Romans 15:13
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Sermons
A Cheerful HopeJ. Matthews.Romans 15:13
A Round of DelightsC. H. Spurgeon.Romans 15:13
Christian HopeE. McChesney, Ph.D.Romans 15:13
Christian PrivilegesJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 15:13
Gospel BlessingsJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 15:13
HopeW. B. Pope, D.D.Romans 15:13
Hopefulness Prayed forS.F. Aldridge Romans 15:13
Joy and Peace in BelievingD. Moore, M.A.Romans 15:13
Joy and Peace in BelievingC. H. Spurgeon.Romans 15:13
Joy and Peace in BelievingAlexander MaclarenRomans 15:13
Joy EssentialH. W. Beecher.Romans 15:13
Our Urgent Need of the Holy SpiritC. H. SpurgeonRomans 15:13
Prayer to the God of HopeJ. Jowett, M.A.Romans 15:13
The Blessing Given to the Church At RomeJ. Hanson.Romans 15:13
The God of HopeJ. Benson.Romans 15:13
The Power of the Holy GhostC. H. Spurgeon.Romans 15:13
The Present Happiness of BelieversD. Savile, M.A.Romans 15:13
The Secret of Joy and of HopeA. Maclaren, D. D.Romans 15:13
The Unbounded Beneficence of God in the History of a ChristianD. Thomas, D.D.Romans 15:13
The Christ-Like Duty of Pleasing Our NeighbourR.M. Edgar Romans 15:1-13
Union in GodT.F. Lockyer Romans 15:1-13
The Divine Character in Relation to the HumanC.H. Irwin Romans 15:5, 13, 33
The Mutual Relationship of Jews and GentilesC.H. Irwin Romans 15:7-27
Christ a Minister of the Old TestamentJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 15:8-13
Christ the Bond of Union BetweenJ. Lyth, D. D.Romans 15:8-13
God's Mercy to the GentilesJ. Lyth, D. D.Romans 15:8-13
Jesus Christ the Proper Object of Trust to the GentilesR. Hall, M.A.Romans 15:8-13
MercyJ. Lyth, D. D.Romans 15:8-13
Rejoice, Ye GentilesS. Martin.Romans 15:8-13
The Praises of the GentilesJ. Lyth, D. D.Romans 15:8-13
The World Trusting in ChristD. Thomas, D.D.Romans 15:8-13
Trusting in ChristJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 15:8-13
What is ChristJ. Lyth, D. D.Romans 15:8-13
The sense of a passage is clearer if the connection with the context be ascertained. The Revised Version, by translating the same root-word in the same manner, enables the reader to take up the thread of thought from the twelfth verse. Guests introduced to the same host are placed on terms of fellowship with each other. So Jew and Gentile had been received by Jesus Christ, in whom the veracity of God towards the Jews had been confirmed, and his mercy displayed towards the Gentiles. Thus both could unite in praising God, as had been predicted by the Law, the Psalms, and the prophets. "In him shall the Gentiles hope. And this leads the apostle to utter the supplication of the text.

I. THE TITLE GIVEN TO GOD. The God of hope." The names of God in the Scriptures emphasize his personality and close relationship with his creatures more than any designations in philosophy or mythology. He has established a plan of salvation which is the substantial warrant for hope, and, besides this objective provision, does himself inspire hope subjectively in his people. The bestowment of every grace is attributed to him. Naturally does the apostle, in his anxiety for the hopefulness of Christians, invoke a blessing from the God of hope. Our prayers are fashioned according to our conception of the Hearer of prayer. Hope concerns two things - what we desire, and what we anticipate. When either of these characteristics is absent, hope fails. And we are not to imagine that hope belongs only to us limited beings; for though to the omniscient eye the future is visible, God, like ourselves, cherishes confident expectations. He, too, welcomes the era when his fair dominions shall not he defiled with sin. He is as much delighted with the prospect of triumphant grace as any of us can be. If we wonder why the period is not hastened, the solution is to be found in the nature of man. Forcibly to overcome man's power of resistance would be to destroy the plant in the moment of its flowering, or to crush the drowning in the very act of rescue. The trophies of redemption are to be monuments of moral suasion. The kingdom spreads not by sword and garments rolled in blood, but by the kindling of the fuel of love in the heart of man. What an idea of the patience of the Almighty is presented in the myriad ages through which this earth has been slowly prepared for the residence of man! We are like children, who cannot wait cheerfully for the coming feast; we lose heart if the chariot delays.

II. THE PRAYER. "Fill you with all joy and peace in believing." We may lawfully seek, not only to obey the precepts, but to enjoy the comforts of the gospel. True, the gospel ideal is blessedness rather than happiness; yet its intent is to bring present serenity and gladness, not to leave us all our life trembling in doubt. It is a remedy for present ills, a foretaste of coming bliss. Peace and joy are virtues; there is no merit attached to disquiet and mournfulness. Faith is the ground of peace and joy, or the instrument through which God communicates these blessings. "In believing" is put for the whole of Christian conduct. Expect peace and joy whilst you hold fast to the message which imparted glad tranquillity at the first, whilst you remember the obligations and partake of the privileges of the gospel. Without faith, joy and peace can no more enter the soul than hunger and thirst can be relieved without eating and drinking. Faith grows by exercise, mounts aloft on experience like the vine on the trellis. It is not honourable to be for ever questioning the credibility of Christ. Faith knocks at the door and gains admittance into the mansion of light and song; unbelief examines the door, and questions the resources of the palace. When our right to our inheritance is challenged, we may examine again the title-deeds; but it is not in the law courts that we learn to prize our possessions. The prayer of the text teaches not to rest content with meagre supplies. How exuberant the apostle's language! "Fill you with all peace," etc. There is joy of every kind arising from service and communion - joy intellectual and emotional; joy in our own advance and in the widening bounds of the kingdom of Christ. We are too apt to sink to a certain level of monotony. Our course is circular, too seldom spiral reaching upwards.

III. THE END IN VIEW. "That ye may abound in hope." Here again see the spiritual vehemence of the apostle. He knew that every Gentile believer cherished hope; but he would have this hope to abound in every season, under every circumstance. Some Christians, like birds in an eclipse of the sun, are sure that the shades betoken night. Now, the Christian who is rich in peace and joy cannot help reasoning from the present to the future; his ecstasy tints every cloud with roseate hues. He is youthful in spirit, lives in a

"... boyhood of wonder and hope,
Present promise and wealth of the future beyond the eye's scope." Hope is imprinted on his countenance, radiates from every action. Advancing age brings him nearer the westering sun; there is a rich ripeness of harvest glory. Two old men, alike in everything else but in the possession of this buoyant expectancy, are really wide as the poles asunder. The one laments that he has seen the best of his days; the other has something better than the best to prepare for. Christian hope is set on an excellent object, rests on a stable foundation, works a purifying, elevating gladness. The hope desired for the Romans was a collective hope, to be fostered as a common solace and strength. Only by dwelling in harmony could it produce its proper fruits. There should be no panic amongst the followers of Christ - hence the importance of the prayer.

