The Gospel in Romans, part 12

Just by faith - peace - hope - joy. Sufferings - endurance - character - hope - never disappointed! We have finally begun reading Romans again, and we are now in chapter five, which I like to call the "grace chapter" of Romans. We had taken a break from Romans for some weeks, and looked at Genesis 1-3, especially so that as we read Romans chapter 5, we will see the connection between Jesus and Adam in Genesis 3 as they are discussed from verses 12-21 of this chapter. I did not teach this whole lesson last night, but I hope to continue it next week. There is so much joy and hope to be found in understanding this chapter, so go ahead and dig in...

Romans Chapter 5, part 1

Romans 5:1-6 (ESV):
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.

Verse 1
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Remember what we must do whenever we start reading the Bible at a certain verse or passage and see a "therefore"? We are supposed to go back and find out what that "therefore" is there for. The last chapter ended by teaching us that the Scripture was not written for Abraham's sake alone that his faith was "counted to him as righteousness" (Romans 4:22; Genesis 15:6), but it was also written for us who will be "counted righteous" by faith, if we trust in God who delivered Jesus up to be crucified for our trespasses and raised for our justification (Romans 4:23-25).
Now we have come to chapter 5 verse 1; and what does it say we are therefore justified by? "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith..." So the word "therefore" is intended to show us that because, or since we are justified by faith, as it was stated back in 4:25, we now have these blessings that follow.

What is the first result of being justified by faith? "We have peace with God." And through whom does this peace come? "Through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Remember when we studied Adam and Eve in Genesis chapter three, and how Adam and Eve needed to be reconciled to God. They had been separated from God's presence by their sin and by God's judgment with the angel and the flaming sword keeping them out of Paradise. Their own efforts to cover their shame could not have restored them to peace with God. They needed God to make a provision, and He did that through the sacrifice of the "lamb" in order to clothe them, representing Christ's sacrifice of atonement. Thus God was showing Adam and Eve how He would make a way for them to be brought back to Himself and have peace with Him through Christ. Now Paul is declaring that we have that peace through Jesus Christ if we are justified by faith, just as Abraham and all the saints were justified!

Notice also the title Jesus Christ has - "our Lord Jesus Christ." Do you remember what the words, "Lord" and "Christ" mean? First, Jesus is our Lord, which means He rules; He is our Judge, our Master, our God and the one we bow to in humble submission and obedience. Whatever He says, that is what we must believe and do. Next, Jesus is the Christ, which means "Anointed." That means He is the the one God the Father has anointed with the Holy Spirit to be our Prophet (speaking the truth of God), our Priest (making the sacrifice for our sins and interceding before God on our behalf), and our King (providing a kingdom and a land of peace and safety by ruling and reigning supreme over all). This is who Jesus is to those of us who are justified by faith. He is our Lord, and the one by whom we now have peace with God, because of the sacrifice of Himself.

Verse 2
Through him we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

How do we get access into "this grace" mentioned here? Notice the words, "through him." It is only through Jesus Christ that there is salvation, and that is received by faith. Jesus is the source of God's grace. John chapter one says that Jesus is "full of grace and truth," and that "from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace," and that "the law came through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:14,16,17). So all God's grace is only given and accessed through Jesus Christ our Lord.

What is grace? Salvation is by grace, so do you know what the word "grace" means?
(I asked a young Hispanic man this, and since the Spanish word for grace is "gracia", he thought I was talking about giving thanks). I heard of one old black minister, who died not long ago (Elder D.J. Ward), who was quoted as saying, "I'm a grace case... I'm a grace case!" Grace is really profound and beautiful. I have a blog on the internet devoted to grace, called "All of Grace." A lot of ministries and churches like to attach the word "grace" to their names; "grace church," "Greater Grace World Outreach," etc. Countless books are written about grace all the time. In fact, this very chapter of Romans 5 is written to teach us about grace. So what is it? Well, grace in the Bible usually means Divine favor. It is God's favor and goodness toward those who deserve His judgment and wrath. It is revealed to us through Jesus Christ who took the judgment and wrath on behalf of those who are under God's divine favor. I like this definition: Grace is the free gift of undeserved favor toward hell-deserving sinners.

