The following are Professor Murray’s notes of a sermon which he preached not long before his illness and death. They constitute only an outline, the material being expanded in delivery.

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Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
— Romans 15:13

In the world today there is widespread fear. It is no wonder. The worldwide situation is fraught with peril. It is staggering to contemplate the destruction of life and property that would accompany another world war. And it would not be humane, far less Christian, to be callous in the face of this threat.

But a great deal of the pessimism abroad is the fruit of unbelief. What did our Lord say? ‘When ye hear of wars and rumours of wars, see that ye be not troubled.’

In the fear widespread today there is no hope. How different is the attitude enjoined by the apostle! He speaks of ‘joy and peace’. Yes, but not merely. He speaks of ‘all joy and peace’. He speaks of hope. But again not merely. It is abounding hope. He speaks of the power of the Spirit and of faith. It is well to note these keynotes — joy, peace, hope, faith, the power of the Holy Spirit. Are these ours? How totally opposed to harassing anxiety, gloom, and hopeless desperation!

Hope is the central note of the text. Two features bear this out. 1. The text is not directly prayer and not directly exhortation. It is in between and serves a threefold purpose intercession, exhortation, and the reminder that compliance proceeds from God’s enabling grace. Everything turns on the character in terms of which God is designated ­’the God of hope’. 2. The ultimate purpose of all that precedes in the text is that believers may abound in hope. ‘The God of hope.’ He is called the God of patience and of consolation (v. 5), the God of peace (v. 33; cf 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 4:9; 1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 13:20), the God of love (2 Cor. 13:11). He is the author of patience and consolation and he establishes peace. It is so with love and hope. But surely more is involved in love and hope. God is the God of love because he is love. And he is the God of hope because he himself is the hope of his people. They are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:16). God is the dwelling place of his people (Ps. 90:1). He is the portion of his people. ‘Whom have I in heaven but thee’, etc. (Ps. 73:25, 26). ‘The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him’ (Lam. 3:24). If this is the case, then there is every reason to abound in hope. Salvation is conditioned by hope (Rom. 8:24), the hope to be realized in the con­summation.

But the other features of the text must be given the place and proportion due to them and ‘fill you with all joy and peace’. How contrary to the turbulence of mind so frequently characterizing believers! The fruit of the Spirit is joy and peace.

Why joy? ‘Rejoice in the Lord alway’, etc. (Phil. 4:4). This is the secret. Glorying in the Lord cannot be too exuberant (cf Rom. 7:14-25; 1 Pet 1:5ff).

Why peace? It is the peace of God (Phil. 4:7). It keeps the heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

In all this we must note the superlatives. Hope is to abound. With joy and peace filled to the brim.

Who are capable of abounding hope and brim-full joy and peace? The answer is: ‘in believing’, by faith. Note the place of faith in this epistle (1:16, 17; 3:21, 22; 4 (passim); 5:1 et al. Faith is the instrument of all sanctifying grace, not confined to justification.

In conclusion there must be observed an all-important condition. Is not all of this impossible? In a life so conditioned by inward conflict, so beset with trials and perplexities, may we dare to entertain exultant joy and the calm of peace? The answer is the power of the Holy Spirit. Ah, my friends, no other is adequate but the Holy Spirit.

This article was first published in the March 1976 edition of the Banner of Truth magazine.