Friday, June 13, 2014

REASONS TO REJOICE (Romans Chapter 5)

Romans 5:1-5, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the glory of God.  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

I sometimes don’t feel much like rejoicing, but in the person and work of Christ I have good and abiding reasons to obey the command to “rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16).  It is sometimes a matter of perspective.  Life is filled with all kinds of troubles and trials, but by grace, in salvation, God has incredibly blessed me.  By grace He has given me good reasons to rejoice.  Romans 5:1-5 speaks to these reasons.  The term “rejoice” is used twice in these 5 verses.

Salvation is bigger than we are now capable of now fully comprehending (Cf. Ephesians 3:19-20).  It is a tripartite work of God in which he justifies, sanctifies, and ultimately glorifies the believer.  It is indeed a “salvation to the uttermost” (Cf. Hebrews 7:25, KJV).  All three tenses of salvation are spoken of in this passage.  Each is in itself reason enough to rejoice, but collectively they represent an indescribable treasure-trove of undeserved blessings.

Justified (Romans 5:1) is a legal term, meaning “to declare righteous.”  By faith the believer in Christ has been declared so.  In sin, “none is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10), but righteousness has been imputed on the basis of Christ’s finished work on the cross (Cf. 1 Peter 3:18).  In God’s divine courtroom we all stand guilty as charged.  The debt of sin owed to our Creator is of infinite measure.  In a divine exchange of unimaginable proportion, God has imputed our sin to His Son and on that basis the believer is declared righteous (Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21).  His “record of debt” has been canceled out, God having nailed “it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14).  He is forgiven and now possesses the righteousness “which comes from God that depends on faith” (Philippians 3:9).  Having been justified by faith, former enemies (Cf. Romans 5:10) are thereby reconciled to God through Christ (Cf. Romans 5:1).  In this matter alone there is reason enough to rejoice!

God is even now doing a work in His born-again children.  Though the term “sanctification” is not used in this passage, verses 3-5 speak to the process.  It is a progressive work of the Spirit whereby He is patiently and relentlessly works to conform His children into the image of Christ (Cf. Romans 8:29).  The passage speaks of endurance producing “character.”  Christ-like character is the objective.  The Spirit of God is at work applying the Word of God to the hearts of children.  He uses our present “sufferings” in the process (Cf. James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-7).  And in this we also find good reason to rejoice, knowing that our present troubles are not contrary to His objective.  They constitute His “refining fire” through which sin is exposed and put off to be replaced by Christlikeness (Cf. 1 Peter 1:6-7; Ephesians 4:22-24).

“We rejoice in the hope of glory of God” (Romans 5:2).  Hope, as used in Scripture, refers to “favorable and confident expectation” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary).  There is no doubt element to the Biblical term.  The hope of the believer in Christ is invested in that which God has promised in Christ’s return.  Paul would more fully address this matter later in his epistle, writing, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:18-19).  A tearless, deathless, mourning-less, painless, and sinless eternity lies past the horizon (Cf. Revelation 21:4; 2 Peter 3:13).  We will be brought into Christ’s presence and will be made “to be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21; 1 John 3:2).  He has reserved a place for us in heaven (Cf. 1 Peter 1:4), and is even now guarding us “through faith for (this) salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5).

“God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).  In God’s love, by the Holy Spirit, our thimble sized beings have become the recipient of an ocean full of love!  A love so great, that in its “breadth and length and height and depth,” it “surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:18-19).  Solely on the basis of Christ’s loving sacrifice we’ve become the recipients of the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8).  There’s reason aplenty to rejoice always in Him!

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