IV. THE CONDITION EXPRESSED. "Through the power of the Holy Ghost." The human condition was "believing;" the Divine is the energy of the Spirit. And since he dwells in believers, his aid may surely be reckoned on. This hope, therefore, is neither painted in water nor written in dust. It is not made so much dependent on our reasonings or struggles as on that life from God which is the answer to all man's pleas and excuses. He says, "I am weak, I cannot." God says, "I will pour my Spirit upon you." How vast the difference between the dull, timid disciples and the same when "filled with the Spirit " - enthusiastic, vigorous, ready to preach and to take joyfully the spoiling of their persons and property! Let our cry be, "Come, Holy Sprat, come. Breathe about our wintry chills, scatter our darkness, raise our plane of thought and feeling! - S.R.A.







Now the God of hope.
I. A BENEDICTION PRONOUNCED. "Filled" —

1. With what? "joy and peace in believing."

2. By whom? "the God of hope."

3. To what end? "that ye may abound," etc.

II. A FACT STATED.

1. The high estimate in which Paul held the Roman converts.

2. The reminder that was needed by them, so that they should not forget God's grace.

III. A GREAT PROGRESS IN CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE IMPLIED (ver. 14). The Romans were —

1. Filled with knowledge.

2. Able to admonish their erring fellow Christians.

(J. Hanson.)

I. THE PRIVILEGES OF TRUE CHRISTIANS.

1. Joy.

2. Peace.

3. Hope.

II. THE METHOD OF SECURING THEM.

1. God the source.

2. Faith in Christ the means.

3. The Holy Ghost the agent.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

1. The apostle desired for the Romans the most delightful state of mind. See the value of prayer, for if Paul longs to see his friends attain the highest possible condition, he prays for them.

2. Paul's making this state a subject of prayer implies that it is possible for it to be attained. There is no reason why we should hang our heads and live in perpetual doubt. We may not only be somewhat comforted, but we may be full of joy, etc.

3. The fact that the happy condition described is sought by prayer is a plain evidence that the blessing comes from a Divine source. Notice concerning this state: —

I. WHENCE. IT COMES. From "the God of hope." The connection is instructive.

1. To know joy and peace through believing we must begin by knowing what is to be believed from Holy Scripture (ver. 4). Where He is revealed as the God of hope. Unless God had revealed Himself we could have guessed at hope, but the Scriptures are windows of hope to us, and reveal the God of hope to inspire us with hope. Faith deals with the Scriptures and with the God of hope as therein revealed, and out of these it draws its fulness of joy and peace. At least three of the apostle's quotations call us to joy (vers. 10-12).

2. The apostle leads us through the Scriptures to God Himself, who is personally to fill us with joy and peace; i.e., He is to become the great object of our joy. Our God is a blessed God, so that to believe in Him is to find happiness and rest. When you think of God, the just One, apart from Christ, you might well tremble, but when you see Him in Jesus, His very justice becomes precious to you. The holiness of God which aforetime awed you becomes supremely attractive when you see it revealed in the person of Jesus. How charming is "the glory of God in the face of Christ." His power, which was once so terrible, now becomes delightful.

3. God is, moreover, called the God of hope because He worketh hope and joy in us. Peace without God is stupefaction, joy madness, and hope presumption. This blessed name of "God of hope" belongs to the New Testament, and is a truly gospel title. The Romans had a god of hope, but the temple was struck by lightning, and afterwards burned to the ground. Exceedingly typical this of whatever of hope can come to nations which worship gods of their own making. The hope which God excites is a hope worthy of Him. It is a Godlike hope — a hope which helps us to purify ourselves. He who graspeth this hope hath a soul-satisfying portion. It is a hope which only God would have contrived for man, and a hope which God alone can inspire in men.

II. WHAT IT IS.

1. It is a state of mind —(1) Most pleasant, for to be filled with joy is a rare delight, reminding one of heaven.(2) Safe, for the man who has a joy which God gives him may be quite easy in the enjoyment of it.(3) Abiding. We may drink our full of it without surfeit.(4) Most profitable, for the more a man has of this joy the better man he will be. The more happy we can be in our God the more thoroughly will the will of Christ be fulfilled in us, for He desired that our joy might be full.(5) Which has varieties in it. It is joy and peace; and it may be either. Peace is joy resting, and joy is peace dancing. Joy cries hosanna before the Well-beloved, but peace leans her head on His bosom. We work with joy and rest with peace.(6) Which is also a compound, for we are bidden at one and the same time to receive both wine and milk — wine exhilarating with joy, and milk satisfying with peace. "Ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace." You shall lie down in the green pastures of delight, and be led by the still waters of quietness.

2. The joy and peace here spoken of are through believing. You come to know the God of hope through the Scriptures, which reveal Him; by this you are led to believe in Him, and it is through that believing that you become filled with joy and peace. It is not by working nor by feeling.

3. This joy and peace are of a superlative character, "Fill you with all joy." He means with the best and highest degree of joy, with as much of it as you can hold.

4. Notice the comprehensiveness of his prayer.(1) "All joy"; that is joy in the Father's love, the Son's redeeming blood, the Holy Ghost's indwelling; joy in the covenant of grace, in the promises, in the doctrines, in the precepts, in everything which cometh from God.(2) All peace — with God, of conscience, with one another, even with the outside world, as far as peace may be.

5. Observe the degree of joy and peace which he wishes for them — "that ye may be filled." God alone knows our capacity and where the vacuum lies which most needs filling. As the sun fills the world with light, even so the God of hope by His presence lights up every part of our nature with the golden light of joyous peace.

III. WHAT IT LEADS TO. "Lead to? What more is wanted?" When a man brings you into a chamber vaulted with diamonds, walled with gold, and floored with silver, we should be astonished if he said, "This is a passage to something richer still." Yet the apostle directs us to this fulness of joy and peace that we may by its means reach to something else — "that you may abound in hope," etc. How often do great things in the Bible, like the perpetual cycles of nature, begin where they end and end where they begin. If we begin with the God of hope, we are wound up into holy joy and peace, that we may come back to hope again, and to abounding in it by the power of the Holy Ghost.

1. The hope here mentioned, arises, not out of believing, but out of the joy created in us by our having believed. This hope drinks its life at the fountain of personal experience.

2. The text speaks of an abounding hope. Much hope must arise to a Christian out of his spiritual joy. Grace enjoyed is a pledge of glory. Acceptance with God to-day creates a blessed hope of acceptance for ever.

3. "By the power of the Holy Ghost," is partially mentioned by way of caution, because we must discriminate between the fallacious hope of nature and the certain hope of grace.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE BLESSINGS DERIVED.

