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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles

Chapter 59 - Romans 15:13 - Joy and Peace in Believing Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius


It will be good to take this apostolic prayer to pieces, and mark each separate part and truth.

I. The hope. It is of the things hoped for that the apostle is speaking. It is not to "hope," or to "a hope," but to "the hope," that he is pointing. It is not that thing called "hope," as springing up in our breasts, that he would have us dwell upon; it is the glory to be revealed, the hope which is laid up for us in heaven. This is the bright star on which he fixes our eye. The inheritance, the kingdom, the glory, the new heavens and earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness; these make up what the apostle announces as the church's hope, her one resplendent hope, which is to be realized when her Lord appears. This is the hope that fills up her future, and sheds brightness on her present, even amid all her "heaviness through manifold temptations."

II. The God of the hope. Of that hope He is the beginning, the middle, and the end; the center and the circumference; its root, and stem, and branches; its seed, its blossom, and its fruit. There is not one of these "things hoped for" but is to be traced to Him as its sole fountain head. Hence its peculiar blessedness and glory; hence also the security which we have for its realization when the fullness of the time is come. That hope cannot fail us, because the God of the hope is faithful and true. He will most surely introduce us into its glory; or rather, He will make that glory rise on us like the glory of the rising sun.

III. Fill you with all joy and peace. There is joy; 'joy unspeakable and full of glory"; but it is not of earth. It comes down from heaven. There is peace; the peace which passeth all understanding; but its fountain is above. It is God who gives these; and He does so as "the God of the hope." The author of the hope is the provider of the joy and the peace; so that we may be sure these will be like Himself, and like the hope. They will be like the hope, and the hope will be like them; they the earnest of the hope; and the hope their consummation and fullness. This God of the hope not only gives the joy and peace, but He fills us with them; nay, He fills us with all joy and peace, leaving out no part of the joy and the peace, and leaving no part of us unfilled! Blessed and glorious petition, "the God of the hope fill you with all joy and peace"!

IV. In believing. This joy and peace, though heavenly in their origin and nature, were not miraculous. They did not gush up into the soul like water springing from the sand by some supernatural touch. They found their way into the soul by a very natural, very simple, but very effectual channel,—the belief of God's good hews about His only begotten Son. They were not the reward of believing; they were not purchased by believing nor did they come in after believing: they were obtained in believing. Faith did nothing but hand in its report to the soul. That report was both glad and true. As soon then as the report thus found its way in, all was changed. The joy and the peace which that report contained filled the soul. And as it was thus that the joy and peace came in, so it is thus that they continue in. They began in believing, and they are maintained in precisely the same way; so that if at any time they are interrupted, we must have recourse to the same report which gladdened us at first, and which is still as sufficient to gladden us again. The thing that gladden us was the thing which we believed. Not our way of believing it; not the quality nor the quantity of our faith; but simply the thing believed the glad tidings of great joy concerning Him who died, and was buried, and rose again. If the thing believed proves ineffectual to gladden, no considerations as to the satisfactory nature or composition of our own faith will prove sufficient. The attempt to believe in our own faith instead of believing in Christ must be abortive both in itself and in its results; and the incessant efforts of some to get up a faith worthy of being believed in, and capable of recommending them to God, are the dictate and the development of as hateful a self-righteousness as was ever exhibited by ancient Pharisee or modern Romanist. No. When the God of the hope fills us with all joy and peace, He does so by presenting us with objects full of joy and peace, so that, in believing, we are filled with the blessedness which they contain.

V. That ye may abound in the hope. The hope not only fills, but overflows, as the word "abound" might be rendered. It comes in and lights up the soul with its heavenly brightness; but it does more. It is so glorious and so boundless that the soul cannot contain it. We fix our eye on it; and as we gaze it expands, and enlarges, and intensifies. It grows brighter, and more real, and more excellent as we continue to dwell upon it. Our faith becomes more and more the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

VI. Through the power of the Holy Ghost. He comes in and dwells in us; thus working in us from within, not from without. He comes in as the Spirit of power, and love, and of a sound mind. He comes in as the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of faith, the Spirit of joy and peace, the Spirit of Christ. He comes in as "the seal " by which we are sealed unto the day of redemption; God's own seal which stamps us as God's property. He comes in as the witness, witnessing with our spirits that we are the sons of God. He comes in as the earnest of the inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession. He comes in, not in feebleness, but in power; in almighty power, to work a work in us and for us, which but for Him must remain unaccomplished forever.