A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, November 11, 1877, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *8/20/2012
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy
Spirit. [Ro 15:13]
For other sermons on this text:
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 30, “Power of the Holy Spirit, The” 30]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 692, “Joy and Peace in Believing” 683]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1332, “Our Urgent Need of the Holy Spirit” 1323]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1384, “Round of Delights, A” 1375]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2626, “Peace in Believing” 2627]
Exposition on Ro 15:1-16 [See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2753, “Patience, Comfort, and Hope from the Scriptures” 2754 @@ "Exposition"]
Exposition on Ro 15:13-33 [See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2768, “Debtors and Debtors” 2769 @@ "Exposition"]
1. This is one of the richest passages in the Word of God. It is so full of instruction that I cannot hope to bring out even so much as a tithe of its teaching. The apostle desired for the Roman Christians that they might be in the most delightful state of mind, that they should be filled with joy and peace, and that this should lead on to even further expectations, and create an abundance of hope in their souls. See, dear friends, the value of prayer, for if Paul longs to see his friends attain to the highest possible condition, he prays for them. What will prayer not do? Whatever you desire for yourself or for another, let your desire be prepared like sweet spices and compounded into a supplication, and present it to God, and the benediction will come.
2. I gather, also, from Paul’s making this state of happiness a subject of request to God, that it is possible for it to be attained. We may be filled with joy and peace in believing, and may abound in hope. 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; we may not only have occasional tranquillity, but we may dwell in peace, and delight ourselves in the abundance of it. These great privileges are attainable, or the apostle would not have made them the subjects of prayer. Indeed, and they are possible for us, just as the meaning of the epistle to the Romans was not exhausted upon the Romans, so this text belongs to us also; and the words before us still rise to heaven as the prayer of the apostle for us, upon whom the ends of the earth are come, so that we also may be filled with joy and peace, and abound in hope through the Holy Spirit. The sweetest delights are still grown in Zion’s gardens, and are to be enjoyed by us; and shall they be within our reach and not be grasped? Shall a life of joy and peace be attainable, and shall we miss it through unbelief? God forbid. Let us, as believers, resolve that whatever of privilege is to be enjoyed we will enjoy it; whatever of lofty experience is to be obtained, we will, by God’s gracious help, ascend to it: for we wish to know to the full the things which are freely given to us by God.
3. Not, however, in our own strength will we so resolve, for this condition of faith, and joy, and peace must be accomplished in us by God alone. This is clear enough in the text, for it is only the God of hope who can fill us with joy and peace; and yet again, our hope which is to abound will only abound through the power of the Holy Spirit. The fact that the happy condition described is sought by prayer is a plain evidence that the blessing comes from a divine source, and the prayer itself is so worded that the doctrine is prominently presented to the mind. So, brethren, while we resolve to obtain everything of privilege that is obtainable, let us set about our effort in divine power, not depending upon our resolutions, but looking for the power of the Holy Spirit and the energy of the God of hope.
4. I shall want you to follow me while I notice concerning the blessed state of fulness of joy and peace, first, from where it comes; secondly, what it is, taking its delights in detail; and then, thirdly, what it leads to. We are to be filled with joy and peace, so that “we may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
5. I. If there is, then, such a condition as being divinely filled with all joy and peace in believing, WHERE DOES IT COME FROM? The answer is, it comes from “the God of hope.” But in order that we may see how it comes let us look a little at the chapter in which we find our text, for the context is instructive.