1. Joy.

2. Peace.

3. Hope.

II. THE SOURCE WHENCE THEY FLOW — the God of hope.

III. THE MEASURE IN WHICH THEY MAY BE ENJOYED.

IV. THE MEANS BY WHICH THEY ARE ATTAINED.

V. THE POWER BY WHICH THEY ARE EFFECTED.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

This is seen in: —

I. THE CHARACTER HE ASSUMES TOWARDS THEM "God of hope." In this chapter the apostle speaks of Him as the God of patience, and the God of peace. Patience implies something to provoke, viz., sin. The history of the Almighty towards us and our race is a history of patience. Peace implies benevolence, rectitude, and freedom from all anger, remorse, fear, the necessary elements of inward commotion and outward war. God is peaceful in Himself. The storms of all the hells in His great universe ruffle not the infinite tranquility of His nature. He is peaceful in His aim. The constitution of the universe, the principles of moral law, the mediation of Christ, and the work of the Spirit show, that He desires to diffuse peace throughout this stormy world. He is peaceful in His working. How quietly does He move in accomplishing His sublime decrees. But in the text He is styled, God of hope; an appellation more significant than either of the other two, and more interesting to us as sinners. It does not mean that God is the subject of hope. God is infinitely above hope; Satan is infinitely below it; this is the glory of the one, it is the degradation of the other.

1. God is the object of hope. What is hope? Is it expectation? No. We expect sorrow and death. Is it desire? No. A poor man may desire to live in a mansion, a lost spirit to dwell in heaven. But put these two things together. Hope is the expectation of the desirable — God — His favour, society, friendship. Now that God should thus reveal Himself is a wonderful exhibition of love. The mind never points its hopes to a being that it has offended; it always looks to those that it has pleased. But here is God, whom the world has injured, revealing Himself as the object of its hope.

2. God is the author of hope. Before man can possess real Christian hope he must have —(1) Ground to expect it. What reason have we to expect that the God of inflexible justice and immaculate purity will be favourable to us? Thanks be to Him, He has given us firm ground in the atonement of His Son.(2) Appetite to desire it. The reason that there is so little real Christian hope is because men do not want God. This appetite is produced by the Spirit of God.

II. THE BLESSINGS HE IMPARTS TO THEM.

1. The nature of the enjoyment. "Joy and peace," i.e., complete happiness. How delightful is the calm of nature after a thunderstorm! How still more precious is the peace of the empire after a long war! But how infinitely more so is the peace "that passeth all understanding!" The great causes of all mental distress are —(1) Remorse. God removes this by the application of the sacrifice of Christ. As oil smooths the troubled waters, so the atonement of Christ calms the agitated breast. "Being justified by faith," etc.(2) Anger. God takes this away, and fills the heart with love.(3) Apprehension. God removes this by assuring us of His constant presence and guardianship. "Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace," etc.

2. The plenitude of the enjoyment. "Fill you," etc. Not a mere taste, a transient thrill, but a fulness of deep spiritual happiness. Have you ever seen a person filled with delight? The tender mother that clasps in her arms a beloved child, etc. Now God wishes His people always to be filled with all joy — intellectual, social, religious: to have as much joy as their vessels can hold in this world. Christians have not lived up to this, and in consequence have led the world to associate the idea of sadness with that religion whose "ways are ways of pleasantness," etc. It is our duty to have joy. "Rejoice evermere," etc.

3. The condition of the enjoyment. What is this? Painful penances? Great attainments? Difficult labours? No. "Believing." An act that can be performed at any time in any place.

4. The design of the enjoyment. That we may "abound in hope," etc. This is very remarkable. God wishes us to be filled with happiness, that we may expect the more. The more favours we receive from an individual the less we have to expect; but the reverse is the case with God. God's disposition to bestow is infinite, "He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all," etc. Let us come to God with enlarged expectations. We can never weary Him, for it is His delight to give. We can never exhaust His fulness, for it is infinite. What a view does this give us of heaven! We shall be always anticipating; and the more we receive the more we shall anticipate.

III. THE AGENCY WHICH HE EMPLOYS FOR THEM. "Through the power of the Holy Ghost." What an exhibition of mercy is this! Had God employed the greatest, the oldest, or the noblest spirit for this purpose, it would have been wonderful mercy; but He employs His Holy Spirit who is equal with Himself. We are not sufficiently impressed with the value of this Infinite gift. We profess to estimate the gift of His Son to bleed and die for us. True, the world could never be saved without that; but it is equally true that the world could never be saved without the operations of the Spirit.

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

All men desire to be happy; but very few obtain the happiness which they covet. All happiness, except that of the Christian, is but counterfeit. It is like the morning cloud and early dew. Yet even the true Christian often falls short of the blessedness which he might enjoy.

I. THE ENCOURAGING CHARACTER HERE GIVEN OF GOD. This manner of speaking expresses somewhat more than if Paul had called God the Author or the Giver of Hope. It is meant to teach us that this is His distinguishing characteristic, that hope springs from Him.

1. Even if we had no revelation of His gracious purposes, the probability would be that there is hope from Him; for we, His guilty creatures, are not yet finally lost — "He hath not dealt with us after our sins."

2. This probability is, however, increased to certainty by the gospel. The great design is to encourage our hope. It reveals God's unspeakable gift to make reconciliation for iniquities. It exhibits God as a present Father and Friend, and assures an eternity of blessedness in Christ.

II. THE BLESSINGS WHICH MAY BE SOUGHT FROM HIM

1. Joy. This may be thought by the penitent too great a blessing to be expected; yet thy Lord allows thee to expect it. Nay, thou art even commanded to rejoice in the Lord. This, however, like all other duties, is hard to fulfil. We are often unfaithful; this unfaithfulness begets distrust; and this interrupts our joy in the Lord. We have, therefore, cause to pray that God would bestow on us, and preserve to us, this inestimable blessing.

2. Peace. This is a gift more common, perhaps, than the other; a gift, also, of a more uniform and abiding nature. The continuance of joy depends in some measure on bodily constitution; but the soul may enjoy peace under the greatest trials. This was, in fact, the dying bequest of Jesus — "Peace I leave with you." It is a holy calmness and tranquility, springing from faith in the promises of God. Let the apostle's example encourage you in this prayer, both for yourselves and for those whom you love.

3. Hope. Joy and peace are present blessings; but hope has respect to things future. We have already seen that the character of God is calculated to raise our expectation of these future mercies. Now, then, we must pray for strength to hope for them. We are too apt to rest satisfied with the present enjoyments; and, even when we look forward to the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him, this is too often done with a cold heart and a languid eye. This is our infirmity and our sin. We ought rather to forget the things which are behind, etc.

4. The prayer of the apostle implies that we should set no bounds to our requests for these blessings. It is no scanty measure of joy, and peace, and hope, which he prays for. Hath He not said, "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it"? If, then, our joy, our peace, or hope be defective, we are not straitened in Him; but we are straitened in our own bowels.

III. THE WAY IN WHICH WE MAY EXPECT THESE BLESSINGS TO BE COMMUNICATED.

1. On our part, Faith is the instrument. It is faith in His Word, which alone can make known to us the existence of such gifts. When, however, the discovery is made, true faith leads a man one step further, constraining him to say, "Here is all my salvation and all my desire."

2. On God's part, the power of the Holy Ghost is promised, for the communication of His gracious gifts. Faith is, indeed, the band which grasps the gift; but all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally, in such kind and in such proportion, as He will.

(J. Jowett, M.A.)

I. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN THIS TITLE.

