“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Continued from My Roman Holiday: Romans 4.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2). Romans 5 opens with the apostle Paul proclaiming an occasion to rejoice! We who have been justified by faith are now at peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have been transformed from foes to friends by the miracle of grace. Through the work of Christ, hostility between our souls and God has been replaced with peace. We are God’s beloved; we have favor with God. “The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21).
We are a people of peace and hope, and hope does not disappoint. “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” (Romans 5:3-4). We don’t much associate suffering with blessing. We too often associate with the present discomfort, and not with the eventual outcome. But the good news is that our tribulations are not endured in vain, and imagine the unthinkable tribulations Paul’s audience likely endured in ancient Rome. But not only tribulation in the context of persecution, but the suffering of resisting sin, and the weaknesses of the flesh. I am absolutely convinced these struggles are represented here too. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11). It would be impossible to develop endurance any other way than through trial. “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:4-6). And God is faithful. We can be confident that He will finish the good work He began in us. Grace reigns through righteousness.
“Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” Romans 5:18-19). If God finds fault with nothing, and accepts everything, then Jesus is irrelevant, because there is no need for a savior where there is no trespass. On the other hand, if God condemns as the result of any single trespass, then, again, Christ is irrelevant, because there is no need for a savior where grace does not abound. Finally, a god that finds fault with nothing, except for acts reserved as especially grievous by a society, is nothing more than an idol created out of collective norms. The human incarnation of God, Christ Jesus, demonstrates the true manifestation of the character and love of God. So as I wrote in my Romans 1 post, “Indeed, the righteousness of God demands that sin be punished, and the penalty for sin is eternal death; Jesus paid the penalty in full that righteousness demands. No wonder Paul was so eager to preach the Good News to the Romans in person.” The demands of God’s holiness have been satisfied in full. Humanity can now know God in a way that would have otherwise been impossible—as redeemed!
Romans 5 is full of any number of other revelations and wonderful truths worth exploring, but I have written what I believe the Holy Spirit has guided me to write.
Romans 5 speaks into our lives today; we tend to focus on the present pain of our trials, and in doing so, we lose sight of God. As I embark on my Roman holiday, I look forward to the journey ahead. I found a story of grace and redemption in Romans 5. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Until next time, and Romans 6!
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