6. To know joy and peace through believing we must begin by knowing what is to be believed, and this we must learn from holy Scripture, for there he is revealed as the God of hope. Unless God had revealed himself, we could not have guessed at hope, but the Scriptures of truth are windows of hope for us. Will you kindly read earlier in this chapter and notice how strikingly parallel it is to our text — “For whatever things were written previously were written for our learning, so that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” [Ro 15:4] See, then, the God of hope is revealed in Scripture with the intention of inspiring us with hope. If we would be filled with faith, joy, and peace, it must be by believing the truths presented in the Scriptures. Before we have any inward basis for hope, God himself, as revealed in the Bible, must be our hope. We must not ask for joy first and then base our faith upon it, but our joy must grow out of our faith, and that must rest upon God alone. Our apostle sets us an example of how to use the Scriptures, for in this chapter he searches out the truth from Moses, and David, and Isaiah, and then puts one text with another and gets a clear view of the testimony of God. What is very much to our point, he sees in those Scriptures that to us Gentiles God has of old been presented in the Scriptures as the God of hope. Previously it seemed as if salvation were for the Jews and for the Jews only, and we were excluded; but now, on turning to the Old Testament itself, we discover that God had spoken good things concerning us before we knew him. There was always hope for the Gentiles, and though Israel did not perceive it, yet patriarchs and kings and prophets very often spoke words which could not otherwise be interpreted. “In you and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” is a promise which exceeded the boundaries of Canaan. Just as, then, by searching the apostle found in the word of God hope for the Gentiles, so the most heavy laden and burdened spirit will discover sources of consolation if the Bible is diligently read and faithfully believed. Every promise is meant to inspire the believer with hope; therefore use it for that purpose. Use the written word as the source of comfort, and do not look for dreams, excitements, impressions, or feelings. Faith deals with the Scriptures and with the God of hope as revealed in it, and out of these it draws its fulness of joy and peace. Beloved, if you desire to get faith in Christ, or to increase it, be diligent in knowing and understanding the gospel of your salvation as presented in the word of God. “Faith comes by hearing,” or by reading the word of God. How shall you believe what you do not know? Do not at once make an effort to believe before you are instructed, but first know what God has revealed, see how he has revealed to you the hope of everlasting life, and then believe with all your heart the testimony of God. Every promise and word of God must be for you a foundation most sure and steadfast upon which to build your hope. Let your anchor grasp and hold to each revealed truth, whatever your feelings may be. We begin then by saying that fulness of joy and peace comes to us from the God of hope as he reveals himself in Holy Writ. As it is written, “Hear, and your soul shall live,” so we find that we must hear if our soul is to rejoice.
7. Now, it so happens that the Scriptures were not only written that the Gentiles might have hope, but that they might have joy. I ask you to notice the passages quoted by the apostle, for at least the last three of them call us to joy. Moses says, “Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.” [Ro 15:10] If there is any joy for the elect nation, it is for us also who believe. If there is any joy for Israel redeemed out of Egypt, led through the Red Sea, fed with manna, and brought to the borders of Canaan, that joy is for us also; if any joy over the burnt offering, if any joy at the paschal supper, if any delight at the jubilee, all that joy may be shared by us, for thus says the Lord, “Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.” Rejoice in their joy. Again, David says, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; and laud him, all you people.” [Ro 15:11] Now, where there is praise there is joy, for joy is a component element of it. Those who praise the Lord properly rejoice before him. Go, you Gentiles, when David invites you to unite with Israel in praising God, he invites you to take full possession of the joy which moves the favoured nation to magnify the Lord. Again, Isaiah says, “There shall be a root of Jesse, and he who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust,” or, as it should be translated, “hope.” Now, hope is always the source of joy. So, then, in the Scriptures we see God is the God of hope, and on further search we see that the hope of the Gentiles permits them to rejoice with his people; in particular, we see that God himself is the hope of all those who know him, and the consequent source of joy and peace.
8. Again, then, I am brought to this, that, to begin with, the joy and peace which we all desire to obtain must be sought through a knowledge of the God of hope, as he is revealed to us by the Scriptures. We must begin with that sure word of testimony to which we do well if we take heed as to a light that shines in a dark place. There must be belief in God as revealed in the word, even though as yet we see no change within ourselves, nor any conceivable internal reason in our nature for hope or joy. Blessed is he who has not seen and yet has believed, he who can hang upon God without the comfort of inward experience is on the high road to being filled with joy and peace.
