(from a transcript of a sermon preached on 5/12/02 at Sovereign Redeemer Assembly)
Please turn in your Bibles to Romans 5. Let's read verses 1 though 11:
Romans 5: (1) Then being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (2) through whom also we have had access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we glory on the hope of the glory of God. (3) And not only so, but we glory also in afflictions, knowing that affliction works out patience, (4) and patience [works out] proven character; and proven character, hope. (5) And the hope does not put [us] to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through [the] Holy Spirit given to us; (6) for we yet being without strength, in due time Christ died for ungodly ones. (7) For with difficulty one will die for a just one, (for perhaps one even dares to die for the sake of the good one), (8) but God commends His love to us in [this], that we being yet sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Much more then, being justified now by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath through Him. (10) For if [while] being enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life; (11) and not only [so], but also glorying in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we now received the reconciliation.
In Romans 4, we saw the truth of justification through the instrument of faith. God's people are JUSTIFIED, declared NOT GUILTY, through faith that receives the righteousness of Christ. This faith is the belief of the gospel of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone, totally apart from our efforts. If justification were based on our efforts, then it would be justification by WORKS, and all who believe in justification by WORKS have never been JUSTIFIED, because they do not have FAITH. Do you see how important faith is here? There are some who believe in what's called "eternal justification," meaning that the elect were justified from before the foundation of the world. Yet this cannot be true, because JUSTIFICATION only comes by FAITH. Where there is no FAITH, there is no JUSTIFICATION. Thus, if an elect person does not exist yet, he is not justified, because he does not yet have faith. And if an elect person has not yet been regenerated, he is not justified, because he does not yet have faith. Faith and justification always go together. You never see one without the other.
Now here in chapter 5, Paul goes into one of the blessed ramifications of being justified by faith. Since we who are believers are in a state of JUSTIFICATION, we have PEACE, we have ACCESS, and we GLORY. Let's go into each of these. First, as verse 1 says, we have PEACE with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Because we have been declared NOT GUILTY, we have PEACE with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Now before we were declared NOT GUILTY, we were ENEMIES of God. We were at WAR with God. Let's read Romans 8:7-8:
Romans 8: (7) because the mind of the flesh [is] enmity towards God; for it is not being subjected to the Law of God, for neither can it [be]. (8) And those being in the flesh are not able to please God.
Why was there enmity between God and man? Because God is HOLY and He cannot stand SIN. Anyone who does not have a righteousness that equals His righteousness is an enemy. So how did we stop being God's enemy? We had no ability of our own to stop being God's enemy. We were sinners, we were God-haters, we didn't WANT the enmity to stop. It was only through the work of Jesus Christ that God's people were brought from being enemies of God to being in fellowship with God. Jesus Christ took upon Himself all of the sins of all of His people, and the enmity of God, the holy wrath of God, was poured out on Christ on the cross. Christ bore the full brunt of what our sins deserved, and when his punishment was done, he died and rose again for our justification. God's anger at our sin was appeased. Let's read some passages about God making peace with us through Christ.
Romans 5: (10) For if [while] being enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life;
Colossians 1: (20) and through Him making peace by the blood of His cross, to reconcile all things to Himself; through Him, whether the things on the earth, or the things in the heavens.
Ephesians 2: (14) For He is our peace, He making us both one, and breaking down the middle wall of partition, (15) in His flesh causing to cease the enmity, the Law of the commandments in decrees, that He might in Himself create the two into one new man, making peace, (16) and might reconcile both in one body to God through the cross, slaying the enmity in Himself. (17) And coming, [He] proclaimed "peace to you, the ones afar off, and to the ones near."
We went from being at war to being at peace. We went from being enemies to being friends. We went from being haters of God and His truth to being lovers of God and His truth.
Secondly, we have ACCESS to God, as the first part of Romans 5 verse 2 says. The Greek word for "access" is pross-a-go-GAY, which comes from PROSS, meaning "forward" or "toward", and a-go-GAY, meaning "bring" or "go." So "access" is a "going toward" or "bringing toward." Through this justification, by which we are declared NOT GUILTY, we can go toward, we have admission to, something. What do we have admission to? Verse 2 says that we have ACCESS into this GRACE in which we stand. Some would say that this only means access to the throne of grace in prayer. But if we look at the context, it is talking about access into our STANDING in grace, or our STANDING in a justified state. Certainly our STANDING gives us access to God in prayer, but I don't think that's the point being made here. Through justification, we have access to our STANDING in grace with God, because there is no more enmity between us and God. We stand before God as righteous because of God's grace. And this access is again by faith - by that belief that the work of Christ alone makes the only difference between salvation and damnation and is the only ground of peace between us and God.
