Sermon: Hope and Suffering – 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.

Justification, peace, hope, suffering, glory, the Holy Spirit. All of those things are in this passage this morning. This 5 verse section is incredibly dense. We obviously will not be able to fully develop every single idea in this passage this morning. 

But it’s valuable to see how these verses fit together. Because there is never anything haphazard about the order of scripture. Romans is a very logically ordered book. The ideas build off of each other. But a focus this morning will be on how these various themes all tie in together within this 5 verse section. 

To give a little bit of background. 

In Romans 4, Paul is talking about Abraham and how it was Abraham’s faith that had justified him before God. 

God had made a promise to Abraham of land, offspring, and blessing. (Genesis 12:1-3) 

Citing Genesis 15, Abraham believed and it had been counted to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6) 

As Paul winds down Romans 4:

21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (Romans 4:21-25) 

So he is talking about the death of Jesus. Jesus died so that we could be justified before God. 

And then we come to chapter 5. 

As a result of this reality, as a result of these facts: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

And just to gets all on the same page. 

The entry point to salvation is faith in Jesus Christ. It is by faith that you are justified by God, that is, that you are in right legal standing. The righteousness of Jesus is given to you as though it were your own righteousness. 

Not only can we be justified by faith, to be justified, you must have faith. 

It is that we are not saved by what we do, we are saved by what Christ has done. He pulls us up. Salvation is entirely because of Jesus, through Jesus. 

And for the Christian, for the person who has faith in Jesus, which Paul assumes in this passage: “since we have been justified by faith,” Paul gets at part of the result of justification “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Peace, it’s the end of hostility with God. It’s a restoration of harmony with God. 

It had been lost due to sin, but we have peace, as the text says: “through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

We have a treaty that we get to enjoy but that we didn’t write, it was written in the blood of Jesus. It was a peace that he had to go to battle and die for us to have. 

There is no other way to have peace with God except through Christ. No one else restores that, no other faith gives that, and you can’t bring it about by your own efforts, your own goodness. We are sinful and separated from God, hostile to God. 

Ephesians 2:12-13: you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Jesus is the only road, the only way, the only path that leads to God. 

Romans 5:2. Verse 2 is continuing to talk about the result of justifying faith. 

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.

So we are justified by faith. We also have access to God’s grace as a result of faith. What does that mean? To have access to his grace? It’s the same thing as having access to God. 

And again, we have that access through Jesus. To the praise of Jesus that through his life, and his death. His blood that was shed for sin, his body that was broken for sin, the penalty that he bore for sin. All of that so that we could have access to God. 

There’s no other way. 

Paul says “this grace in which we stand.” It is a reference to our standing before God. The present state of a person who has faith in the gospel. 

Because justification happens by faith, Jesus saves you from the sins you have committed, the sins you struggle with today, and you will be saved from your sin in the future, because of Christ. 

And so we are enabled to “rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” 

We can rejoice that we are justified, that we are forgiven for all the sins we have committed, and because of our justification through faith in Jesus, we have the hope and the assurance that we will be justified in the future hope of glory with God. 

You have to have faith to be saved. You cannot earn it, you can’t deserve it on your own. The only way you can have access to God is through believing in the gift of grace that God offers to sinful people. Jesus died on the cross to save sinners. He really died and he really rose from the dead. And because he rose, we can have the confidence of an eternal life with him. 

Justification by faith is a fundamental doctrine of Protestantism. 

But beginning in verse 3, Paul seems to almost change subjects. 

And I want to explain why these ideas are actually related. 

Verse 2 end by saying we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 

Verse 3:  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings,

We rejoice in our sufferings? What does that mean? Why does Paul talk about suffering in a section where he began by talking about justification? 

To make the connection between the two, I think it’s important to understand something about faith. A lot of people mock the idea of justification by faith alone. 

Non-Christians say “so you can just say you believe and go on doing whatever you want?” It fundamentally misses the point. The faith has to be genuine. And if the faith is genuine, God gives you His Spirit. 

And it is through the Spirit that we are sanctified, that we are made Holy. You cannot be a Christian and not have God’s Spirit. There’s no such thing. 

Ephesians 1:13-14: In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance

Justification and sanctification go together. You cannot be sanctified if you haven’t first been justified because to be justified is to have the Spirit through which you are sanctified. 

Make sense? 

But if you haven’t been justified, then you can’t be sanctified because you wouldn’t have the Spirit. So sanctification results from true faith. There are passages in the Bible where we see how sanctification plays out in life. For instance, love for God and love for your neighbor are important ways for a true Christian life to be lived. 

