This Week’s Passage and Memory Verse (in red): Romans 5:1-8 1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
If you happened to be at our Baptism Service on Sunday night then you heard a preview of some of my ponderings. Marc had asked me to share for a few minutes on “What does the new birth mean for a believer.” As I began pondering our passage I realized it was the perfect passage to look at for this assignment. Just another indication to me of the power of pondering. Now on to the passage…
Paul uses this passage to talk about what is true for believers since they have been justified. In other words, since they have been given new life in Christ. I find at least 9 that I will briefly comment on.
1) Believers have peace (5:1): Peace with God which translates into peace in the midst of the craziness of life. The kind of peace Paul is talking about here has it’s roots in the Jewish word for peace – shalom. Shalom doesn’t necessarily mean the lack of conflict as much as the presence of God. When the presence of God is pervasive there is peace. There is a lot of truth in the bumper sticker saying – “No Jesus, no peace! Know Jesus, know peace!”
2) Believers have a new Master (5:1): Romans 6:14 says that “sin shall not be your master” and 6:17 “though you used to be slaves to sin”. 5:1 refers to to the fact that we have Jesus Christ the Lord now reigning in our lives – He is our new Master. The question is not whether we will choose to serve a master, but which master we will choose to serve. Our new birth in Christ means that we have made that choice and now we are FREE to serve our Master rather than a slave to the master of sin – a ruthless and heartless master. To me, it’s kind of a no-brainer which master should be chosen.
3) Believers have gained access to the Father (5:2): Last Friday, Kate Middleton, stood before a pastor and basically said to her prince ” You have chosen me to be your bride. I also choose you to be my husband.” At the moment that they were pronounced man and wife Kate, a mere commoner, was entitled to all the rights and privileges of a royal. At that moment she was granted access into the royal family and from now until forever there will never be anything common about her. She is royalty. So are we. Our new birth has given us access to the Father and there will never ever be anything common about us. We are kids of the King!
4) Believers live under God’s amazing grace (5:2): Here are a few quotes from smarter men than me to illustrate the richness of God’s incredible grace to us…
- “Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.” – Jerry Bridges
- “Grace never ignores the awful truth of our depravity – in fact it emphasizes it. The worse we realize we are, the greater we realize God’s grace.” – Randy Alcorn
- “Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live. The law tells me how crooked I am. Grace comes along and straightens me out.” – Dwight Moody
- “Abounding sin is the terror of the world, but abounding grace is the hope of mankind.” – A. W. Tozer
5) Believers can live joy-filled lives (5:2,3): Even in the midst of difficulty, tragedy, despair, and pain believers can still experience joy because they know the end of the story. They know that God is in control and that He will use all the suffering we deal with in this lifetime to get us ready for the next. We don’t have to be happy about what we go through but even in hardship our lives can still reflect a faith-fueled joy that will help us persevere as God prepares us for eternity.
6) Believers are not immune to suffering (5:3): One of the great promises of Scripture is not that as believers we get to suffer but that as believers God promises to redeem our suffering. In other words, any suffering that we experience has a purpose. We live in a world that has been devastated by sin and the consequences of sin. Therefore, there is going to be suffering. but God can and will take the suffering that we go through and bring good for us and glory for Him out of it.
7) Believers live with inexplicable hope (5:4,5): Peter calls it a “living hope”. Paul calls it a “hope that will NOT disappoint.” Because of what we have to look forward to in Christ there is ALWAYS reason to hope. ALWAYS a reason to keep plodding along. ALWAYS a reason to anticipate that the best is yet to come. Our hope is not based on some kind of spiritual wishful thinking but on the historically verifiable life, death, and resurrection of the One who has justified us by faith – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
8 ) Believers are embraced by the audacious love of God (5:5,8): Why would I call God’s love audacious? Can you think of anything more bold or more brazen than reaching out to embrace someone who detests and despises you. That’s what the phrase “while we were still sinners” indicates about us. We loved our own ways and hated God’s ways. We thumbed our noses at Him and did what we wanted to do. We turned our backs on him and reveled in our sin. We mocked Him and delighted in iniquity. We were sinners deserving to have the full and complete wrath of God unleashed upon us. And yet… “God demonstrated His love to us.” What an audacious act of love!
9) Believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (5:5): Just so there is no misunderstanding, this in no way implies that we are now also gods. There is much teaching afoot today that will tell you that you can become a god. There is only one God. And for some crazy reason He has chosen to reside in the hearts of those who have been justified by faith. What this means is that we now have the power of God within us so that we can obey, so that we can love, so that we can unselfishly serve, so that we can worship. It’s kind of like having the fuel to empower us to do what we were created to do. Before we were made right with God (justified) we had no desire for the things of God. But now that He dwells within us our desires have changed. This kind of transformation can only happen from the inside out. Praise God for his Holy Spirit.
I hope you spent some time this week really soaking up these words from the Apostle Paul. If you did then you should have a much better understanding of what the new birth is all about – or as Paul says of what it means to be justified. And you should have lots of reasons to fall on your knees and exult in the One who demonstrated His love for you even while you were still a sinner.
I’m just sayin’!
Next Weeks Passage: John 10:1-10
Next Week’s Memory Verse: John 10:10