A Righteousness by Faith #27: What is ‘hope in the glory of God’?

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

I find this one of the most beautiful passages in the letter. I read it often and share it in the classes I teach on transformation—that we have hope in the glory of God. What a leap from Romans 3:23 where Paul reminded both Jews and Gentiles that before faith, everyone fell short of this glory.

Because of the prominence of the doctrine of justification in the first part of Romans, the glory of God can seem merely like an important subtext. But it is much more than that. It is the theory of everything. It explains to us humans why God embarked on the whole incarnation-to-the-cross journey. Why we exist. Why God seeks to redeem us. Why there is hope. It is all about God who cares for His glory. A glory we who are created are missing out on. Why? —Because our willful rebellion robs us of the opportunity to be full of awe and wonder at the glorious God who made us.

Everything God does is for His glory, yet there’s so much about His glory we will never be able to comprehend—it is beyond us. But this is what all believers need to know—When Jesus sacrifices himself by being nailed to the cross, he does it to uphold the Father’s glory. Before Adam and Eve took that first wrong bite, God knew He would take their death upon Himself. Not for the sake of humans, mind you, but for the sake of His glory. Jesus ultimately answers Pilate’s question, “What is truth?” with his passion. The truth is that you can trust God to redeem what we messed up because of His glory. This is how Jesus glorifies the Father—He paid the death price for us. This clears the backlog of judgment God withheld over those who deserved it, in spite of what Satan might have thought of His delay. And that is a truth we would never have known if God had not revealed it to us.

Up to that point in our history, no one—not Abraham, not Moses, not David, not Jeremiah nor even John the Baptizer—had any tangible hope in the glory of God. They had amazing faith as described in Hebrews 11. But they all died not having seen the full righteousness of God revealed in rescuing people from sin and hell. And righteousness is an essential aspect of God’s glory. When God acted to redeem people according to His glory, what He is doing is righteousness is an unexpected way. He is, as John boldly says, faithful and just (righteous) to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. There it is. God is not only righteous but also by His power and will He is making us righteous in ways we are not able to achieve in our own strength.

Before we came to put our faith in Jesus and receive the Spirit, we had no hope that we would ever live out our lives in the righteousness of God’s glory—it was beyond us. Now that we belong to the new covenant, now that we have been given the Spirit, now that we know God as our Abba, we have hope like never before. This is GOOD news.

Who is this ‘we’? It is not just the committed ones. This includes the careless, the casual and the confounded nuisances. They need to be beckoned on to this hope as people who have the Spirit, instead of driven toward it like cattle. They need to hear that God knows them and they have a new name given to them by the Father. Every believer needs to hear regularly that they have hope no matter how badly they have messed up. They need to hear that there are mercy and grace to be found in God’s presence for their time of need. They need to hear that restoration in the face of their rebellion and sin choices is God’s preferred way of dealing with them, even if they do not at this moment desire restoration. They need to hear that the empowering presence of the Spirit is in them to do for them what they cannot do for themselves. And that salvation from the power of sin is not up to their best efforts but comes to those who humble themselves instead of pridefully believing it depends on their own efforts and obedience.

And also hear that they will definitely become like Jesus before they reach the judgment throne. This is what hope in the glory of God is all about.

-Steve Smith