In Galatians, Paul. talks about the fruit of the Spirit. And the point of that passage is that for a person who has the Spirit, which is synonymous with a person who has faith, the Spirit of God working in a person produces fruit, virtues like love, joy, peace, patience. (Galatians 5:22-23) 

Fruit is necessary. 

And in our section this morning, Paul talks about justification and then immediately goes to the subject of suffering, and the reason why he does this is to show us that suffering and suffering well is a part of the process through which God sanctifies us. 

Let’s look again at the second part of our passage. 

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.

It’s not that we rejoice in suffering for the sake of suffering. Christianity is not a call to be masochistic. 

You break your arm, “Yes, I love this.” It’s not that suffering is good in itself. It’s the result of suffering that God works for good. 

We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance. and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. 

It may seem counterproductive. Rejoicing in suffering. Many people get frustrated with God when they’re struggling, suffering. It can so naturally be this sense of “where are you God?” Or “Why is this happening to me?” “It’s not supposed to be this way.” 

Suffering is part of life. 

It rains on both the saint and the sinner. 

And the Christian life is one that is lived in a fallen world. Where we still sin, and have to deal with the ramifications from that. Where other people still sin, and where we have to deal with the ramifications from that. And where there is still sickness, illness, disease, hurt. 

We aren’t in a bubble as Christians where we no longer have those things. 

Unfortunately that’s the way many act in our world in the face of suffering. Some people in churches suffer, and it’s almost like they’d rather go it alone than with God. 

But there’s something we all have to understand. The Bible doesn’t promise a Christian’s life will be free from suffering. In fact, the Bible literally promises the opposite of that. What Paul is saying here is consistent with the rest of the New Testament. It gets talked about over and over and over again. 

James tells us to look at trials as a reason for joy: 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4). 

So in James, the result of trials is that it refines a person. It’s meant for a person to actually be “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” 

God uses suffering in our lives to help us grow. 

Hebrews 12:5-9:

My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.

6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?

The author of Hebrews says in verse 8 that it is because we are children of God that God disciplines us. So it’s not that he’s punishing you. But that God disciplines us BECAUSE we are his children. 

Again totally counterintuitive to our mindset today. Would you think a parent was a good parent if their children never had to face adversity, if they were always swooping in, even when the kid made a mistake. If everything were always just smooth sailing and easy, always going our way, we would never grow. We’d never mature in our faith. 

We so often think life is all about happiness. It’s not. That is not what the Bible says the Christian life is all about. It’s all about knowing God and serving God. 

If life were all about happiness, if this life were all there was, then yes, suffering would interfere with that. But suffering does not interfere with knowing God. And in fact, it can often times enhance our relationship with God. 

Some people struggle and suffer, and they turn their back on God. 

It’s tragic. 

But for others, they grow in a deeper relationship with God than they ever thought possible when going through the greatest challenges and struggles. You name it, people have been able to love and follow God through it. 

And again, it’s not that suffering is good for its own sake. 

It’s that the result, the strength that comes from the tension, the greater relationship we can have with God is what can often times be the biggest blessing. 

A radical idea that is puzzling to our world. 

When you lift weights, you don’t get from the workout itself. It’s that when you lift weights, it creates all of these little micro-tears in your muscles. And after you workout, the muscles repair themselves and as a result of that, you’re stronger. 

Faith gets strengthened through the heavy lifting. If we never face difficult situations, then we never grow. And different types of workouts work different muscles. Different ways how we’re tested strengthen us in different way. Sometimes it’s not until the dust has settled that we can look back and truly appreciate what God was doing in us. 

Sometimes you don’t see the beauty of the journey until you’re on the top of the mountain and are able to see where the difficult path was leading you and to appreciate the beauty that it brought. 

I’m sure some of us have experienced things that were extremely difficult at the time, things that were horrible. But things we can look to and as hard as it was at the time,we can see how it helped shape us, how it helped make us into who we are today. 

We have different struggles. Different struggles for different people produce different results. But for the person who is in Christ, who is justified by faith in the Lord, it is always for a purpose. 

One more scripture on this subject, though there are many more. I think it provides a good illustration. 

1 Peter 1:6-7:

you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

It’s under the hottest fire that the metal is refined. Also it’s important that Peter says “you have been grieved by various trials.” 

The New Testament uses words like “suffering” and “trials.” 

We can acknowledge that things are difficult. 

But what these passages tell us is that a good God can use temporary suffering for good purposes. 

