Summary: An expositional nessage on Romans 5:1-5 which concluded with the Lord’s Supper.

The Chain Reaction of Hope

Englewood Baptist Church

Sunday morning, April 6, 2008

Recently, I went to Webster’s Dictionary online and typed in the following words: chain reaction. This is one definition provided:

Chain Reaction: a number of events triggered by the same initial event.

So, in other words, a chain reaction is much like dominoes. The first domino falls, and because that first one falls, others are impacted. Sometimes, in our personal lives, things happen through a series of events or a chain reaction. One thing happens and it causes other things to follow. Let me give you a perfect example.

This past Tuesday marked one year since becoming pastor of this church and it has been an amazing year in my life. I began to think this week: how did I get here? How did I, as a 30-year old man, get the opportunity to lead such an amazing church as this? Well, I believe God was sovereign but it happened through a series of events, a chain reaction that began 10 years ago. Let me explain.

Right out of college, I received a job offer in Palm Beach, Florida and I accepted that job. I was going to move to bask in the sun of West Palm. But an event took place that I did not anticipate. My dad become very ill. And because my dad was so sick, I made the decision to stay close to home that year. I passed up the job. And because I passed up the job, I was offered a different job the next year working at a camp in Branson, MO. And because I took that job working at that camp, I ran into a beautiful young woman from Arkansas named Lynley Nix. And because I fell in love with that girl and married her in 2001, I moved to the South. And because I moved to the South, I became familiar with Union University and the seminary program they had there. And because I moved to Jackson, I met a man named Phil Jett and I was given the opportunity to work at EBC. And because I worked at Englewood, I came into this unbelievable role of pastoring this church!

So you see, God was working behind the scenes, just like in the book of Esther, using the everyday experiences of life to work his plan for me. I would not be the pastor today if…my dad had not become sick in the summer of 1998. I truly believe that I would be in Florida today if my Dad had not become critically ill. That horrible summer of suffering led to this moment of great hope. Little did I know that God would use even that to accomplish His plan in my life.

I want to show you something in the book of Romans. Romans 5:1-5 contains the brute force to change your entire perspective on life. If you can grab on to these verses today, you will discover great hope. If you can swallow this, then I promise you….you will be more equipped for tribulation than 95% of the people on earth. Let me show you how God uses suffering to trigger a reaction of hope.

Read with me, Romans 5:1-5.

Last week, we discussed the amazing grace of God—that you and I are saved not by our works, but by a gift from God. We haven’t earned righteousness; it has been credited to our accounts. And Paul says in v. 1… “We have been justified through faith and now we have peace with God.”

Did you know that God has declared himself to be at war with every human being not covered by the blood of Christ. John 3:16 tells us about the love of God: God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…. But keep reading that chapter and John 3:36 describes the righteous anger of God.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him. John 3:36

But now, because of Jesus Christ, God’s wrath against sin has been satisfied and you and I can live at peace with God. And Paul says in Romans 5:2, “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

But notice that this hope is not just based on some point in the distant future. That joy can come now even in the midst of suffering. Notice verse 3…

So suffering has a purpose. It triggers a chain reaction that leads to hope. Now let me walk you through this process. Let me show you the formula…

The Chain Reaction of Hope

1. Suffering produces perseverance.

V.3 says that you and I can celebrate our sufferings. The word sufferings is also translated tribulations and the word literally means “pressure.” This word was used to describe the process of crushing grapes in order to get wine. Great pressure is applied. It was used to describe the process of pressing olives in order to squeeze out the oil.

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