Justification makes a believer happy!

Romans 5:1—11

Chapter 5 of Romans marks a turning point. Up till now, Paul has been a professor of New Testament doctrine, teaching his readers all about the doctrine we call Justification By Faith. The first four chapters of this letter are what Joe Friday would call “only the facts.” In chapters 5 to 8, Paul leaves the facts of justification to cover the fruits of justification. The kind of fruit varies from chapter to chapter, and in chapter 5 Paul discusses a number of fruit that justification brings, all of which result in hope in the life of every believer.

1. Peace, vs. 1

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…

The first fruit or benefit of having been justified by faith is “peace with God.” It seems as though this is one thing human beings have been looking for almost since the very beginning. For most people, a life of peace is a fleeting dream. Grasping peace is like trying to remember the details of a dream you just awoke from. The problem is that while people want peace, they want it on their terms, not God’s terms. And unfortunately, almost always your terms will be in conflict with other peoples’ terms. This is true of God. If you pursue peace on your terms, you will be in conflict with God. The Gospel of Jesus Christ comes between man and God and paves the way for peace between the two.

The Greek word for “peace” that Paul used is eirene, and it does not primarily suggest an attitude or a relationship between people but rather a “state” or a “time of peace” in between an everlasting state of war. Thanks to the work of Jesus Christ, man has been set free from the continuing state of war that exists between God and the human race and can now be at peace.

This peace is both objective and subjective. We have been given peace through Jesus Christ, but it is up to us to enjoy it; to claim it. In fact, this is how J.B. Phillips translates the second part of verse 1:

Let us grasp the fact that we have peace with God.

The believer must never lose sight of the fact through the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, we have an unshakable hope for the future. This hope is rooted and grounded in our relationship with Christ:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… (Romans 8:1)

Peace with God is available only to those who have embraced the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Peace with God is the foundation of all other peace in the world. This is why there will never be peace in the world or permanent peace in the human heart until all men everywhere submit to the rule of God.

Martin Luther once preached a sermon on Romans 5 and made some interesting observations, which are worth sharing:

  • The righteous man has peace with God but affliction with the world because he lives in the Spirit.
  • The unrighteous man has peace with the world but affliction and tribulation with god because he lives in the flesh.
  • But as the Spirit is eternal, so also will be the peace of the righteous man and tribulation of the unrighteous.
  • And as the flesh is temporal, so will be the tribulation of the righteous and peace of the unrighteous.

2. Access, vs. 2a

…through whom we have gained access by faith…

Here is the second benefit of justification: access to the presence and reality of God. This reminds us of something else Paul wrote:

For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (Ephesians 2:18)

This was accomplished through Christ’s vicarious sacrifice. It was the shedding of His blood that brought reconciliation and it was the Holy Spirit that causes believers to appropriate and appreciate this great act of redemption.

The Greek ten prosagogen, translated “access,” means “our introduction.” The idea Paul is trying to get across is that of entrance into the presence of a monarch. It does not suggest that our access is accomplished on our own strength, but rather that we need an “introducer”–Jesus Christ. The French word entree is a good word for what Jesus has done for us. He brings the the justified believer into the full favor and grace of God the Father, and thus into His presence.

3. Grace, vs 2b

into this grace in which we now stand.

This statement sums up the privilege of all believers. We are currently able to enjoy every spiritual blessing in Christ. Grace is like a key we hold in our hands that will, one day, open wide the door that will permit us entrance in reality into the very presence of God Almighty. Right now we can enjoy God’s presence spiritually, but in the future, we will be literally and forever in the same “time” and “space” as He is!

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

4. Hope, vs 2c

And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

Closely related to faith is hope; these two great virtues have much in common. Our hope of eternal happiness with God the Father in Heaven is grounded in the glory of God. As we sit and reflect on God’s glory, our hearts are filled with hope. Thus, we can face the future with joy, confidence, and optimism. In fact, God’s plan is that we should reflect His glory. God is not gloomy or depressed. God is not downtrodden, sullen and melancholy. And neither should we be.

