The Christian experience advances from FAITH to HOPE and from HOPE to LOVE in Romans 5:1-5—
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Here Paul states six blessings we have gained through our Lord Jesus Christ by faith:
- We are justified by
- We have peace with
- We have access into the grace of
- We have hope of the glory of
- We have in our hearts the love of
- We have been given the Spirit of
Notice that all three Persons of the Trinity (God, the Father, Son and Spirit) play an active part in these six blessings.
Hope frequently disappoints. Whether or not events in life move from hope to hopelessness, there can be no doubt that hope frequently disappoints. Cicero coined the phrase that has become proverbial, “While there’s life, there’s hope.” But Thomas Shadwell said, “Hope is a very thin diet.” There are people without hope according to 1 Thessalonians 4:13—
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.
There are also those who cling to illusory or deceptive hope according to Proverbs 11:7—
When a wicked man dies, his hope perishes; all he expected from his power comes to nothing.
But those who have been justified by faith and have been reconciled with God cherish the kind of hope that does not disappoint. Their hope is firmly anchored in God’s redeeming love.
Another way of expressing the same thought is: their hope is moored to the throne of grace, that is, to that which is “within the curtain,” where Jesus is seated at God’s right hand. He is living forevermore to intercede for His people. Therefore, the Christian’s HOPE DOES NOT DISAPPOINT.
The Greek word translated DISAPPOINT also means ASHAMED or DISHONORED. This may mean, either that hope will not be disappointed, or that hope will not allow us to be ashamed. Various passages, such as Daniel 12:2, speak of the believer as not being put to shame on Judgment Day—
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.
Certainly, all who possess the hope of the glory of God will not be disappointed or experience shame on this day. Our expectation and anticipation is everlasting life, not everlasting contempt. The blessed assurance of our future destiny keeps us from being disappointed or ashamed. That’s future!
Besides this future meaning, HOPE affects the believer’s present. When we are inclined to be ashamed of the Gospel or disappointed in the midst of trials and sufferings, hope keeps our faith strong so it does not fade and grow weak. And vice versa, God employs our faith to produce hope.
FAITH and HOPE work in concert with each other. Yet, another note is needed to achieve perfect harmony. That note is introduced with the casual particle BECAUSE in Romans 5:5—
And hope does not disappoint us, BECAUSE God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
GOD’S LOVE is the strong reason why HOPE does not make us ashamed or disappoint us. HUMAN LOVE may bring disappointment and frustration, but not the love of God. The Holy Spirit produces in born again believers an immediate and overflowing consciousness that we are the object of God’s redeeming love, and this is the guarantee that this hope will not disappoint us.
A hope that is not rationally founded will have its expectation cut off; and then shame and confusion will be the portion of its possessor. But our hope is of a different kind; it is founded on the truth of God; and our religious experience shows us that we will not be disappointed. The Holy Spirit assures us that we will receive our inheritance. He is an infallible proof, pledge, deposit of the fulfillment of all that God has promised according to 2 Corinthians 5:4-5—
For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
We have the most solid and convincing testimony of God’s love in our hearts. God’s love is not rationed out drop by drop. On the contrary, by the Holy Spirit it is POURED OUT into the hearts of the redeemed.
The LORD God has never poured out His Spirit upon the unredeemed. There is a great illustration of this in the OT ceremony of the cleansing of a person with an infectious skin disease in Leviticus 14:14-17—
The priest is to take some of the blood of the guilt offering and put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot.
The priest shall then take some of the log of oil, pour it in the palm of his own left hand, dip his right forefinger into the oil in his palm, and with his finger sprinkle some of it before the LORD seven times. The priest is to put some of the oil remaining in his palm on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot, on top of the blood of the guilt offering.
A concordance of the Bible will show that OIL is the symbol of the Holy Spirit, just as the BLOOD is the symbol of the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And of course, the PERSON WITH AN INFECTIOUS SKIN DISEASE symbolizes the sinner. The infectious person was unfit for fellowship and not permitted in the camp until disease had been healed and the person ritually cleansed.
