1Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
6For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person - though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. 9Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. 11But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
I call your attention to hope. The boasting that Paul speaks of is his supreme confidence: he is supremely confident in the hope of sharing God's glory. That is, Paul is certain that the purpose for which God has created us will be fulfilled by God. There is absolutely no doubt about this, according to the Apostle Paul. Paul is even supremely confident in the sufferings that come to followers of Christ, because suffering leads to something else, i.e., endurance. Endurance, in turn, builds character; character, in turn, produces hope.
So whichever way you look, there is hope, from "A to Z," from the glory to the suffering. Hope covers the whole spectrum, from the joyous expectation about a great future to the immediate challenges and sufferings that come our way.
Biblical hope is not sheer optimism. It's not just a good attitude. Biblical hope is always grounded in theological reality. Biblical hope is based on God's love, as it is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit and objectively shown in the death of Christ. This love was objectively demonstrated in the past. This love is subjectively experienced in the present through the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5).
Paul moves from faith (v.1) to hope (vv.2, 4-5) to love (v.5). As well as in I Corinthians 13:13 and 1 Thessalonians 1:3, Paul connects the triad of faith, hope, and love as the core traits the characterize the Christian life. [Much later on, Thomas Aquinas and others will call these the three theological virtues that the Spirit of God imparts into the believer's heart.]
I've called your attention to hope to underline the truth that biblical hope is made of sturdy stuff. It is not wishful thinking. It is not positive thinking. It is not a psychological edge for success. It is none of these. Biblical hope is objectively established by the supreme sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Biblical hope is objectively released by the Holy Spirit as the Spirit pours the love of God into our hearts. A groundless hope we would call mere optimism. A grounded hope we would call truth. This hope is unshakable. This hope is for you.
Let's pray: Father God, we come before you today as amazed recipients of your great love, demonstrated on the cross of Jesus and experienced in our lives as the Spirit ministers to us. May we appreciate more deeply and understand with greater clarity the substance of our hope. We confess it is not wishy washy. It is not sentimental. It is not a head-in-the-sand delusion. It is grounded in truth -- the truth of what happened in the death and resurrection of Jesus and the truth of God's love continuously poured out into our hearts. May we be people of biblical hope! In Jesus' name, amen.