If you’re going through something right now, I’m not saying, and more importantly this passage is not saying just be stoic about it, just white-knuckle it. Just pretend everything is ok. 

But to know that God is at work, even when you’re suffering. 

In the good seasons, we should praise the Lord. 

And in the times of struggle, we should still praise the Lord. 

God isn’t far off. 

Commit yourself to turning to God with greater urgency. 

Don’t turn your back on God, don’t put your walk with God on hold until things get better. 

Don’t give God the silent treatment. Because the only one who loses in that is you. 

Run to God!

The author of Hebrews said: all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Do you suffer well? 

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.

We grow in endurance through struggles. 

Endurance produces character. It produces a greater fortitude in us. 

The perspective that this is meant to inspire is meant to influence our Christian character and personal holiness, as we experience God’s grace through our sufferings. Growing in Godliness. 

The quality we are as followers of Christ grows when facing tests. 

And character produces hope. 

It can be really easy for a person to just say they’re a Christian, to just pray some prayer without believing it. And then to get on with your life and not pay much attention to God, not really think about God, not live devoted to God. 

Especially in our society where we have so many luxuries, so much to do, so many distractions. 

But as we are tested by God, we are enabled to grow in our hope of God. Seeing Christians suffer well is also encouraging to the faith of those around us. Suffering well gives an opportunity to force us to focus on what really matters. 

Again, the purpose of life is knowing God. And in the times of the most difficulty, we are forced to realize our need for God in a way that we can never be if life is always smooth sailing. If things are always going well, it’s really easy for us to want to take credit for that, feel like we’ve done that, earned that, we deserve that. 

The hope that is produced is a hope in the goodness, and grace, and life that is found with God through the gospel. 

It’s not an earthly hope but a heavenly hope. 

Perhaps you’ve seen people who seemed at times to have an almost unbelievable faith in God through the more harrowing of trials and circumstances. 

“Hope does not put us to shame,” the text says. 

In the Old Testament, being “put to shame” is a reference of God’s judgment. 

That is not what awaits the people who trust in the Lord. The reason? “Because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” 

The hope we have, the growth that we experience, it is not something that we do on our own. It is supernatural. God pours his love into our hearts through the Holy spirit.  

Again, suffering is part of life. 

You can do it well or poorly. 

You might be going through some stuff right now. 

It can be any number of things. Problems at home, problems with your finances, problems with your health. 

Maybe it’s disappointment over something that never happened or a dream you feel never happened. 

Maybe it’s something that happened a long time ago and it’s never really been dealt with. 

Everyone has a cross to bear. 

There is so much darkness, and pain, and hurting in our world. 

Pain is painful. 

And the Lord is good. 

Everyday of our lives, every situation we face, be that something positive or something that’s a struggle is an opportunity to trust the Lord for what he’s doing in your life, an opportunity to praise him for what he has done. 

Again, it can be so easy to get disheartened. 

But the attitude should be one of gratitude to the Lord who is all loving, all good, all knowing. 

Part of the reason that trials and struggles produce these results over the long haul is that people who have had more times where they’ve had to grow with God have also had more opportunities to see God at work in their lives. 

Again, it’s encouraging to the soul to see God at work. 

Especially in the times when it appears to the rest of the world that there’s no way anything good could possibly come from a circumstance. 

Our passage doesn’t say we’re called to tolerate our sufferings. But to rejoice in our sufferings. Because the end result is meant to be hope. 

Hope in the goodness of God. Hope in the salvation that comes from the Lord. Hope that we have a future in the presence of the Lord in a place where there is no suffering, where there are no trials, where there is no pain or sickness or death. 

But that promise probably doesn’t mean much to you today if you aren’t hopeful. 

We have a savior who died so that we, sinful people, could have that. 

We have a savior who can personally relate to us in our own suffering. 

Jesus also faced trials. He faced temptations. He was betrayed by one of his inner circle. An angry mob demanded Jesus be crucified. The Roman government unjustly allowed for him to be crucified. Jesus knew a thing about suffering. And he knows the areas where you’re suffering today. He knows the areas where we struggle.

He faced the greatest injustice of all.

Trials are not the time to distance yourself from God and His Church. That’s the last thing you should do! It is in the trials that you should more and more be living for God, trusting God, growing with God.

If you’re currently in a difficult season, actively remind yourself that God is working in this. God knows your struggle. God hasn’t forsaken you. God is with you. And while it can be hard to see through the storm, to know that it is an opportunity to grow more and more into the person who God wants you to be.