Hope That Will Not Disappoint

Romans 5:5-8 - And hope does not disappoint; because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 6For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will hardly die for a righteous man, though perhaps for a good man someone would dare even to die.8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Have you ever really thought about the words of the familiar Christmas carols that we sing year after year? Listen to these words from "O Little Town of Bethlehem": "The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight." What hopes and fears were met in Bethlehem on that first Christmas night? The age-old fears of mankind could all be summed up in the question, "Is there Someone out there to whom man has to answer?" The hopes of the years were centered in the longing to know that there was Someone out there who cared! The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem brought an end to the fears and gave substance to the hopes of mankind. But how do we know that we are not just "whistling in the dark up a blind alley?" How do we really know that the Christian hope in Jesus Christ will not disappoint us, deceive us, or delude us in the end? The answer to this question is what Romans 5:5-8 is all about. This Scripture tells us that we can be sure our hope will not disappoint us in the end. There are two sides to the argument used to drive home the truth. Let's call them the personal, or subjective, side, and the historical, or objective, side.

The personal side of the argument is contained in verse 5. "Because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." The Spirit of God has made His permanent home within every Christian. What is He doing there? He is imparting the love of God to us. Does the "love of God" mean our love towards God or God's love toward us? (Think before you answer.) It can mean both! The Holy Spirit pours out the love of God by communicating God's love to us and producing our love for God.

The best evidence that God's love has been communicated to us is not a "warm feeling" inside, or a "spiritual high" at camp last summer, or an ecstatic experience somewhere along the line, but the fact that we actually love God! Think back on your closest moment with the Lord. The evidence that you were sensing the flood of God's love was your response, "O Lord, I love you."

Only a true Christian has love for God! Others may have a healthy respect for Him. They may try to "chalk up points" with Him. They may even try to defend Him. However, "the fears of the years" are really still there. But when a person actually loves God, it is evidence that something unique has happened. Do you love God?

Even a non-believer is hard-pressed to explain the love of God within a true Christian. It has never been natural for a man to love God. Your love for God is evidence that God's love has been communicated to you. It is personal proof that the Christian hope in Jesus Christ is not just "pie in the sky, bye and bye!"

The historical side of the argument is found in verse 6 and following. There was a man named Jesus born into history at Bethlehem about 2000 years ago. That He claimed to be the Christ and the hope of all mankind cannot be denied even by his critics. That He was a man among men and went about doing good is authenticated. That He had supernatural power and was resurrected from the dead has ample evidence--evidence which no skeptic has ever been able to dismiss. And that He willingly gave up His life to His enemies is also historical fact--but hard to explain by the non-believer. Has anyone else in history ever done that?

Soldiers have been known to die for their close buddies. Mothers have given their lives for their children. It is always an extremely rare case when one person gives his life for another person--even when that person is a really nice guy (v7). But Jesus Christ voluntarily died for the ungodly(v6)!

Christ was born to die. The first Christmas anticipated Good Friday. It was not by chance that our Lord went to the cross. It was God's appointed and fixed time--"at the right time" (v6). The Lord Jesus foretold His own death when He said, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). This is why Jesus voluntarily gave up His life. He died for us! "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (v8).

The only logical and consistent explanation of what took place in history from the time at Bethlehem to the time at Calvary is that God was "demonstrating His own love toward us" (v8). Here is objective proof (proof that doesn't depend on our experience) that God loves us and that our hope in Him is not in vain.

The next time you're "down" and wishing you could feel more of the love of God, think about how God demonstrated His love. Look out to what God has done in history for you. Looking in at your own feelings can be very disappointing at times. The Lord Jesus died for us in history whether we feel it or not! This is historical proof that the Christian hope is not a hoax.

On this coming Christmas morning there will be a few disappointed children when a particular gift they hoped for is not under the tree. How different is the Christian hope in the Lord Jesus Christ! We have a hope that will not disappoint us in the end! Praise God!
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