Grace is something we stand in. We have these blessings which result from being justified by trust (faith) in Jesus: 1) we are justified (counted righteous before God); 2) we have peace with God (we are His friends and no longer enemies); 3) we have access into this grace in which we stand (i.e. we stand in God's favor as His chosen and beloved); 3) this causes us to rejoice (lit. "to speak loud") in hope of the glory of God. All these spiritual blessings come to us only through Jesus Christ our Lord by faith.

Verses 3-4
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

Verse 3 begins with the words, "More than that." What do we do "more than that" if we are justified by faith? We rejoice in our sufferings. Sufferings are a part of the blessings that come with being justified by faith. Philippians 1:29 says, "For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake." Just as faith is granted (given) to us in order to believe in Jesus for His sake, even so, suffering is given to us for His sake also. The Greek word used for "sufferings" means to be under pressure, afflictions, tribulations, persecution, anguish, burdened. Such are the things Christians rejoice (lit. "speak loud") in. The reason we rejoice in our sufferings if we are justified by faith is, because sufferings produce all kinds of valuable spiritual blessings in us.

Why do you think suffering would be the cause of great spiritual blessings to a Christian? We see from verse 3, that it produces endurance. What does it mean to endure? The Greek word used here for endurance means to patiently and cheerfully endure, to have power to remain, to endure with hopefulness. It gives the idea of patient continuance in the faith. To endure means to hold out against adversity, not to fold under pressure but to remain steadfast, continue in hopefulness. Jesus said, "By your endurance you will gain your lives." (Luke 21:19). Hebrews 10:36 says to suffering Christians, "For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised." Jesus said to the Church of Philadelphia in the book of Revelation, "Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown." [The crown was used as a symbol of victory after enduring the test of sufferings]. Revelation 14:12 calls Christians to endure after telling them about how those who follow the beast and receive the 666 mark will be tormented in fire forever without rest, it then says, "Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." And the following verse pronounces a blessing on all who die in the Lord from now on, "that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!" (See Revelation 14:9-13). Endurance is essential to being saved, and Paul says that we rejoice in our sufferings, since as justified believers, they are producing this blessing of endurance in our lives.

What is the second thing sufferings produce? Sufferings produce endurance, which in turn produces character. The Greek word translated "character" means "test," or "proof." It is a word people used when testing gold or money to see if it was genuine. Sufferings or difficulties produce endurance in the justified believer, and that hopeful endurance produces genuine tested character (proving our faithfulness to God). When you want to know somebody, you always want to test their character to see if it is real. That is exactly what difficulties and trials do for our faith - it is tested and proven to be the real thing.

What is the third thing sufferings produce? Or, what does tested character produce? Character produces hope. Hope is a really good thing. It means to be waiting with expectation. When I was studying this word in the Bible, I thought of this example for hope: The Bible's definition of hope is similar to the feeling you get when you know it is sure your team is going to win. You are watching a football game, or playing soccer or something else, and everything is intense. Then the time starts running out, and your team does something, like scores or whatever, and you realize it's all over. The game is over - your team is going to win and now it is just a matter of time until it ends. And you begin to rejoice, even jump for joy, because you know it's finished. You know what the outcome is going to be, and so you are filled with hopeful expectation. That is the idea we get here. Suffering produces endurance in the justified believer's life, which produces tested proven character, which produces joyful hope.

Verse 5
and hope does not put us to shame because the love of God has been
poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given
to us.