1. The expression is peculiar: He is termed the God of peace (ver. 33), of grace (1 Peter 5:10), of love and peace (2 Corinthians 13:11), of patience (ver. 5), and the meaning is not only that He is the Author of these graces in us, but also that they exist in Him. But the case is different with respect to hope: this cannot exist in God, as He has every good in possession, and has nothing for which to hope. In this, and in this chiefly, the Creator differs from all His creatures.

II. THE REASONS WHY GOD HAS THIS TITLE.

1. There is in Him the most stable foundation for the most glorious Lopes to all His rational creatures. The most solid ground for hope is offered —(1) In His nature and attributes, e.g., His self-existence, supremacy, eternity; His infinite power, wisdom, love and mercy, and even His justice, Christ having died.(2) In the relations in which He stands to us. What may not His offspring expect from such a Creator, Preserver, and Redeemer; His subjects from such a King; His servants from such a Master? What may not we, His children, hope for from such a Parent?(3) In what He has already done. He has given His Son for the redemption of mankind, and His Spirit's influence. And He, who withheld not His own Son, what gift can He deny?(4) In what He has promised still further to do: to receive us to be with Jesus, to raise our bodies, to give us the vision and enjoyment of Himself, and the society of saints and angels for ever!

2. He is the great object of our hope. The main thing we hope for is, the vision, love, and enjoyment of Him (Psalm 73:24).

3. He is also the Author of our hope. By freely justifying us, and by giving us peace with Him; by adopting us into His family; regenerating us by His grace; constituting us His heirs, and giving us an earnest of our future inheritance in our hearts (1 Peter 1:3; 2 Corinthians 4:17).

III. APPLICATION AND IMPROVEMENT.

1. What an antidote against —(1) Distress, on account of all present troubles (chap. Romans 8:16, 17; Hebrews 11:13-16).(2) Doubt, fear, despondency, and despair.

2. What a deathblow to the carnal expecters of a Mohammedan paradise I God Himself is the true object of hope. And what a help to spiritual-mindedness? How necessary the question, Are we "begotten again to a lively hope"?

(J. Benson.)

This prayer is closely connected with the preceding (vers. 5, 6), and the more obvious link between them is "In Him shall the Gentiles hope"; but the note of hope had been struck before (ver. 4). The apostle, however, loses sight of the connection and gives us his solitary petition for this grace in a manner perfectly independent. Let us study the prayer in regard to —

I. THE GOD TO WHOM IT IS ADDRESSED. Who derives many of His names from the gospel which manifests His glory. As that gospel rests on an accomplished propitiation, He is "the God of grace," "the Father of mercies"; as it displays its present effects in the soul, He is "the God of peace," and His name of names is love; as it reserves its blessedness for the future, He is "the God of hope," i.e., the Fountain of the entire Christian salvation as it is not yet revealed. This includes —

1. A wide range: there is hardly an aspect of the redeeming work which "the God of hope" does not preside over. His Son is "Jesus Christ which is our hope" (1 Timothy 1:1); the gospel is the foundation of a great hope (Colossians 1:23); the Christian vocation is summed up in hope (Ephesians 1:18); salvation is our comprehensive hope (1 Thessalonians 5:8).

2. An interminable perspective. The future is a glorious sequence of revelations which the God of hope has yet to disclose (Romans 8:20, 24). There is the hope of the glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour (Titus 2:3), the hope of the resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:13), the hope of final deliverance from every evil (1 Thessalonians 5:8), the hope of eternal life (Romans 7:20), the hope of glory (Titus 1:2; Titus 3:7); and it would be easy to show that every one of these forms of the one great gospel blessing is referred to God as its Author (Colossians 1:27; Romans 5:2; 2 Corinthians 3:12).

II. THE FULNESS OF THE BLESSING WHICH IT ASKS. Though other terms are found here, they all pay tribute to this grace. Faith is the root of hope; the peace and joy which are the fruits of faith are the nourishment of hope; and the abundance of hope is made the perfection of the Christian life as a state of probation.

1. Faith and hope are so inseparable that their only scriptural definition makes them all but identical (Hebrews 11:1); and they are one in this that their objects are invisible (Romans 8:25). But they differ in this, that faith has to do with the present, but hope with the future; or faith brings the past and hope the future into the reality of the present moment. Faith rests upon the "It is finished" already spoken; hope rejoices in the assurance of another "It is finished" which the creation waits to hear. But faith must have the pre-eminence as the parent of hope; for while we can conceive of a faith without hope, we cannot conceive of a hope that does not believe in its object. Hence the apostle here utters his prayer in a circuitous manner, and takes faith on the way.

2. There is an evident connection in Paul's mind between the fruits of faith and the abounding in hope. He borrows from the previous chapter (ver. 17). Peace is the blessed settlement of the controversy between God and the sinner as respects the past; while joy is the present good cheer of the soul as encompassed by mercies, but feeling the present rather than thinking of the past or future. Now these two demand a third to fill up the measure of the Christian estate; peace touching the guilty past, and joy in the fruitful present, do not so much cry out for as naturally produce good hope for the unknown future.

3. But of all these there may be measures and degrees. Nothing is more characteristic of St. Paul than his insistance on the increase even unto perfection of every grace. The notion of fulness enters into every department of his practical theology. Here we have set before us the abundance of peace, joy and hope as the result of the abounding power in us of the Holy Ghost. But the term reluctantly submits to exposition. It is chiefly to be defined by negatives, though they are positive enough for man's desire. To be filled with peace is to be dispossessed of the last residue of a servile dread before God, and to have risen beyond the possibility of unholy resentments towards man; to be filled with joy is to have vanquished the sorrow of the world, to find elements of rejoicing even in tribulation, and to possess a serene contentment that finds nothing wrong in nature, providence, or grace; to abound in hope is expressed by another word that rather brings the answer of the prayer down into the region of our own endeavour. The God of hope bestows its increase rather as the fruit of our patience and fortitude. Hence the marked allusion to the "power of the Holy Ghost." Hope is strengthened by the habits of endurance and resistance. While all graces demand His in working, these demand His power.

4. Abounding in hope is prayed for as the end and result of the fulness of joy and peace. This indicates that these more tranquil graces are instruments for the attainment of that more strenuous grace. Joy and peace minister to hope. The assurance of reconciliation cannot rest in itself, but must muse on that which is to come; how can it but encourage the expectation of all the fruits of a justified estate? The soul, no longer weighed down under the burden of sin, by a holy necessity springs upward. Peace is not hope, but it sets hope free. So also joy, by an equally Divine necessity, encourages endurance and fortitude, and the hopeful expectation of the great release. Hope in this case ministers as it is ministered unto (Romans 5:2). Conclusion: Hope is in some sense the highest of the probationary graces. It is the servant of many of them, but is itself served by all. What would everything else be without this? The mere imagination of the withdrawal of hope withers the rest, and wraps all in darkness. Charity, of course, has the pre-eminence by every right; but as the grace of our stern probation — hope has its own peculiar pre-eminence. It imparts its strength to all other graces, so that they without it cannot be made perfect. It divides the triumphs of faith, and enters largely into the self-denials and labours of love. As it respects the present life hope is in some sense the abiding grace. Then comes a supreme moment when hope, or faith working by hope, is the only anchor of the soul; and when it has endured its final strain it will be glorified for ever. With all its fruition it will have its everlasting anticipation of glories not yet revealed.

