Grace For The Journey
How can a person live in peace in the midst of turmoil? That is a relevant question for us to consider, given the tensions that have escalated in our society between different groups and our nation. Racial strife, class warfare, a cultural civil war, and continuing terrorist threats all increase the level of stress and anxiety in our nation. Add in business and interpersonal conflicts that are a normal part of living, and it is no wonder that people can often seem so strained, worried, and even irritable. Is that the way Christians should live? Or should there be a marked contrast between them and non-Christians.
Just telling you, “Don’t worry, be happy,” as a popular song did some years ago, is worthless if there is not also given a basis to remove or counter the reasons for the tension and anxiety. In our study today of Romans 5, we will find that Paul does just that as he explains some of the results of the Gospel, the Good News of salvation from sin through faith in Jesus Christ.
The “therefore” in 5:1 points back to what Paul has already said. This passage flows out of Paul’s previous arguments that all people are under the righteous wrath of God until they are justified by God as a gift of His grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:23-24) that is applied to the sinner by the means of faith and not by works (verse 28). In chapter 4, Paul uses Abraham as the supreme example of this faith that is reckoned by God for righteousness. In today’s passage, Romans 5:1-11, Paul gives further explanation to the nature of this faith while detailing some of its benefits, “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 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. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 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. For while we were still helpless, at
the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath [of God] through Him. 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. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus
Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”
Let’s note the wonderful results of the Gospel . . .
1) Peace with God – Verses 1-2a.
How do we get this peace? Through being . . .
Justified by Faith – Verse 1a.
Paul’s premise for the rest of the passage is that we have been justified by faith. There are some who have fallen into serious error because they have taken this declaration out of its context and made salvation to be on the basis of faith itself. Faith must have an object. Faith in faith does not save. This phrase “justified by faith” looks back into what has been previously said to explain what is meant by faith. Robert Haldane’s comment on this is helpful: “It is not by faith, abstractly considered, that we are justified, nor even by faith in everything that God reveals. It is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Even this phrase itself . . . is still elliptical, and supposes the knowledge of what is to be believed with respect to Christ. It is not believing in His existence, but believing on Him as revealed in the Scriptures, in His person and work.” Later in this passage (verse 9) we will find the phrase “justified by His blood.” It also looks back to faith and to the broader meaning of what the blood represents, Jesus’ sacrificial atonement for our sins, and it is the object of the faith spoken of earlier.
What kind of faith is this?
It is the faith demonstrated by Abraham’s example
In believing in the true God and therefore
Walking in trust of God’s promises.
Paul speaks of this justification by faith as being in the aorist tense. It is something that has already occurred and not something you are still waiting to receive. He then goes on to point out the ramifications of this. Because you are justified, that is, made right with God through faith in Jesus Christ and His work on your behalf, then here are the results and benefits.
Peace with God – Verse 1b.
The first benefit is having peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul makes it clear that this peace is only available through Jesus Christ. It cannot come through your own effort, but only through what God has already done for you in Christ.
What is this peace?
Remember back in 1:18 that Paul began this Gospel presentation by proclaiming that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” Paul then went on to show in chapters 1-3 that all men are ungodly and unrighteous. All people are naturally enemies with God.
While people do not tend to think
Of themselves in that way,
That is the truth of the matter.
While there are some that clearly know
And set themselves against God,
Most people tend to think themselves
Somewhat neutral in the matter.
They think of themselves as undecided,
Confused, or even complacent,
But they are not against God.
But the truth is opposite.
Recall that Jesus said in Matthew 12:25, “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” People who claim to believe in God, but then live as if He is not there or does not care only prove that they do not believe in the true God.
All people are born dead
In trespasses and sin
With a hatred for God.
People claim to have always loved God,
But the truth is demonstrated
In their love for the world,
Which is enmity with God (James 4:4).
God’s wrath abides upon them.
When Jesus Christ took my place on the cross,
The wrath of God for my sin was poured out on Him
So that through being justified by faith
In Jesus and His atonement,
That wrath is no longer against me.
Instead, I have peace with Him.
God’s justice is satisfied
And I am no longer
Counted as His enemy.
The confidence I have in what Christ has done for me that has removed the hostility that had existed between God and me also gives me the emotional aspects of peace too. With God I now have . . .
- Harmony instead of conflict;
- Tranquility instead of turmoil;
- Assurance instead of fear;
- Serenity instead of uncertainty.
That peace changes my whole life
Because it not only removes me from God’s wrath,
But it also positively affects my relationship with God.
It also changes my understanding of and relationship to this world. Before being saved, I was part of the world living in its emotional turmoil and standing under God’s wrath. Now I have a new standing with God that gives me emotional peace and security.
Standing in Grace – Verse 2a.
Paul says in verse 2, “Through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand.” I now have the freedom or right to enter God’s grace. Through faith in Jesus Christ, I not only am no longer under God’s judgement as His enemy, but I now stand in a state of God’s favor. This speaks of the loving relationship God extends to me as His adopted child. Though I am unworthy of it and really only deserving of His judgement, yet He has extended to me His grace in taking care of my sin problem and bringing me into a personal relationship with Him.
This new position within His grace
Gives me a different perspective
On life and the world.
It is no longer about me
And what I want.
It is not about my
Fame and fortune.
My life is now
About God’s glory,
Which Paul expresses
At the end of
The verse as the
First of three things
We can exult in
Because of our
In God’s grace.
2) Exulting in God – Verse 2b.
Paul says, “We exult in hope of the glory of God.” The word “exult” carries with it the idea of “boasting in the sense of taking glory in something.”
It is a very strong word for
Rejoicing in “a jump up and down
And point it out sort of way.”
It is the sort of thing a football player might do when he scores the winning touchdown, or the baseball player that hits a grand slam, or in the reaction to winning a medal.
We find here that this exulting
Is not in something that
The person himself has done,
What has been done for him.
This would be the kind of rejoicing someone might do in thanking someone else for a really great gift. I recently read a book on the Allied landings in Normandy in WWII. This kind of exultation was seen in the response of many of the French people who came out to meet the Allies with champagne despite the bullets and bombs that still filled the air, or in their later erecting monuments to the Allied forces that had died. They wanted to celebrate those who had liberated them from the Nazis.
Here the exultation, the rejoicing, is “in hope of the glory of God.” Remember that hope in the Bible is not in the sense of a wish, but rather a confident assurance of what is to come in the future. What God has done in the past through Christ has secured my present peace with Him and given me a confidence in the future of sharing in the glory of God when He transforms us from these earthly bodies into, “conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:23). While we don’t know the full extent of what we will be, we do know that we will be like Christ, for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). There is a day coming in which God’s work in us will be completed and we will be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29) and know the riches of His glory which He has prepared for us beforehand (Romans 9:23). Past, present, and future are all wrapped up in God’s promises which we can trust because they are proven in the person
and work of Jesus Christ.
This confidence for the present and future
Is so great, that it changes our outlook
On the things we face in life,
Including the unpleasant aspects of
The world’s reaction to us being like Christ.
Look again at verses 3-5, “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 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.”
3) Exulting in Tribulation – Verses 3-5.
We can exult in our hope in the glory of God which will come in the future, and we can exult in the present even in the tribulations we will face as we live for Christ. Why? Because God uses the hardships we face to mature us and bring us to an unshakable confidence in the deep, abiding love of Christ for us, as verses 6-10 explain.
The Benefit of Tribulation – Verse 3.
The “tribulation” spoken of here is both “the affliction, trouble, and trials common to mankind and the persecution Christians suffer because of their relationship to Christ.” Paul warned in 2 Timothy 3:12, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” It is simply something that we should expect, but that should not be a source of sorrow, because Jesus had already told His followers in Matthew 5:10-12, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when [men] cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice,
and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
The point here is not that you
Should rejoice in the suffering itself,
That would be masochistic,
But for the reason for the suffering.
You have become conformed enough
To the image of Christ that unbelievers
Are now rejecting you in the
Same way they have rejected Him.