5. Suffering, vs. 3—5

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.

Depending on our current circumstances, these verses can be a little hard to take. Another benefit of our justification is a new understanding of suffering. The believer’s joy or glory is not something we hope we may experience some time in the future, but it is a present reality today, even during times of distress. Suffering of all kinds will come and go, but the peace, access, grace, and hope never leave the justified believer.

In the Christian life, suffering is helpful; it has real value. It produces a number things:

  • Perseverance, or “steadfast endurance.” This gives us the ability to literally “bear up” in the face of any pressure or trial.

  • Character is something that perseverance leads to. The word translated “character” denotes the quality of being approved, what has been proved by trial. This was something Job understood well: When he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10)

  • Hope is produced by character. Interestingly, “hope” is the final step toward spiritual maturity. The other two steps lead to this one. It’s not that Paul is suggesting that our hope is in our character or that our character is the source of our hope. That source is clearly the grace in which we stand.

Paul stresses that the Christian hope does not put believers to shame. In other words, the Christian hope will never disappoint us. Our hope is not an illusion because it has been poured into our hearts by the Spirit. Get it? God gives us the hope we possess.

Our new understanding of suffering couldn’t be more different than the world’s. Christian suffering is a source of joy because it has a purpose: to build character.

6. Judgment, vs. 6—11

This wonderful benefit of justification relates to the final judgment.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! (vs. 9)

Christian hope is not to be confused with things like wishful thinking that says, “I hope God will kind to me on judgment day” or “If I get to go to heaven.” In fact, our hope is based on something concrete: the things God did for us in the death of His Son. God did all that He did for us out of love for us. God, were were just told, poured His love into our hearts, and now we are told why:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. (vs. 8)

We were so full of sin, we were powerless to help ourselves and powerless to latch onto God’s love. God, out of love, took the initiative and poured His love into us! God’s love is so unique, Paul gave a simple illustration to help his readers understand:

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. (vs. 7)

God demonstrated His love for sinful man in a most unique and remarkable way: He did it while we were at our worst! God’s love for sinful man, as revealed in Jesus Christ, is unprecedented and unparalleled.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (vs. 8)

Nothing we could have done would have moved God to send His Son to die for us. He did it “while were still sinners.” Moreover, we are told, Jesus died “at just the right time” or, as it can also be translated, “at the appointed time.” In other words, Jesus died at precisely the time set by God, not by us.

Of importance is the present tense of the word “demonstrates.” Even though Jesus died once for all; His death occurring at a point in history two thousand years ago, the fact is the death of the Son of God continues to impact and influence the present generations, so powerful it was.

Paul’s argument in the concluding verses of this section is a marvel of pure logic. If God did all these good things for us while we were at our absolute worst, how much more will He do for us now that we are on His side! When we look at the love He HAD for us, surely we can HAVE hope and confidence for the future.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! (vs. 9)

The fact that we have “been justified by his blood” indicates that man’s sin problem has been thoroughly dealt with. The consequence of our sin is inescapable: sure and certain judgment. However, praise God, the love of God made it possible for us to know beyond the shadow of any doubt that we “shall be saved from God’s wrath through him.” As wonderful as this is, Paul says there is “much more” to our salvation that simply being saved from what we have done.

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (vs. 10)

That last phrase is the game-changer: “We shall be saved through (or by) his life!” In other words, Christ got rid of our sinful yesterdays and He is the answer to what we are today. Christ not only died, but has also risen. He saved us by His death, but because He rose, ahead of us also lies salvation. Barth observes:

Christ’s risen life sets a seal upon our justification effected by His death, and because He lives, this peace, our reconciliation, and the pouring forth of the love of God in our hearts, mark a point in our journey beyond which there is no turning back, going on from which we have only one future, and in which we can only glory, as long as we remain in Christ.

Paul set forth the wrath of God in the first part of Romans (1:18—3:20) and the righteousness of God in this second section (3:21—5:11). Next, we will tackle how the wrath of God and the righteousness of are seen in Adam and Christ.

(c)  2011 WitzEnd


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