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At Just The Right Time (5:1-11)

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God loves us. Even though we have alienated and separated ourselves from Him by our sin, He still cares for us. Since it is impossible for us to wipe away the effects of sin through our own efforts God made a way. Jesus Christ took our guilt upon Himself and paid our debt through His death on the cross. God credits righteousness to all who put their faith in Jesus and in His sacrifice.

The Apostle Paul tells us about the results of faith in chapter 5 of his inspired letter to the church in Rome. In verses 1 through 11 he writes, “Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; through whom we also have our access by faith into this grace in which we stand. We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only this, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering works perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope: and hope doesn’t disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were yet weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man. Yet perhaps for a righteous person someone would even dare to die. But God commends his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we will be saved from God’s wrath through him. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we will be saved by his life. Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord
Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”

The first result of justification through faith which Paul mentions is peace with God. Sin not only separates us from God, it creates active hostility between us. In another place Paul writes, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.” (Colossians 1:21 NIV) Faith, however reverses the situation. Where we were once God’s enemies and hostile towards Him, faith produces peace.

Actually, it is more accurate to say that Jesus Christ enables us to have peace with God by means of our faith. How does Jesus accomplish this? Through Him we have access into grace. As we saw in a previous program, grace not only fills the gap between our shortcomings and God’s perfection, it also enables us to live righteous lives. Here Paul mentions another attribute of grace. It is grace which enables us to stand firm in our faith.

Another result of being justified before God is that it gives us hope. Hope in what? Paul writes that we have the hope of the glory of God. What does this mean? In Scripture the glory of God refers to the manifestation of God’s character. When we are justified by faith, it gives us the hope that someday we also will attain God’s character qualities. The Apostle John writes, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2 NIV) As Paul says, this is truly something we can rejoice and glory in.

Being justified enables us to not only rejoice that we will one day participate in God’s glory, it also enables us to rejoice in suffering. At first this does not seem to make sense. How can anyone rejoice because of the trouble and anguish he faces? Paul explains that it is not the suffering itself, but rather the result of suffering which enables us to rejoice. Our difficulties and hardships force us to change and grow. James writes something very similar, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4 NIV)

Paul writes that the process of suffering produces hope. How can this be? One would think that suffering would produce discouragement. Instead, it produces hope because we can see how our trials have changed us for the better. It gives us confidence that someday we will attain the perfection God has promised us.

There is another reason for us to have hope. The Holy Spirit whom God has sent to live in our hearts shows us God’s love. Since we have already experienced God’s love, we can be confident that God’s promise that we will share in His glory will also come to pass.

How deep is God’s love for us? It is easy to love those we like, those who are good and kind to us. But, Paul reminds us that God showed His love to us when we were at our worst. We were powerless – we could not even help ourselves, let alone do anything for God. We were ungodly – we were living to please ourselves not God. We were sinners – we had broken God’s standards. We were enemies of God – we actively opposed God’s plans and purposes. In spite of all this, Christ still died for us. We often hear of people dying because of patriotism – they love their country so much they are willing to lay down their lives for it. We hear of people dying to save their loved ones and family. We hear of people who are willing to die for their friends. But who ever heard of anyone being willing to die for his enemy? Yet, this is exactly what God, through Christ, did for us. Can there be any greater love than that?

This demonstration of God’s love is another reason we have hope. Those of us who follow Christ have already been justified by His sacrifice on our behalf. If God did this for us while we were still His enemies, will we not experience even more blessing now that we have become His friends? We no longer have to fear God’s wrath.

This reconciliation with God, which allows us to face eternity without fear is another result of being justified through faith. Just as we rejoice in our hope of sharing in God’s glory and the outcome of suffering, reconciliation with God also causes us to rejoice. How much joy do you have in your life. If you are not rejoicing in your relationship with God, is it possible that you have not been justified? Could it be that you have not put your faith in Christ?

Paul writes that we are reconciled to God by Christ’s death, but that we are saved by Christ’s life, that is, His resurrection. Paul goes on to talk about the concepts of death and life. We will discuss this in our next program.