9. But the apostle in the text leads us through the Scriptures to God himself, who is personally to fill us with joy and peace; by which I understand that he is to become the great object of our joy. Just as Israel in the Red Sea triumphed in the Lord, even so we rejoice in God by our Lord Jesus Christ. Like David, we say, “Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy”; and with Isaiah we sing, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall be joyful in my God.” When first the Lord looked upon us through the windows of his word we began to hope; eventually his good Spirit caused our hoping to grow into believing, and since then, as our knowledge of the Lord has increased, our believing has risen to fulness of joy. Our God is a blessed God, so that to believe in him is to find rest for the soul, and to commune with him is to dwell in bliss. Beloved, 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 as “the terrible crystal,” [Eze 1:22] and you learn to build it into the foundation of your joy. The holiness of God which previously awed you becomes supremely attractive when you see it revealed in the person of Jesus Christ your Lord. How charming is “the glory of God in the face of Christ.” As for the love of God, as you see it presented in this book and in his Son, it inspires you with every sacred passion. As for his eternal immutability, it becomes the groundwork of your peace, for if he does not change, then all his promises will stand sure to you and to all his people from generation to generation. His power, which was once so terrible in the thunder and in the storm, now becomes delightful to you as you see it yoked to the promise so that the promise may be fulfilled, and behold it concentrated in the man Christ Jesus so that his purposes may be achieved. In conclusion, there is no attribute of God, there is no purpose of God, there is no deed of God, there is no aspect under which God is seen, that does not become the object of the Christian’s joy when he has seen him and believed in him as revealed in the Scriptures. To the believer God is his sun, his shield, his portion, his delight, his all. His soul delights herself in the Lord. At first he hoped in God that perhaps he would smile upon him: he turned to the Scriptures, and he found there many a cheering declaration, and these he knew to be true, and therefore he believed God that he would do as he had said; and now not only has his hope become faith, but his faith has budded and blossomed and produced the almonds of joy and peace. You see, then, how the Lord is the author of all our holy gladness.
10. Our God is, however, called the God of hope, not only because he is the object of our hope, and the basis of our joy and peace, but because it is he who creates hope and joy in us. No joy is worth the having unless the Lord is the beginning and the end of it, and no joy is worth receiving unless it springs from hope in him. He must breathe peace upon us, or else the storm-tossed waters of our spirit will never rest, nor is it desirable that they should, for peace without God is stupefaction, joy without God is madness, and hope without God is presumption. In true believers their hope, faith, joy, and peace are all equally of divine workmanship. Our spiritual clothing is never homespun; we are divinely arrayed from head to foot.
11. This blessed name of “God of hope” belongs to the New Testament, and is a truly gospel title. Livy tells us that the Romans had a god of hope, but he says that the temple was struck by lightning, and in a later book he adds that it was burned to the ground. This is extremely typical of whatever hope can come to nations which worship gods of their own making. All hopes based on idols must perish beneath the wrath of the Most High. The God of human nature unenlightened, is only sufficiently enlightened to discover its sin, is the God of terror; in fact, to many, the Lord is the God of despair: but when you turn to the revelation of God in Scripture, you find him to be a God whose gracious character inspires hope, and henceforth you turn away from everything else to fix your hope on God alone. “My soul, wait only upon God, for my expectation is from him.” God, in Christ Jesus, has ceased to be the dread of men, and has become their hope. Our Father and our Friend, we look to you for everything. And blessed be God, the hope which he creates is a hope worthy of him. It is a Godlike hope — a hope which helps us to purify ourselves. At first we hope in God for cleansing from every sin, and then for acceptance here and hereafter. We hope for pardon through the atonement which is in Christ Jesus, and when we have it, we hope for sanctification by the Spirit. Our hope never ceases to rise higher and higher, and to receive fulfilment after fulfilment, and we know that it shall continue to do so until we rise to dwell at his right hand for ever and ever. He who grasps this hope has a soul-satisfying portion, for which a man might well be content to suffer a thousand martyrdoms if he might only remain in it. It is a hope which only God would have contrived for man — a hope founded in himself; a hope presented to the sons of men in Christ Jesus because his sacrifice has been presented and accepted; a hope which God alone can inspire in men, for even if they hear the gospel they do not find hope until he comes in power to their souls: a hope which always adores God, and lies low at his feet, never dreaming of being independent of him; a hope which lays her crown at his feet, and takes him to be her Lord for ever and ever. This is the hope which is the mother of our joy and peace, and only as it is accomplished in us by the Lord can we be truly happy and restful.