In this act of cleansing the OIL was not put upon THE FLESH but upon THE BLOOD. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is not given to the unregenerate but only to those who place their faith in the redeeming blood of the Savior. Faith in the blood of Christ always precedes the giving of the Holy Spirit.
First the blood, then the oil. The OT ritual assumed the person had been healed of the disease. The actual healing, like the forgiveness of sin, could be brought about by God alone. Titus 3:4-7 interprets this OT ceremony in NT terms—
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
The order is always the same in the NT. Sinners believe in Jesus Christ, they receives the Holy Spirit, and then they are baptized with water, which ceremonially proclaims their salvation wrought by God.
The Triune God provides everything necessary for salvation but faith. When sinners place their faith in Christ, they are healed of sin; God pours out His Spirit; they are cleansed of sin; and are born again— having been made a new creation in Christ.
POURED OUT (ekkecutai) means the Holy Spirit is supplied freely, abundantly, generously, lavishly. He is spread abroad in our hearts, filling, quickening, and invigorating all our powers and faculties.
This poured out love is the spring of all our actions; it is the motive of our obedience; the power through which we love God and others.
The initial outpouring took place on the day of Pentecost A.D. 33. The disciples were all together in one place when they heard and saw the Spirit coming.
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them (Acts 2:1-4).
One of the symbols in Scriptures for the Holy Spirit is WIND. He is pictured as the BREATH OF GOD. In fact, the same Greek and Hebrew words for SPIRIT are often translated WIND or BREATH, depending on the context. The arrival of the Holy Spirit from heaven is a supernatural event.
In the OT, fire is often a symbol of God’s presence in respect to holiness, judgment, and grace. For example, Moses heard the voice of Yahweh in the burning bush. God’s presence was in the pillar of fire that protected and led the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land. Fire destroyed the sacrifice of Elijah at Mt. Carmel; and a chariot of fire took Elijah to heaven.
On Pentecost Day 1446 B.C., Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. On this day, God spoke the Ten Commandments and Israel became God’s covenant people.
On Pentecost A.D. 33, God descended from heaven as TONGUES OF FIRE and the Church became God’s covenant people. Why tongues of fire?
The tongues of fire represented the power of God, especially His love poured out into disciples’ hearts by the Holy Spirit. Every flame that rises from this pure and vigorous fire must be pleasing in God’s sight.
Love consumes what is unholy; refines every passion and appetite; glorifies the whole, and assimilates all to itself. And we know that this is the love of God; it differs widely from all that is earthly and sensual. God’s love is defined for us in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8—
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
LOVE in the OT is defined in different terms. One day an expert in the Law asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied—
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matthew 22:36-40).
HUMANS are woefully incapable of LOVE as defined in 1 Corinthians 13 and the Ten Commandments. No one can muster up this kind of love without the Holy Spirit. Therefore, God promised in Ezekiel 36:25-27—
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
We know this promise as the NEW COVENANT. This is what Jesus referred to in the Upper Room, when after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the NEW COVENANT in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
Four chapters (14-17) of John’s Gospel are devoted to the rest of that evening as Jesus explains to His disciples the connection between love and the Holy Spirit. Turn to John 14:15-21—
If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you for ever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
Before long, the world will not see me any more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
Jesus teaching is very clear—the presence of the Holy Spirit in our life is substantiated by our obeying His commands, which shows the love of God has been poured out in our hearts. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, we cannot live the Ten Commandments from the inside-out as Jesus’ commanded in the Sermon on the Mount. Therefore, we need the love of God and His Spirit poured out into our hearts.
The initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost A.D. 33 is repeated every time a person repents and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The verb POURED OUT brings to mind all kinds of images of God in the Bible. He pours out His wrath; He pours out His mercy; He pours out His blessings; He pours out His love; and He pours out His Spirit.
POUR OUT is reminiscent of Moses striking the rock at Mt. Horeb and water coming out to abundantly satisfy the thirsty Israelites in the desert. As water sustains physical life, so the Spirit sustains spiritual life.
The ROCK typified Jesus according to 1 Corinthians 10:4—
For they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.