Peace with God and access to God are inseparably connected. A little while ago, we read Ephesians 2:14-17. Let's turn back over there and now read verses 14 through 22:
Ephesians 2: (14) For He is our peace, He making us both one, and breaking down the middle wall of partition, (15) in His flesh causing to cease the enmity, the Law of the commandments in decrees, that He might in Himself create the two into one new man, making peace, (16) and might reconcile both in one body to God through the cross, slaying the enmity in Himself. (17) And coming, [He] proclaimed "peace to you, the ones afar off, and to the ones near." (18) For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. (19) So, then, you are no longer strangers and tenants, but [you are] fellow citizens of the saints and [of the] family of God, (20) being built up on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being [the] cornerstone, (21) in whom all the building being fitted together grows into a holy temple in [the] Lord, (22) in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in [the] Spirit.
As you can see, Jesus Christ broke down the middle wall of partition, ended the enmity, reconciled us to God, and gave us access to God, so that we are no longer strangers to God, but we are part of the family of God. This is specifically talking about ending the division between the Jews and Gentiles, where the middle wall of the temple separated the Gentile proselytes from the court of the Jews. While this middle wall was a symbol of the separation between God and the Gentiles, the inner veil was a symbol of the separation between God and both the Jews AND the Gentiles. In Christ, this separation from God is totally removed, so both Jews and Gentiles have access to God through Jesus Christ.
Thirdly, we GLORY, as the last part of Romans 5:2 says. Being justified by faith, we GLORY. Another word for GLORY here is REJOICE. What do we REJOICE in? We rejoice on, or in, the hope of the glory of God. Remember when we went over true and false faith and hope? What is the true hope of believers? It is the FULL EXPECTATION of final glory based on the finished work of Christ. The "glory of God" here is the eternal glory that awaits us in Heaven, where we will see the full glory of God. Now just think about this: if "hope" means that we're not sure something's going to happen but we really wish it would, then rejoicing in hope makes no sense. Why would we be rejoicing in something that we're not sure is going to happen? Isn't that a bit premature? But that's not what "hope" means. When Christians "hope," their hope is based on the sure and certain promises of God and the accomplished work of Christ. Christian's don't say, "I hope I get to heaven," meaning that they're not sure about it. Christians have faith, which is the certain expectation that what is expected based on God's promises will happen! That is the Christian's hope. We are justified through the instrument of faith, and that faith rests on the accomplished work of Christ, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
Let's go further about rejoicing and hope. Let's read verses 3 through 5:
Romans 5: (3) And not only so, but we glory also in afflictions, knowing that affliction works out patience, (4) and patience [works out] proven character; and proven character, hope. (5) And the hope does not put [us] to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through [the] Holy Spirit given to us;
Here we see that we glory in, or rejoice in, afflictions. We rejoice in the hope of heaven that is set before us, but we also rejoice in our current afflictions. Now afflictions are burdens, persecutions, tribulations, and troubles. What is there to rejoice in in these? These are hardships. These are difficulties. Why is there rejoicing in these things? Well, the Bible tells us why there is rejoicing in these things. It's because through affliction, we learn patience. Patience means endurance, constancy, and continuance. Let's think of how affliction works out patience. One kind of affliction is indwelling sin. God has a purpose in causing indwelling sin to be part of His people's lives. Why do God's people still sin? It is to show them that they are constantly in need of the righteousness of Christ as their only hope and their only ground of salvation. It is to keep them humble when dealing with the sins of others. It is to keep them thanking and praising God who sent His son to pay for their sins. It is to keep them ashamed of their own shortcomings and coming to God with repentance. It is to keep them hoping for the day when they will be in the presence of God forever, free from sin. This affliction works out patience, doesn't it? What about the affliction of being persecuted by our enemies? Being persecuted causes us to rejoice because we are one with our Lord Jesus, who was persecuted. We rejoice in persecution because God says that all who live godly lives will be persecuted. Being persecuted makes us hone our Bible skills. It makes us more able to be precise about the gospel and its implications. It makes us think about what we say and what we do. Jesus said in Matthew 5:10-12, "Blessed are they who have been persecuted for righteousness' sake! For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they shall reproach you, and persecute you, and shall say every evil word against you, lying, on account of Me. Rejoice and leap for joy, for your reward is great in Heaven, for in this way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Here we see how we are to rejoice in afflictions! Rejoice and LEAP FOR JOY when you are reproached and persecuted and slandered on account of Christ and His gospel! For great is our reward in heaven!
