Paul's Epistle to the Romans

 (15) Introduction to Chapter 5


In the fifth chapter of Romans, Paul answers one of the questions that would naturally arise in the minds of those who had read this epistle to this point. He has told us that we have been saved by the redemption we have in Christ, the redemption that was purchased upon the Cross at a tremendous price. It delivers us from the guilt of sin so that the sin question has been settled. This means that we will not come before God for judgment which will determine our salvation. It means that an eternal home is waiting for those who have trusted Christ. Now, the question Paul will answer is this: What about the here and now?

In this chapter, Paul is going to show us that there are certain benefits that come to the believer right here and now when he trusts Christ, when he has been justified by faith in the redemption that we have in Christ. Actually, there are benefits that the world in very much concerned about, and would like to have them.

Many people are spending a great deal of money today trying to attain the things that are the present benefits of every believer. That doesn’t mean that all believers are enjoying them. However, God has placed them on the table for you, and all you have to do is reach over and take them. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). Notice, that these are spiritual blessings. The simplest way to explain this is to contrast them with the blessings of Israel under the law. In the OT, a faithful, obedient Jew was rewarded with long life, a large family, abundant crops, and protection from his enemies (Deut. 28:2–8). The blessings of Christianity, in contrast, are spiritual, that is, they deal with treasures that are nonmaterial, invisible, and imperishable. It is true that the Old Testament saints also enjoyed some spiritual blessings, but as we shall see, the Christian today enjoys blessings that were unknown in previous times. Our blessings are in the heavenly places, literally “in the heavenlies.” Instead of being material blessings in earthly places, they are spiritual blessings in the heavenly places.

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(16) Benefits of Salvation
Romans 5:1-11


1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;
4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
10 For if when 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.
11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.

In chapter 4, Paul went back to Abraham and David to explain how God declares believing sinners righteous; now he goes all the way back to Adam. Adam’s sin passed sin and death on to the whole human race, but Christ’s obedience gives righteousness and life to all who trust Him. In our first birth, we became condemned children of Adam; but in our second birth, we are the forgiven children of God. Make a note of the blessings that come to the children of God:

  • Riches (1–5). Peace, access into God’s grace, joy, hope, love, the Holy Spirit—what riches we have in Christ! And trials work for us, not against us, and develop Christian character. How rich we are
  • Reconciliation (6–11). We are at peace with God and need not be afraid. If He did so much for us when we were enemies, think what He will do for us now that we are His children!
  • Reigning. Will be covered in topic 17.

 

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

Peace is one of the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT Paul lists in the fifth chapter of Galatians: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.” (Gal. 5:22). In both the Old and New Testaments, peace is described as the result of having a right relationship with God, and with others. Spiritual peace is a sense of well-being and fulfillment that comes from God and is dependent on having His presence within. Spiritual peace is experienced by any believer who walks in the Spirit despite the turmoil that surrounds him. The true “peace of God” protects the hearts and minds of believers from worry, fear, and anxiety. It transcends all logic or rationale—“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7). The God of Peace, who offers salvation, also promises His presence and power in the lives of His children. His presence creates in us a quiet confidence, regardless of circumstances, people, or things. True peace is part of the “armor of God”—“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil…having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:11, 15). According to the apostle Paul, salvation produces peace that allows us to walk boldly into spiritual battle, and to survive all kinds of difficulty and danger. Where the peace of God is present, there is no room for worry.

Therefore, having been justified by faith. Paul says that at some point in the past, without our help, God justified us, that is, He declared us righteous and began to treat us as if we were righteous. It is by faith that we lay hold of God’s arm and of his strength, and so are at peace—“…let him take hold of My strength, That he may make peace with Me; And he shall make peace with Me.” (Isa. 27:5). There is more in this peace than just an end of hostility, there is friendship and loving-kindness, for God is either the worst enemy or the best friend.

We have peace with God. Peace with God is one of the benefits of salvation. This is not the peace of God, but peace with God. This is not a feeling of peace but a state of peace. Between the sinner and God there exists a state of antagonism, hostility, and animosity. Sinners are the enemies of God—“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled” (Col. 1:21)—until a state of peace is declared. Christ called his disciples friends—“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (Jn. 15:13–15). Could any man need any more to make him happy than to have God as his friend!

Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have a peace treaty with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Mediator between the two parties at war—“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (I Tim 2:5–6). As our Mediator, Jesus Christ has worked out our peace treaty with God. But since He made peace through His blood, He is our peace with God—“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace…making peace…And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near” (Eph 2:13-18).

