, notice also the timing = Luke
3:23 "And when He began His ministry..."). Note what Luke is saying -
Jesus receives the manifestation of the Holy Spirit and this event marks the
inception of His powerful ministry over the next three years. Luke goes on
to record that then "full of the Holy Spirit" (Luke 4:1, see Paul's
command to believers to be continually full of the Spirit, Eph 5:18-note),
Jesus "was led about by the Spirit in the wilderness"
(Luke 4:1b) which resulted in a period of intense temptation "by the
devil " (Luke 4:2-17). In short, Jesus gives us His example for
powerful ministry - filling with and submission or surrender to the Holy
Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that now indwells all believers (Ro 8:9-note,
In the book of Acts, Luke reiterates the vital role of the Holy Spirit in
Jesus' ministry recording Peter's declaration...
You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God
anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power (dunamis),
and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the
devil; for God was with Him. (Luke 10:38)
Notice the association of the Holy
Spirit with the presence of enabling power, power to accomplish
the ministry the Father had assigned to His Son (Do you see the Trinity at
work?). Now return to Luke 4 and notice that after His victorious temptation
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power (dunamis)
of the Spirit (Luke 4:14)
Jesus filled with the Holy Spirit, led by
the Holy Spirit and empowered by the Holy Spirit began His ministry. In so
doing, Jesus the perfect Man is providing us the pattern for powerful
ministry! Have you learned the "secret" of the Holy Spirit's power in your
life? Paul (1Cor 11:1), Peter (1Peter 2:21-note)
and John (1Jn 2:6) all call on believers to follow in the steps of Jesus.
While clearly there are some exceptions (Jesus' miracles of raising the
dead, etc.), the basic pattern of power for supernatural ministry is
provided - the secret is the Holy Spirit! Jesus' charge to His men in Acts
1:8 and playing out of that verse in the remainder of the book of Acts
affirm the basic principle of the Holy Spirit's power enabling us to
live the Christian life as more than conquerors!
May God open the eyes of our heart to
the surpassing greatness of the power of the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:18, 19-note)
available in our lives so that we might experience an abundant, fruit filled
life (Gal 5:22-note,
in turn so that God the Father might be greatly glorified by the
supernatural deeds the Spirit of grace (Heb 10:29b) enables us to perform
(cp Mt 5:16-note,
Jn 15:8) as we progressively learn more and more to yield to Him, to be
filled with Him and to walk by Him (Eph 5:18-note,
(7x in Romans = Ro 1:4-note
Ro 15:13, Ro 15:19-note) refers to inherent power
residing in something by virtue of its nature. Here the power Source is
the Holy Spirit.
In the context of
Romans 15, we learn that the Holy Spirit's inherent enabling power is the means by which unity will
be accomplished as He causes believers to abound in hope. The Holy Spirit supernaturally enables the stronger and weaker brothers to
abound in hope and to see
each other’s positions in a clearer (eternal) perspective which causes
them to refuse to let their differences mar the unity that
they have in Christ. Christ is our Hope (1Ti 1:1) and to paraphrase an old hymn,
when we fix our eyes on Jesus (cp Heb 12:2-note,
"the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of His
glory and grace" (Turn
Your Eyes Upon Jesus by Alan Jackson) and the result will be true spiritual
power to accept one another.
Notice also that what was described as the effect of Scripture in Romans
15:4 is now
attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul here follows a pattern evident
throughout the New Testament in which God’s saving acts are attributed to God’s
Word as well as to the work of the Holy Spirit.
Omnipotence is one of the
characteristics of the divine essence. Father: Mk 14:36 and
Lk 1:37; Son: Col 1:16-17; Heb. 1:3; Spirit: Ro
15:13): (1) God the Father is omnipotent (Eph 1:17; 2Pe 1:2-3). (2)
Holy Spirit is omnipotent (Acts 1:8; Ro 15:13, 19; Eph 3:16; 1Th
1:5). (3) Word of God is omnipotent (Ro 1:16; 1Co 1:18, 24; Heb
Charles Hodge reminds us that it is
through the power of the Holy Ghost,
through Whom all good is given and all good exercised. (Commentary
of the Epistle to the Romans)
The existence of this hope in men
is no human possibility but the creation of the Spirit of God. (Cranfield,
C. E. B Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. Vol 1: Ro 1-8.;
Volume 2: Romans 9-16)
Barclay comments on the
believer's need for power of the Holy Spirit...
Here is the supreme human need. It is
not that we do not know the right thing; it is not that we do not
recognize the ﬁne thing; the trouble is doing it. The trouble is to cope
with and to conquer things....That we can never do alone. Only when the
surge of Christ’s power (Ed: The Spirit of Christ) ﬁlls our
weakness can we have control of life as we ought. By ourselves, we can do
nothing (Jn 15:5); but, with God (Ed: The resurrection power of the
Holy Spirit), all things are possible. (Barclay,
W: The Daily Study Bible Series. The Westminster Press
Holy Spirit - His full name is
mentioned in Ro 5:5 Ro 9:1 Ro 14:17 Ro 15:13 Ro 15:16. He is mentioned by
the single name Spirit in Ro 1:4, 2:29, 7:6, 8:2, 4, 5 (twice), Ro
8:6, 9 (3x), Ro 8:11 (twice), Ro 8:13, 14, 16, 23, 26 (twice), Ro 8:27,
15:19, 30. The total mentions of the Holy Spirit/Spirit in Romans = 27
including once as the Spirit of holiness (Ro 1:4), once as the
Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Ro 8:2), once as the Spirit of Him
Who raised Jesus (Ro 8:11), twice as the Spirit of God (Ro
8:9, 14) and once as the Spirit of Christ (Ro 8:9). Even from a
cursory observation of His names in Romans, we receive a glimpse of the
Tony Evans on the Holy Spirit
What's the difference between a rowboat
and a speedboat? A rowboat requires human effort; a speedboat moves based
on another power source. A rowboat represents my determination to get
there. A speedboat represents the Christian who relies on the power of the
Holy Spirit to propel him forward into his Christian life and get him
where he needs to go.
