Romans Lesson 5: 5.1-11 - AT PEACE
LAST WEEK: In Rom. 3:21-31; 4:1-3, we heard Paul explain that while we all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God, we can be "justified" as "righteous by God's grace as a free gift. Because of this, we have no ground for to "boast" because we did nothing to earn it. In terms of our standing before God, Paul told us that whether you're a Jew or Gentiles, you can only be justifies by faith, not works of the Law. Paul cited the example of Abraham in Gen. 16 as the first example of being declared righteous-justified-by faith.
THIS WEEK: In Rom. 5:1-11, Paul turns the corner to describe what we have gained by being justified by faith. While it's true that we've escaped the wrath of God, being declared righteous before God means a whole lot more than avoiding punishment for our sins. Significantly, God has made "peace" with us, and we now stand in His "grace," which means we can rejoice in the sure "hope" that we will share in His glory. As we get into the lesson, we need to remember that Paul is addressing this letter to the predominantly Gentile Roman church, so we need to understand it in this context. When Paul uses the pronoun "we" in these passages, he's not saying that these benefits are universal-i.e., applicable to the entire human race-but what's in store for those who have trusted in the work of Christ for salvation. Finally, we need to notice that Paul refers to the act of being justified by faith as "past-tense"-the transaction is complete and our status with God will never again be in doubt.
Read Rom. 5:1-2 - WE HAVE PEACE WITH GOD
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
v. 1: "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" - The preface "Therefore," points back to the foundational doctrines of Chaps. 1-4: (1) none is righteous; (2) we are justified by the grace of God as a gift; and (3) we receive God's grace by faith. In terms of the meaning of "peace," the Roman Christians would have been familiar with the idea of Pax Romana, a system of peace established in the Roman Empire by force of arms and political domination; however, the word Paul uses here for "peace," (Gk. eirenen) suggests something much more than just the absence of hostilities. It has the sense of a very personal, inner-peace that comes from being in harmony with God's will. This peace, which God gave us "through our Lord Jesus," is not received through domination but by love.
TRUTH 1: Having been justified by faith, our "peace" with God is not a feeling but a fact. The Christian is at peace with God regardless of how we may feel about it, and we are at peace with God for all eternity. Those without Christ will never experience true peace.
v. 2: "through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God" - The word "introduction" (Gk. prosagōgen) means far more than limited or temporary access to someone but indicates that we come into the presence of the Almighty King in a position of "grace," the eternally secure place of a believer's standing before God, which was received as a blessing of justification. The phrase, "and we exult in hope of the glory of God," refers to the promise that Christians will be glorified and perfected on the last day-a hope that results in pure joy. When we "exult in hope," we aren't boasting about ourselves but boasting about what our gracious God has done for us.
TRUTH 2: The believer in Christ has complete access to God's presence because of God's grace. The Christian has the privilege of direct access to God because of the grace we received through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. And though we did nothing to deserve, God's grace without condition.
Read Rom. 5:3-5 - WE EXULT IN OUR TRIBULATIONS
3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
v. 3: "And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance" - The people of God not only "exult" (or boast or rejoice) in the hope of our glorious future but also in our present trials and suffer-ings, not because they are pleasant or fun but because they produce a transformation in us-the fruit of "perseverance"-that makes us more like Christ. As believers in Christ, our perseverance gives us the ability to keep on going even when we feel like stopping. In this context, perseverance is about our ability to trust God for the ultimate outcome.
v. 4: "and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope" - God's divine design for us in this life is to prepare us for the next by strengthening our spiritual character. Over time, as we endure various personal trials and tribulations, we develop the solid character of a mature believer. This character then produces hope, because the mature believer, having triumphed over many adversities in the past, can certainly hope to triumph over them again in the future.
TRUTH 3: The Christian does not exult (rejoice) in trials and tribulations because it's fun, but because of the hope that's in us. When we endure (or "persevere") trials and tribulation over time, we develop solid character that enables us to "hope" that we can triumph over them in the future.
v. 5: "and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us" - What Paul is saying is that no matter what happens in this life, God loves us, and the hope He's given us will not "disappoint," which is a way of saying that we will in no way end up disappointed because we have placed our faith, trust, and hope in God. This hope isn't based upon our present circumstances but is something we received from God through the Holy Spirit. You, me, and every person who trusts in Christ has been given God's own Holy Spirit to live in our hearts-our inner-most self-as our guide and our strength.
TRUTH 4: The Christian's "hope" isn't based on present circumstances but based on God's Holy Spirit in us. You, me, and every person who has trusted in Christ for out salvation has been given God's own Holy Spirit to live in our hearts-our inner-most self-to both guide and strengthen us.
Read Romans 5:6-8 - CHRIST DIED FOR THE UNGODLY
6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
v. 6: "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly" - First, it's important to note that Paul refers to us-humanity-as "helpless," which describes our total inability to save ourselves or otherwise reconcile ourselves to God. Second, amazingly, he says Christ didn't die for the virtuous and upright person but for the "ungodly," wretched, fallen sinners, all of us. Amen? And Paul also says that Christ died "at the right time." What does he mean? (1) Objectively, it was the time of Pax Romana (Roman peace), making it possible for people to travel and communi-cate across the Roman Empire, which encompassed all of Europe, North Africa, and Asia Minor; and (2) eschatologically, it was the time that suited God's redemptive plan for the salvation of the world.