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

Through whom also we have access by faith. If you have ever attempted to call the President of the United States, you know how relatively inaccessible he is. To the unbeliever, God the Father is even more inaccessible than the President. He cannot be reached, since there is no common ground and no mediator between the unbeliever and God. To the believer, there is free, abundant, and immediate access to God, because He has justified (saved) us. Jesus Christ provides immediate and consistent access to God for all those whom God has declared and treats as righteousness. Also, we enjoy access into an indescribable position of favor with God. We are accepted in the Beloved One; therefore we are as near and dear to God as His own Beloved Son. The Father welcomes us as sons, not strangers. This grace, or standing in favor with God is as perfect and permanent as Christ’s, because we are in Him.

Access means that you and I have access to God in prayer. Due to our standing as children of God, we have access to a heavenly Father who will listen to us here and who does answer our prayer. He will answer according to His wisdom, not according to our will.

Into this grace in which we stand. An age-old problem is this, “How can a sinner stand in the presence of a holy God?” The psalmist wrestled with this question—“If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” (Ps 130:3). We do not have a leg to stand on when it comes to a defense of our sinful actions. How is it possible for a sinner to stand before God? The Swiss reformer Robert Haldane said, “And it is by Him (Jesus Christ) they enter into the state of grace, so by Him they stand in it, accepted before God; secured, according to His everlasting covenant, that they shall not be cast down” (Robert Haldane, Romans, p. 186). The only possible way we can stand before God is by His grace.

And rejoice in hope of the glory of God. The word “hope” confuses many new Christians. Hope is not vague, it is concrete. We have joy in hope. The glory of God, of which we have fallen short, is the perfect standard of Christ’s righteousness—“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14). We can rejoice in the fact that whatever we are like today, one of the benefits of having been justified is the hope that one day we shall be like Him—“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 Jn 3:2–3). We joyfully look forward to the time when we will not only gaze on the splendor of God, but will ourselves be enveloped in glory—“And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one” (John 17:22). We cannot comprehend the full significance of that hope here on earth, nor will we get over the wonder of it through all eternity.

The Hope that is mentioned here is the hope that the scriptures hold out. Paul said to a young preacher by the name of Titus, “Looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). To look for the Lord to come and take His church out of this world, that’s a glorious hope, and it will take place at His appearing at the Rapture.

3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance.

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance. The person who has been justified rejoices, not in spite of his tribulations, but because of his tribulations. In explaining the progress from tribulation to hope, Paul shows that there is a natural, logical connection between these four: tribulations—patience—experience—hope. The tribulations that Paul has in mind result in patience—“I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Phil 4:12). Patience is the ability to remain strong while bearing the burden of tribulation. Patience in the midst of tribulation results in experience that is proof of the presence of the Spirit of God, which makes patience possible. The end result of this proof proceeds to hope, the certain knowledge that we will one day be glorified like the Son of God and be “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ”—“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom. 8:17). Here is a perfect circle: we began with hope for the glory of God, then we passed through tribulation which caused us to be patient; this experience proved that we are indeed a child of God, and this proof encourages us in the hope for the glory of God. In Acts 5:41, we are told this about the apostles: “They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer.” (Acts 5:41). It is a trait that is found only in Christians, that they can be happy while they are going through some type of hardship.  Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). Paul tells us, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). Paul also tells us, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom 8:37). With promises such as these, we who are truly born again do not shudder or quit when we have troubles. The true believer rejoices in tribulation and trials.

4 And perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Paul now goes on to explain that perseverance produces character. When God sees us bearing up under our trials, and looking to Him to work out His purposes through them, He awards us His Good Endurance Seal of Approval. We have been tested and approved. And the sense of His approval fills us with hope and joy. We know He is working in our lives and developing our character. This gives us confidence that, “having begun a good work in us, He will see it through to completion” (Phil. 1:6). Like every other Christian grace, hope grows stronger only if we use it.

5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Now hope does not disappoint.  If we were to hope for something but then later find that we were never going to get it, we would be disappointed. But the hope of our salvation will never lead to disappointment. We will never be disappointed or find that we have believed in error. How can we be so sure? Because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts. Our hearts are flooded with God’s love for us because we have been justified.

Because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts. It is the gracious work of the blessed Spirit to pour out the love of God in the hearts of all the saints. The love of God, that is, the sense of God’s love for us, draws out of us our love for Him. In that way, we are we drawn and held by the bonds of love. The sense of God’s love for us will make us unashamed, either of our hope in him or our sufferings for him.

By the Holy Spirit who was given to us. The Holy Spirit who was given to us the moment we believe, floods our hearts with these expressions of God’s eternal love, and by these we are assured that He will see us safely home to heaven. After you receive the Spirit, you will sense that God loves you. This is not a vague, mystical feeling that “Somebody up there” cares about you, but the deep-seated conviction that a personal God really loves you as an individual.