(W. B. Pope, D.D.)

Joy, peace, hope: a fair triad which all men seek, and few find and retain. They are, for the most of us, like bright-winged, sweet-voiced birds that dart and gleam about us, and we hear their voices, but nets and cages are hard to find. This prayer opens up the way to find joy, peace, and hope. Notice that the text begins with "the God of peace fill you with" these things, and it ends with "through the power of the Holy Ghost." So, then, there are here three stages. There is, first, the Divine gift, which underlies everything. Then there is the human condition of making that gift our own; and then there is the triumphant hope which crowns joy and peace, and is their result. I ask you, then, to look at these three things with me this morning.

1. THE ONLY SOURCE OF TRUE JOY AND PEACE IS GOD HIMSELF. The only way by which God can give any man joy and peace is by giving him Himself. No gifts of His hand, apart from Him; no mere judicial act of pardon, and removal from a state of condemnation, are of themselves enough to fill a human heart with calm gladness. And if there is ever to be tranquillity in this disturbed being of mine, if the conflict between duty and inclination, between passion and principle, between present and future, between flesh and spirit, is ever to be hushed, it must be because God dwells in us. Notice the bold emphasis of the apostle's prayer. "The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace." So then, where God comes and is welcomed by humble obedience and-trustful love, there is fulness of these precious gifts. So as that a man has as much gladness and peace as he can hold. There is the difference between Christian joy and all other. In all others there is always some part of the nature lacking its satisfaction. Only when we put the colouring matter in at the fountain-head will it tinge every little ripple as it runs. Only when we have God for the joy of our hearts and the peace of our else troubled spirits will the joy be full. Otherwise, however abundant the flood, there will always be some gaunt, barren peak lifting itself parched above the rejoicing waters. No man was ever glad up to the height of his possibility who found his joy anywhere else than in God. And, then, mark that other word, too, "all joy and peace." From this one gift comes an infinite variety of forms and phases of gladness and peace. And so it is wise, in the highest regions, to have all our investments in one security; to have all our joy contingent upon one possession. One pearl of great price is worth a million of little ones. One sun in the heavens outshines a million stars; and all their lustres gathered together only illuminate the night, while its rising makes the day. So if we want joy and peace, let us learn that we are too great and too miserable for any but God to give it us.

II. AND NOW THE HUMAN CONDITION OF THIS DIVINE GIFT OF FULL AND MANIFOLD JOY AND PEACE. "Fill you with all joy and peace in believing." Believing what? He does not think it necessary to say, partly because all his readers knew who was the object of faith, and partly because there was more prominent in his mind at the moment the act of faith itself than the object on which it rests. They who thus trust in Jesus Christ are they to whom, on condition of, and at the moment of their trust or faith, God gives this fulness of joy and peace. Altogether apart from any consideration of the thing which a man's faith grasps, the very act of trust has in itself a natural tendency to bring joy and peace. When I can shift the responsibility off my shoulders on to another's, my heart is lightened; and there comes a great calm. Christian faith does not wriggle out of the responsibilities that attach to a human life, but it does bring in the thought of a mighty hand that guides and protects; and that itself brings calm and gladness. You fathers have got far more anxious faces than your little children have, because they trust, and you are responsible for them. Trust God, and it cannot be misplaced, and the vessel can never be swept out of the centre of rest into the hurtling rage of the revolving storm around. Nor need I do more than just remind you of how, in the object that the faith grasps, there is ample provision for all manner of calm and of gladness, seeing that we lay hold upon Christ, infinite in wisdom, gentleness, brotherliness, strength. Oh, if only we keep hold of Him there can be but little in any future to alarm, and little in any present to disturb or to sadden. But note how the communication from God of joy and peace, in their fulness and variety, is strictly contemporaneous with the actual exercise of our faith. Our belief is the condition of God's bestowal, and that is no arbitrary condition. It is because my faith makes it possible for God to give me Himself that He only gives Himself on condition of my faith. You open the door, and the daylight will come in. You remove the hermetical sealing, and the air will rush into the vacuum. Only mark this, as tong as you and I keep up the continuity of our believing, so long, and not one moment longer, does God keep up the continuity of His giving. Because there are such spasmodic and interrupted acts of faith on our part, we possess such transient and imperfect gifts of joy and peace. Let me drop one more word. Their are other kinds of religion and religious exercise than that of trust. There is no promise of peace and joy to them. "Fill you with all joy and peace" in poking into your own hearts to see whether you are a Christian or not. That is not the promise. "Fill you with all joy and peace" in painfully trying, to acquire certain qualities, and to do certain duties. That is not the promise.

III. And so, lastly, THE ISSUE OF THIS GOD-GIVEN JOY AND PEACE IS HOPE. The apostle did not tell us what was the object of the faith that he enjoined. He does not tell us what is the object of the hope either; and I suppose that is because he is not thinking so much about the object as about the thing. And this is the teaching here, that if a man, trusting in God in Jesus Christ, has all this flood of sunny gladness lying quiet in his heart, there will be nothing in any future that can alarm. For the peace and joy that God gives bear witness in themselves to their own immortality. Ah, there is a difference between all earth's gladnesses and the joys that Christian people may possess. In all earthly blessedness there blends ever the unwelcome consciousness of its transiency. Therefore the best demonstration of a heaven of blessedness is the present possession of "joy and peace in believing." These are like the floating timber and seeds that Columbus saw the day before he sighted land. But, brother, is there any reason to suppose that you will find a heaven of blessedness beyond the grave, in close contact with the things that you do not like to be in contact with now? We must begin here. We must here exercise the faith. We must here experience the peace and the joy, and then we may have the hope. Then, rich and blessed with such gifts from such a Giver, we may venture to say, "To-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant," and that hope shall not be put to shame.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. COMES FROM GOD.

1. Worldly hope rests upon favouring circumstances — our own powers. It hangs often upon a slender thread. "Hope centred in that child." How often parents with broken hearts have said that.

2. Few are atheists in theory, but many are such in their feelings. They are hopeless because they are godless. On the other hand, the Christian is first of all a believer in God as revealed in Christ. God therefore is the giver and the foundation of his hope.

II. COMES "THROUGH JOY AND PEACE IN BELIEVING."

1. It comes not to a heart that is without faith. It comes not from a creed repeated, or held merely intellectually. It comes from a faith that yields the affections, the will, the whole life to God. Are there "Christians" without faith? Then they are also without hope. Are they without "joy and peace"? Then they are also without hope.

2. Peace and joy in believing make God known. This is the logic of the heart. "Such joy and such peace can come only from God." The joy of pardon and cleansing is the faith that only God can pardon and cleanse.

3. "Peace and joy in believing" are the firstfruits of Heaven. They are like the two faithful spies who came back loaded with the rich clusters of the promised inheritance. Larger faith, permanent faith, mean larger and more permanent hope. Being "justified by faith," our tribulations work patience, our patience experience, our experience hope.