The moment you pull away from the
filling station, dissipation occurs. As you drive, you use up the
gasoline. Over time you will burn gas. The length of time from full to
empty depends on how far you travel, how fast you travel, and the amount
of air-conditioning or heat used. The fuel indicator slowly goes from full
to empty because driving the car uses the energy the fuel provides.
Eventually the car will need to be filled up again with gasoline. The
filling of a car is an ongoing responsibility. In the same way, as we live
life, we get drained spiritually. We go to church, have our devotions, and
spend time in fellowship with other Christian believers so that we can
fill our tanks. But as we live our lives, we run empty as we expend our
spiritual energy doing the work God has for us. In order to continue to do
the work, we have to continue to get refilled.
Henry Drummond described the
Holy Spirit this way...
The pearl-diver lives at the bottom of
the ocean by means of the pure air conveyed to him from above.
His life is entirely dependent on the
life-giving Spirit. We are
down here, like the diver, to gather pearls for our Master’s crown. The
source of our life comes from above. (Amen.
Are you learning to cast off self reliance and put on Spirit dependence?)
Arthur Pink has some wise words
on the meaning and practical significance of the power of the Holy
The Father is the Giver, but the Spirit
is the Communicator of our graces. Though it is the Christian’s duty to be
filled with joy and peace in believing and to abound in hope, yet it is
only by the Spirit’s enablement such can be realized. Here, as everywhere
in the Word, we find the kindred truths of our accountableness and
dependency intimately connected. The joy, peace, and hope here are
not carnal emotions or natural acquirements but spiritual graces, and
therefore they must be divinely imparted. (Ed: You may want to read
this introduction again for the truths are profound and vital to
comprehend if we would live a life in the Power of the Holy Spirit)
Even the promises of God will not
produce these graces unless they be divinely applied to us. Note that it
is not merely "through the operation" but "through the power" of the Holy
Spirit, for there is much in us which opposes! Nor can these graces be
increased or even maintained by us in our own strength—though they can be
decreased by us, through grieving the Spirit. They are to be sought by
prayer, by eyeing the promises, and by looking for the enablement of the
Holy Spirit. That hope is but a vain fancy which is not fixed on God and
inwrought by Him. "Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou
hast caused me to hope" (Ps. 119:49). (Prayer
In the RBC Booklet
The Promise of the Spirit Bill Crowder
The first winter that my wife Marlene
and I were married was marked by severe blizzards. I can vividly remember
one Sunday when we awoke to find that the electricity had been knocked out
by an ice storm. Huddled around a battery-powered radio for news on that
frigid Sunday, we heard a most unusual announcement. The announcer, before
giving the list of church services canceled due to the ice storm, said,
“The following churches will be
due to lack of power.”
What an interesting comment! I knew
what he meant, but I was struck by what he said. The idea of churches
closing due to lack of power conjures up some spiritual parallels that
directly tie into Jesus’ promise of the Spirit. Just prior to His
ascension, Jesus told His men in Acts 1:8 , “You shall receive power when
the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in
Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” He
directly attached the coming of the Spirit to the empowering of believers.
This gives us reason to examine some important issues in this concluding
What Is Power? The word power used by
Jesus in Acts 1:8 is the Greek word dunamis. It is defined variously as
“strength, power, or ability.” Specifically, it refers to “inherent power,
power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or
thing exerts and puts forth.” This spiritual power is not inherent to the
believer, however. Notice very carefully that it is inherent to the Person
of the Holy Spirit who resides within the believer. How does this power
manifest itself in our lives? I would suggest that there are at least
three (though probably more) clear ways the Holy Spirit expresses His
power in the lives of the redeemed.
How does the Spirit express life in us?
By causing our lives to be profoundly different from the hopeless world
that surrounds us. Notice Paul’s words in Romans 15:13, “Now may the God
of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound
in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” The power of the Holy Spirit
provides for us the things that human effort and human religion and human
righteousness could never achieve. He is there to empower our living with
a glorious sense of joy, peace, and hope that can carry us through the
trials and hardships that are the inevitable by-products of life in a
fallen world. The power we need is found in a Person Who has been
sent by the Father to bring fullness to our lives. In a world that is in
mad pursuit of happiness, we can have JOY by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In a world that is crying out from the grief of constant conflict, we can
have true PEACE. In a world that is filled with empty despair and a
bleak future, we can have a bright HOPE. Why? Because the power
of the Holy Spirit can equip us for (Ed: "supernatural") life in a way
that the world cannot grasp. His power can enable us to experience the
things that the world craves and cannot secure, but are ours by the
Spirit. This is the ABUNDANT LIFE Jesus spoke of (Jn 10:10) —a life
that is full and rich and deep and lasting. A life that is lived by the
power of the Holy Spirit
THE TRUE CHRISTIAN'S
H C G Moule gives an excellent
summary of Paul's great prayer writing that...