Given means to grant, impart, or put into the heart. The clear implication is that at the moment of salvation we received the gift of the Holy Spirit Himself. A justified (saved) man doesn’t need to anxiously look to a future time when he will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to us at the moment of justification. Then Christ’s righteousness is ours, God’s love is ours, and the Holy Spirit’s presence is ours. They are eternally bound together in a package we call salvation.

6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

In verses 6–20, Paul makes the case for the security of the believer. His logic is that if God’s love went out to us when we were His ungodly enemies, will He not much more preserve us now that we belong to Him? This brings us to another benefit of our justification; we are eternally secure in Christ. In developing this theme, the apostle introduces five “much mores.”
1. The “much more” of deliverance from wrath—“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (5:9).
2. The “much more” of preservation by His resurrection life—“For if when 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” (5:10).
3. The “much more” of the gift of grace— “But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many” (5:15).
4. The “much more” of the believer’s reign in life—“…much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” (5:17b)
5. The righteousness of the believer is “much more” of pure grace—“For by grace you are saved …” (Eph 2:8).

For when we were still without strength. Paul uses this expression to show man’s utter helplessness in the face of his sin. Lost sinners are spiritually dead and are incapable of doing anything to help themselves—“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6:44). Our problem was sin and we were utterly incapable of coping with it. In our world, those who can’t help themselves, and who can’t find a helper, are certain to be ungodly: darkened in their mind and degraded in their life.

In due time Christ died for the ungodly. This means that circumstances did not bring Christ to the cross, the divine plan of God did. At the time of man’s greatest need, nothing but the blood of Jesus would satisfy that need—“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons (Gal 4:4–5). At the time of man’s greatest need, nothing but the blood of Jesus would satisfy that need. It was by the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, that God showed His great love for us. Christ died for the ungodly—not the good boys and girls, rather he died for those who were His enemies, and who hated Him; to whom He said when they were crucifying Him—"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…” (Lk 23:24). And, you and I were numbered with the ungodly. Our best efforts are what the prophets called them; they are like “filthy rags.” For men like that—for men like us, Christ died.

Ungodly. The ungodly here are not just the flagrant and disreputable; they are all those who are not in harmony with God, the potential as well as the actual doers of sin. For them, Christ died. Clearly, Christ’s death was a substitutionary death, a death in place of others.

7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die. Every Christian should know someone who lives a life marked by a high standard of godly generosity and who truly cares for others. They are determined to do all they can to help other people.  They command respect; however, they are not loved. They are upstanding people, but for some reason, they are not lovable. There have always been people with this distasteful, inflexible type of personality, and Paul knew some. He, evidentially felt the same way we do about them; that even though they are approved of by God, it is very improbable that someone would lay down their life for them, although some may be tempted.

Yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. It may be that someone might be persuaded to die for a good man, that is, a man, who is good to others. Many righteous men are good to themselves, however, they do very little to help others. These good men are loved by those they help, and some of them may be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice by giving some part of their body or even their life for that good man. Paul was a very good man, and he met some people who were willing to lay down their lives for him—“Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.  That for his life laid down their own necks” (Rom 16:3-40). The point is not so much that perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die, as it is that we must feel that the person is worthy of the sacrifice that we make. Before we would do it, respect for their admirable qualities must turn into love. God’s great love for us is apparent only when we compare it with the best that we are willing to do for one another.

Do you know anyone who would die for you? Could you count on one finger of one hand those who would be willing to die for you? By the way, could you put upon one finger those who love you enough to die for you? Well you certainly could put it upon one finger, because God loved you enough to send His Son to die for you. And if it were necessary, He would appear today to die for you again, if it would take that to save you. He loves you that much.

8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us. Jesus’ unique love (Gk. agape) focuses on the nature of the one loving rather than on the merit of the one being loved. God’s nature is self-giving love, which always acts in the best interest of His creation, and even of His enemies. God demonstrated His love for us at Calvary, but He didn’t do it just to prove that He loved us, because He could have done that without it costing Him so very much. There is nothing else like Calvary through-out human history. There on the Cross, He not only showed us His love; there the blood that Jesus shed was sufficient to cover all our sins, and reconcile man to God. Before Calvary, Jesus demonstrated His love in other ways. For instance, the things that Jesus taught, he also put into practice. While they were still sinners, men and women learned that they could come to Him for forgiveness and a new life. The Publicans and prostitutes learned that they had a better chance of entering God’s kingdom than some of those who were respectable.