12. II. Secondly, let us enquire, WHAT IS THIS BLESSED STATE OF MIND of which we have spoken a little? Let us look into the words. He says, “That the God of hope may fill you with all joy and peace in believing.” It is a most pleasant state of mind, for to be filled with joy is a rare delight, reminding one of heaven.
13. It is, however, a state as safe as it is pleasant, for the man who has a joy which God gives him may be quite relaxed in the enjoyment of it. The best of the world’s joy is only for a season; while you are enjoying it you are in fear because it will soon be over, and what then? Earth’s best candles will soon burn out. The day of this world’s mirth will end in a night of misery. This thought mars and sours all fleeting joys; but the joy which God gives has no second thoughts about it. It is wholesome and safe and enduring. We may drink our fill without being sickened, yes, revel in it without excess.
14. At the same time it is most profitable joy, for the more a man has of this joy the better man he will be. It will not soften him and render him effeminate, for it has an exceptional strengthening power about it. There is, doubtless, a tonic influence in sorrow, but holy joy is also extremely invigorating, for it is written, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” 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. The more you rejoice in God the more you will recommend true religion. The more full of delight you are, especially in trying times, the more you will glorify God. Few things are at the same time both pleasant and profitable, but holy joy and peace possess that double excellence. Fulness of spiritual joy is both the index and the means of spiritual strength. I commend this state, therefore, to you. I trust that we shall not be so unbelieving as to be afraid of heaven’s own consolations, nor so unreasonable as to decline to be filled with joy and peace when they may be had by believing.
15. Now, notice, that it is a state which has varieties in it. It is joy and peace; and it may be either. Sometimes the believer is full of joy. Joy is active and expressive; it sparkles and flashes like a diamond; it sings and dances like David before the ark. To be filled with holy joy is a delightful excitement of the sweetest kind; may you often experience it, until strangers are compelled to infer that the Lord has done great things for you. Nevertheless, the flesh is weak, and might hardly endure continuous delight, and so there comes a relief, in the lovely form of peace, in which the heart is really joyous, but after a calm and quiet manner. I have seen the bell ringers make the pinnacles of a church tower reel to and fro while they have made the joy-bells sound out to the full, and then they have played quietly, and let the clappers settle down again. Even like this joy strains the man, but peace comes in to give him rest. In this peace there is not much to exhilarate, not much which could fittingly be spoken out in song; but silence, full of infinite meaning, becomes the flood-gate of the soul. You do not seek the exalting assembly, but the calm shadow and the quiet room. You are as happy as you were in your joy, but not so stirred and moved. Peace is joy resting, and joy is peace dancing. Joy cries hosanna before the Well-Beloved, but peace leans her head on his bosom. In the midst of bereavements and sickness we may scarcely be able to rejoice, but we may be at peace. When faith cannot break through a troop with her sacred joy she stands still and sees the salvation of God in hallowed peace. We work with joy and rest with peace. What a blessing it is that when we come to die if we cannot depart with the banners of triumphant joy all flying in the breeze, we can still fall asleep safely in the arms of peace. How pleasant a life do they lead who are not the subjects of any very great excitement, but maintain calm and quiet communion with God. Their heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord. They neither soar nor sink, but keep the even tenor of their way. It is a state of mind, then, which allows variations; and I really do not know which to choose out of its two forms. I should not like to be without joy, and yet I think there is something so solid about peace that I might almost give it the preference. I think I love the quiet sister the better of the two. That famous text in Isaiah — “They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint” looks somewhat like an anticlimax; it would appear to place the greatest first, and then the less, and then the least; but it is not so. The mounting up with wings as eagles must always be more or less temporary: we are not eagles, and cannot always be on the wing. The Lord renews our strength like the eagles, and this shows we are not always up to the eagle’s mark. Well, though it is a grand thing to be able to fly, it is a better thing to be able to run; this is more like a man, involves less danger, and is more practically useful. It is good to run, but even that is not the best journey pace: it is best of all to walk, for this is a steady, persevering pace to move at. “Enoch walked with God.” This is God’s pace, who even when he makes clouds his chariot is described as walking upon the wings of the wind. We read about the walk of faith, and the walk of holiness, for walking is practical, and is meant for every day. You young people, I like to see you run, and I am glad to take a turn at it myself, but, after all, steady, sober, unwearied walking is the best. To walk without fainting is a high practical attainment, and is none the less valuable because at first sight there seems nothing striking about it. Walking is the emblem of peace, and running and mounting up with wings as eagles are the emblems of joy.