In verse 4, we see that patience works out proven character. The words "proven character" are actually one word in the Greek. It means "proof" or "experience." So endurance works out experience. Our character is proven through our patience during afflictions. How we respond to afflictions is a reflection on our character. Job is a good example. Job's wife told him to curse God and die. But Job would not do such a thing. Although Job was in much pain and sorrow, he continued hoping in God. The more afflictions we go through, the more experienced we become. With each trial, we become better equipped. We've certainly experienced that, haven't we? Each time we go through a time of persecution, we come out more discerning, more wise, more wary, more able to articulate our beliefs and refute the lies. An experienced person is not one who is old; it is one who has gone through many afflictions.
At the end of verse 4, we see that this proven character or experience works out hope. Affliction works out patience, patience works out experience, and experience works out hope. This hope, as I already stated, is the certain expectation of final glory based on the work of Christ alone. Now is this saying that somebody doesn't have this certain expectation until he has a lot of experience? No; this hope is in everyone who believes the gospel. But this hope is enriched and is made more precious to us, and we are made to dwell on it more when we go through affliction. Sometimes, in our sinfulness, we don't take time to meditate on that certain expectation. We sometimes take it for granted. God gives us affliction to work out patience and patience to work out experience and experience to work out hope, so this hope is at the forefront of our minds and we live our lives according to this hope. We go through our daily lives doing things based on this hope. We witness to others based on this hope. We endure more affliction based on this hope. Let us rejoice in the afflictions God sends our way, because it strengthens our hope.
Finally, we see in verse 5 that this hope does not put us to shame. Someone who fully expects something to happen that doesn't happen is ashamed. I'm reminded of the false prophet Harold Camping, who said that Jesus Christ was going to return in 1994. He and thousands of his followers were fully expecting that Jesus would come back then. (I never understood why some of them sold their possessions; what difference does it make if Jesus comes back when you own possessions or when you own the money from selling your possessions or when you have no possessions and no money? I wonder if they were expecting God to reward them for not having a lot of stuff when Jesus came back.) Anyway, these people were put to shame, weren't they? These blind followers of the blind were putting their trust in a false prophet, and they were ashamed. Same with people who fully expect to go to heaven but who believe that Jesus died for everyone without exception. They are eagerly awaiting the return of Christ. But what's going to happen to them? They are going to get a total shock on Judgment Day, aren't they? They are going to be ashamed to the nth degree. They will have no place to hide. It will be a terrible day for them. They trusted in a false christ who accepted them because of something they did, a false christ whose blood did not make the only difference between salvation and damnation.
But what about us who have been redeemed by the effectual atonement of Christ? OUR hope will not put us to shame, because OUR hope is based on the work of Jesus Christ alone, and God PROMISES us, UNCONDITIONALLY, that we will be found with the righteous robe of Christ on Judgment Day. And anyone who has that robe of imputed righteousness will NOT be ashamed. Our hope will NOT make us ashamed, because our hope is as sure and certain as God Himself. Our hope is not based on something we did to make us to differ, our hope is not based on our repentance, our perseverance, our good works, our abstaining, or our church-going. It is based on God's PROMISE to save His people based on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ ALONE. And what God PROMISES, He will DO. I can tell you today without a doubt that when I die or when Jesus Christ comes back, I will go to heaven. How can I be so bold? It is because Christ has died for me, God has regenerated me, and I am already righteous in God's sight based on the imputed righteousness of Christ. God would be UNJUST to send me to hell, for then he would be sending someone with perfect righteousness to hell. And that's the way it is with ALL of you who are saved. Our hope is not in ourselves; it is in the finished work of Christ. No one can undo what Christ has done. May we rejoice in this hope and live in this hope. Amen.