Empires have risen up on it. Ideas are sparked by it. Lives are motivated by it. And every human being gets up in the morning because of it.
You and I are driven, at the core of our beings, by some kind of hope. Where our hope lies may differ, but each of us has placed our hope in some idea, dream, person, or circumstance. And whatever our true hope lies in is what determines the course of our life.
Is Our One True Hope Out There?
God designed human beings to hope. It’s a part of our makeup. We can no more stop hoping than we can stop breathing and continue to live. Often where we put our hope disappoints us, or perhaps we can never reach the thing we are hoping for, but hope is endless in the human soul.
So is there one true hope?
We Christians instinctively give a hearty, “Yes, of course!” To that question, don’t we? Obviously our one true hope is in Jesus. But let’s move past our theological, perfect-on-paper stated hope and peer into our hearts. Do the things we pursue in life actually reflect that we believe our one true hope lies in Christ?
We have all been taught to say it, but have our hearts believed it?
The Hope of The Gospel – For Believers
As Paul continues his letter to the Roman Christians, it becomes clear that he, like the rest of us, is driven by fierce hope. And since he has never met these fellow believers, he comes to them on the grounds of the common hope he shares with them. He has heard about their faith. It has been made known that in the very capital of the Roman Empire God has raised up a church, and the news of their existence has spread throughout the Christian world. Paul longs to know these believers, he longs to share in the one true hope with them. As the letter unfolds, we will see that Paul has deeper knowledge of the hope of Christ than the Romans do, and it’s one reason he is writing to them – to give them more of a glimpse of the one true hope they are resting their lives upon.
He says this in Romans 1:15-17:
So I am eager to come to you in Rome, too, to preach the Good News.
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
While Paul’s evangelistic efforts obviously focused on the lost a lot of the time, it is interesting that here he states he wants to talk to these already believing Christians about the gospel. Don’t they already know it? Why would he need to preach the gospel to them?
When we as believers hear the gospel, our minds can often go different directions, like:
Thinking outwardly: “I hope there is some unbelieving person in the room who is listening up right now!”
Thinking fearfully: “Okay, let me figure out again if I’m REALLY saved.”
Thinking guiltily: “I know I should be telling more people about Jesus.”
Or, maybe you do what I usually do – tune out because you’ve heard this a hundred times before and you’re already saved. It doesn’t apply anymore. Does it?
Paul’s Aim For The Gospel In Romans
The thing is, Paul is going to spend the majority of the book of Romans spelling out the particulars of the gospel in great detail.
And no, it’s not just so that they can be better evangelists to lost people.
It’s because Paul knows something that the Roman Christians need to understand, that WE need to understand.
The gospel is not a one and done message. It’s not just about getting us “in”. It’s not just for unbelievers. The gospel is the message that must become the very center of our lives, our bedrock, our foundation for life.
The gospel is about so much more than just getting out of hell and into God’s family. It’s about continually saving us all our lives.
The gospel is our one true hope that saves us at the very beginning of our spiritual journey, yes, but it is also the message that should spur us on for the rest of our days. When the gospel begins to fade from view because we are used to it or think we no longer need it, our Christianity becomes mere religion and dead works.
We become people who were brought to life by a forgotten message, trying to do good things for a God who never wanted our good works, but simply our trust in what His Son has done.
It is so easy to slip back into putting our hope in what we can do. We find forgiveness and mercy at the cross, we believe we can’t do anything to earn our way into Heaven, and we place our faith in Christ alone to save us. Hallelujah! But then we set off to live life by our own strength, our own goodness, our own achievements. How does that make sense?
When Castles Crumble And Failures Reign
Paul is not ashamed of the gospel because he knows that only Christ’s righteousness is what will stand firm when all our efforts fade. When we are brought to the end of ourselves, our one true hope will still be found in the power of the gospel that continues to save us day by day.
Paul’s vision for the Roman church, and God’s vision for us today, is that we would recapture the beauty of the gospel. That we would place all our hope in Jesus’s righteousness, instead of the righteousness we seek to achieve by works.
God is not impressed with our feeble “goodness”. He’s impressed with His Son.
And He has provided a way for us to find all our life and meaning in the work of this Son.
Come again to rest in Him.
Come again to remember the beauty of the gospel.
Come fall again on your one true hope.