But, beloved, this blessed state is also a compound, for we are
told at one and the same time to receive both wine and milk wine
exhilarating with joy, and milk satisfying with peace. “You shall go
out with joy, and be led out with peace.” You shall lie down in the
green pastures of delight, and be led by the still waters of
quietness. Our heart may be as an ocean, gloriously casting upward
its spray of joy, and lifting up its waves on high in delight, as one
claps his hands for joy; and yet, at the same time, just as down deep
in the coral caverns all is still and undisturbed, so may the heart
be quiet as a sleeping babe. We see no difficulty in understanding
both lines of the hymn —
My heart is resting, oh my God,
I will give thanks and sing.
We rest and praise, as trees hold to the earth by their roots, and
perfume the air with their bloom; as morning comes without sound of
trumpet, and yet awakens the music of birds by its arising. Ours is
no froth of joy; there is solid peace beneath our effervescence of
delight. We are happy to have learned how to combine two such choice
Joy is a fruit that will not grow
In nature’s barren soil;
All we can boast, till Christ we know,
Is vanity and toil.
But where the Lord has planted grace,
And made his glories known,
These fruits of heavenly joy and peace
Are found, and there alone.
18. Now, I want you to lay stress on the next observation I am about to make, because I began with it, and wish to leave it upon your minds as the chief thought. The joy and peace spoken of here 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, that we become full of joy; our peace does not arise from the marks, and evidences, and experiences which testify to us that we are the sons of God, but simply from believing. Our central joy and peace must always come to us, not as an inference from the internal work of the Spirit in our souls, but from the finished work of the Lord Jesus, and the promises of God contained in the Scriptures. We must continue to look beyond self to the written word where the Lord is presented before us, and we must rest in God in Christ Jesus as the main basis of our hope; not depending upon any other arguments than those supplied by the Bible itself. I will show eventually how we shall afterwards attain to a hope which flows out of the work of the Spirit within us; but at the first, and, I think, permanently and continuously, the main basis of the surest joy and truest peace must come to us through simply believing in Jesus Christ. Beloved, I know that I have been converted, for I am sure that there is a change of heart in me; nevertheless, my hope for eternal life does not hang upon the inward fact. I rest in the external fact that God has revealed himself in Jesus as blotting out the sin of all his believing people, and, as a believer, I have the word of God as my guarantee of forgiveness. This is my rest. Because I am a believer in Christ Jesus, therefore I have hope, therefore I have joy and peace, since God has declared that “he who believes in him has everlasting life.” This joy can only safely come through believing, and I urge you, brothers and sisters, never drift away from childlike faith in what God has said. It is very easy to obtain a temporary joy and peace through your present easy experience, but how will you do when all things within take a troublesome turn? Those who live by feeling change with the weather. If you ever put aside your faith in the finished work to drink from the cup of your own inward sensations, you will find yourself bitterly disappointed. Your honey will turn to gall, your sunshine into blackness; for all things which come from man are fickle and deceptive. The God of hope will fill you with joy and peace, but it will only be through believing. You will still have to stand as a poor sinner at the foot of the cross, trusting in the complete atonement. You will never have joy and peace unless you do. If you once begin to say, “I am a saint; there is something good in me,” and so on, you will find your joy to evaporate and peace to depart. Hold on to your believing.
19. Come back to the text again, and you will find that this joy and peace, according to Paul, are of a superlative character, for, after his manner, Paul makes language for himself. He often manufactures a superlative by the use of the word “all,” as here, “fill you with all joy.” He means with the best and highest degree of joy, with as much joy as you can hold, with the very choicest and most full of joys in earth or in heaven. May God give you the joy of joys, the light of delight, the heaven of heaven.