In that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us—but not because we earned it or deserved it. God demonstrated His love by sending Christ Jesus to die for us while we were yet sinners, something no one else would even consider doing. While we were still sinners implies that we were not meant to always be sinners, there should be a change in us; because he died to save us, not in our sins, but from our sins; but we were nevertheless sinners when he died for us. The sacrifice of Christ on the cross of Calvary arose out of the heart of God filled with the love of God. All these blessings are ours because at some point in the past, without our help, we have been justified by God and are now being treated as if we are righteous.

Christ died for us. He died for the ungodly; helpless, guilty, mean, worthless, vile, obnoxious, unworthy people who deserve to die—“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23). God did us a great favor by dying for us, because we couldn’t save ourselves. Christ died for us, and that was an unparalleled instance of love; “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (Jn 15:13-14). As he held his daughter for the last time, a dying French saint said, “I love you because of what you are; my heavenly Father, to whom I go, has loved me in spite of myself.” That Jesus would die for someone like me is more than amazing, it is incredible.

9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood. Justification and reconciliation are benefits that every believer receives from the death of Christ: We are justified by his blood and reconciled by his death. Sin is pardoned, and the sinner accepted as righteous by receiving the righteousness of Christ. Jesus has done everything that’s required on His part to be done, and immediately upon our believing we are actually put into a state of justification and reconciliation.

Justified by his blood. Our justification is attributed to the blood of Christ, because “…without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). The blood is the life, and it must be spilled to make atonement for sin. In all the Old Testament sacrifices, the sprinkling of the blood was the essential part of the sacrifice—“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” ( Lev. 17:11).

We shall be saved from wrath through Him. In addition to the blessings we presently enjoy because we are justified (saved), there is another blessing; the promise that we shall be saved from wrath through him. All men are by nature the children of wrath—“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (Jn 3:36). The prophet Nahum warns that the Lord has reserved wrath for His enemies—“…The Lord will take vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies” (Nah 1:2). It is comforting for the believer to know that “God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thess 5:9). One of our future benefits is the fact that we will not face God’s wrath on the Judgment Day, not because we are worthy, but because we have been saved by the grace of God. We have been saved by grace; we live by the grace of God; and ten billion years from today we will still be in heaven by the grace of God. We are saved from wrath through Him—through Christ.

10 For if when 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.

For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son. What Christ has done by His death is “reconcile all things to Himself…having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col 1:29). Reconcile means to change completely (Rom 5:6–10) from being an enemy of God to one enjoying the closest kind of fellowship. Christ is the chosen and sufficient driving force in reconciliation; nothing else is needed. Through Him Divine harmony has been restored, and all barriers and obstacles have been removed. God took the initiative. Religion is man seeking God; Christianity is God seeking and saving man.

Much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. It is the death of Christ and His shed blood which provide our atonement and redemption—“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph 1:7). It is the death of Christ which makes our salvation possible; but it is the life of Christ that sustains it. Christ died for our sins and was raised for our justification and today He makes continual intercession for us—“Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb 7:25). The life of Jesus Christ did not take away the penalty of our sins, His death did. But Christ ever lives to take away the power of sin over us. This is how we are continually kept saved—by His intercessory life.

Saved by His life. When we were His enemies, Christ was able by His death to reconcile us to God. Certainly, now that we are God’s children, the Savior can keep us by His living power.

11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We not only rejoice in His gifts but in the Giver Himself. Before we were saved we found our joys elsewhere. Buy now we are happy whenever we remember Him; and are sad only when we forget Him. What has produced this marvelous change, so that we can now be glad in God? It is the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Like all our other blessings, this joy comes to us through Him. It was the quality of joy in the early Christians that impressed and puzzled their pagan neighbors. It was different than anything that marked ordinary human life.

Why do we rejoice in God? You can rejoice that He lives and that He is who He is. You can rejoice because He has provided a salvation for us and is willing to save us sinners and bring us into His presence someday. He has worked out a plan to save us because of His love for us. Isn’t that enough to make you rejoice?

Through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Reconciliation refers to the establishment of harmony between God and man through the sacrificial work of the Savior. When sin entered the world, by way of Adam’s disobedience, it brought division, alienation, and hostility between man and God. By putting away sin, which had caused the alienation, the Lord Jesus restored those who believe on Him to a state of harmony with God. We should note, in passing, that God did not need to be reconciled. It was man who needed it, because of his hostility toward God. God is the one who reaches out to man in reconciliation; not man to God. According to God’s word, no one naturally wants to be saved. It just won’t happen until the Holy Spirit draws a person. It’s because believers are acted upon by God that they are said to receive reconciliation. They are the recipients of a new relationship of peace and harmony brought about by God.

 

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