Monday, July 5, 2021
Power of the Holy Spirit
When I saw this beautiful artwork by Krista Hamrick, I felt led to do a word study based on Romans 15:13:
ESV: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Amplified: May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.
NET Bible: Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Greek = “in the believing” or “as [you] believe,” with the object “him” supplied from the context.
NIV: May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace so you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
NLT: I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Phillips: May the God of Hope fill you with joy and peace in your faith, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, your whole life and outlook may be radiant and alive.
Wuest: Now the God of the hope fill you with every joy and hope in the sphere of believing, resulting in your super-abounding in the sphere of the hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Young's Literal: and the God of the hope shall fill you with all joy and peace in the believing, for your abounding in the hope in power of the Holy Spirit.
Pastor Ray Stedman writes: “What a magnificent verse! Whenever I am asked to give an autograph, I almost always include this verse in it. It is such a beautiful expression. Look how much you have got going for you. All the great words of the Christian faith appear here: hope, twice (once it is called "overflowing hope"); and joy, great joy; and peace, calmness and confidence; and trust, belief in a living God; and finally, the power of the Holy Spirit, the invisible force that can open doors and no man shuts them, and can shut and no man opens -- the power of God released among us.”
The God of Hope - The truths conveyed are that God is both the origin of hope and the object of our hope. God is the Source of hope and the Giver of hope. Stated another way, the great benefits (hope, joy, peace) Paul prays for the saints at Rome, cannot be possessed apart from God. In the same manner, believers today can possess them only as He gives them to us.
Pastor John Piper in discussing the name God of hope writes: ”Everything starts with God. If there is hope for joy that is deep and eternal it will be hope that is founded on God. Any other foundation will fail. God is, and God is a God of hope. This we must believe.”
Pastor Matthew Henry writes on the importance of God's names like the God of Hope: “It is good in prayer to fasten upon those names, titles, and attributes of God, which are most suitable to the errand we come upon, and will best serve to encourage our faith concerning it. Every word in the prayer should be a plea. Thus, should the cause be skillfully ordered, and the mouth filled with arguments. God is the God of hope. He is the foundation on which our hope is built, and he is the builder that doth himself raise it: he is both the object of our hope, and the author of it. That hope is but fancy, and will deceive us, which is not fastened upon God (as the goodness hoped for, and the truth hoped in), and which is not of his working in us.”
May...fill (pleroo) means literally to fill "to the brim.” Metaphorically, “pleroo” means to make complete in every particular, to pervade, to take possession of and ultimately to control. This is the same verb used by Paul to command the saints at Ephesus to be continually "filled with the Spirit." The idea is that what fills a person, exercises control over the person's affect, attitude and actions.
Pastor J B Phillips paraphrases this prayer: “May the God of Hope fill you with joy and peace in your faith, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, your whole life and outlook may be radiant and alive.
Abounding in hope ideally should be the description of every follower of Christ. Of all people, the Christian should be the one who manifests the inner strength (and Spirit) to look ahead with a contagious enthusiasm. God has given us hope, the absolute certainty of that God will do good to us in the future.
All joy and peace - "All" in Greek means all without exception. In other words Paul is praying not for a percentage, portion or fraction, but for all the joy and hope that God has promised to those who love Him! God is not a stingy grinch, but He is a gracious Giver and Paul desires that the saints at Rome (and you and I dear child of the Most High God) experience this supernatural joy and peace to the max!
Pastor Alexander Maclaren has a beautiful description of the joy given by the God of hope...”If I am living in an atmosphere of trust, then sorrow will never be absolute, nor have exclusive monopoly and possession of my spirit. But there will be the paradox, and the blessedness, of Christian experience, ‘as sorrowful yet always rejoicing.’ For the joy of the Christian life has its source far away beyond the swamps from which the sour drops of sorrow may trickle, and it is possible that, like the fabled fire that burned under water, the joy of the Lord may be bright in my heart, even when it is drenched in floods of calamity and distress.”
Joy (chara from chaíro = to rejoice) is one of Paul's great themes, with charas being used by him 21 times. The Christian life is to be a life of "JOY." It is founded on faith in Jesus, whose life on earth began as "good news of great joy for all people.” Joy is the deep-down sense of well-being that abides in the heart of the person who knows all is well between himself and the Lord and is independent of whether circumstances are favorable or unfavorable. Joy is God’s gift to believers, a component of the fruit of the Spirit. Nehemiah declared, "The joy of the Lord is your strength.” So Paul prays that they would be filled with all joy, that inner gladness and deep seated pleasure which is independent of one's external circumstances. It is a depth of assurance and confidence that ignites a cheerful heart. It is a cheerful heart that leads to cheerful behavior.
