We begin a new section of Romans this morning that runs from 5:1 thru the end of chapter 8. The Hebrew Scriptures emphasize repeatedly the future hope of Israel and the promises of future salvation. In Romans 5-8 Paul argues that those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ are the inheritors of the promises made to Israel. Believing Jews and Gentiles are now recipients of the hope that belonged to Israel.
In Romans 4 Paul showed us how Abraham was justified by faith apart from works.
God declared them covenant members by faith in Jesus. Justification is not a matter of law, it is not a matter of works, it is not a matter of human effort. Well, a natural objection that would come at this point is, "Paul, is this method safe?" Is faith alone enough to secure us from wrath?
In our last study in Romans I shared with you three things about faith that I said we must understand. My second point was, "Assurance is an inseparable part of saving faith." If you have trusted Jesus Christ, you will have assurance. And this assurance will bring hope. This is what may be called "eternal security."
Through the years the subject of eternal security has been hotly debated in theology. There have always been those who have affirmed that you can lose your salvation. The "Five Points of Calvinism" are simply the Calvinistic answer to a five point manifest put out by certain Belgic semi-Pelagins in the early seventeenth century. We know this semi-Pelagin manifest as Arminianism; its fifth point states: "It rests with believers to keep themselves in a state of grace by keeping up their faith: those who fail here fall away and are lost."
As Christians, do we all live on the brink of damnation? Is our salvation conditional on our ability to maintain it? Talk about depression! I mean, people get depressed for a lot of things far less significant than that. I could understand depression, and I could understand taking massive amounts of Prozac if you believe you can lose your salvation. To believe that would be to constantly live in mortal fear.
The Synod of Dort was convened in 1618 to pronounce on this theology and the five points of Calvinism represent its counter affirmations. The Calvinistic fifth point states: "Believers are kept in faith and grace by the unconquerable power of God till they come to glory."
The doctrine that says you can lose your salvation puts conditions of maintenance on salvation. In other words, God has saved us, but we must continue to match up with the standard in order to hold on to salvation. If we fail, we lose our salvation.
This is the issue Paul deals with in this passage. He shows that salvation is eternal, we stand in grace. All is guaranteed by the unshakable love of God. The theme of 5:1-11 is summed up at the end of chapter 8: Those who are justified are also glorified, because of the love of God effective through the death of Christ. Salvation is secure! And all those who have left Egypt will be brought to Canaan, even though suffering awaits them on the journey. The parallels between 5:1-11 and 8:14-39 are remarkable! They both stress the work of Christ, the ministry of the Spirit, and the certainty of future glory in the midst of suffering. So the idea of security brackets this section:
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, Romans 5:1 NASB
Who is the "we" in this verse? It is Paul and the Roman Christians. Paul has now dropped the diatribe style and is addressing believers, the family of God.
"Therefore"--sums up everything that's been said since chapter 3:21 right on through the end of chapter 4. In light of what he has been saying on justification, there are certain inevitable deductions which can be drawn.
"Having been justified by faith"--the Greek here uses the aorist passive "having been justified." The aorist points to a past act by God (divine passive) to declare sinners righteous "Having been justified" indicates that God has already accomplished this work, just as Paul has explained:
being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; Romans 3:24 NASB
We are justified by grace through the work of Jesus Christ.
"We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ"--What does peace with God mean? It means the war is over, it means that God is no longer our enemy, no longer promising judgment and death:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, Romans 1:18 NASB
Peace with God is the new status between God and the believer which flows from the reconciliation accomplished in Jesus Christ:
and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. Colossians 1:20 NASB
As soon as you talk about reconciliation, you are talking about something being wrong. Suppose someone walks up to you and says, "Did you hear that so and so have reconciled?" You might say, "I didn't know there had been a problem." Why? Because reconciliation presupposes conflict, hostility, difficulty. "Made peace" means: "to establish harmony." Jesus put an end to the disturbed relations between God and man. He restored believing man and God. Before we came to trust Christ we were God's enemies because of sin. Jesus destroyed the enmity between God and man by His work on the cross. Peace with God is only "through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Paul talks about this reconciliation in:
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. Romans 5:10 NASB
"Peace with God" is the result of reconciliation with God. "Peace with God" is the result of justification by the Lord God.
In the First Testament peace is the gift of the end time when God fulfills His covenant promises to His people:
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7 NASB
"Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. "And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them; I the LORD have spoken. "I will make a covenant of peace with them and eliminate harmful beasts from the land so that they may live securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. Ezekiel 34:23-25 NASB
'But now I will not treat the remnant of this people as in the former days,' declares the LORD of hosts. 'For there will be peace for the seed: the vine will yield its fruit, the land will yield its produce and the heavens will give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to inherit all these things. Zechariah 8:11-12 NASB
Paul is saying that this eschatological peace is now available for both Jews and Gentiles who believe in Jesus, because the Church is the eschatological community of God.
