SBTS chapel Mullins Lectures live blog: Bryan Chapell

Communications Staff — April 1, 2010

Preacher: Bryan Chapell

Text/title: Romans 15:4; “Hope’s Journey”

The question before is whether the examples I have already given from Gideon and Colossians of Christ-centered interpretation are unique instances or whether they are normative throughout Scripture.

Instead of trying to make Jesus Himself mentioned in every text, magically appear in every text, I have tried to preach each sermon in light of the redemptive plan of God in Christ.

When we preach, we should seek to be both exegetically and biblically sound, that is, exposit the text in front of us and show where it fits in God’s redemptive plan in history.

My intention in this message is to demonstrate, with the authority of Scripture, the redemptive thrust that is present throughout the whole Bible.

Romans 15:4

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom 15:4 ESV).

Rose Bowl … 1929 … Georgia Tech … University of California.

The game was a defensive struggle. A player for one team picked up a fumble and ran the wrong way with it. He nearly ran to the wrong end zone before his teammates caught up with him. He was tacked near his own end zone and it led to his team losing the game.

He was doing everything right: he picked up the fumble, he ran hard, and he was determined and fully engaged in what he was doing. But he lost sight of the goal.

The reason you are a pastor is to give people hope. Pastors can get so focused on doctrine and duty that they lose sight of the goal. Do we give people hope? Is that what they are leaving with?

The apostle Paul is unfolding to the Romans the message that if hope is not there then the Gospel is not there. And in so doing, he reveals the purpose of every text of Scripture.

The Old Testament was written for the church today. What the church does is not something new: it is part of a continuity. The instruction of all of Scripture was given so that we might be able to endure. The first purpose of Scripture is instruction, but it is also given to enable us to endure.

What was written was written to remind us that our God is a God of promise and the reason that you can endure is because you know that is what is happening to you is not outside the promise of God. You can endure. You can go forward, knowing that our God is a God of promise and He will be faithful to His redemptive purposes for the entire world (Rom 15:8-9).

The quote in Romans 15:9 is taken from 2 Samuel 22. It is David’s song at the end of his life after he had failed so badly. David was willing to say, “though I have failed, God will not fail.”

The quote in Romans 15:10 is taken from Deuteronomy 32. It is Moses’ song at the end of his life after he in pride had struck the rock and taken the glory for himself. Moses was able to say, “though I have failed, God will not fail. He has promised to make us a blessing to the nations and He will do it.”

The quote in Romans 15:11 is taken from Psalm 117. This came after the nation of Israel had been divided and dispersed. Nevertheless, the people praise God.

The quote in Romans 15:12-13 comes from Isaiah 11. The promised Messiah is to bring in the nations so that all will honor God and the knowledge of God will cover the earth as the waters do the sea.

The apostle has gone to a book of history, law, poetry and prophecy and he says, whatever is written in Scripture is written that we might have hope.

Our God is a God of promise. Every page, every chapter, God is saying, “I will fulfill my promises. My Messiah will come and I will reign on this earth.” It may be hard, but God will do it. God will fulfill His purposes in and through His people.

God was being faithful to His promises with Abraham, when he traveled from Ur and when he could not have a child until age 100. God was faithful with Jacob. God was being faithful to His promises when David was slaying his tens of thousands and God was being faithful to His promises when David committed adultery and murdered a man. God was faithful to His promises in Solomon’s life.

When Jesus was born in a manger and when Jesus hung on a cross, God was being faithful to His promises.

God will fulfill His purposes and for that reason we have hope and we can endure.

William Carey lived in light of these promises and stood on these promises.

Adoniram and Ann Judson went to Burma in light of God’s promise and because they stood on God’s promises. The first two children born to the Judsons died. Adoniram endured torture and imprisonment. Ann would come to him and tell him “Do not give Adoniram. God will give us the victory.” Adoniram later wrote, “God will give us the victory.”

How do we stand firm? It is through standing on the belief that God will be faithful to His purposes and His promises.

God will accomplish His purposes through people who are obedient to do His will. Because God is faithful, we can endure.

But what if you can’t endure anymore?

In Adoniram Judson’s life, his wife, Ann, eventually died and so did his third son. After this, Adoniram stopped translating Scripture, moved to a remote village and grieved. During this time he wrote in his journal, “God to me is the great unknown. I believe in Him, but I find Him not.”

What if you can’t endure? What then?

Romans 15:4 says that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. What encouragement is here for us?

Our God is not just a God of promise; He is a God of mercy. So, when you have turned your face from God, God is a God of mercy.

Judson’s brother turned to Christ late in his life, just before he died. This act of mercy from God in his brother’s life encouraged Judson. Judson eventually began translating Scripture again and he is remembered as one of the most faithful Christian missionaries in history.

God is a God of mercy: this should encourage us. Hearing accounts of His mercy in other’s lives should encourage us.

We have to remember the goal. The goal is to give people hope. And hope is found only in the Gospel. If we have given people duty and doctrine, we have not reached the goal. The goal is to give people hope. What is the hope?

It is this understanding that if God is faithful to His promises and merciful to sinful people, then our hope comes from that. Our hope comes from seeing in Scripture that God is faithful to His promises and is merciful to sinful people and standing on those realities even in the midst of the most trying circumstances.

It is saying, “I will have hope and I will tell you about it because you need it to.”

We have duty and doctrine to teach, yes we do. But if you forget the goal, which is to give people hope and hope in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and if you forget that then you will only discourage people.

May we preach this hope, this Gospel of Jesus Christ, that is found throughout the pages of Scripture.

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