Moses had to strike the Rock before water poured out of it. Likewise, God had to strike Christ before the Holy Spirit could be poured out. And of course, the WATER from the Rock symbolized the Holy Spirit, whom the Father would sent forth from the Son into the believer.
Christ identifies himself with this OT imagery in John 7:37-39—
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
As water permeates every part of our body, the Holy Spirit is a life giving source pervading every part of our heart with God’s love. So we are fitted for every good word and work. We have produced in us the mind that was in Christ. We are enabled to obey the pure law of our God in its spiritual sense, by loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and our neighbor as ourselves. Hence, streams of living water will flow from within us.
This is, or ought to be, the common experience of every genuine believer. To love with God’s love. When we love this way, we have the full assurance of salvation and hope for eternity.
Also to have one’s faith proved by God in the fires of suffering and sustained by Him so as to stand the test is to have one’s hope in Him and in the fulfillment of His promises, strengthened and confirmed. In these two ways, our hope of the glory of God is built up in faith.
Notice that the Holy Spirit is GIVEN, that is, bestowed through the grace of God, and not awarded for our merits or works. He is received simultaneously and instantaneously the moment we are made alive through faith in the blood of Christ. Let me explain this by an analogy.
When young woman comes into the church to be married, several things take place when I say, “By the authority invested in me under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy spirit, I know pronounce you man and wife.”
For example, she came into the church with one name and she goes out with another. She also comes in with one LEGAL status and she goes out with another. Now she is bound to her husband by law—the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and God. But there are still other changes.
There is a PSYCHOLOGICAL change—she knows and feels a subtle difference between being single and married. God has performed a mystical union of oneness. There is also a SOCIAL change—now she has left her parent’s for her own home. She is expected to be hospitable, and to return social favors.
Which change takes first? The answer is that all occur at the same moment. The name change, legal change, psychological change, social change, all occur instantaneously and simultaneously.
So it is when God enters our heart with His Spirit and make us alive in Christ. At that moment our body becomes Temple of the Holy Spirit, we are born of the Spirit into the family of God, and baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ, and we are sealed with the Spirit for a day of redemption. All these things takes place simultaneously and instantaneously.
None of these is what some people call a second work of grace. There is further work of the Holy Spirit, however, which in the Scriptures is called THE FILLING OF THE SPIRIT, but this is not to be confused with the works of the Spirit at the moment one believes. As we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the fruit of the Spirit will become more evident in our life.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
There is a great difference between my being in Christ and Christ living in us. Paul said in Galatians 2:20—
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
That’s to be the experience of every born again believer. By the Spirit, Christ comes to dwell in us. We are to be dominated by Him since He is our Lord and Savior. Each believer is to be possessed by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit so that infinite purpose of God may be worked out within our life and personality. That’s the point of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:16-21—
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fulness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
God’s has poured out His love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit—we cannot begin to grasp the depths of the boundaries of that love. It is a power within us that reaches beyond our ability to imagine. God’s love stretches far beyond sky to sky and from sea to sea.
Suppose I went down to the shore of THE ATLANTIC OCEAN and I dipped a pint jar into that vast ocean, filled it, and brought it back to a town in central Pennsylvania. Then I showed my filled jar to someone who has never seen the Atlantic Ocean. That person will look in vain to see what the ocean really is. All I can show him is a pint of seawater. There will be none of the mighty sweep of distance, the power of the waves, the swelling of ocean surfaces, and the wonders of its depths. I cannot put into a bottle the combing breakers or the vast reaches of the sea.
Yet, God has filled our hearts with far more than the Atlantic Ocean, when he poured out His love into them by the Holy Spirit. He does not plan to make us as little beings to display pints of His power. His goal is Romans 8:29-30—
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
When we reach eternity, we will discover that He is still expanding our capacity, still filling us with Himself, and that He will continue to do so forever. It is God’s divine decree that we be conformed to Christ’s likeness. That’s the plan. And becoming like Christ begins at the moment of salvation when He puts Himself within us.
Since God has given us His Holy Spirit, it is possible for us to please Him, to walk in His ways, and to solve our daily problems. That’s why we can rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us.