4. And this hope is for others as well as for ourselves. The man whose hope is confined to his individual interests is not a Christian. Under the stimulus of "joy and peace in believing" we argue: "The God who has pardoned my sins can pardon others."

III. IS BY THE POWER OF THE "HOLY GHOST."

1. Like all other elements of the Christian life, hope is inspired. It is not a natural impulse. The lack of hope argues, then, a lack of spiritual life. Do we find persons professing faith in Christ, and yet living drearily? It may mean enfeebled health, or overtaxed nerves. It may mean also that they have not "received the Holy Ghost." And when we remember this saintly apostle who writes of hope, yet has an enfeebled body, and nerves constantly taxed by toils and perils, we can conclude what the lack of despondent Christians most commonly is.

2. Our hope is not for the sanguine only, but for persons of every shade of temperament.Conclusion:

1. Our hope is not a selfish emotion. God never inspires mortals with any sort of selfishness, not even with religious selfishness. The hope we cherish, if it reflects the spirit of Christ, will be large-hearted. It will rest upon "the God of Hope," as the God who rules over all the world.

2. It is an exclusively Christian possession. Such is the unavoidable inference from the text. Men who are not Christians are "without God and without hope."

(E. McChesney, Ph.D.)

Joy and peace in believing
Consider —

I. THE SOURCE OF THIS DESIRED GOOD. God sometimes permits the use of titles descriptive of what He is in Himself, and sometimes of names denoting His relation to His creatures. In the former sense we apply such designations as"the God of mercy," "the God of love," "the God of truth." Examples of the latter are "the God of peace," "the God of patience," "the God of all consolation." In the text He is "the God of hope," because —

1. He is the Fountain from which all hope must flow. Hope, like its sister Faith, is one of those "good and perfect gifts" which, pass through what intermediate channels it may, must come down to us "from the Father of lights." And this hope, which God begets in us, is "a lively hope" that is, God invests spiritual objects with a new attractiveness, and creates within us longing desires after their attainment.

2. He is the object on which all hope must terminate. God can never raise an expectation in His creatures for the mere purpose of disappointing them. It might be optional whether He should give to us a ground of hope or not; but having given us cause to hope, it is no longer an option whether such a hope shall be fulfilled. "God cannot deny Himself." And although God may and will take His own time, we must not, as in the case of human promises, allow the heart to sicken at hope deferred. Delays with God are but invisible means of hastening mercy. "He that believeth" must "not make haste." "In due season we shall reap, if we faint not."

II. THE PARTICULAR BLESSINGS.

1. Joy is one of those early fruits of the Spirit which flow from a sense of our interest in the promises — a well-grounded persuasion of our having a part in the great propitiation. It is a joy with which "a stranger intermeddleth not," and of which even adversity depriveth us not. Hence this joy is to be distinguished from every other as having God for its object. It is not in riches, which have wings — not in honours, which may fail — not in health, which may languish, etc.; but it is Isaiah's joy when he said, "My soul shall be joyful in my God." It is the Virgin's joy when she said, "My spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour." It is the apostle's joy when he said to the Philippians, "Rejoice in the Lord alway." And this may serve to explain the paradox, "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." For the Christian has meat to eat that the world knows not of.

2. Peace —

(1)The peace of reconciliation with a God offended.

(2)The peace of conscience for a law infringed.

(3)The peace of an assured conscience.The apostle would have us filled with peace — the true peace — the peace which was the Father's token, the Son's legacy, the Spirit's seal and earnest unto the day of a complete redemption. This is a "peace which the world cannot give."

3. "In believing." We might have expected "after ye have believed," as if joy and peace were net to be looked for at the outset of our Christian course, but the recompense of an advanced and established faith. But no; you should expect the blessing as you believe, and because you believe. Faith is the hand which takes the blessing at God's hand.

III. THE FRUIT.

1. In ver. 4 and here the respective functions of the Word and the Spirit in our salvation are beautifully brought together. Perfectly distinct as these agencies are, yet their joint operation issues in the same result. The reason is, that one is the agent and the other the instrument in this great work. The Word of God is "the sword of the Spirit"; it is that by which He works. The Word cannot convert without the Spirit; and, as a rule, the Spirit does not convert without the Word. And here the Word and the Spirit join together to make us "abound in hope."

2. What is the hope in which we are to rejoice and abound? Why, we "rejoice in hope of the glory of God"; we "rejoice in hope of the glory" that shall be revealed. We "abound in hope" of entering a world without sin, suffering, and death.

(D. Moore, M.A.)

I. FAITH NATURALLY TENDS TO FILL THE SOUL WITH THE MOST PLEASANT AND DELIGHTFUL FULNESS, PLEASURE, AND HOPE.

II. THOUGH FAITH NATURALLY TENDS TO FILL THE SOUL WITH THE MOST PLEASANT AND DELIGHTFUL FEELINGS, YET EVEN TRUE CHRISTIANS DO NOT ALWAYS FULLY ENJOY THEM.

III. WE MUST LABOUR TO REMOVE THE OBSTACLES WHICH PREVENT OUR FULL ENJOYMENT OF THIS SPIRITUAL HAPPINESS.

(D. Savile, M.A.)

There are a large number of persons who profess to have believed in Christ, but who assert that they have no joy and peace in consequence. Now I shall suppose that these are not raising this difficulty by way of cavil, and that they are not labouring under any bodily sickness such as might bring on hypochondriacal feelings. We begin with two observations —

1. That joy and peace are exceedingly desirable for your own sakes and for the sake of your acquaintances, who set down your despondency to your religion.

2. Do not overestimate them; for, though eminently desirable, they are not infallible evidences of safety. Many have them who are not saved, for their joy springs from a mistake, and their peace rests upon the sand of their own imaginations. It is a good sign that the spring is come, that the weather is warm; but there are mild days in winter. A man may be in the lifeboat, but be exceedingly ill, and think himself to be still in peril. It is not his sense of safety that makes him safe. Joy and peace are the element of a Christian, but he is sometimes out of his element. The leaves on the tree prove that the tree is alive, but the absence of leaves will not prove that the tree is dead. True joy and peace may be very satisfactory evidences, but their absence, during certain seasons, can often be accounted for on some other hypothesis than that of the absence of faith.

3. Do not seek them as the first and main thing. Let your prayer be, "Lord, give me comfort, but give me safety first." Be anxious to be happy, but be more anxious to be holy.

I. THE TEXT MAY BE USED TO CORRECT TWO COMMON AND DANGEROUS ERRORS.

1. That there is a way of joy and peace through self. Some look for them through good works. Now if we had never sinned, joy and peace would have been the consequences of perfect holiness; but since we have broken God's law any rational joy and peace are impossible under the covenant of works. You have broken the alabaster vase; you may preserve the fragments, but you cannot make it whole again. Many who are conscious of this say, "Then I will do my best." Yes; but a man who is drowning may say that, but it is no solace to him as the billows close over him. Some try the plan of scrupulous observance of all religious ceremonies. These things may be good in themselves; but to rest in them will be your ruin.

