THE LETTER OF PAUL TO THE ROMANS
Results of Being Made Right with God
Todayís lesson falls in the overall outline of Romans in the following way:
Theme: The Faithfulness and Righteousness of God (1:16-17)
I. The Need for God's Righteousness (1:18-3:20)
(1) Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (2) through whom also we have received our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
In the previous section Paul has laid out his gospel and has shown that it is not a new innovation but rather the way God has always used to bring people into a right relationship with Him, even the OT saints who lived under the Law. Now he turns his attention to showing us the results of having been made right with Him.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have _______________ with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now it is difficult for us to separate peace from feelings. Consider though these 2 scenarios and tell me in which one are the people blessed? In the first scenario rich people are partying on a cruise ship like life is never going to end. All is wonderful. The date though is April 14, 1912 and the ship is the Titanic. In the second scenario a poor starving man sits freezing in the cold. He doesn't realize, but in just a moment he is going to find a lottery ticket which has been thrown away and which has just won the tri-state jackpot of over $100m. The man in the second scenario is blessed even though he doesn't feel it, whereas the people in the first scenario are cursed even though they don't feel it. Blessedness and peace have ultimately nothing to do with feeling but rather with reality.
To understand more fully the peace God gives us, we need to realize that the peace Jesus gives us is based upon His resurrection. On the night of His resurrection Jesus twice confers upon His disciples peace; seven days later He does the same (John 20:19-26). Although "peace" (shalom) was the customary Jewish greeting ("hello"), it means more than just "hello" here. Because of Jesus' resurrection we have peace. Jesus' resurrection gives us a preview of our resurrection. Because we are identified with Him (one with Him), we shall rise from the dead just as He rose from the dead. The troubles you and I experience are not the period at the end of the sentence of our lives. The resurrection is. When it is all said and done, we shall rise from the dead. In other words, it really is going to be OK, it is really going to work out in the end. That should give us a real sense of peace in the here and now.
Moreover, although right now we do receive benefits of being right with God, we need to realize that we are only experiencing a taste of those benefits. The greater part of what we are going to receive will come only later when Christ returns. Think for a moment though about how wonderful at times it is to be a Christian. Since this is only a taste, try to imagine now how much more wonderful it will be when Christ returns.
(3) And not only this but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance, (4) and perseverance, proven character, and proven character, hope; (5) and hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
This passage immediately informs us that we are not yet receiving the full benefits of being right with God because suffering is not one of the benefits God has for us. Suffering though does not mean that we are not right with God. Sometimes we suffer because we sin; however, we live in world characterized by suffering. God has taken suffering and changed it so that now it has a positive effects upon believers. In fact, it is in the arena of evil and suffering that Christianity has made its greatest impact and contribution. There are no Jobs in the NT.
Christianity has to deal with the problem of suffering; C.S. Lewis claims that the existence of evil and suffering is the greatest challenge Christianity has to address. Suffering is such an important part of existence that Buddhism was created in large measure to explain why we suffer and how to get rid of suffering. The Christian is faced with the argument, "If God is so loving, why does He allow certain things to happen?" For example, 18th-century Europe was devastated emotionally and spiritually by the earthquake which ravaged Lisbon, Portugal on All Saints Day, 1755. This earthquake and the feeble Christian response to it led to skepticism throughout Europe, e.g. Voltaire. Paul provides us with the Christian response.
(Just one final note. Paul is dealing here with suffering that concerns the person who is living out of his right relationship with God. He is not speaking about the discipline that you and I receive whenever we sin. Look to 1 Cor. 3:10-17 for such a discussion.)
When Paul says that we exult in our tribulations, does he mean that we should want to suffer? What does he mean?
Note though that a radical difference exists between the way the OT deals with suffering and the way the NT does. When you read Job, you are surprised that James compliments him for being a patient man. Patient? He moans and groans and gripes for ~35 chapters. When David suffers persecution, he asks God to wipe off His enemies from the face of the earth. How though do Paul and Silas respond to suffering? They sing praises (Acts 16:25). When the early Christians were scourged for their faith, they praised God for being counted worthy to suffer for the sake of Jesus. What changed the attitude towards suffering in the Bible? The fact that God the Son not only suffered but that His sufferings led to resurrection. If God suffered, who are we not to suffer (2 Thess. 1:5, 6)? Moreover, if we respond positively to suffering, we will experience a real taste of the resurrection spiritually right now.
The greatest Christian study on suffering was conducted by C. S. Lewis in the last century. He said that he was not sure that God wanted us to be happy. Instead what God desires is that we grow up! Too often we view the world as our nursery filled with toys for our enjoyment. God injects pain into the nursery to get us out of that mindset so that we can grow, mature, and love. The child does not love; it is the mature adult who is capable of loving and of being loved.
Finally, this proven character leads to hope. There is a radical difference between the seasoned Christian and the new Christian. Many times the new Christian throws his hands up in despair whenever something goes wrong. The seasoned Christian though who has gone through many trying situations not only perseveres but also has hope, has confidence that things are going to turn out OK if not now, at least in the future because God has always come through for him/her in the past. Many of the most radiant Christians are not those who have had an easy life but are those who have suffered horribly and who have clung to God during those dark times.
Verse 5 informs us of the basis of our hope; it tells us why we should have confidence as we look to the future. "And hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through _______ ____________ ______________ who has been given to us" (5:5).
The fact that the Holy Spirit came to live in us the moment we became right with God proves that our future is going to be wonderful. His presence in us right now is the downpayment of the future payments God has for us. Whenever you make a downpayment, you are not making the final payment. What you are doing is you are guaranteeing that future and final payments are forthcoming. In the same way God's putting the Holy Spirit in us guarantees that future and final payments are forthcoming. Because of the Holy Spirit living within us, it's not a matter of "if," only of "when."
It is so hard at times for us to think that things are really OK between us and God. Some many factors fight against our peace: our overly sensitive consciences, Satan, "friends," etc. The kind of love God has for us and the way He demonstrated it should convince us though that God does love us and that we are in a positive relationship with Him.
According to verse 6 what was true about us when Christ did die for us?
In verse 7 what kind of person will most people NOT die for? (Add the prefix self- to understand what Paul means here.) What kind of person will some be willing to die for?
What kind of person does Christ die for (5:8)? According to Paul what motivates Christ to die for this kind of person?
Paul's logic is this: if Christ died for us when we were His enemies, we should have complete confidence in the future because we are now His friends, that is, reconciled to Him. In other words, our future judgment is going to be positive because of what He did for us while we were even His enemies.
So, does Christ wave a wand over us at the time of judgment and make everything alright? There is zero indication that that is what is going to happen. Rather Paul speaks of that time as a time of fire, a time when everything is tested and basically purified. According to Paul some are going to come through this with flying colors. Others are going to find the ordeal quite different from what they had expected . . . to say the least. They all came through the ordeal, but the ordeal was much more pleasant for some than for others.
Here is Paul's description of this event: