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Read Romans 5:1-11
The first word of this chapter is key. Remember that when you see a “therefore” you need to find out what it’s “there for.” It’s there because everything in chapter 5 is going to based on what we have learned in the latter part of chapter 3 and all of chapter 4. The last part of chapter 3 was the basic outline of salvation. How it is that we became justified before God. Chapter 4 describes what justification by faith is and what it is not by using Abraham as an illustration of one who walks by faith. Now we begin to look at the results of being justified by faith.
Paul, in verse 1, says that the first result of justification by faith is that we have peace with God...through our Lord Jesus Christ. The Greek word for peace (eirene) is akin to the Hebrew word for peace (shalom). Both mean .”to join together as a whole”...“wholeness”..
“The general meaning behind “shalom” is of completion and fulfillment - of entering into a state of wholeness and unity, a restored relationship...Shalom is the result of God’s activity in covenant and is the result of righteousness...Peace, in this case, means much more than mere absence of war...completeness, wholeness, harmony, fulfillment, are closer to the meaning. Implicit in shalom is the idea of unimpaired relationships with others and fulfillment in one’s undertaking…” (Theological Wordbook of the OT)
(It’s important to note that though Paul wrote in Greek, he thought in Hebrew. This definition works in both languages).
So the result of our justification by faith is that we now have peace with God...wholeness...unimpaired relationship with God…
This definition of “unimpaired relationship with God” leads us right into verse 2. Paul says that in addition to this peace, we also have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand. Many versions use the word “access” instead of introduction. Both are useful.
There was a barrier in the temple to a Jew having complete access into the Holiest of Holies...the innermost room in the temple where God dwelt…(in Hebrews we learn that it symbolizes heaven itself)...What was it? The veil of the temple. We know that at the crucifixion that veil was torn. This symbolized the fact that God’s people now have complete access to all of God and all that is in God. What about the Gentile? He was not allowed to get anywhere near the veil. There was “a middle wall of partition” that kept him out. It was a wall that separated the Gentiles from the Jews. On that wall was a sign that stated that Gentiles were not allowed to go any farther. Let’s look at what Paul says elsewhere about this wall…
Read Ephesians 2:14-18
So now, as Gentiles we also have complete access to all that there is in God...through our Lord Jesus Christ. One definition of the word translated “introduction” or “access” is “to have access (approach), with intimate (face-to-face) interaction…”... All three occasions of (this word in scripture) refer to "having audience (direct access) with God". The fact that it also means “introduction” tells us that this is just the starting point of our Christian life. And what is it that we have “access” or “introduction” to? It is Grace. Paul uses “Grace” here in a metaphorical sense. We have access into a vast domain called grace. Picture a king’s palace named “Undeserved Favor” or “Grace” which we now have access to. He says we stand in it. E.g. it is not a place to which we come and go as a visitor but a place in which we live. Grace is our new home. We don’t live in the do’s and don’ts of law, but in the unmerited favor of God. His grace is what we depend on every day. Not our merit but His. What is the result of this “standing in grace?” He says we exult in hope of the glory of God.
One very important item in determining a man’s power of... standing firm against whatever assaults may be hurled against him, is the sort of footing that he has. If you stand on slippery mud, or on the ice of a glacier, you will find it hard to stand firm; but if you plant your foot on the grace of God, then you will be able to ‘withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.’ And how does a man plant his foot on the grace of God? simply by trusting in God, and not in himself. So that the secret of all steadfastness of life, and of all successful resistance to the whirling onrush of temptations and of difficulties, is to set your foot upon that rock, and then your ‘goings’ will be established. Alexander MacLaren
What does “exult” mean? The English word has an interesting meaning. It is from a Latin word which means “to leap upward...to show or feel elation or jubilation especially as the result of a success.” In this case, though, our jubilation is not in our success but in the success of our Savior.
The Greek word behind this is even more interesting It means living with "head up high," i.e. boasting from a particular vantage point by having the right base of operation to deal successfully with a matter...figuratively, it refers to living with God-given confidence.” This word is translated “boast in many other places in the NT. So we don’t boast in ourselves, but we boast in our God!
Paul says we boast in hope of the glory of God. We learned last week that Biblical hope is not a wish. It is earnestly expecting something to happen. We might say it means “we can bank on it.” John Stott calls it “a joyful and confident expectation which rests on the promises of God.” That’s what we glory in, what we boast in...what we exult in…
In verse 3, Paul takes a curious turn. Verses 3-5 remind me of when I was a small child and my father would take me into the pool or lake. I could stay in the kiddie pool by myself, but, not being able to swim, I couldn’t go into the deeper waters without an adult. My dad would put me on his shoulders and we would wade out into the deeper waters. That was fun...because I knew that my dad was carrying me there...but it wasn’t long before I’d be ready to go back into the kiddie pool...Later in Romans we will be going into some deeper theological waters...we will go from milk to meat...In these three verses we wade out into the deeper waters...on Daddy’s shoulders…
What is curious when we get into verse 3, at least it would be curious to a baby Christian, is that Paul makes the stunning statement that we also exult in our tribulations. Remember, exult means a feeling of jubilation...a leaping upward. How in the world are we to “exult in tribulations?” Aren’t tribulations bad?
Actually, when we look at the word translated “tribulations”, it is really bad...It actually means “pressure” (what constricts or rubs together), used of a narrow place that "hems someone in";...especially internal pressure that causes someone to feel confined (restricted, "without options"). [By contrast, (another Greek word most often translated as “distresses or difficulties”) focuses on the external pressure exerted by circumstances.] Now, none of that seems like something we would want for ourselves. Yet, Paul says we are elated...ecstatic and jubilant in our tribulations. How is that? It is because of what follows.
Paul says that we can rejoice in our tribulations because they bring about perseverance. Now, understand that it is not inevitable that they bring about these things. This is what is supposed to happen. It is what happens when we yield to God and “stand in His grace.” Now this word translated “perseverance” is also translated as “endurance”, “patient endurance”, and “steadfastness.” It’s root means “to remain under”. It is not a “gritting your teeth” endurance where you just gut it out but are a mess inside, but it is “patiently enduring” tribulations. How can we patiently endure tribulations? Through faith in God. By knowing that “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” (to jump ahead to chapter 8). By knowing that as a child of a king nothing will happen to us that God cannot and will not in time turn to something good. By knowing that we can trust His heart...that He has plans to prosper us and not to harm us...to give us a hope and a future. (Jer. 29:11).
There is a natural progression to each of these things in Romans 5:3, 4. We could not know anything about perseverance or endurance unless we first have tribulations and troubles. And it takes perseverance to come to the next thing. In verse 4, it says tells us that perseverance leads to proven character. What do you think he meant by that?
The word translated “proven character” is “dokime” which means (the process or result of) trial, proving, approval. I came across some interesting background on this word…
"In the ancient world there was no banking system as we know it today, and no paper money. All money was made from metal, heated until liquid, poured into moulds and allowed to cool. When the coins were cooled, it was necessary to smooth off the uneven edges. The coins were comparatively soft, and of course many people shaved them closely. In one century, more than eighty laws were passed in Athens to stop the practice of whittling down the coins then in circulation. But some money-changers were men of integrity, who would accept no counterfeit money; they were men of honour who put only genuine, full-weight money into circulation. Such men were called dokimos, and this word is used here for the Christian as he is to be seen by the world." (Donald Grey Barnhouse, Romans: God's Glory, p. 18.)
So how do we get to be a “spiritual dokimos”, a person of absolute integrity...a man or woman of proven character? By persevering under tribulation. By remaining in a state of absolute trust and peace before God even in the tremendous pressures of life. And what is the result of the proven character that we develop? It is hope! Remember, we started with hope. Now we come around full circle to hope. So...have we gained anything? Absolutely yes! We have gone from a baby hope to a mature hope. Now we have a much greater, much more grounded hope. And what is our hope? It is of course in Christ.
Verse 5 says that this hope does not disappoint us? Have you ever had a hope in something that turned out to be groundless? I dare say all of us have at one time or another. Life is full of great disappointments...yet Paul assures us that this hope in God will never disappoint us. What evidence do we have for this? Paul gives us the evidence of the Holy Spirit. He tells us that it is because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which was given to us. Remember, one of the names of the Holy Spirit is “Comforter.” He comforts us by strengthening us...by pouring out the love of God in our hearts. Now this “pouring out’ is not a trickle. It is literally a “gushing out.” The evidence that our hope is real is that the love of God gushes out from God into our hearts...and the Holy Spirit is the one doing this. BTW...this is the first time the Holy Spirit is mentioned in Romans.
‘Under the vivid metaphor of a cloudburst on a parched countryside’,what the Holy Spirit does is to make us deeply and refreshingly aware that God loves us.
This verse serves as a transition to verses 6-11. Now, he is, in effect, taking us back out of the deeper waters (we will be going back into them shortly!) of tribulations and perseverance into the wonderful truths about the love of God. Yet, whether we are new born Christians or mature Christians who have been in the faith for decades, these truths never get old. If someone is studying advanced trigonometry, do they not need the basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division? No, and we still need to go back to the truths of the basics of our faith. In verses 6-11, Paul tells us about the love of God. He wants us to get the full impact of what the love of God is...we need to go back and reflect on how much God really loves us.
Verse 6 says that Jesus Christ died at the right time. God chose a time...the perfect time...to send his son to die for our sins. This was true in history, but it is also true in our experience. There is a perfect time that each of us comes to know that Jesus died for our sins...That time, is when we were helpless...when we came to the end of our strength. At that time, Jesus died for the ungodly...that’s you and me.
Then in verse 7, Paul makes the point that hardly anyone would die for a righteous man...that is, a man who was righteous according to the law. Paul at one time said that as a Pharisee he was righteous according to the law. Of course, he was also self-righteous. He goes on to say that for a good man, someone might be willing to die. That is...a man who was not only righteous in the externals but in the internals. Someone who truly loved God…
But then verse 8 makes the point that we were none of those. We weren’t righteous and we weren’t good. We were the ungodly. Let’s re-read this verse...I’m going to read this in the old King James just because I like it so well…
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Not when we were righteous. Not when we were good. When we were helpless. When we were ungodly. When we were sinners. When we were rebels against God. This is an astounding verse. It’s the essence of Christianity. Christ died for sinners. Christ died for us.
There is one curious thing about this verse that grabs my attention. When he said ‘Christ died for us”, what tense is that in? Past tense. It happened in the past...in a given point in history...almost 2000 years ago. But when he says, “God commendeth His love to us” or “God demonstrates His love to us”, what tense is that in? Present tense. You see, though Jesus died at a given point in history, the application of the benefits of that death is an ongoing thing. It reminds me of the fact that when an animal was slain in the temple, it was at a given point in time. Yet the blood from the animal (and other animals) was then taken into the Holy Place where it was used continuously. This is a type of the continuing work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers.
Now let’s do another little word study. The word translated “demonstrate” means “to stand near”... referring to facts "lining up" with each other to support (commend) something. It is standing near to support a thing. KJV uses “commendeth.” We don’t use the word “commend” much, but we do use a similar word…”recommend.” When we recommend someone we are supporting them. What Paul is saying I think is that we never have to doubt the love of God, because He made the ultimate expression of His love to us in sending His son to die for us when we were completely helpless, without strength...even rebels against Him. It is an ongoing recommendation of His love. We should never doubt His love as long as we continually go back to the cross to see how much He loves us.
This leads directly into verse 9. Because we have now been justified, we now can be assured that we will ultimately be saved from the wrath of God through Jesus. Why is this? Verse 10 explains further. He died for us when we were enemies to God, and we were reconciled when we were rebels to Him through the death of His Son. Now that we have been reconciled, Paul says that we shall be saved by His life...that is, the life of Jesus. What does he mean by this? There is a verse in Hebrews that I believe sheds light on what this passage is about.
Hebrews 7:25 (NKJV)
25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
This verse is talking about the ongoing priesthood of Christ. After Jesus rose from the dead, He ascended to heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. What is He doing today in heaven? He is making intercession for those who come to God through Him. What is the result of this intercession? They are saved to the uttermost. (NASB says “forever”, but this word means more than only “for all time.” It also means “completely.” “perfectly”, “utterly”. This tells me that the work of salvation is ongoing. There is a sense in which we can say not that we were saved or are saved but that we are being saved. He is continually ministering in heaven on our behalf. We are being saved by His life...that is, by His living today. Our salvation will not be complete until He takes us home. Remember this scripture…?
being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; (Phil. 1:6 NKJV)
That good work in us is the work of salvation...of reconcilliation to God. We won’t be fully reconciled to Him until “the day of Jesus Christ.” When He comes back to get us. That day, all will be completed. That will be the day of our full salvation.
Let’s look at one more verse. Verse 11 flows out of verse 10. In verse 10, it says we WERE reconciled by the death of Jesus and that we SHALL BE saved by his life ultimately. In verse 11, it says we have NOW received the reconciliation. Now received. This is for now. Paul says that we exult in Christ (there is that word exult again!) because we presently have the reconciliation. Salvation is not just something in the past that we can look back on, nor something in the future that we can look forward to, but something that we presently possess. Why? Because He always lives to make intercession for us. That’s something we can exult in!
George Matheson suffered poor eyesight from birth, and at age 15 learned that he was going blind. Not one to be easily discouraged, he enrolled in the University of Glasgow and graduated at age 19. He then began theological studies, and it was while pursuing those that he became totally blind.
Matheson’s three sisters rose to the occasion and tutored him through his studies—even going so far as to learn Hebrew, Greek, and Latin to be able to help their brother. With their help he was able to complete his studies.
After graduation, he answered a call to serve as pastor of a church in Innellan, Argylshire, Scotland. He had a successful ministry there, and was later called to serve as pastor of the much larger (2000 member) St. Bernard’s Church in Edinburgh.
On the day that one of his sisters was married, Matheson wrote this hymn. He recorded this account of that experience in his journal:
“My hymn was composed on the evening of June 6, 1882. I was at that time alone. It was the day of my sister’s marriage... Something had happened to me which was known only to myself, and which caused me the most severe mental suffering. The hymn was the fruit of that suffering. It was the quickest bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the impression of having it dictated to me by some inward voice than of working it out myself. I am quite sure that the whole work was completed in five minutes, and equally sure that it never received at my hands any retouching or correction...
Matheson obviously didn’t intend to tell us what caused his “most severe mental suffering,” but people who know his background strongly suspect that it had to do with a heartbreaking experience several years earlier. His fiancee had broken her engagement to him, telling him that she couldn’t see herself going through life married to a blind man. Matheson never married, and it seems likely that his sister’s wedding brought to memory the woman that he had loved and the wedding that he had never enjoyed.
At any rate, Matheson’s “severe mental suffering” inspired him to write this hymn, “O Love that Wilt Not Let Me Go.” The hymn celebrates the constancy of God’s love—”love that wilt not let me go”—”light that follow’st all my way”—”joy that seekest me through pain.” It concludes by celebrating “Life that shall endless be.”...
When I read the various accounts of Matheson’s writing this hymn, one sentence struck me as especially important. It was this—Matheson said, “The hymn was the fruit of that suffering.” There is an important lesson in that. All of us suffer some sort of heartbreak or disappointment or disability at some point in our lives. What makes all the difference is our response —whether we let the hardship stop us or inspire us to greater effort.
Matheson suffered two severe blows that could have stopped him—the loss of his eyesight and the loss of his beloved. In both cases, he made the best of a bad situation—and we are all the richer for it. As this hymn reveals, it was his faith in God that kept him going through the adversities that he suffered. He believed that God’s love would not let him go—and that God’s light would follow him all his way—and that God’s joy would seek him through his pain—and that faith made all the difference.O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O Light that foll’west all my way,
I yield my flick’ring torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.