Meanwhile, let us take this benedictory
prayer, as we may take it, from its instructive context, and carry it out
with us into all the contexts of life. What the Apostle prayed for the
Romans, in view of their controversies, he prays for us, as for them, in
view of everything. Let us “stand back and look at the picture.”
Here—conveyed in this strong
petition—is Paul’s idea of the true Christian’s true life, and the true
life of the true Church.
What are the elements, and what is the
It is a life lived in direct contact
with God. “Now the God of hope fill you.” He remits (sends or refers)
them here (as above, Ro 15:5) from even himself to the Living God. In a
sense, he sends them even from “the things fore-written,” to the Living
God; not in the least to disparage the Scriptures, but because the great
function of the divine Word, as of the divine Ordinances, is to guide the
soul into an immediate intercourse with the Lord God in His Son, and to
secure it therein. God is to deal direct with the Romans. He is to
manipulate, He is to fill, their being.
It is a life not starved or
straitened (hemmed in, restricted in scope), but full. “The God
of hope fill you.” The disciple, and the Church, is not to live as if
grace were like a stream “in the year of drought,” (Jer 17:8KJV) now
settled into an almost stagnant deep, then struggling with difficulty over
the stones of the shallow. The man, and the Society, are to live and work
in tranquil but moving strength, “rich” in the fruits of their Lord’s
“poverty” (2Cor 8:9); filled out of His fulness; never, spiritually, at a
loss for Him; never, practically, having to do or bear except in His large
and gracious power.
It is a life bright and beautiful;
“filled with all joy and peace.” It is to shew a surface fair with the
reflected sky of Christ, Christ present, Christ to come. A sacred while
open happiness and a pure internal repose is to be there, born of “His
presence, in which is fulness of joy,” and of the sure prospect of His
Return, bringing with it “pleasures for evermore.” Like that mysterious
ether of which the natural philosopher tells us, this joy, this peace,
found and maintained “in the Lord,” is to pervade all the contents of the
Christian life, its moving masses of duty or trial, its interspaces of
rest or silence; not always demonstrative but always underlying, and
always a living power.
It is a life of faith; “all joy
and peace in your believing.” That is to say,
it is a life dependent for its all upon
a Person and His promises.
Its glad certainty of peace with God, of the possession of His
Righteousness, is by means not of sensations and experiences, but of
believing; it comes, and
stays, by taking Christ at His word.
Its power over temptation, its “victory and triumph against the devil, the
world, and the flesh,” is by the same means. The man, the Church, takes
the Lord at His word;—“I am with you always” (Mt 28:20); “Through Me thou
shalt do valiantly” (Ps 60:12KJV-note,
faith, that is to say, Christ trusted in practice, is “more than
conqueror.” (Ro 8:37KJV-note)
It is a life overflowing with the
heavenly hope; “that ye may abound in the hope.” Sure of the past, and
of the present, it is—what out of Christ no life can be—sure of the
future. The golden age, for this happy life, is in front, and is no
Utopia. “Now is our salvation nearer” (Ro 13:11KJV-note);
“We look for that blissful (makarian = blessed) hope, the appearing
of our great God and Saviour” (Titus 2:13-note);
“Them which sleep in Him God will bring with Him” (1Th 4:14-note);
“We shall be caught up together with them; we shall ever be with the Lord”
“They shall see His face (Rev 22:4-note);
thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty (Isa 33:17KJV).’
And all this it is as a life lived
“in the power of the Holy Ghost.” Not by enthusiasm, not by any
stimulus which self applies to self; not by resources for gladness and
permanence found in independent reason or affection; but by the almighty,
all-tender power of the Comforter.
“The Lord, the Life-Giver,” giving
life by bringing us to the Son of God, and uniting us to Him, is the Giver
and strong Sustainer of the faith, and so of the peace, the joy, the hope,
of this blessed life. (The
Epistle to the Romans - Expositor's Bible Commentary)
W H Griffith Thomas in his
chapter entitled THE FULNESS OF LIFE-HOW IT COMES expounds on
Romans 15:13, 14...
A CHRISTIAN man was on his death-bed.
He had spent a long life of service in the Kingdom of God, and a friend at
his side was encouraging him with the thought of his approaching entrance
into the Home above, and the joy of meeting his Lord after all his earnest
labor and faithful service. The dying man responded with beautiful
humility, "I shall be satisfied if I can but creep into heaven on my hands
and knees." We can easily understand the spirit which prompted these
words; he felt that his service was as nothing compared with his need of
the Mercy of God through which alone he would reach the heavenly Kingdom.
At the same time there is another sense in which the words are not rightly
applicable to the Christian, for St. Peter speaks of our having "an
abundant entrance ministered unto us into the everlasting kingdom" (2Pe
1:11). In keeping with this St. Paul was constantly emphasizing the
Christian life under such figures of speech as "wealth," "riches,"
"abundance," "fulness," and he prays that Christians "might be filled with
all the fulness of God." He was not satisfied with a bare entrance into
heaven, he wished his converts and himself to have the fullest possible
Christian life and experience here below, and then to enter fully into the
joy of the Lord above. This is the true Christian life, the life of
fulness, depth, power and reality; the only life emphasized in the Word of
God, the only life that can glorify God or satisfy His purpose concerning
This fulness of life is brought very
definitely before us in the above passage, which deserves and will need
our most careful consideration. It has no less than six aspects of the
full, rich, abundant Christian life.
THE FULNESS OF GOD
WHAT IT IS
The fulness of God is the fulness of
"Fill you with all joy." Joy is one of
the most important and prominent elements of the Christian life. It is a
condition of soul which is the immediate result of our definite personal
relation to Christ. There is a twofold joy in the Bible—the joy of
salvation and the joy of satisfaction. The joy of salvation comes from the
experience of sin forgiven, from the consciousness that the burden has
been rolled away, and that all the past is covered in the righteousness of
Christ. This was the experience of the jailer at Philippi, who "rejoiced,
believing in God" (Acts 16). It was the restoration of this joy for which
David prayed (Ps 51:12).
The joy of satisfaction is the other element of the fulness of joy.
"Satisfaction!" some one answers, "is it possible to use such a word in
connection with the Christian life of the present?" Should we not limit
this idea of satisfaction to the life to come? Satisfied with what? Not
with ourselves, nor with our own attainments or service, but satisfied
with Christ. The Apostle Peter's glowing words are not to be postponed to
the life to come, "whom, having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye
see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of
glory" (1Pe 1:8). This is one of the searching and su¬preme tests of
life—our satisfaction with our Lord. How easy it is to sing,
Thou, O Christ, art all I want,
More than all in Thee I find
and yet how possible it is for the
words to be really meaningless and no true expression of our personal
experience. God's purpose for us is fulness of joy: "Rejoice in the Lord
alway: and again I say, rejoice," (Phil. 4:4).
The fulness of God is the fulness of peace.
"Fill you with all . . . peace." This
brings before us the passive, as joy gives the active side of the
Christian life. As with joy, so also there is a twofold peace in the Word
of God, the peace of reconciliation and the peace of restfulness. The
peace of reconciliation is the foundation: "Being justified by faith we
have peace with God" (Rom. v. 1). The enmity has been removed, the
barriers are broken down and the soul is reconciled with God through Him
Who is our peace. And then comes the peace of restfulness: "The peace of
God" (Phil. iv. 7). The soul at peace with God enjoys a precious
realisation of His presence as the God of peace, and restfulness arises
and abides moment by moment in the heart. This again is part of the
fulness of life which God intends for us in Christ Jesus, the fulness of
His own peace. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed
on Thee" (Isa. 36:8).
The fulness of God is the fulness of
"That ye may abound in hope." Hope in
the New Testament is a Christian grace wrought in the soul by the Holy
Spirit. It is to be carefully distinguished from our modern use of the
word as equivalent to hopefulness, just a mere matter of buoyancy of
temperament. The Christian hope will undoubtedly produce hopefulness, but
the two are never to be confused, much lea' identified. The one is the
cause, the other the effect. Hope always looks on the future and is
concerned with that great object which is put before us in the New
Testament. Joy looks upward, peace looks inward, hope looks forward. The
Christian hope is fixed on the coming of our Lord, and this is a very
prominent element of New Testament teaching. It is to be feared that it
does not obtain great prominence in much of present day Christianity. Most
people look forward, not to the coming of the Lord, but to death; yet the
one object of expectation set before us in the New Testament is the coming
of our Lord. Now-a-days, the general idea is that death will come, and the
Lord may come; but Scripture reverses this and says, "Death may come, but
the Lord will come." It is impossible for the Christian to look forward to
death with happiness and peace. There is something in the very fact of
dying which is abhorrent to the Christian man. It is not that he is afraid
to die, but that he naturally shrinks from that which is ever spoken of in
the Bible as man's "enemy." "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is
death" (1Cor. 15:26). The Lord's coming, on the contrary, is a subject of
joy, satisfaction, blessedness, and the contemplation of it can do nothing
but good to the soul.
It is interesting to notice the place and order of "hope" in the light of
what has preceded this word in our text. It is the present consciousness
of joy and peace that gives us our warrant for hope. As the Apostle
himself says in another place it is "Christ in you, the hope of glory"
(Col. 1:27). "Experience (produces) hope" (Ro 5:4).
The fulness of God is the fulness of goodness. (Ro 15:14)
"Ye also are full of goodness." The
place of this word following the other three in order is very noteworthy.
Joy, peace and hope are intended to have their personal and practical
effect in producing goodness. Our experiences are intended to result in
character, and if they stop short of this, there is something greatly
lacking in our Christian life. Character is a settled state of goodness
which comes from the experience of Christ and His grace, and if our
experiences are merely intermittent our goodness will be intermittent
also. What is needed above all else in the present day is goodness,
character, reality. The finest testimony that can be given to any man is
that which was said of Barnabas, "He was a good man" (Acts 11:24). A
minister may be an indifferent preacher, or an ineffective visitor; he may
be lacking in genius and great capacity, but if he is a good man this is
the first and supreme factor of Christianity. "The fruit of the Spirit is
. . . goodness" (Gal. 5:22).
The fulness of God is the fulness of
knowledge. (Ro 15:14)
"Filled with all knowledge." The
meaning of this can hardly be intellectual capacity, or even intellectual
attainments. It must be that spiritual knowledge, that perception of
spiritual realities which is the mark of a true and growing Christian.
This spiritual perception is the result of the foregoing elements of joy,
peace, hope and goodness, and it is a sure proof of spiiitual growth and
maturity. The latest Epistles of the three great Apostles, St. Paul, St.
Peter, and St. John are very emphatic as to spiritual perception as the
mark of Christian maturity. A careful consideration of the Epistles of St.
Paul, known as those of his first captivity—Philippians, Ephesians and
Colossians, will reveal to us the frequent occurrence of the word
"knowledge" and the original term is almost always a word which implies
"mature" or "thorough knowledge." The second Epistle of St. Peter is also
characterised by the same word, and although it consists only of three
chapters, its emphasis on knowledge is really remarkable. The word is
found in all three and then the Epistle closes with the exhortation to
"grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour." The great
Epistle of St. John, known as the first Epistle, is also full of this idea
of knowledge. Indeed the word "know" may be regarded as the keynote of the
whole writing. "These things have I written unto you that ye may know" (1
John v. 18). Spiritual perception is of the greatest possible importance
in view of thevarious forms of error that are rife on every hand. It is
for the lack of it that many Christians are led astray; they have not that
ripe spiritual apprehension which enables them to perceive the error and
to cleave to the good. The Apostle's prayer for his friends at Philippi
was that "their love might abound yet more and more in knowledge and in
all judgment, and that they might distinguish things that differ" (Phil. i.
9, 10, Greek). This is our need to-day—a sense of spiritual discrimination
to "prove all things, to hold fast that which is good," and to "approve
those things which are excellent," because they are in accordance with the
mind and will of God.
The fulness of God is the fulness of
capability. (Ro 15:14)
"Able also to admonish." This is the
practical outcome of all our experience, character and knowledge; they
ought to be and must be put to practical account. The Christians at Rome
did not keep their blessings to themselves ; they had become capable
("able") and this capability expressed itself in testimony, in passing on
God's truth and grace to others through the medium of lip and life. This
type of Christianity is sorely needed to-day. Christian testimony is far
too frequently limited to the ordained ministry, or to a few Christian
workers as distinct from the large body of Christian people. It ought to
be true of every genuine follower of Christ that he is "able to admonish,"
able to express spiritual experiences, able to bear witness to his
Master's grace, able to lead a soul to Christ, able to help
fellow-Christians in spiritual difficulty, able to work for the Master
either at home or abroad. There would be very much less dependence upon a
professional ministry in time of spiritual difficulty if Christian people
as a whole were more capable of dealing with spiritual anxieties of soul.
This is the crown and consummation of all our knowledge and experience,
the ability to do good to others and to bless them by word and deed.
These six elements of the fulness of
life should be carefully noted. Each one by itself is essential and
important. Their order is also to be observed; their measure, too, must
not be overlooked. Not only are we to possess them; we are to have them in
And yet perchance some reader is saying
that this is quite beyond us and utterly impossible. Are we quite sure,
however, that this is so? Can we for an instant think that the Apostle
Paul would pray this prayer for those Roman Christians if he did not
expect an answer? God never mocks us by putting before us an impossible
ideal. His "biddings are enablings," and this very passage which reveals
all this wonderful fulness of blessing, reveals also its secret and shows
the way thither.
THE FULNESS OF LIFE
HOW IT COMES
The passage before us brings a
threefold answer to this question.
We are shown the Divine Source.
"The God of hope." The fulness of life
in the Christian is necessarily Divine not human. It comes from God, not
from man. This title of God is very striking and occurs only in this
place. "The God of hope." What does it mean? Probably in the first place
it means "the God Who is the source of hope." But it may also include the
idea of "The God Who is Himself hope," thus calling attention to hope as
one of the characteristics of the Divine Nature. If this is the meaning,
or even a part of the meaning, it is full of significance for our purpose
in discovering the secret of life. We know well what hope does in
connection with the teaching and training of children. If we wish a little
one to undertake a task, and we show by our manner when we set the task
that we expect the child to fail, we are almost guaranteeing the failure
by robbing the little one of hope and encouragement. On the other hand,
every true teacher knows the power of hope and encouragement in dealing
with children. If we show that we expect the little one to succeed, we go
far to guarantee the success. In like manner, God's attitude to His
children is one of definite and powerful hope. He knows what His grace can
do, if only His children are willing to receive it. He does not expect His
children to fail, but to succeed. He looks down from heaven as we yield
ourselves to Him, and is to us the God of hope, full of Divine hope
concerning us as we live in Christ. What a joy it is to be trusted by our
God! What an inspiration to holiness and service to be assured of the
Divine expectation of success and blessing! Surely we come at once to one
of the deepest secrets of spiritual fulness of blessing, God's trust in
us, God's hope concerning us as we yield ourselves unreservedly to His
all-sufficient grace and power.
We are taught the Divine Medium.
"Through the power of the Holy Ghost."
All the elements of the fulness of life already considered are stored up
for us in Christ, and it is through the Holy Ghost that they are bestowed
upon us. Our joy is "joy in the Lord"; and the Kingdom of God is "joy in
the Holy Ghost" (Rom. 14.17). Our peace is the peace of Christ (John
14:27) and this becomes ours by the Holy Spirit. Our hope comes from the
indwelling of Christ (Col. 1.27); and this is made ours by the power of
the Holy Spirit (Ro v. A). Our goodness is due to the indwelling of our
Lord, and this becomes ours in the power of the Holy Spirit (Gal. v.22).
