If the Apostle Paul ever wrote a treatise on Christian theology, the Book of Romans would be it because it, Paul covers all aspects of the nature of humanity in relation to God; he illustrates how sinful humanity has become, God’s reaction to it, and very clearly what God has done to make a way out of that sinfulness and into a loving relationship with Him. All else is an addendum to that. I recommend you read Romans, spending a week in each chapter.
Paul begins chapter five with the word, “Therefore,” so we must first determine what therefore is there for. The word tells us that some very important came before it which, in this case, is chapter four which tells us about the faith of Abraham, and how his faith, “…was counted to him as righteousness,” and that our faith, identical to his makes us righteous as well. So now Paul begins chapter five.
“Therefore, since we are justified by faith we have peace with God.” What does “…peace with God” mean? Well, what does it mean to be at peace with anyone? Simply stated, it means there is no animosity, no antagonism between parties. We often call these people friends. In the same way, when we are at peace with God, there is no longer animosity or antagonism; in fact, when we have peace with God we ARE friends with Him which is a good thing. Other ancient manuscripts use the phrase, “…let us have peace with God.” This is an important difference that should be looked at. The phrase”…we have peace with God,” implies finality, a done deal if you will. To say, “Let us have peace with God,” at least some of the responsibility is on us to behave ourselves and to be vigilant regarding our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Whichever way you look at it however, peace with God means being faithfully and joyfully obedient to God’s will. So since we have peace with God, through Jesus Christ, we now stand in (God’s) grace.
When we are in someone’s ‘good graces,’ doesn’t it mean we have found favor with them, that perhaps they might even call us their friend? And friends look out for each others’ well-being as much as possible. Through our faith in Jesus Christ, we now stand in God’s good graces; we are now in a position in relation to God to be able to receive all God’s blessings that are available to us, now and in the kingdom to come. This makes us joint heirs with Jesus; remember that He told the disciples, “All that the Father has is mine.” And we can boast about this, Paul says. Let me here give a caution about boasting, even about the things God has done in your life; limit who you boast to, what you boast about, and always make God the subject. For example, “God has taken away my addiction,” or “God has shown me what real love is,” or “God has brought such peace and joy into my life.” Always make God the subject. There is even more to brag about, however.
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Jesus said to his disciples, “If the world hates me it will hate you, too.” There is no shame in suffering for Jesus. In fact, in his Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven…” Paul goes on to say that suffering, (for the sake of the Gospel), builds character, also known as growing in our Christian walk. Even though Paul says this gives us reason to brag, let me again caution about how it’s done. My recommendation is to let others take notice of your growth and comment about it; in that way both you and God get the blessing. Furthermore, Paul goes on to say that character creates a hope in us that does not disappoint. This type of hope, the Christian hope is a convinced anticipation of the rewards that await us in heaven as God has promised; and when has God ever gone back on His promises? So then suffering produces endurance, which builds character, which gives us hope in God’s promises because, “…your reward is great in heaven.” Remember, Jesus willingly went to the cross for our sins, “…for the joy that was set before him.” This joy certainly wasn’t the beatings and torture he would sustain during his mock trials; and it definitely wasn’t the humiliation of be stripped naked and nailed to the cross for everyone to laugh at and make fun of. No, the joy that was set before him was knowing that what he had to endure would make it possible for all of mankind to have a right relationship with God, now and forever. Paul then speaks of God’s abounding love in the next three verses.
Amazingly enough, the Gospel message can be found right here. While we were still sinners, God’s enemies, unable to save ourselves from the clutches of sin, the Son of God died on the cross, so that we could be justified, found not guilty of sin, before God. Nothing compelled either one to do this; Jesus could have stayed in heaven; God could have destroyed all mankind like He nearly did in the time of Noah. No, nothing compelled them but love; they love humanity so much they wanted to save us. As a side note, take notice of verse eight and compare it to John 3:16. These two verses together is the Gospel in a nutshell. It doesn’t get easier that this. Verses nine through eleven make up the last section.
Here we have the results of Christ dying for us: First, we have been justified, meaning we are no longer guilty of sin: Second, we have been reconciled to God, we have the relationship with God that He has always desired: Third, because we have been justified and reconciled to God, we will not have to face the wrath of God on that final day of judgment; we will be saved from the condemnation that is the result of sin.
We serve a wonderful God.
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