Proof of Life 4 (Romans)
Week of 1 October 2017
Our passage this week is Romans 5, verses 1-11.
Romans 5:1-11 - 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 hope of 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 not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die--but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
The Apostle Paul has dabbled around the edges in the past few weeks, but here he delivers the crown jewels on the subject of our security, our guarantee, of salvation because of faith in Jesus Christ. Let’s take a look at the very real proofs you and I have that once we’ve been saved, we are saved for good.
Paul begins with reminding us that Christians, through faith, are justified, i.e., declared innocent of sin. It is a done deal because all your sin has been paid for. Do we still sin? Yes. Did Christ die for that sin? Yes. Are we brought up on charges again for sin? No. Why? Christ already paid for it on the cross. End of story. As a result, we have peace with God through Christ. We are no longer at odds with God. We can stand confidently in this grace—the unmerited favor of God who gives us salvation we did not deserve and did not earn. We can, right now, rejoice in what is headed our way, the glory of God. We are going to see him and be with him. It is a certainty.
Check out verse 3. What else can give you confidence in your salvation? Yep, our sufferings, our trials, the hard things that come at us in life. Oh, boy, we did not want to hear this. But look what those produce in us—endurance, character, and hope. In other words, God will use the tough stuff in life to produce change in us, to make us more and more like Christ. You will be able to look back in time and see how God has strengthened you, has built your character, and has increased your expectation in what is yours in Christ. And this will give you even more assurance that your salvation is secure. You will find as you go through these hard things that God is faithful, that he has not let you down or left you. We will not be put to shame for our faith in Christ. We will not be made to look like fools.
Lastly, you have proof of this salvation because of the Holy Spirit God gave you. We are told elsewhere in the New Testament that the Spirit is literally a down payment, a guarantee, that God will deliver salvation to those of us who believe. And the Spirit’s job, among other things, is to lead us and to communicate to us that we are loved by our heavenly Father. If you are a Christian, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you are not, you have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s a good idea to ponder which side of the divide you’re on.
Now, the last six verses struck me as a deeper dive into the depths of this love God has for us. We are no longer his enemies, but his children. That’s all well and good, but don’t gloss over the fact that we were loved by God while we were his enemies. And that makes God’s love something other-worldly. See, the best we humans can manufacture in the love department is to be willing to die for other people we think are good or worthy—a friend, a family member, a child, some really decent person, or maybe just a person in harm’s way. But to give up our lives for an enemy? No way. Have you ever heard of a father offering to take the lethal injection for the murderer who raped and killed his daughter? Yeah, me neither. No soldier has received the Congressional Medal of Honor for laying down his or her life for the enemy. Soldiers kill enemies, not die for them.
So, Paul asks us to think logically. If God loved us enough to save us when we were his enemies, do we think there is anything that can separate us from that love now that we are his very own children? You think that by sinning as a Christian, you can make God to stop loving you? Dummy, did you forget your status when God loved you and died for you? You were a sinner. He has already proved that His love for you is not deterred by your sin. Now that your sin--past, present, and future--has been dealt with, God will certainly not love you less. In fact, if anything, that love for us is more intense. Do you see how many “much more” or “more than” phrases appear in verses 9-11? If you have genuine faith in Jesus, you are not going to be dumped in a ditch by God. You did nothing to warrant your salvation in the first place, and once it is yours, you can do nothing to cancel it. So, rejoice in what God has secured and guaranteed for you and stop being a worrywart.
Now, as we look forward, I know some of you are thinking right now, “Hey, this sounds too good to be true. If I can’t lose my salvation no matter what I do, what’s to prevent me from just doing anything I want? It sounds like I get a free pass on sin.” You raise a good point, and it is one Paul expected. So, stay tuned, because there is some incredible teaching coming on how genuine faith in Christ completely alters a saved person’s relationship with sin. You are not going to want to miss it.