TRUTH 5: Christ died for all people because all people are sinners. Humans are powerless to provide salvation on their own but God has triumphed over humanity's failure by allowing Jesus to take the penalty for our sin instead of allowing us to suffer judgment and condemnation.
v. 7: "For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die." - This fits our experience. Many people have risked death for a good cause (e.g., military personnel defend the freedom of our nation against external enemies and law enforce-ment and fire and rescue personnel against internal enemies and dangers) or even for good people, but few of us would knowingly risk our lives for our enemies or for criminals, would we? The "good man" some would "dare" to die for brings to mind a father who throws himself in front of a truck to save his child, or a soldier who throws himself on top of a grenade to save his buddies, or a secret service agent who throws himself in the path of a bullet to save a president.
v. 8: "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" - First, we need to understand that God's love belongs to an entirely different category than human love. It's not just Christ's love shown by His death on the cross but also God the Father's love (for us) "demonstrated" by sending His only Son to die, horribly. When the Pharisees criticized Jesus for eating with sinners, Jesus replied, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick" (Mt. 9:12). Jesus logic is compelling: why would He save people who don't need it?
TRUTH 6: Christ's death on the cross is a demonstration of God's love for us. It's not only the love that Jesus showed for us by going to the cross but also the love for us God the Father's demonstrated by sending His only Son to die on that cross, and to die publicly and horrifically. We must never, never forget the manner in which Jesus died for us.
Read Romans 5:9-11 - SAVED FROM THE WRATH OF GOD
9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
v. 9: "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him - Paul talked to us about being "justified" last week in Rom. 3:24. The Greek term, dikaiōthentes, lit. made righteous, carries the legal connotation of being declared "not guilty" before a judge in a courtroom, and the transaction is past-tense, a completed action-so that we don't need to keep on being justified since it is once and for all. We lawyers call it "res judicada"-which means your case is closed and can't be re-tried. We were justified "by His blood"-the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross, and by being justified, we have been "saved from the wrath of God through Him," which tells every Christian that the shed blood of Christ was the only acceptable sacrifice that could exempt humanity from God's final judgment as a sinner.
TRUTH 7: The Christian is justified from the wrath of God by the blood of Jesus Christ. Christians have confidence that they will go to heaven because God has removed the obstacle of sin, and by doing this, has spared us from His coming wrath, now and in the future (end times). This is a completed, once and for all, transaction, so that we don't need to keep on being justified.
v. 10: "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" - Now Paul tells us about the second step of the redemptive process. In response to Paul's assertion that we were "enemies" before being justified, you might ask in what sense had I been an enemy of God? The simple answer is that we live in a word opposed to God, so that anyone who is of the world (i.e., does not acknowledge God or accept His sovereignty) is by definition God's enemy. But once we've been justified, we are "reconciled" to God, which is a way of saying that we are now God's friend-our relationship with Him has changed from bad to good. To use an analogy in the context of nations, it means establishing peace between nations that were previously at war with one another. And now Paul explains the final step of the process: because we are now reconciled to God, "we shall be saved" from final condemnation. Finally, notice how these three steps transpired: (1) we were justified by Jesus' blood-a reference to His crucifixion (2) we were reconciled through Jesus' death-a reference to His death on the cross and (2) saved by Jesus' life-a reference to His resurrection, showing that the shed blood, death and resurrection were all necessary to offer salvation.
TRUTH 8: Having been justified, the Christian is reconciled to God through Jesus' death and saved by Jesus' resurrection. Because Christians are justified before God, they are likewise reconciled with God and are no longer His enemy. Another way of saying this is that we are now God's friend instead of His enemy. Our salvation-spending eternity in heaven-is guaranteed by Jesus' resurrection.
v. 11: "And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation" - This verse sums up the passage that began in v. 1 about having peace with God. Paul's words, "And not only this," shows even greater benefits to be derived from justification, bringing Paul now to the high point of all our benefits. We can certainly exult (rejoice, boast, revel, hoop and holler, etc.) in our salvation-Amen?-but more than that, we can rejoice in God Himself. And we must understand that the basis of this joy is "through our Lord Jesus Christ," who is not only our personal Savior but our advocate and mediator before God. Finally, the phrase, "through whom we have now received the reconciliation," means that the work for our salvation was finished in Christ; nothing more needs to be done about our salvation. Can it get any better than that?
TRUTH 9: Exulting (rejoicing, boasting, reveling, hooping and hollering! etc.) in God Himself in the ultimate benefit of justification. This tells us that God should have the central place in our lives. It is because of what Christ did on the cross that we can exult in God Himself; otherwise, we could never bear His judgment in our lives. This is the ultimate purpose of creation and eternity. While we will certainly rejoice in God in eternity, we should likewise rejoice in Him right now, in our time-today.
PRAYER: God, our Father in heaven, we come before your throne this morning with thankful hearts, praising You for the love, mercy, and grace You constantly show toward us as individual Christian believers and as a Church. We thank You also for granting us another opportunity to freely assemble together as a class to learn the truths of Your inerrant and holy Word. We ask, Lord, that You will use this time of study and learning to strengthen each member of this class in his or her Christian walk and use it to bind us together in love and unity as we strive to build Your church. As we learned today, we thank and praise you, Dear God, for giving us the way to make peace with You-real peace, eternal peace. We ask, God, for Your divine direction in the future of this church today and in the days to come. Especially, Lord, we ask that You will guide our Pastor Search Committee, our Deacon body, our church staff, and everyone of us, as members, to accomplish our mission of sharing Jesus Christ with the people of this community who don't know You. And for that, Lord, we will give your all the credit and praise. I ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our precious Lord and Redeemer, AMEN.