2. That of turning the text upside down. There is such a thing as joy and peace in believing, and some therefore infer that there is such a thing as believing in joy and peace. You will get peace just as the florist gets his flower from the bulb; but you will never get the bulb from the flower. To trust Christ because you just feel happy is —(1) Irrational. Suppose a man should say during a panic, "I feel sure that my bank is safe, because I feel so easy about my money"; you would say to him, "That is no reason." Suppose he said, "I feel sure that my money is safe, because I believe the bank is safe." That is good reasoning. But here you put the effect in the place of the cause. If a man should say, "I have got a large estate in India, because I feel so happy in thinking about it," that is no proof whatever. But if he says, "I feel very happy, because I have got an estate in India," that may be right enough.(2) Irreverent. You say to God, "Thou tellest me to trust Christ and I shall be saved. Well, I cannot trust Christ, but I can trust my own feeling, and if I felt very happy I could believe that He would save me.(3) Egotistical. Here is "a person who has the Divine promise — He that believeth on Him is not condemned"; and instead of confiding in this, he says, "No, I shall believe nothing which I do not feel."

II. THE GREAT TRUTH OF THE TEXT IS, THAT BELIEVING IN CHRIST IS THE TRUE GROUND FOR JOY AND PEACE. Believing in Christ is trusting Christ, "But what sort of a Christ is this I am to confide in? Is He worthy of my trust?" The reply is this, "We have trusted Christ" —

1. Because of the wonderful union of His natures. He is God, and whatever God undertakes He is able to accomplish. But He is man, and has the requisite tenderness to deal with sinners.

2. Because of the evident truthfulness of His character. Could we suspect the Saviour we should find it difficult to trust Him; but as we cannot imagine a cause for suspecting Him, we feel shut up to believing Him. Millions of spirits boar witness to the trustworthiness of Christ. He did not fail one of them.

3. Because He was sent of God on purpose to save. Now if this be so, and Christ comes into the world and says, "Trust, and I will save you," He has God to back Him, and the honour of the Trinity is pledged to every soul that comes to Christ.

4. Because the merit of His sufferings must be great enough to save us.

5. Because He rose again from the dead, and now He ever liveth to make intercession for us. Wherefore, "He is able to save to the uttermost."

III. THE PRINCIPLE OF THE TEXT IS OF CONSTANT APPLICATION : JOY AND PEACE ALWAYS COME THROUGH BELIEVING. We do not always have joy and peace, but still, in the main, joy and peace are the result of believing. E.g. —

1. As soon as a person is saved, one of the earliest evidences of spiritual life is a great battle within. Some have the notion that as soon as they are saved they shall never have to fight. Why, it is then that you begin the campaign. But you shall have joy and peace while the fighting is going on.

2. Remember that even after you are secure in Christ, and accepted before God, you may sometimes get despondent. Christian men may have a bad liver, or some trial, and then they get depressed. But what then? Why then you can get joy and peace through believing.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Joy has been considered by Christian people very largely as an exceptional state; whereas sobriety — by which is meant severity of mind, or a non-enjoying state of mind — is supposed to be the normal condition. I knew a Roman Catholic priest that was as upright and conscientious a man as I ever met, who said he did not dare to be happy; he was afraid that he should lose his soul if he was; and he subjected himself to every possible mortification, saying, "'It is not for me to be happy here; I must take it out when I get to heaven. There I expect to be happy." That was in accordance with his view of Christianity. Now, it is of the utmost importance that it should be understood that health of soul and joyfulness are one and the same thing. You cannot be healthy in soul and not be happy. The true idea of religion is one that makes men happy by making them happiable; that brings them into that soul-knowledge, and into that concord of soul, out of which comes happiness. Remember that the state of suffering, if you must suffer, is the abnormal state, and that a true Christian is a man who is a happy Christian. You may say, "I cannot be happy." Very well, then you cannot be an ideal of true Christianity. You are not able to reach the highest condition of which the human soul is capable. It does not follow because a man has one leg shorter than the other, and is obliged to limp, that limping is a part of the best state of man. The man whose legs are lithe, and who can run like a roe, is a true man physically, in so far as that is concerned; and the man who is maimed, and cannot do this, is physically so much less than a true man as he falls short of the possibility of it.

(H. W. Beecher.)

A hopeless life is a bitter life. Surely the heart is broken when hope is gone. Thank God, this is a rare thing. You tread upon the wild flower in the field, and for a time it is crushed; but ere the next morning comes, when the dew is on the grass, it stands erect again. And when deep trouble comes the heart may be crushed for a time, but it is generally only for a time. It is wonderful how people will recover and see there is still something left. Here is a bankrupt: his plans are frustrated, his heart is bruised. For a time he droops his head despondently, but he is soon ready to make another start. He adapts himself to his circumstances, and finds hope rising within him. "I may yet be in comfortable circumstances," he says, and again he can work with a will. It is beautiful, though sometimes very sad, to see how the poor consumptive patient will retain hope to the last. "It is only a little cold," she says; "I shall soon be strong again." "We are saved by hope," says Paul, and there is a depth of meaning in his words. People often say, "While there is life there is hope"; but would it not be truer still to say, "While there is hope there is life"? This cheerful hope is the Christian's. All things are his, not in possession, but in prospect. The heart can cherish no desire which is not abundantly spread out before him. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive, what things God hath prepared for those who love Him."

(J. Matthews.)

Through the power of the Holy Ghost
Power is the peculiar prerogative of God. "Twice have I heard this," etc. If He delegates a portion of it to His creatures, yet still it is His power. This prerogative is to be found in each of the three persons of the Trinity. We shall look at the power of the Holy Ghost in —

I. THE OUTWARD AND VISIBLE DISPLAYS OF IT.

1. In creation works (Job 26:13; Psalm 104:29; Genesis 1:2). But there was one instance of creation in which the Spirit was more especially concerned, viz., the formation of the body of Christ. "The power of the Highest shall overshadow Thee," etc.

2. In the resurrection of Christ. Sometimes this is ascribed to Himself, sometimes to God the Father. He was raised by the Father, who said, "Loose the Prisoner — let Him go. Justice is satisfied." He was raised by His own majesty and power because He had a right to come out. But He was raised by the Spirit as to the energy which His mortal frame received (Romans 8:11; 1 Peter 3:18).

3. In works of witnessing. When Jesus went into Jordan the Spirit proclaimed Him God's beloved Son. And when afterwards Jesus raised the dead, healed the leper, etc., it was done by the power of the Spirit, who dwelt in Him without measure. And when Jesus was gone the master attestation of the Spirit was when He came like a rushing mighty wind, and cloven tongues. And all through the apostle's ministry "mighty signs and wonders were clone by the Holy Ghost, and many believed thereby."

4. The works of grace. Under the power of the Holy Ghost the uncivilised become civilised, the savage polite, the drunkard sober, etc.

II. THE INWARD AND SPIRITUAL MANIFESTATION. The former may be seen, this must be felt. The Holy Ghost has a power over —

1. Men's hearts. Now these are very hard to affect. If you want to get at them for any worldly object you can do it. But there is not a minister breathing who can win man's heart himself. He can win his ears, his eyes, his attention; but he cannot reach the heart. The Holy Spirit can. He can "Speak with that voice which wakes the dead."