Jesus had also told His disciples in John 15:20, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” Paul refers to this as the “fellowship of suffering” (Philippians 3:10). Peter and the other apostles rejoiced that they “were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41). Peter later comments in 1 Peter 4:14, “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”
But the Christian can also rejoice in the midst of the common tribulations of life too. Why? Again, not because of any masochistic desire, but because we can see God’s hand at work in us through it.
We exult not in the tribulation itself,
But in what God is producing in us through it.
When we suffer according to the will of God,
We can entrust our souls to our faithful
Creator in doing what is right (1 Peter 4:19).
Paul points out here that when the godly face tribulation, God will use it to produce in them a character of perseverance. That is also a benefit to us.
4) The Benefit of Perseverance – Verse 4.
“Perseverance” is “the ability to patiently endure and persist.” It is hanging in there even when it is unpleasant and you may not even understand all that is happening, simply because you know that it is the right thing to do and that God will work it out somehow in the end. It is an important and foundational quality for living the Christian life (Hebrews 12:1), and a mark of Christian maturity (Titus 2:2). Without it the Christian will give in to his own selfish emotions, the wisdom of ungodly men, and the temptations of the devil. James 5:11 points out the perseverance of Job as an example for us. His wife told him to curse God and die, but Job persevered and eventually received God’s blessings. Perseverance is a quality that God gives us (Romans 15:5) through the testing of our faith (James 1:3), yet at the same time it is something which we pursue and develop (1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Peter 1:6).
We learn it from the example of others and are to teach it to those we disciple (2 Timothy 3:10). Perseverance also leads to another benefit . . .
5) The Benefit of Proven Character – Verse 4.
“Proven character” here has the idea of “being proven through testing, much in the same way that precious metals are refined through heating in a crucible.” Paul spoke of Timothy in these terms (Philippians 2:9-22). Paul could trust Timothy and commend him to others because he had demonstrated his character in the hardships he suffered with Paul.
It is easy to dream and even to brag about how you would respond in certain situations, but the reality is not known until you are actually in the situation. It is through the tribulations we face in which we persevere that we learn to respond correctly even when it is tough to do so. Each of those situations serves to test your character and prove it out so that with each situation faced you are better prepared. Your character is trained. A proven character in turn leads to hope.
6) The Nature & Basis of Hope – Verse 5.
Again, the nature of Biblical hope is not a wish, but a confident assurance in the future because of a trust in God and His promises. Paul stresses the confident nature of hope by pointing out that this hope will not disappoint or bring shame. What I have placed my hope in will come to pass.
Why can I have such confidence? Because as Paul points out at the end of verse 5 . . .
The basis of my hope is in the love of God
That has been poured out within my heart
Through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
The Holy Spirit is the pledge of God’s promises (Ephesians 1:13-14). Paul gives further explanation of God’s love.
The Love of God – Verses 6-10.
These verses state, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath [of God] through Him. 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.”
The Demonstration Of God’s Love Is In Jesus’ Death For Us.
What Paul stresses here is magnitude of God’s love by contrasting it with our condition at the time His love was poured out to us in Jesus Christ. Jesus had said many times that He came to seek and save those who were lost (Luke 19:10). He came as a physician to heal the sick. He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners (Matthew 9:12-13). We were helpless and could do nothing to save ourselves. All our righteous deeds were as filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:5). We were ungodly and under God’s righteous wrath as His enemies. What we deserved was His condemnation to eternal hell for our sins against Him. Yet, it is while we are in this condition that God chose to love us and redeem us to Himself.
These facts destroy all argument that
Man was somehow worthy of God’s love.
It is the fact that we are completely
Unworthy of God’s love, and yet He gives it,
That magnifies this love all the more!