So justification brings peace with God, but I want you to notice something interesting in this text. The phrase "We have peace with God," which is echomen in the Greek is not the reading of many ancient texts of the letter. Many ancient text have echmen: "let us have peace." It all revolves around one letter in the Greek word "have." If Paul's original manuscript has an omicron, that is a short o, the translation reads, "we have peace." If it has an omega, a long o, it reads, "Let us have peace." Scholars divide over this. The oldest texts support echmen, and, strictly, this should be followed. However, this would mean Paul is appealing to his readers to be active in establishing peace with God. The argument of the preceding chapters is that Jesus has made peace between God and man. Because of this, peace is an established reality that the people of God are to enjoy. This is the reason most translators follow echomen, "we have peace." Nevertheless, the strongest textual evidence does not support this translation, but rather it supports "let us have peace with God."
I see this as an exhortation to enjoy the peace that we as believers have. We have peace with God, we must realize this and walk in it. The sad reality is that even today many Christians don't realize that they are at peace with God. If you do not have that sense of peace, the way to get it is not by working on your feelings, but by reviewing your justification. Go over your theology, remind yourself of what God has declared, and what kind of a God He is, Abraham's God, who can raise the dead to life and call into existence things that do not exist. He is able to perform what He has promised.
It is clear Paul sensed a need to encourage the Roman believers to be confident that God, having redeemed them from captivity, was not going to abandon them on their pilgrimage. Having peace with God, therefore, is something Paul is anxious for the believers to actively embrace and enjoy, for it has been secured through the death of Jesus.
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. Romans 5:2 NASB
"Introduction"--is the Greek word prosagoge. It is a levitical term for access to the temple. This word prosagoge is used only two other times in Ephesians 2:18 and 3:12, each time speaking of an introduction to God. Christ has brought us in and introduced us to God.
This was revolutionary--especially for Paul's Jewish readers. All through their history, the one thing that was true for the Jews was no access. God was the utterly unapproachable Holy One, and that was laid down in no uncertain terms. For instance, Gentiles were restricted to the outer courts of the Temple. If a Gentile went beyond that court, he could be put to death. Then there was the "Court of the Women" that restricted female worshipers. Finally, there was the "Holy Place" where only the priests could minister and behind it the "Holy of Holies," the dwelling place of God, separated by a thick curtain. Entrance into the "Holy of Holies" was restricted to the High Priest--and that only once a year on the Day of Atonement. The message was clear: "Keep your distance!" Access was not a word in the vocabulary of the Jews.
Notice what the writer of Hebrews says:
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, Hebrews 10:19 NASB
The Greek word used for "confidence" is parrhesia, which means: "boldness, confidence, assurance." This idea of having assurance or confidence arises directly out of what has just been said, that is why he starts this verse with "therefore."
For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. Hebrews 10:14 NASB
Since they were "sanctified, perfected forever," boldness is appropriate and right. It is referring to an objective right, which gives us a subjective attitude of boldness. They have boldness to enter the "holiest"--this is a reference to God's presence. And this boldness by which we enter is "by the blood of Jesus," not by our own merit.
You can't be a successful Christian if you are uncertain about the nature of your relationship to God, about the privilege of access that you have into God's presence. It would be difficult to overestimate the value of confidence in human motivation.
There is a story that is told about Napoleon. It is said on one occasion Napoleon was riding a horse, and he lost control of the horse, and it ran away with him. And an ordinary solider stepped out of the ranks, a solider we might describe as a buck private, he grabbed the reigns of Napoleon's horse, and he pulled it to a stop. Napoleon looked down at the man, and he said, "Thank you, Captain." And the solider, realizing that he had just been promoted, without a moments hesitation responded, "Of what regiment, sir?" To which Napoleon replied, "My personal guard." That's boldness! Face to face with the emperor of France, relying completely on the emperor's word, he gained access into the personal presence of the emperor by becoming a member of his personal guard.
Do you realize that it is our high and holy privilege to be in the presence of the Emperor of the universe? We have access to the presence of God, twenty four seven. We have boldness, because we are members of the body of Christ. We are blood bought members; our membership is an eternal membership, and it is paid in full:
in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Ephesians 3:12 NASB
Through the blood of Christ we have been brought into the presence of God.
"Into this grace in which we stand"--When you came by faith to the Lord Jesus Christ, you basically had access to a realm of grace, to a dimension of grace. You now live in grace. Christian, our standing is in grace. The language implies a permanent standing (perfect tense verb). That means that all who are in Christ are never outside the grace of God!
