Romans 5:1–11. Lesson 7. The Benefits of Justification.
Key Notes:Peace. Access. Hope. Reconciliation. The cycle of growth through suffering. Bertrand Russell's pain.
We will continue to learn the benefits of justification until the end of chapter 8. In the first half of Romans 5, we will find four benefits God gives us (peace, access, hope, reconciliation) in the face of four deficits we come with (weak, ungodly, sinners, enemies). Paul will also give us a four-part sequence of spiritual development from suffering.
5:1–2 We have peace with God and an introduction to grace and rejoicing in hope of sharing the glory of God. Three of the four benefits of our justification come tumbling out. The fourth benefit is reconciliation (5:10), really a precondition for peace. Together they give the impression of setting us in front of a new landscape into which we now move without anxiety.
Access – or introduction – to grace gives the impression of standing at the threshold of a new condition, and with a resource that God will pour out in us and for us, but Paul speaks of standing in grace, not standing in front of it.
"we rejoice in hope..." and in 5:l11 "...we also rejoice in God". One of Paul’s frequent words is “boasting”--gloriying, joying , or exulting. He uses the word in his epistles about 60 times, more than anyone else. It is the mark of a person bubbling over, full of enthusiasm, full of God. He has no lack of ego strength, but when he boasts of himself, he boasts of weakness so that the power of God might be seen in him. II Cor. 11:30–13:4
“…[God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (II Cor. 12:9)
But here he is simply “rejoicing in our hope of sharing in the glory of God".
5:3–5 Hope of sharing the glory of God and hope based on God’s love poured out on us frame the description (front and back) of a four-part cycle of growth through suffering.
“Suffering” means pressure, and it is often translated "tribulation" or "trouble". Real hardship.
"Endurance” means to stay under, bear up, be patient. There is nothing special about endurance except that one does not quit—persevering with God’s help.
“Character” means to be approved after testing, as metal is assayed after purification.
“Hope” is one of the cardinal virtues. It is the outgrowth of the process of suffering. It is light at the end of the tunnel, and we know we will not be ashamed.
Suffering → Endurance → Character → Hope → Suffering →Endurance, etc.
We are all familiar with this sequence. It is a part of everyday life. Suffering is a part of all aspects of our lives.
*Education and work
*Wars and storms
* Economic and mechanical failures
*Illness, physical and mental
*Interpersonal struggles, enemies and persecution
How can one rejoice in suffering? We subject our children to schooling. The 5-year-old child looks at school and thinks "This is suffering and I don't want it." But his father takes him by the hand, encourages him and tells him that he can do it; others have, including his older sister and he will be stronger for it. Each school year is a little loop, with some suffering, endurance, approval, hope and gratification. Each little loop makes it possible to try another. It is painful to sit, to listen and learn, to be tested, over and over. This leads to hope that the next challenge can also be met. Will the Little Leaguer make it into the High School team? And each year the challenges increase; but there are periodic rewards, times of approval and exuberant release. High School graduation is a high time. But will the senior start over as a college freshman? In today’s world, education may go on for decades. (My schooling went on for 29 years and in a sense I never left. The testing never stopped. The teacher, too, is tested in every hour of class.)
We choose to endure physical training, run 5K races, climb mountains, camp in the wilderness. and cultivate gardens. We must also put ourselves through the spiritual exercises which entail suffering, patience, reward and go on to the next level.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed….” (II Tim. 2:15)
“Train yourself in godliness.” (I Tim. 4:7)
But God will subject us to stresses and trials that we do not choose and may wish to rebel or accuse God of not loving us.
Hope comes on both ends of the suffering cycle:
Hope of sharing the glory of God enables us to endure the plunge into distress.
Hope realized by God’s love poured into our hearts greets us at the outcome.
“God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.” (C.S. Lewis in The Quotable Lewis. W. Martindale, J. Root, Edit.; Tyndale,’63. p. 587.)
5:6–11 Four words are given to describe our innate deficiencies:
weak < ungodly < sinners < enemies
The words can be seen as a sequence of increasing intensity. The last is the most stunning and emphasizes the wrath we deserve and the incredible love that overcame it.
Paul gives us two “much mores” – a literary form in which the accomplishment of the difficult assures the completion of the less difficult.
Since we are justified by His blood (the Wrath laid on Him)—the harder part…
Much more shall we be saved from the Wrath (not laid on us)—the easier part.
Since we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son—the harder part…
Much more shall we be saved by His (resurrection) life—the easier part.
Reconciliation is the last word, as peace with God is the first. We have long forgotten the pain of being the unreconciled and alienated but many live with it still. Bertrand Russell said, “The center of me is always and eternally a terrible pain—a curious wild pain—a searching for something beyond what the world contains.” (Quoted in Disappointment with God. P. Yancey, Zondervan,’88; p. 253).
Praise God that He extended His hand of friendship and overflowing love to you and me!