In verses 7 and 8, Paul sets up another contrast that demonstrates the greatness of God’s love. It is a rare event that a person will give their life for someone else. It does happen, but it is not a common occurrence in normal life. Even during a war, when a soldier puts his own life at serious risk to protect the other soldiers, he is awarded the Medal of Honor, because it is still such an uncommon occurrence. There are those that will give their lives in behalf of someone else if they value that person as especially
good or important. That is what bodyguards are willing to do. Or an even better example comes from Charles Dicken’s book, A Tale of Two Cities, where Sydney Carton exchanges himself for Charles Darnay to face the guillotine. But who will give their life in exchange for an ungodly sinner who is your enemy?
That is a love that can never be
Legitimately questioned or challenged.
It is not based in me to begin with,
So, continuing to receive
It is not based in me.
It is based on the
Character of God Himself.
There will be times I will not like or understand what is happening in my life, but I will always know without any doubt that God loves me. He proved it for all time and eternity in Jesus Christ while I was a sinner and His enemy.
It is this foundation of love
That gives me hope,
A confident assurance
For the future regardless
Of whatever circumstances
I may be facing at present.
It is the hope based in His love
That gives me the drive to prove
Myself in the test and persevere in
The trial regardless of how difficult.
Tribulation then can be something I can face with exultation instead of fear.
Persecution and problems do not
Cause me to doubt God’s love
Because He has already proven that love.
Because of His proven love I can face the difficult things of life with joy knowing that God will use those very things to bring me to greater maturity.
Because the Christian has been justified through faith in Jesus Christ, he can exult even in the tribulations of life and persecutions that will come against Him. He is secure in God’s love, and God will use those very difficulties to make him more like Christ.
The Application Of This For Our Lives – Verses 9-10.
In these verses Paul brings out another practical application of this for the future. His argument is simple.
In consideration of what God has already done
For us in the past while we were His enemies,
Yet He reconciled us through the death
Of His son as the payment of our sins,
Then how much more will His promises
For the future of being with Him
In heaven also be true.
As mentioned earlier, in verse 9 we have the qualification that explains what it means to be justified by faith.
It is not faith that justifies,
The object of that faith.
Here we find we have been “justified by His blood.” Blood referring in specific to Jesus’ sacrificial death as the payment of our atonement and propitiation and not to the physical blood itself. It is that payment that redeems us and saves us from the
wrath of God which is poured out on the ungodly at present and which will condemn them to eternal hell in the future.
Much more than simply escaping
The negative of God’s judgement,
There is the positive of being
Brought into a personal relationship
With God that will last through eternity.
In His death, Jesus our Savior
Reconciled us to God.
In resurrection to life,
Jesus our Savior will
Keep us reconciled to God.
Jesus is even now at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25; 10:12). He is also currently preparing a place for us in heaven and has promised to return to receive us and take us there (John 14:2-3). We can have absolute confidence in Jesus and His promises.
There is one more benefit of being justified through faith in Jesus Christ . . .
7) Exulting in God – Verse 11.
Being justified, having peace with God, and standing in His grace bears a third fruit in exultation. We exult in hope of the glory of God (verse 2).
We exult in our tribulations
Because He uses them to
Produce in us perseverance,
Proven character and a hope
That is firmly based in the
Unquestionable love of God
Demonstrated in Jesus Christ
Paul says in verse 11, “And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”
Our greatest cause of rejoicing is really God Himself.
Paul is quick to point out again that our relationship with God
Is brought through the reconciliation we have
Received with Him that came through Jesus Christ.
Without Jesus Christ and His work of atonement,
We would not have any positive relationship with God.
We would remain under His wrath and judgment.
But through Jesus, we are now brought into
Relationship with God the Father who is to be
The focus of our worship and our joy, because
All of these blessings have their origin in Him.
Sometimes we place such an emphasis on Jesus, the second person of the triune Godhead, that we forget that the real focus is supposed to be on the glory of the Father. Consider Paul’s statements in Philippians 2:9-11 in which he speaks of the exaltation of Jesus that is to come at the consummation of the ages, “Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Please note that last phrase . . .
Jesus is exalted,
But all of it
Is to be.
“To the glory
Of God the Father.”
Jesus glorifies the Father and so should we.
He should be both
The foundation of
And the ultimate
What is it that causes you to “exult?” How is it linked to giving God glory?
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!