What does hope not do for us? Hope does not put us to shame. The NASB says, "and hope does not disappoint." Verse 5 is the climax of all the spiritual blessings listed here. Hope, which means "waiting in expectation" does not leave the justified ashamed or disappointed. Why not? How could someone have hope, and then end up disappointed or put to shame? Proverbs 13:12 says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life."

I read an article about an African American man from a small town who was accused of several rapes and a murder back in the 1980's. He was sentenced to 99 years in prison. The man, who's name was Tim, always held that he did not commit the rapes and the murder. After he was in prison for a number of years, another man stepped forward and admitted he was the one who committed those crimes that Tim was in prison for. The judges would not listen to the man's confession and they would not reconsider that Tim was innocent. After more years passed, Tim died in prison of health complications. It was only after he died that the courts reconsidered his case, and found out he was innocent, while the other man was the one who had indeed committed those rapes. I watched a video where Tim's brothers and mother were crying and talking about their brother. One of the brother's held a little brown New Testament, and he read from it these words, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life." (Proverbs 13:12). Tim's hope and his family's hope had been deferred. Tim died before justice could be dealt out rightly for him. However, someone in the article said that there is only one Judge and one system of justice that is perfect, and it isn't on this earth yet. Nevertheless, for Tim's family, their hope for his release was gone. Tim's hope was ended. However, knowing that he was innocent did fulfill their desire for their brother in some ways. That is what it means to have hope and not see it fulfilled. It is a sad story. But the story will not end there. Whether or not Tim was a believer, God will raise him from the dead and all this will be worked out on judgment day. God was Sovereign over Tim's situation, and we do not know what God's purposes were for him to be in such a situation. That is why we look forward to that day, because it is a day when God will judge the world in righteousness (Psalm 96:13).

Now, we are reading here that while Christians may suffer extremely in this life, and we are promised that it will be so, nevertheless, this hope will not be deferred, it will be fulfilled. Christians may die, yet Christ, who is our hope, will return and will raise the dead. And this is how we know our hope will be fulfilled, because it says, "the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." I have often thought, how could I ever doubt God's love? How can I doubt His love when He has given me everything? He gave His Son, as we will see in verse 6, and He gave me His Holy Spirit to be in me and with me. Through the Holy Spirit, God has poured out His love into the hearts of those of us who are justified. The Holy Spirit is given as a down payment, or as an engagement ring. He is the seal of God's promise that He will save those who are justified by faith. This love of God is poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. So if you have the Holy Spirit, then God's love has been poured into your hearts through Him and you have this hope that will never put you to shame, because it will be fulfilled!

Verse 6
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

This is where we see the love of God - that Christ would die at the right time for the ungodly. While we were still weak, helpless, ungodly, unable to do good, Christ died for us who are justified by faith in Him!

I will end with some soul-searching questions:
Are you justified by faith in Christ? Are you trusting Him alone as your hope and your righteousness? Are you enjoying peace and friendship with God through Him? Are you standing in His grace that comes only through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord? Are you suffering through difficulties as a result of your faith in Jesus? Are you enduring, proving your character and waiting in hope for Christ to return and for you to be delivered into Heaven? Have you experienced this overflowing love of God poured out into your hearts through the Holy Spirit? Has He changed your heart, and has He melted it with His love, so that you are looking to Christ for all grace? And last of all, do you view yourself as weak, and ungodly? Do you see that Jesus Christ died at the right time for the ungodly, and that includes you if you have trusted in Him?

Don't turn away from Him, but instead, trust Him who delivered Jesus up for our trangressions and was raised for our justification. Trust Him and Him alone.


Stephanie said...

Those are great questions you asked at the end of your study. I will have to say "YES x 10!!"

How many teens are in the class that you teach?

Penn Tomassetti said...

We are a small bunch. Yesterday there was five of us including myself. Usually there are about 7-8 people at the study.

Please pray for us. Grace be with you in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Stephanie said...

Well, numbers don't matter. Those who God draws will be there, and I'm sure they're growing from the truth that is being taught!

I'll be praying.