The word "grace" means: "free and unmerited favor shown to guilty sinners who deserve only judgment." All of the Christian life is a matter of grace. We are brought into God's eternal kingdom by grace; we are justified by grace; we are motivated to obedience by grace; we receive strength to live the Christian life by grace; and we receive both temporal and spiritual blessings by grace. The entire Christian life is lived by grace.
I think that most Christians understand that salvation is all of grace. We deplore and anathematize those who add works to grace. All Christians know that we are saved by grace alone, but many think that once you are saved, you have to work to stay in God's favor. They tend to base their personal relationship with God on their performance, instead of on His grace. This is wrong! All of the Christian life is by grace. My daily relationship with God, as well as my salvation is based on the infinite merit of Christ alone. John Newton, the writer of the hymn "Amazing Grace," put it this way, "Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home." Grace saves, grace sustains.
If you sometimes feel you deserve an answer to prayer or a particular blessing from God because of your hard work or sacrifice, you are living by works, not by grace. Or let's say that you sinned and soon afterward you had the opportunity to share the Gospel. Could you have shared the Gospel with complete confidence of God's help? If not, you are not living by grace. We are legalistic by nature; that is, we innately think that so much performance by us earns so much blessing from God.
Grace does not take into account merits or demerits at all. Rather, grace considers all men and women as totally undeserving and unable to do anything to earn the blessing of God. C. Samuel Storms, writing about grace, says this:
Grace ceases to be grace if God is compelled to bestow it in the presence of human merit .... Grace ceases to be grace if God is compelled to withdraw it in the presence of human demerit .... Grace is treating a person without the slightest reference to desert whatsoever, but solely according to the infinite goodness and sovereign purpose of God. (The Grandeur of God, page 125.)
By His death Jesus completely satisfied the justice of God for all who trust Him, which required eternal death as the penalty for sin. The picture that the Bible gives us of God's grace is that of complete and total forgiveness. My standing and my acceptance by God does not depend upon me.
Paul wants to assure believers that they will not come under the wrath of God in the final judgment, because they stand in grace.
"We exult in hope of the glory of God"--To "exult" is from the Greek word kauchaomai --to boast or to rejoice in or to express a sense of triumphant confidence in the Lord. It means: "to rejoice," but it's more than that, it's kind of a confident boasting.
This "hope of glory" is an eschatological hope, not a present possession, for Paul's original audience. The glory of God was a hope to that first century generation because the glory of God had not yet been realized in His people. God's glory is His presence.
First century believers had a journey to endure before they arrived at the goal of their salvation, for their inheritance is stored up for them in heaven:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 1 Peter 1:3-4 NASB
They had not yet received their inheritance, it was reserved in heaven for them, but it would soon be theirs:
who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:5 NASB
Their salvation/inheritance was about to be revealed, they hoped for it:
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; Romans 5:3 NASB
Notice that peace with God and a permanent standing in grace does not mean a trouble free life. Notice what Paul says here about suffering, "we also exult in our tribulations." The NIV says, "but we also rejoice in our sufferings." GWT says, "We also brag when we are suffering." The word "exult" is again the Greek word kauchaomai, which means: "to vaunt (in a good or a bad sense), boast, glory, joy, rejoice." And the word "tribulations" is from the Greek thlipsis, which means: "pressure (literally or figuratively) anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble." This is a strong term and does not refer to minor inconveniences, but to real hardships. It was used in reference to squeezing olives for the oil, or squeezing grapes for the wine.
"Tribulations" is referring to the tribulation that the transition saints experienced. Paul was preaching a Law-free Gospel, and this brought great tribulation. Believers in Rome were being persecuted by the Romans and the Jews. Paul is saying here that he rejoices "because" of his tribulations, not in spite of them. Notice 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. Romans 5:11 NASB
This is the same Greek construction as verse 3. Paul rejoices in God and in tribulation. If this seems a little strange to you, let's remind ourselves that in the New Testament suffering was the normal experience of a Christian and was viewed as a cause for rejoicing.
We see in this text an entirely different attitude from that which we see in the Church today. We pity ourselves, and we pity others who are suffering. We moan, murmur, and complain when we suffer. This wasn't the case with Paul:
And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB
Notice, just as it says, "We exult in tribulations" in Romans 5:3, he says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that he "most gladly" boasts or "exults" (same word) over his weaknesses. Paul practiced what he preached.