Our knowledge and capability are also gifts of the Risen Lord which are
made ours in personal experience by the indwelling presence of the Holy
Spirit. And thus he is the Divine Medium through Whom everything comes
which is needed for the fulness of life and power and blessing.
We are told of the human channel.
"In believing." On our side, Faith is
the response to Divine grace. Faith brings joy and peace; these in turn
lead to hope; hope develops into goodness; goodness into insight; and
insight into capability and usefulness. And thus Faith is the channel and
means of everything God wants us to have. When we think of hope we at once
realise that it is impossible without faith. God desires us to love Him
supremely, but we cannot love a God Whom we distrust. God wishes our
obedience, but it is impossible to obey one Whom we deny. God asks for our
service, but we cannot serve a God Whom we discredit. Faith is at the root
and foundation of everything in the Christian life.
Faith as revealed to us in Scripture is
of a twofold nature; there is the faith that asks and the faith that
accepts; the faith that appeals and the faith that appropriates. This is
probably the reason why prayer and thanksgiving are so often associated in
the writings of St. Paul. They represent to us the two aspects of faith.
Prayer is the faith that asks; thanksgiving is the faith that takes. We
lose a great deal in our Christian life by failure to distinguish between
these two aspects of faith. We keep on asking, when we ought to commence
accepting. "Believe that ye have received, and ye shall have" (Mark
11:24). Twe intimate friends were once lunching together, and after the
host had said the usual grace, "For what we are about to receive, may the
Lord make us truly thankful," his friend asked him when he was expecting
to have that prayer answered. "What do you mean," was the reply. "Why,"
was the rejoinder, "to my certain knowledge you have been praying for the
last twenty-five years to be made thankful: is it not about time that you
were thankful?" This friend was trying to illustrate the difference
between praying to be made thankful, and saying, "I am thankful." In the
same way in the Christian life there comes a time when we should cease
asking and commence obtaining. This is the value of the distinction
between God's promises and God's facts. The promises are to be pleaded and
their fulfilment expected. The facts are to be accepted and their
blessings at once used. When we read, "My grace is sufficient for thee,"
it is not a promise to be pleaded, but a fact to be at once accepted and
enjoyed. When we say "The Lord is my shepherd," we are not dealing with a
promise or the groundwork of prayer, we are concerned with one of the
present realities of the Christian experience. A man kneels down before
leaving home in the morning and asks God for grace to be kept every moment
that day. Then he rises at once and goes about his work. Has he done all
his duty in thus simply asking for grace? There was something more and
better that he should have done. He should have given a moment more after
asking, for the purpose of taking, by saying to God, "0 my God and Father,
I believe that Thou art now giving me the grace that I have asked for; I
here and no A take Thy grace." As the hymn aptly puts it,
The faith that takes is the secret of
power and blessing, and the more trust of this kind we exercise the more
power and the more fulness will come into our Christian life; and day by
day we shall live a life of faith and shall say with the Apostle, "I can
do all things through Him who is empowering me" (Phil. iv. 18: Greek),
because we are able to say, "The life that I now live in the flesh, I live
by faith in the Son of God Who loved me and gave Himself for me." (The
Christian Life and How to Live It - online)
George Morrison...Joy and
Peace in Believing
Now the God of hope fill you with all
joy and peace in believing--Rom 15:13
It is a question we ought to ask ourselves, in our quiet hours of
meditation, whether we really know the joy and peace which are the
benediction of our text. It is a great thing to be resigned amid the
various buffetings of life. Resignation is better than rebellion. But
resignation, however good it is, is not peculiarly a Christian virtue; it
marks the stoic rather than the Christian. The Christian attitude towards
the ills of life is something more triumphant than acceptance. It has an
exultant note that resignation lacks. It is acceptance with a song in it.
It is such a reaction to experience as suggests the certainty of
victory--the victory that overcomes the world. It is a searching question
for us all, then, whether we truly know this joy and peace. Does it
characterize our spiritual life? Is it evident in our discipleship? And
that not only on the Lord's day and in the sanctuary, but in our routine
dealings with the world.
Joy and Peace in Daily Life
Contrast, for instance, joy and peace in believing with joy and peace in
working. Many who read this are happily familiar with joy and peace in
working. It is true that work may be very uncongenial; there are those who
hate the work they are engaged in. There are seasons, too, for many of us,
when our strength may be unequal to the task. But speaking generally, what
a good deal of joy and peace flow into the lives of men and women in
prosecuting their appointed task. Again, think of joy and peace in loving;
how evident is that in many a home. What a peaceful and happy place a home
becomes when love lies at the basis of it all. The splendid attitude of
children, their gladness that makes others glad, spring not only from the
heart of childhood, but from the love that encircles them at home. Now
Paul does not speak of joy and peace in working, nor does he speak of joy
and peace in loving. His theme here is different from these: it is joy and
peace in believing. And the question is, do we, who know these other
things, know this in our experience of life and amid the jangling of our
The Joy and Peace of God Is for Every Christian
Think for a moment of the men and women to whom St. Paul originally wrote
these words. Their cares and sorrows were just as real to them as our
cares and sorrows are to us. They were called to be saints, and yet they
were not saints. They were very far from being saints. Some were slaves,
and some were city shopkeepers, and some were mothers in undistinguished
homes. Yet Paul, when he writes to them, makes no exceptions. This
blessing was for everyone of them. It never occurs to him that there might
be anybody incapacitated for this joy and peace. We are so apt to think
that an inward state of mind like this can never be possible for us. We
have anxieties we cannot banish; we have temperaments we cannot alter. But
just as Paul never dreamed there were exceptions in the various
temperaments he was addressing, so the Holy Spirit who inspired the words
never dreams there are exceptions now. This is for me. It is for you. It
is for everybody who knows and loves the Lord. Not rebellion--not even
resignation when life is hard and difficult and sorrowful- but something
with the note of triumph in it, a song like that which Paul and Silas
sang, a peace that the world can never give--and cannot take away.
