May 18-19. Romans 15:13. The Normal Christian Life.

Romans 15:13. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

We are drawing near to the end of this most glorious of letters. This final powerful prayer of Paul’s in Romans describes the normal Christian life. Hope. Joy. Peace. Faith. Power. All by God’s indwelling life through the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Christ).

We’ve already been introduced to these truths earlier in the letter:

Romans 5:1-5. Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Some Christians have placed their faith in Christ for salvation and forgiveness, but they rarely experience lasting hope, peace, and joy. They believe Romans 3-5. Jesus died FOR me. But that’s as far as their faith has taken them. They’re going to heaven, but they live for this world. They are missing the normal Christian life.

Others have moved into Romans 6-7. I died WITH Jesus. They believe they are dead to sin and to the law and resurrected to God. Their faith has drilled deeper into their union with Christ. And with it has come a deeper level of hope, joy, and peace. A Romans 8 experience if you will. They live beyond this world, looking forward to a future adoption. A glory tomorrow that makes them more than conquerors today. That’s hope!

And then there are those who have moved from Romans 6-8 into Romans 12-14. Because they are abounding in hope, they are able to present themselves as living sacrifices. They love with genuine love. They pursue peace (shalom) for everyone – weak Christians, strong Christians, their neighbor, even their enemy. They joyfully prove the will of God, and use their gifts to serve the world. They live as kings and queens in a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy (14:17).

What makes the difference? Why do different Christians have different experiences of Christ? Why do so many fail to abound in hope? Why are so many Christians not living the normal Christian life of Romans 15:13?

The answer is faith. Believing. God fills us with joy and peace in our believing.

Unfortunately, Delmar’s faith seems to be in his baptism not in God or Christ.

This is not about having “more faith.” Union with Christ is about the object of our faith, not the amount of faith that we muster. It is about consistently having faith in our Savior. Our Righteousness. Our Hope. Our Peace. Our Joy. Our King. Our God. Jesus Christ.

Think about what Paul is saying in 15:13. The power for the normal Christian life is the Holy Spirit.

Listen to me Christian, you already have all of the Holy Spirit. You cannot have more and you cannot have less of him. You have access to ALL the hope, joy, and peace that exists in this universe. The reason you’re not experiencing it is because your faith is misplaced. But in believing we experience the life of Christ. His hope. His joy. His peace. Not in trying. In believing. We don’t achieve hope, joy, and peace. We trust that we already have it (read Romans 5:1-5 again).

Stop trusting in yourself. Stop evaluating your levels of hope, joy, and peace. And trust God’s love for you proved by his cross. By his love poured into you, you have hope (5:5). By trusting his love in more and more situations of life, you can abound in hope. The reason you don’t feel hopeful today, the reason there is no peace and no joy, might just be because your faith is actually misplaced. It’s in yourself. Rather than in your union with Christ. “To live is Christ” means this life changing faith is possible. The God of hope wants you to abound in hope. He wants you to experience joy and peace. And so do I. What’s stopping you? Only you.

My prayer for you echoes that of Paul, let it soak in: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Amen.

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