20. Then notice the comprehensiveness of his prayer. “All joy”; that is joy in God the Father’s love, joy in God the Son’s redeeming blood, joy in God the Holy Spirit’s indwelling; joy in the covenant of grace, joy in the seal and witness of it, joy in the promises, joy in the decrees, joy in the doctrines, joy in the precepts, joy in everything which comes from God, “all joy.” Paul also requests for them all peace, peace with God, peace of conscience, peace with each other, peace even with the outside world, as far as peace may be. May you all have it.
21. And now observe the degree of joy and peace which he wishes for them — “that you may be filled,” and that by the God of hope himself. God alone knows our capacity and where the vacuum lies which most needs filling. A man might try to fill us and fail, but God, who made us, knows every nook and cranny of our nature, and can pour in joy and peace until every portion of our being is flooded, saturated, and overflowed with delight. I like to remember David’s word, “The rain also fills the pools,” for even like this the Lord pours his grace upon the thirsty soil of our hearts until it stands in pools. Just as the sun fills the world with light, and enters into all places, even so the God of hope by his presence lights up every part of our nature with the golden light of joyous peace, until there is not a corner left for sadness or foreboding. This is Paul’s prayer, and he expects its answer to come to us through believing, and in no other way; he does not ask for us mysterious revelations, dreams, visions, or presumptuous persuasions; he seeks for us no excitement of fanaticism nor the intoxication of great crowds and pleasing oratory, neither does he seek that we may imagine ourselves to be perfect, and all that kind of stuff, but that we may be happy through simply believing in the God of hope as he is presented in the Bible. I take this book of God into my hands and say, “Whatever things are written here were written for my learning, so that through patience and comfort of the Scriptures I might have hope”; I do have hope, for I believe this book, and now I feel joy and peace welling up within my soul.
22. Brethren, receive this benediction! Oh Lord, fulfil it in the heart of every believer before you.
23. III. Now thirdly, WHAT DOES THIS LEAD TO?
24. “Lead to?” one says, “Lead to, why surely it is enough in itself. What more is needed?” When a man brings you into a room vaulted with diamonds and amethysts, and pearls and rubies; with walls composed of slabs of gold, and the floor made of solid pavements of 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 through believing so that we may by its means attain to something else, — “so that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” How often 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, so that we may come back to hope again and to abounding in it by the power of the Holy Spirit.
25. First, I notice that the hope here mentioned arises, not out of pure believing, but out of the joy created in us by our having believed. Hope led to faith, faith to joy, and now joy back again to hope. This is the story as far as I am concerned: — I began with believing. I felt nothing good within me, but I believed in what God revealed concerning himself. I saw nothing, but I believed, on the basis that God said so. I soon had joy and peace in my soul as the result of my faith, and now, because of this joy and peace, I hope and expect further blessings. Though still resting my soul upon the finished work of Jesus, yet hopes do arise from the work of the Holy Spirit within me. The God who has given me by believing to rejoice that the past is all atoned for, and who has given me peace because my sins are forgiven me for his name’s sake, will not dash that joy by revoking my pardon. He who has given me joy, because he has quickened me, and has, up to this day, preserved me, will not, I am persuaded, forsake me, and allow me to perish. Surely he will never leave me, after having done so much for me. My present joy gives me a hope, most sure and steadfast, that he will never turn his back upon me. If he did not intend to bless me in the future, he would not have done so much for me in the past, and he could not and would not be doing so much for me now.
26. This hope, you perceive, drinks its life at the fountain of personal experience. The first hope we ever know comes together with our simply believing the word of God, but now there arises in us an abounding of hope, which is the outgrowth of the inward life. Fear is banished now, for we have looked to the God of hope, and found acceptance in the Beloved. Now, therefore, in the place where fear formerly dwelt hope takes up its habitation; azure-winged, bright-eyed hope makes its nest there, and sings to us all the day long.