The Marriage of Joy and Peace
Lest anyone should misread this inward attitude that is the peculiar
possession of believers, note how here, as elsewhere in the Scripture, joy
and peace are linked together. There is a joy that has no peace in it. It
is feverish, tumultuous, unsettled. It is too aggressive to be the friend
of rest; too wild to have any kinship with repose. Its true companionship
is with excitement, and, like other passions, it grows by what it feeds
on, ever demanding a more powerful stimulus and at last demanding it in
vain. There is a peace that has no joy in it. "They make a solitude and
call it peace." It is like a dull and sluggish river moving through an
uninteresting country. But the beautiful thing is that on the page of
Scripture as in the experience of the trusting soul, joy and peace are
linked in closest union. The Kingdom of Heaven is not meat and drink; it
is righteousness and joy and peace. The fruit of the Spirit is not love
and joy alone; it is love and joy and peace. And our Lord in His last
great discourse, when He declares His legacy of peace, closes with the
triumphant note of joy. "These things have I spoken unto you" (and He had
been speaking of His peace) "that your joy might be full." Whom God hath
joined together, let not man put asunder. There is a joy that has no peace
in it. There is a peace that is dull and dead and joyless. But the mark of
the followers of the Lord is the mystical marriage union of the two. It is
joy and peace in believing.
And how eminently fitted is the Gospel message to sustain this fine
reaction on experience. The Gospel is good news; it is the most joyful
news that ever broke upon the ear of man. Sweet is the message of
returning spring after the cold and dreariness of winter. Sweet is the
message of the morning light after a night of restlessness or pain. But a
thousand times sweeter, a thousand times more wonderful, is the message
which has been ours since we were children and which will be ours when the
last shadows fall. Do we believe it? That is the vital question. Do we
hold to it through the shadows and the buffetings ? Do we swing it like a
lamp which God has lit over the darkest mile our feet have got to tread?
Then, like joy and peace in working and in loving (with which we are all
perfectly familiar), we shall experience with all the saints joy and peace
The Pledge and Power of a Promised
Hope (Romans 15:13) - When the Norwegian explorer
Fridtjof Nansen left for the North Pole
in 1893, he took with him a strong, fast carrier pigeon. For many
difficult months, Nansen explored the desolate Arctic regions. One day
during that time, he penned a tiny message, attached it to the pigeon, and
prepared to release the bird to travel the 2,000 miles back to Norway
Nansen took the trembling bird in his hand and flung her upward into the
foreboding atmosphere. She circled three times and then headed south — a
thousand miles over ice and another thousand over the ocean. When the bird
finally arrived at the Nansen home, the explorer's wife knew her husband
Similarly, the heavenly Dove, the Holy Spirit (Mt 3:16, Mk 1:10, Lk 3:22,
Jn 1:32), brought encouragement (Ed: The essence of the
meaning of His Name "Paraclete"-see related words
and hope to the early Christians on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1,
2, 3, 4). Before the Savior left this earth, He promised to send them a
Helper, a Comforter (Jn 14:16, 17, 26, 15:26, 27, 16:7, 8, 9, 10, 11).
Today the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are God's
children (Ro 8:16-note).
He assures us that
All Is Well (Great song - take a moment and
really listen to the encouraging words sung by Robin Mark) —Paul
R. Van Gorder
May God open the eyes of our heart to
the great truth that...
His Spirit could be imparted.
The English poet Alexander Pope said,
"Hope springs eternal in the human breast, man never is but always to be
blessed." As Christians, we know there is only one sure and abiding source
of hope, and that is God (cp 1Ti 1:1 = "God our Savior, and of Christ
Jesus our hope"). If hope originated in ourselves, we would be
cast into the depths of despair because life's complex problems have a way
of squeezing every last ounce of it from our hearts. But when we trust
God, hope abounds by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In his book Live With Your Emotions, Hazen G. Werner quotes part of a
letter from a woman who had run out of hope. She wrote,
A vile and ugly sin had dogged my way
for years. My soul had been eclipsed in darkness. I began to feel I would
never be emancipated from its grasp. Then one evening in the midst of my
despair, I felt the impulse to say, `Thank you, God, anyway,' and for a
moment it was light. I said to myself, `That must be the way.' I began to
thank Him still more, and the light continued and grew, and for a whole
evening I was relieved of my burden.
What that woman seemingly stumbled onto
by accident, the psalmist (of Psalm 42) knew from experience. The power of
gratitude can lift the weight of the most pressing trial. Turning the gaze
of his soul heavenward, he saw God as an inexhaustible source of hope.
When we get discouraged, we can talk to ourselves as David did: "Why are
you cast down, 0 my soul? . . . Hope in God" (Psalm 42:5-note).