2. The will. This, especially in some men, is a very stubborn thing. I can bring you all to the water, and a great many more; but I cannot make you drink; and I don't think a hundred ministers could. But the Spirit of God can make us willing in the day of His power.

3. The imagination. Those who have a fair share of imagination know what a difficult thing it is to control. It will sometimes fly up to God with such a power that eagles' wings cannot match it; but it is also potent the other way, for my imagination has taken me down to the vilest kennels and sewers of earth. Can you chain your imagination? No; but the power of the Holy Ghost can.

III. ITS FUTURE AND DESIRED EFFECTS. He has —

1. To perfect us in holiness. The Christian needs two kinds of perfection-of justification in the person of Jesus, of sanctification by the Holy Spirit. At present corruption still rests even in the breasts of the regenerate, but the day is coming when God shall finish the work which He has begun.

2. To bring on the latter-day glory.

3. To raise the dead. That same power which raised Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies.Practical inferences:

1. The Spirit is very powerful, Christian!

(1)Then you never need distrust the power of God to carry you to heaven.

(2)Why should you doubt anything?

2. Sinners, there is some hope for you. I cannot save you, but I know my Master can.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

(text, and ver. 19): —

1. The Spirit of God is necessary to the Church for its own internal growth in grace. Hence ver. 13, where the apostle attributes the power to be filled with joy and peace in believing, and to abound in hope, to the Holy Ghost. But the power of the Church outside, to be aggressive, is this same energy (ver. 19). If the Church is to be happy and holy within herself, and if she is to conquer the world for Christ, she must have the power of the Holy Ghost.

2. The power of the Church for external work will be proportionate to the power within.(1) There are two cottages in winter. From the roof of one the snow has disappeared, while the other is still covered with it. The reason is that there is a fire burning inside the one, but the other is untenanted. So where worldliness and formalism lie thick upon Churches there is not the warmth of Christian life within; but where hearts are warm with Divine love through the Spirit of God, evils vanish and beneficial consequences follow.(2) Here is a trouble arising between different nations. Everybody knows that one of the hopes of peace lies in the bankrupt condition of the nation which is likely to go to war. Thus is it in the great battle of truth. The strength or weakness of a nation's exchequer affects its army in its every march, and in like manner its measure of grace influences the Church of God in all its actions.(3) The rising of the Nile depends upon those far-off lakes in the centre of Africa. If there be a scanty supply in the higher reservoirs, there cannot be much overflow in the course of the river through Egypt. So if the upper lakes of fellowship with God are not well-filled the Nile of practical Christian service will never rise to the flood. You cannot get out of the Church what is not in it. We must ourselves drink of the living water till we are full, and then out of the midst of us shall flow rivers of living water. Out of an empty basket you cannot distribute loaves and fishes, however hungry the crowd may be. The power of the Holy Ghost is manifested in —

I. THE QUICKENING OF SOULS TO SPIRITUAL LIFE.

1. All the spiritual life which exists in this world is the creation of the Holy Spirit. Every growth of spiritual life, from the first tender shoot until now, has also been His work. You will never have more life, except as the Holy Ghost bestows it upon you.

2. The Holy Spirit is absolutely needful to make everything that we do to be alive. We are sowers, but if we take dead seed in our seed-basket there will never be a harvest. How much there is of Church work which is nothing better than the movement of a galvanised corpse. How much of religion is done as if it were performed by an automaton, or ground off by machinery.

3. As the Spirit is a quickener to make us and our work alive, so must He specially be with us to make those alive with whom we have to deal for Jesus. As well may you try to calm the tempest with poetry or stay the hurricane with rhetoric as to bless a soul by mere learning and eloquence. We are utterly dependent here, and I rejoice in this. If I could have a stock of power all my own apart from the Spirit, I cannot suppose a greater temptation to pride and to living a distance from God.

II. THE ENLIGHTENMENT OF HIS PEOPLE.

1. This He has done by giving us His Word; but the Book, inspired though it be, is never spiritually understood by any man apart from His personal teaching. The letter you may know, but no man knows the things of God save he to whom the Spirit of God has revealed them.

2. If professors be not taught of the Spirit their ignorance will breed conceit, pride, unbelief. Sorrow too comes of ignorance. Hadst thou known the doctrines of grace thou hadst not been so long a time in bondage! Half of the heresy in the Church of God is not wilful error, but error which springs of not submitting the mind to the light of the Holy Ghost. If He will but enlighten the Church thoroughly there will be an end of divisions. Practical unity will exist in proportion to the unity of men's minds in the truth of God.

3. We find in this gracious operation our strength for the instruction of others; for how shall those teach who have never been taught? "Son of man, eat this roll"; for until thou hast eaten it thyself thy lips can never tell it out to others. It is the law of Christ's vineyard that none shall work therein till first of all they know the flavour of the fruits which grow in the sacred enclosure. An ignorant Christian is disqualified for great usefulness; but he who is taught of God will teach transgressors God's ways, and sinners shall be converted unto Christ.

III. THE CREATION IN BELIEVERS OF THE SPIRIT OF ADOPTION.

1. We are regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and so receive the nature of children; and that nature He develops and matures. This is of very great importance, for sometimes the spirit of slaves creeps over us.

2. This will have a great effect upon the outside world. A body of professors performing religion as a task can have but small effect upon the sinners around them. But bring me a Church made up of men who know they are accepted and beloved, and are perfectly content with the great Father's will; put them down in the midst of ungodly ones, and they will begin to envy them their peace and joy.

IV. SANCTIFICATION.

1. Holiness is the entirety of our manhood fully consecrated to the Lord and moulded to His will. This is the thing which the Church of God must have, but it can never have it apart from the Sanctifier, for there is no holiness but what is of His operation.

2. And if a Church be destitute of holiness what effect can it have upon the world? Scoffers utterly despise professors whose lives contradict their testimonies.

V. PRAYER.

1. The strength of a Church may pretty accurately be gauged by her prayerfulness. But all acceptable supplication is wrought in the soul by the Holy Ghost.

2. Furthermore, when we come to deal with sinners we know that they must pray. "Behold he prayeth" is one of the earliest signs of the new birth. But can we make the sinner pray?

VI. FELLOWSHIP.

1. In the apostolic benediction we pray that we may receive the communion of the Holy Ghost. He gives us fellowship with God Himself. Our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. So, too, our fellowship with one another is always produced by the Spirit.

2. If you are to tell upon the world you must be united as one living body. A. divided Church has long been the scorn of Antichrist.

VII. IN HIS OFFICE OF PARACLETE.

1. The Holy Spirit is our friend and Comforter. Many a heart would break if the Spirit of God had not comforted it. This is a very necessary work, for if believers become unhappy they become weak for service.

2. He is the Advocate of the Church — not with God, for there Christ is our sole Advocate, but with man. The grandest plea that the Church has against the world is the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. All the evidences of the truth of Christianity which can be gathered from analogy, history, and external facts, are nothing whatever compared with the operations of the Spirit of God. If we have the Spirit of God amongst us, and conversions are constantly being wrought, the Holy Spirit is thus fulfilling His advocacy, and refuting all accusers.

(C. H. Spurgeon)

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