Pastor John Piper writes: “The pathway that the Spirit cuts through the jungle of our anxieties into the clearing of joy is the pathway of faith. Luke says of Stephen in Acts 6:5, that he was “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit,” and he says of Barnabas in Acts 11:24 that he was “a good man full of the Holy Spirit and of faith,” The two go together. If a person is filled with faith, he will be filled with the Spirit, the Spirit of joy and peace. The most important text in Paul’s writings to show this is Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Notice that it is in or by believing that we are filled with joy and peace. And it is by the Spirit that we abound in hope. When we put those two halves of the verse together, what we see is that through our faith (our believing) the Spirit fills us with his hope and thus with his joy and peace. And, of course since hope is such an essential part of being filled with joy by the Spirit, what we have to believe is that God is, as Paul says, the God of hope. We have to rivet our faith on all that he has done and said to give us hope.”
Pastor Jerry Bridges writes: “It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that we experience the joy of salvation and are enabled to rejoice even in the midst of trials. The Holy Spirit uses His Word to create joy in our hearts. Romans 15 contains an interesting connection between God and the Scriptures. God is the Source. The Scriptures are the means. Every believer needs this divine encouragement because our opposition is relentless, and there are plenty of disappointments along the way. Sometimes we think we’ve turned the corner on a particular sin, only to discover a few days later that we’ve merely gone around the block and are dealing with it again. But there is hope in our battle with sin, and it lies in placing our dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit, our ever-present Helper.
Pastor Warren Wiersbe defines joy as "that inward peace and sufficiency that is not affected by outward circumstances. This "holy optimism" keeps him going in spite of difficulties."
Pastor Donald Campbell writes: “Joy (chara) is a deep and abiding inner rejoicing which was promised to those who abide in Christ. It does not depend on circumstances because it rests in God’s sovereign control of all things.”
Peace (eirene from verb eiro = binding or joining together what is broken or divided) means literally that which has been bound together. It is freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions. Peace in this verse is that inward state of quiet which is independent of circumstances and is that inner attitude which God's Spirit gives His people. Note that this peace is only possible after one has been justified by faith and experienced peace with God. In short peace with God must precede and is the basis for the peace of God.
In believing - The Greek literally reads "in the believing" or as Pastor Kenneth Wuest renders it "in the sphere of the act of habitually believing."
Believing (pisteuo from pistis; pistos; related study = obedience of faith) means to consider something to be true and therefore worthy of trust. To have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy or ability of something or someone. “Pisteuo” means to entrust oneself to an entity in complete confidence. “To believe in” also conveys the implication of total commitment to the one trusted. To be confident about or to be firmly persuaded as to something. “Pisteuo” is in the present tense which pictures this believing is one's practice or lifestyle.
Pastor Ray Stedman helps us understand how “all joy and peace” is related to the phrase “in believing” as he writes: “What we need is to believe what we read in Scripture, and believe what we pray--that is the answer. These other things are merely mechanics which make possible the believing, but believing is the real answer. It isn't Bible reading, or prayer or Christian fellowship that unlocks the power of the Holy Spirit. It is believing what you read or what you pray. When you believe that Jesus Christ indwells you, when you believe that He is all that you need, when you believe that He intends to act through you, then you can act! You discover that all that he is becomes visible through you and accomplishes all that needs to be done. The result is power and joy and peace, as Paul prays here. This is the way I learned to drive a car, didn't you? I believe that, when I get into a car, there is gas in tank (and usually I am right) and there is an engine under the hood, and I believe that these are fully adequate to take this car over any road I choose to drive it, and I believe that all of it was designed to be responsive when I turn on the key and step on the gas. So I do it, and it works. I don't get into a car, and say to myself: "I believe there is gas in the tank, I believe there is an engine under the hood, I believe that it will work," then get out and start pushing! No! I do it, I try it, I step out on it, and it works! That is exactly what Paul is talking about. The God of hope cannot fill us with joy and peace if we don't believe -- which means to act on what we know. But it is when we believe and act that the power of the Holy Spirit begins to work through us and causes us to abound in hope -- for all around us are the evidences that God is at work accomplishing His purposes in our lives.
May abound (perisseuo from perissos = abundant, exceeding some number, measure, rank or need, over and above - from peri = in sense of beyond) means to cause to superabound, to be superfluous, to overflow, to be in affluence, to excel or to be in abundance with the implication of being considerably more than what would be expected (and in the present context certainly far more than we deserve!) Notice also that “perisseuo” is in the present tense which pictures the saints as continually abounding in this great quality of Spirit empowered hope. “Perisseuo” carries the idea of exceeding the requirements or of overflowing and is pictured by a river which overflows its banks! It means to exceed a fixed number or measure and so to be more than enough. Thus, “perisseuo” was used to describe what was "left over" of the loaves after Jesus had fed the 5000! God's supply exceeded their need. When the God of hope supplies hope there is more than enough so that some is even "left over" so to speak!
Hope (elpis) in Scripture is not the world's definition of "I hope so.” Hope is defined as a desire for some future good with the expectation of obtaining it. Hope is confident expectancy. Hope is the looking forward to something with some reason for confidence respecting fulfillment. Hope as the world typically defines it is a desire for some future occurrence of which one is not assured of attaining. The ancient world did not generally regard hope as a virtue, but merely as a temporary illusion. Historians tell us that a great cloud of hopelessness covered the ancient world. Philosophies were empty; traditions were disappearing; religions were powerless to help men face either life or death. People longed to pierce the veil and get some message of hope from the other side, but there is none outside of Christ. Hope is a unique word in Scripture, where it indicates “confident expectation.” The person with hope has complete assurance about the future. And the overflow of the hope we have as we trust in God fills us with joy and peace.
