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.
Here we have another prayer as in verse 5. It is a glorious verse, loaded with sweets—faith, peace, joy, hope. In this, we have a round of delights. Paul wanted them to be in a delightful way, to drink of the river of God’s delights, (Ps. 36:8) not just to draw from the bottom of the barrel but filled, not just a meager portion but all peace and joy, not just even to the top but abounding.
What is the main thought? We have in the immediate context three usages of the word hope (v. 12 could read hope) and thus it could be entitled “A Prayer for Abounding Hope.” In this verse, hope is both mother and daughter.
See who it is to whom this prayer is directed—the God of hope.
We can’t really appreciate this shining star unless we see it in a dark background—our need for hope being in a fallen hopeless world. The world is under a tyrant, the devil and he has two chief deputies, sin and death. They reign (Romans 5:21). The curse of God is on the cosmos. Every time we see a ragweed, a hospital, and a cemetery we could think of this.
The Jim Bridgers and the pioneers who found new lands and “built them a home in the meadow,” yet they still died and without Christ perished in hell. All the effort and the bravery of their lives was hopeless. When my father turned eighty someone wrote in an encouraging note, “You have overcome almost everything,” yet he will die and without Christ will perish in hell—the strength of his years along with the sum of his life was hopelessness. The criminal is released early having served only a fraction of the time he feared, yet he still dies and without Christ perishes in hell—the mercies and the liberties he obtained with that good lawyer were hopeless. Michael Johnson in the summer of 1996 at the Olympics won the 200-meter race in a time of about 20 seconds, which figures that he ran 32 feet per second or 22 mph; yet those fine bodies will die and without Christ they will perish in hell—their strength and skill is hopeless. It is futile and vain. Their trophies will melt, their records will burn and the applause accorded them will be found to be the laughingstock of demons.
In 1923 a group of the world’s most successful financiers met at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago. Collectively these tycoons controlled more wealth than there was in the US Treasury and for years newspapers and magazines printed their success stories and urged young people to follow their examples; yet one died penniless, two went to prison and three committed suicide—they had lived hopeless lives and apart from Christ died and perished in hell.
Howard Hughes, one of the world’s wealthiest ended up in a hotel with his hair grown long and his fingernails long like bird’s claws. He ate nothing but ice cream and collected his urine in bottles. His was a hopeless life apart from Christ.
The human race is like a tree cut off at the roots; it is like a sick man with a terminal disease. There are no answers. There is no way out, no satisfaction. The logical end is suicide, and some of the philosophers like Hemingway go ahead and blow their brains out on the living room wall, yet even that is an inconsistent statement by the man without God, for he is making an absolute statement which thing he cannot make apart from an outside infinite reference point.
Yet in a fallen world, God intervenes with hope. God has provided hope for the human race. The earth’s best candles soon burn out but God’s oil burns eternal. He is called the God of hope. It should bring us kindly thoughts of God. He has not left us to ourselves. He has not scoffed at our miserable self-imposed plight. He so loved the world that he sent his own son to die for his enemies. The Lord Jesus Christ is our hope (1Timothy 1:1). He has thrown out the lifeline—eternal life for the sons of death. He has set bread at the door for the beggars.
Application? Let the names, titles, and attributes of God encourage us. Is his name El Shaddai, the Almighty God? Then when we pray it is with this attitude:
“Thou art coming to a King, large petitions with thee bring;
for His grace and power are such, one can never ask too much.”
Is His name Jehovah-tsidkenu, The Lord our righteousness? We have a righteousness from God equal to His. Is His name Jehovah-jireh? He will provide. Is he the God of Hope? Then we should expect he would want me abounding in hope. Pray with confidence. We are looking to the God of hope. It does not say the God of wrath. He is the basis of our hope, the author, and object. It is a gospel title.
What are the subjects of Paul’s prayer?
It is joy and peace and hope. The joy and peace were already mentioned in 14:17. They are sisters. As someone said, “Peace is joy resting, joy is peace dancing.” Peace. It is a rare Christian jewel. Peace with God, for we are no longer running from the law, being fully, freely, forgiven forever. The peace of God, an attribute communicated to our soul. Joy. The joy of knowing your life is right with God, of knowing you are doing the very thing for which you were made, of knowing that all is well, of knowing that my God is King and he has me covered. May God give us joy. It is such an attractive quality. Spurgeon points out that the cold snows of winter won’t ripen the wheat. The harvest is brought in with the warmth of summer. Give us more of that rejoicing in tribulation. Hope. A third element is hope and it is related to the joy and peace. Hope equals assurance, confident expectation. Of what? The Christian hope is heaven (Col. 1:5). It is glory (Col. 1:27). It is the resurrection (Acts 24:15). It is the second coming (Titus 2:13). It is eternal life (Titus 1:2). So hope abounds, knowing that I’m destined for glory. Paul always thought along these lines (Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:16). I want to have more of what Billy Bray had: one foot says “glory” and the other, “hallelujah.”
How are these precious commodities obtained?
In believing. Believing in the goodness of God and the love of God. Believing in the promises of God and the Word of God. “Remember the word to Thy servant, In which Thou hast made me hope” (Ps. 119:49). Believing in God’s faithfulness, in the certainties of the New Covenant, and in the glories of heaven.
Do you want peace? Trust God in all circumstances. George Whitefield, in a storm at sea, lost peace. Again, with believing prayer, resigning all to God, his peace returned. Joy? We must plow through adversity with faith. Hope? It is faith grown up. Faith is the key that opens the door of hope to visions of glory. These things are not obtained by education, wealth, health, religion, or sincerity, but only through faith in the God of hope. Faith in this God who is bigger than my past, present, or future.
We are called to have faith.
In conclusion, here we have a call to faith. It is faith that goes in and brings back the grapes of Eschol. Why not believe God for all this promise contains. Surely it is attainable or we would not have this verse. Will you believe or not? And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief (Heb. 3:19).
We should be careful of grievances to the Holy Spirit, for this is communicated by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is the holy Spirit and is only comfortable in a setting of holiness. Little decisions make big differences. How much we need him. He alone is our illuminator. He alone is our comfort from the world. The Holy Spirit and assurance are directly connected. He turns up the rheostat to illumine the spiritual glories. Justifying faith will take our soul to heaven but sanctifying faith will bring heaven to our soul. Think of the power of the Spirit in creation (Gen. 1:2; Luke 1:35). Think of the power of the Spirit in the resurrection (Rom. 8:11). What power could have brought our Lord from the dead—muscle power, mechanical, electrical, or nuclear? We have much cause to let hope abound in the heart.
It is a call to prayer, to large believing prayer. God does not want us to live off the bottom of the barrel but filled. He does not want us to live with a meager portion but with all, all sorts. God wants abounding measures. It is the same word for surplus or left over.
And they all ate, and were satisfied And they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. (Matt. 14:20)
Rutherford surely had abounding hope when he spoke of the glories of Immanuel’s land. Fanny Crosby surely had this when she spoke of visions of rapture bursting on her sight. George Muller was carried to the pulpit and got out three words, “I know God,” when the Spirit fell. Whitefield spoke of the sallies of his soul. Paul spoke of visions and revelations. These men had hope abounding.
This chapter was taken from, “A Devotional Study of Romans“.