The text speaks of an abounding hope, and if you consider for a while
you will see that very much hope must arise for a Christian out of
his spiritual joy. If you have once been in the bosom of Jesus, and
known his joy, your hope will overflow. For example, you will
argue — he has pardoned my sin, and made me to rejoice as a forgiven
man: will he condemn me after all? What does the pardon mean if,
after all, the transgressions are to be laid upon me, and I am to
suffer for my sin? The believer has great joy because God’s love is
shed abroad in his soul, and he argues that if the Lord loves him so
intensely now, he will not undergo a change, and remove his love. He
who in love redeemed me by the blood of his Son will love me
eternally, for he does not change. Is this not a sound argument?
Grace enjoyed is a pledge of glory. Redeeming love is the guarantee
of preserving love. Acceptance with God today creates a blessed hope
of acceptance for ever. Faith and joy within the soul sing to
each other somewhat after this fashion: —
His smiles have freed my heart from pain,
My drooping spirits cheer’d;
And will he not appear again
Where he has once appeared?
Has he not form’d my soul anew,
And caused my light to shine;
And will he now his work undo,
Or break his word divine?
Perfectly assured of the Lord’s goodness, the man confronts the future without fear, and in due time approaches death without dismay. Since the Lord has begun to make us like his Son we conclude that he will perfect his work, and raise us from our graves in the full image of our Redeemer. He has already given us to know something of the joy of Christ, who prayed that his joy might be fulfilled in us so that our joy might be full, and therefore we are sure that we shall bask in the joy of heaven. We will, therefore, lie down in peace, and rest when our last day on earth shall come, for we shall rise with Jesus: of this we have no doubt. We shall enter into the joy of the Lord, for we have entered into it already. So out of peace and joy there grow the noblest of human hopes. Little enjoyment, like a small telescope, gives us only a faint prospect, but great enjoyment is a telescope of marvellous power, and brings great things near to us. Joy and peace are samples of heaven’s felicities, and set the soul both hoping and hungering. Having tasted of the grapes of Eshcol, we believe in the land which flows with milk and honey, and long to rest under the boughs which bear such luscious clusters. We have seen the celestial city far away, but the light of it is so surpassing that we have longed to walk its golden streets, indeed, and have felt sure of doing so before long. He who has seen a little of the light of the morning expects all the more eagerly the noonday. He who has waded into the river of joy up to the ankles, becomes eager to enter it still farther, until he finds it a river to swim in, where the soul is borne along by a sacred current of unutterable delight. Up, you saints, to your Pisgah of joy, for there you shall have a full view of Canaan which stretches before you, and is soon to be yours. Whatever your joy and peace may be now you ought to see at once that they are meant to be only a platform from which you are to look for something even brighter and better; you are filled with joy and peace so that you may abound in hope.
28. Our apostle rightly adds, “by the power of the Holy Spirit,” for I take it that this is partly mentioned by way of caution, because there are hopes arising out of inward experience which may turn out to be fallacious, and therefore we must discriminate between the hope of nature and the hope of grace. I have heard young people say, “I know I am saved, because I am so happy.” Do not be too sure of that. Many people think themselves very happy, and yet they are not saved. The world has a happiness which is a fatal sign, and a peace which is the sign of spiritual death. Discernment, therefore, is needed lest we mistaken the calm before a storm for the rest which the Lord gives to those who come to him. Hope may arise out of our joy, but we must be careful not to base our confidence on it, or we shall have a sandy foundation. The solid grace of hope which abides and remains in the soul is born by faith through the word; it is only the abounding of hope which comes out of our joy and peace. Let me begin again with you lest there should be any mistake. You hear of the God of hope, and are led to believe in God as he is revealed in Scripture. So far all is plain sailing. If you believe in the Christ of God, you obtain joy and peace, but these are results, not causes: you must not begin with your own joy and peace, and say, “My hope of salvation is built upon the happiness I have felt recently.” This will never do. Begin first of all with the Scriptures, not with your feelings or fancies, nor with your impressions and excitements: these will be ruinous as a foundation. Begin with God revealed in Christ Jesus as the God of hope, and let your joy and your peace come from your believing in him: then afterwards it will be fair enough to draw arguments for the aboundings of hope, but it must be by the Holy Spirit. That hope which is worth having, which springs from inward experience, must still be accomplished in us by the Holy Spirit, and I will show you how it is natural that it should be so. We ask ourselves, “How shall I hold on to the end?” The answer will be suggested by another question, “How have I held on until now?” I feel now a joy and peace because my faith has been sustained until this day, how have I been preserved so far? By the Holy Spirit. Then he is able to keep me to the end. I feel joy and peace already, because in some measure sin is conquered in me. How will my soul be even further sanctified and sin cast out of me? Why, by the same Holy Spirit, who has already renewed me. I have had a sample of what he can do, and therefore I have an abounding of hope of what he will do. My joyful experience of his indwelling, comforting, illuminating, and sanctifying power leads me into a full and confident assurance that he will carry on the work of grace, and present me complete at the last great day.