Power (dunamis) refers to inherent power residing in something by virtue of its nature. Here the power Source is the Holy Spirit. In the context of Romans 15, we learn that the Holy Spirit's inherent enabling power is the means by which unity will be accomplished as He causes believers to abound in hope. The Holy Spirit supernaturally enables the stronger and weaker brothers to abound in hope and to see each other’s positions in a clearer (eternal) perspective which causes them to refuse to let their differences mar the unity that they have in Christ. Christ is our Hope and to paraphrase an old hymn, when we fix our eyes on Jesus "the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace" and the result will be true spiritual power to accept one another.
Pastor Arthur Pink has some wise words on the meaning and practical significance of the power of the Holy Spirit: “The Father is the Giver, but the Spirit is the Communicator of our graces. Though it is the Christian’s duty to be filled with joy and peace in believing and to abound in hope, yet it is only by the Spirit’s enablement such can be realized. Here, as everywhere in the Word, we find the kindred truths of our accountableness and dependency intimately connected. The joy, peace, and hope here are not carnal emotions or natural acquirements but spiritual graces, and therefore they must be divinely imparted. Even the promises of God will not produce these graces unless they be divinely applied to us. Note that it is not merely "through the operation" but "through the power" of the Holy Spirit, for there is much in us which opposes! Nor can these graces be increased or even maintained by us in our own strength—though they can be decreased by us, through grieving the Spirit. They are to be sought by prayer, by eyeing the promises, and by looking for the enablement of the Holy Spirit. That hope is but a vain fancy which is not fixed on God and inwrought by Him.”
Notice Paul’s words in Romans 15:13, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” The power of the Holy Spirit provides for us the things that human effort and human religion and human righteousness could never achieve. He is there to empower our living with a glorious sense of joy, peace, and hope that can carry us through the trials and hardships that are the inevitable by-products of life in a fallen world. The power we need is found in a Person Who has been sent by the Father to bring fullness to our lives. In a world that is in mad pursuit of happiness, we can have JOY by the power of the Holy Spirit. In a world that is crying out from the grief of constant conflict, we can have true PEACE. In a world that is filled with empty despair and a bleak future, we can have a bright HOPE. Why? Because the power of the Holy Spirit can equip us for life in a way that the world cannot grasp. His power can enable us to experience the things that the world craves and cannot secure, but are ours by the Spirit. This is the ABUNDANT LIFE Jesus spoke of (Jn 10:10) —a life that is full and rich and deep and lasting. A life that is lived by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Practical strategies for growing in God’s joy, peace, and abundant hope:
• Begin each morning by spending time in God’s presence, reading and meditating on His Word, praying, and singing. If you lack joy and peace and hope, ask God to fill you with these qualities for His glory.
• Memorize some of God’s wonderful promises that kindle joy, peace, and hope in your soul so that you can meditate on them throughout the day. Romans 15:13 and many other verses like them will help you to set your mind on the things above rather than on the problems that are getting you down. The Psalms are loaded with verses of trust in God in the midst of life-threatening situations.
• Immediately confess all grumbling as sin and instead deliberately think each day of things that you can thank God for. Begin by thanking Him each morning for sending His beloved Son to save you from your sins. Thank Him that you have His Word to guide and sustain you. Thank Him for all your blessings and even for your trials, which help you to grow.
• When you feel overwhelmed with despair or depression, talk to yourself: Tell yourself again and again to hope in God. The depressed psalmist did this repeatedly: “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence…Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God…Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God…Show me the path where I should walk, O Lord; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.”
Have you ever been on an airplane as it flew through a thunderstorm? All around you, you see and hear the storm’s beating rain and the wind whipping against the cabin wall. Looks of worry and panic cloud passengers’ faces, and they wonder, When will we ever get to the other side of this storm? They long to see the sun, and even before the plane has landed, a few of them may have begun forming a line to get off. On such a turbulent flight we can dramatically experience the light and peace after a storm almost instantly. Peace replaces anxiety in just a moment as we break through a cloud and see the sun and its radiance just on the other side of the storm. As God’s children we do not need to wait until our personal storms have passed in order to see and experience the light and peace of the Son. The Word of God, his truth, not only sustains us in the storms of life but also opens our eyes to see the Son, the radiance of God’s glory, while we are soaring through them.
Heavenly Father, we do thank You for the peace and joy and righteousness that are gifts to us from Your Spirit at work in our hearts. Thank You for the liberty and freedom that you give us in these areas. We want to know Your will. We are willing to do Your will, and we will wait, in hope, for your truth to lead us in it. No matter what storms of life we may face, we will keep our eyes on the brightness of Your Son—the radiance of Your glory! In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Look Up—meditate on Romans 15:13 …pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.
Look In—as you meditate on Romans 15:13 …pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."
Look Out—as you meditate on Romans 15:13 ...pray to see how you might apply it to your relationship with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.