No matter how dark the path, thank God for Himself. It will open a window
to heaven and let in a ray of hope. —D. J. DeHaan.
Hope, like an anchor,
is fixed on the unseen.
(See Hebrews 6:19, 20-note)
Prepare to Live (Romans
15:13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19) - In 1931, Jane Whyte felt she was nearing the end of her life.
Her husband Alexander, the famous Scottish preacher, had died 10 years
earlier. As she looked at the world around her, she was depressed by the
moral and political chaos. There seemed to be no reason for her to go on,
nothing for her to do.
At dinner one evening, she sat next to a man who sensed her dejection.
"What is your greatest concern?" he asked. "I'm preparing to die," said
Mrs. Whyte. "Why not prepare to live?" he suggested.
That was the question Mrs. Whyte needed to hear to break the deadlock in
her life. She began to see that God wanted her to live and to touch others
for Him. Her attitude changed and within a year she led a Christian
outreach team on a mission to Geneva, Switzerland. That trip profoundly
affected the lives of many people.
Life can seem overwhelming at times, but God offers us hope. Paul wrote,
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that
you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Ro 15:13).
Regardless of your age or circumstances, don't despair and "prepare to
die." Believers in Christ can prepare to live—filled with hope, joy, and
peace. — David C. McCasland
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
The hope we have in Jesus Christ
Replaces all despair;
He fills us with His joy and peace
And shows His love and care.—Sper
No one is hopeless who hopes in God.
Are You Full? (Ecclesiastes
6:7-12, Romans 15:13) - As a boy, I laughed and cried as I read The
Adventures Of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. I gave little thought to
the author of these books, though, until I saw a dramatized version of
Mark Twain's life.
Twain had his share of tragedy. He blamed himself for his younger
brother's death in a steamboat accident at age 20, and for the death of
his only son, who died from diphtheria at 19 months. He grieved bitterly
over the deaths of two of his daughters—one from meningitis at age 23 and
one from a heart attack at age 29.
But instead of turning to God, Twain became bitter and pessimistic. When
he died at 74, he was desperately lonely, unhappy, and hopeless.
Mark Twain had an emptiness that could not be satisfied with money and
fame. His success as a writer only increased his misery and sense of loss.
His life illustrates the folly of living without God, which is described
in Ecclesiastes 6:7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. If only he had trusted Christ for salvation and
looked to Him for comfort and fulfillment!
Have life's hardships left you feeling empty and bitter, or have they
strengthened your relationship with God and made you better? Turn in faith
to Christ, and "the God of hope [will] fill you with all joy and peace"
(Romans 15:13). — Herbert Vander Lugt
The sun that hardens clay to brick
Can soften wax to shape and mold;
So too life's trials will harden some,
While others purify as gold. —Sper
Life's trials should make us better—not bitter.
Happiness And Faith (Romans
8:28-39) - The chorus of the old hymn "At The Cross" concludes with these
cheerful words: "And now I am happy all the day!" I don't know about you,
but I can't honestly say that just because I know Jesus as my Savior I'm
happy all day. I'm a rather optimistic person and I don't let much get me
down, but some circumstances don't warm my heart and make me smile.
Troubles may make us wonder: Isn't our faith supposed to make us happy all
the time? Shouldn't Jesus shelter us from harm and danger?
Some people teach these things, but the Bible doesn't. God's Word makes it
clear that we will have trouble. In Romans 8, for example, the apostle
Paul talked frankly about tough times we could face (Ro 8:35, 36, 37, 38,
39). The fact is, Jesus doesn't protect us from all trouble, but His love
and His companionship guide us as we go through it.
A more realistic attitude than being "happy all the day" is one stated by
a Christian who said, "Now that I'm saved, I'm happier when I am down than
I was when I was happy before I was saved."
With Jesus Christ, we can have real joy and make it through even the bad
times. — Dave Branon
The hope we have in Jesus Christ
Brings joy into our heart;
And when we know the love of God,
His peace He will impart. --Sper
Happiness depends on happenings,
but joy depends on Jesus.
Health-giving Hope (1Peter
1:13-21, Romans 15:13) - It is well-known that our emotions can have a
profound effect on our bodies. And the condition of our bodies can affect
For example, a 1997 article in the journal published by the American Heart
Association points to the negative physical consequences of hopelessness.
It essentially said that those who had experienced extreme feelings of
despair had a 20-percent greater increase in arteriosclerosis (hardening
of the arteries) over a 4-year period. Other studies have also connected
hopelessness with heart disease, heart attacks, and death.
The relationship between one's emotional well-being and physical
condition, however, is not a modern discovery. In the Old Testament book
of Proverbs, we read that "a merry heart does good, like medicine" (Pr
17:22), and that the wisdom found in God's words "are life to those who
find them, and health to all their flesh" (Pr 4:22).
A proper relationship to God and His Word can benefit us spiritually,
physically, and emotionally. The central concern of the gospel is to bring
us into a right relationship with God through faith in Christ. Its blessed
byproduct is an abundant life filled with health-promoting hope—the
assurance of total forgiveness of sins and eternal life with Christ. —
Vernon C. Grounds
God's Word promotes the body's health,
It soothes the ache of guilt and shame;
For Jesus died to bear our sin,
To give new hope in His blest name. —D. De Haan
Hope in the heart puts a smile on the face.