Beloved, go forward, keeping close to the groundwork of faith, and
you will feel joy and peace in your hearts. At such times give free
rein to your hope. Expect what you wish. “Eye has not seen, nor ear
heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which
God has prepared for those who love him.” Expect great things, expect
things beyond all expectation. Your largest hopes shall all be
exceeded. Hope, and hope, and still hope again, and each time hope
more and more, but the Lord will give you more than you have hoped
for. When you enter his palace gates at the last, you will say, “My
imagination never conceived it, my desires never encompassed it, my
hope never expected it; the glory surpasses all. The tenth has not
been told to me of the things which God had provided for me.”
“ ‘Rejoice in the Lord always’: and again I say, ‘Rejoice.’ ” Amen.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ro 15]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Sufferings and Death — The Shepherd Smitten” 291]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Security in Christ — Accepted And Safe” 738]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Joy and Peace — Spiritual Apparel” 721]
Jesus Christ, Sufferings and Death
291 — The Shepherd Smitten
1 Like sheep we went astray,
And broke the fold of God;
Each wandering in a different way,
But all the downward road.
2 How dreadful was the hour
When God our wanderings laid,
And did at once his vengeance pour
Upon the Shepherd’s head!
3 How glorious was the grace
When Christ sustain’d the stroke!
His life and blood the Shepherd pays,
A ransom for the flock.
4 His honour and his breath
Were taken both away;
Join’d with the wicked in his death,
And made as vile as they:
5 But God shall raise his head
O’re sons of men to reign,
And make him see a numerous seed,
To recompense his pain.
6 “I’ll give him,” said the Lord,
“A portion with the strong;
He shall possess a large reward,
And hold his honours long.”
Isaac Watts, 1709, a.
The Christian, Privileges, Security in Christ
738 — Accepted And Safe <8s.>
1 A debtor to mercy alone,
Of covenant mercy I sing;
For fear, with thy righteousness on,
My person and offering on bring:
The terrors of law, and of God,
With me can have nothing to do;
My Saviour’s obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view.
2 The work which his goodness began,
The arm of his strength will complete;
His promise is yea and amen,
And never was forfeited yet:
Things future, nor things that are now,
Not all things below nor above,
Can make him his purpose forego,
Or sever my soul from his love.
3 My name from the palms of his hands,
Eternity will not erase;
Impress’d on his heart it remains
In marks of indelible grace:
Yes, I to the end shall endure,
As sure as the earnest is given;
More happy, but not more secure,
The glorified spirits in heaven.
Augustus M. Toplady, 1771.
The Christian, Joy and Peace
721 — Spiritual Apparel
1 Awake, my heart; arise, my tongue;
Prepare a tuneful voice,
In God the life of all my joys,
Aloud will I rejoice.
2 ‘Twas he adorn’d my naked soul,
And made salvation mine!
Upon a poor polluted worm
He makes his graces shine.
3 And lest the shadow of a spot
Should on my soul be found,
He took the robe the Saviour wrought,
And cast it all around.
4 How far the heavenly robe exceeds
What earthly princes wear!
These ornaments, how bright they shine!
How white the garments are!
5 The Spirit wrought my faith and love,
And hope, and every grace;
But Jesus spent His life to work
The robe of righteousness.
6 Strangely, my soul, art thou array’d
By the great Sacred Three!
In sweetest harmony of praise
Let all thy powers agree.
Isaac Watts, 1709.