And what he means by "weaknesses" in 2 Corinthians 12:9 he shows us in the next verse:
Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10 NASB
The whole array of distresses and weaknesses and sicknesses and difficulties are meant by these tribulations in Romans 5:3, not just persecutions. And Paul says he exults in them, instead of murmuring and complaining about them:
For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, Philippians 1:29 NASB
Paul taught that suffering was a grace gift from God. The New Testament saints understood this, notice:
They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. Acts 5:40-41 NASB
They are severely beaten, and their response is to rejoice. What on earth is wrong with them? How do you describe people whose values are so counter-cultural that they rejoice over the privilege of being beaten in public? Are they sadomasochists? What else would cause this type of response? Why do they seem so different from us? It all boils down to "knowing" the purpose of tribulations.
"Knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance"--they exulted in tribulations; "knowing"--they knew the benefit of tribulation. It is only the knowledge of the effects of tribulation and of their being appointed by his heavenly father that enables the Christian to rejoice in them.
"Perseverance" is from the Greek word is hupomone. It literally means "to bear up under" something. It is "the ability to remain in a difficult situation without giving in or giving up." It is the fortitude that not only survives trouble, but is made stronger by it.
We rejoice because we know that trials and suffering produce endurance. Suffering does something, accomplishes something; it is of value in my life, and that is what causes the rejoicing.
Paul goes on to say that endurance produces character:
and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; Romans 5:4 NASB
The word "character" is from the Greek word dokime, which is a noun. The verb form is dokimazo, which means: "to be approved, to put to the test for the purpose of approving." Thus it means: "proven character." It is through the trials of life that we mature in Christian character.
Tribulation comes into our lives, in the midst of tribulation we respond with endurance, hupomone, we stay under it. We endure, we remain under the tribulation, we persevere, and out of that experience of perseverance comes proven character.
"And proven character, hope"--The "hope" that the Bible speaks of is the coming of Christ to judge His enemies and vindicate His saints. This was the hope of the transition saints.
The fact is that nobody would be able to persevere in faith if we did not first have hope that God is for us and will bring us through. In fact, that is at the heart of the very faith that is being tested. What gets us through tribulation is 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. Romans 5:5 NASB
What is HOPE? Let me give you the biblical definition of hope, because the word "hope" has come to have a different meaning today than that which was originally used in the New Testament. Today it indicates something of contingency; an expectancy that something will happen, but there is some question as to whether or not it will really occur. We say, "I hope they'll show up," or, "I hope I can make it to next payday," indicating some uneasiness or uncertainty about the future. But this is not the New Testament usage.
In the New Testament, "hope" indicates an absolute certainty about the future, an attitude of eager expectancy, of confidence in God and His ability to do what He has promised.
This idea is echoed in Romans 5:2, where Paul speaks of the present rejoicing on earth as a response to the hope of sharing the glory of God in the future. That is, the Roman believers were projected forward in their thinking to a day when the glory of God would clothe them, a day synonymous with the resurrection from the dead of all believers and the securing of eternal life. Since both are plainly thought to occur at the return of Jesus Christ, the hope is also spoken of as centering in that event itself with all that it implies:
looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, Titus 2:13 NASB
The Second Coming of Christ was clearly the hope of the first century church, but it is a hope that has been fulfilled. We believe that Jesus Christ returned in the first century, just as He promised He would.
Now, since the Second Coming, the Resurrection, eternal life, and righteousness have already come, we no longer hope for them. You don't hope for what you have:
For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. Romans 8:24-25 NASB
As Preterists, we are not taking away people's hope, as we are so often accused of doing; we are saying it is fulfilled. We have as a present possession what the early church hoped for.
So, what is our hope today? To those who do not believe in Jesus Christ, there is no hope:
remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. Ephesians 2:12 NASB
But for all of us who have placed our trust in Jesus Christ, our hope is heaven--"But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it." We don't "see" heaven, but we have an absolute certainty about the future. Remember what we said: Biblical hope is not finger-crossing. It is a confident expectation of good things to come.
Paul says that this hope won't disappoint because, "The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us"--in early Christian thought the Spirit is a sign of the in-breaking new age. Both the giving of the Spirit (Isa 42:1-4; 44:3; 59:21) and the promise of sharing in God's glory (Isa 45:25; 58:8; 60:1-2, 13; Jer 9:23-4; Ezek 43:4) are new exodus expectations in which this new pilgrim community now shares.
The Greek verb "pour out" is used in the Septuagint version of Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:17-18, 33; 10:45; Titus 3:6, where it speaks of God giving the Holy Spirit to men. His pouring out fulfills the prophecy of Joel that, in the last days, God would pour out His Spirit on all flesh.
Believers know that they will be spared from God's judgment because God has fulfilled His promise in pouring out His love on the church, the Spirit has given life, and this new life will be consummated at the Second Coming.
Paul wants these Roman believers and us, to stand in assurance. We are secure in Christ! All that Christ is and has are ours by virtue of our union with Him by faith.
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