Changing Times, Changeless God: Peace Amid Chaos
Pastor Russell Scoggins
Sermon Date: 9/29/2019
Bible Reference: Romans 5:1-11
5:1 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 boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to 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 person, though for a good person 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.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Do you ever feel as though God’s Word is intimidating? I have definitely heard individuals something to this extent—my guess is you have too—in fact, each of us have probably felt this way at some point. We say something like this: I love reading God’s Word but every time I get to this _______ book/section, I have no idea what’s going on. Admittedly, it’s true: sometimes understanding what’s going on in parts of God’s Word can be an overwhelming task. I’m not trying to say God’s Word is UNCLEAR. God’s Word is clear. The teachings in God’s Word are clear. But here’s what I am saying: sometimes, it takes a bigger time and energy investment to understand parts of God’s Word.
We’re going to do something a little different today—I’m going to preach a little differently than I usually do. We are going to take some time to invest and dig in today. My hope, is to model how, with a little investment, God’s Word becomes even more awesome to read. In these verses Paul just piles on the terms. We’re going to go through the verses and dig into the terms so that this powerful section can be crystal clear to us.
Alright, let’s get started. Please raise your hand if you like quizzes. (Tell WLS story?) Didn't think so. So, I sincerely apologize for what we’re about to do. We’re going to have a quiz. In your bulletin, there are 9 words. These 9 words are found in our verses today. I’m going to give you one minute, and I want you to do your best to define each of those words. No ones going to check your work so don’t worry. Just do your best, and don’t peek at your neighbor. So go ahead, 60 seconds starting now.
Times up. How’d you do? However you did, don’t sweat it. It’s okay. Today we’re going to invest. This is an incredible section… but as you can see, Paul has piled up all these terms. So we’re going to walk through the verses. We’re going to unpack the terms. And we’re going to unlock the full power of this passage from Paul.
In some way this week is a continuation of last week. Last week after the service, I had someone come up to me and say, “Pastor, I just wanted you to keep going. I felt like it was just getting good, and then it was over.” That was intentional. We talked about Romans 3 and then left it where Paul left it. Last week, we laid out the fact that there’s nothing you can do to earn your salvation. All of us fall short of God’s favor. None of us have what it takes to EARN God’s favor. So thankfully, he simply gave it to us. Since we could not reach out and take salvation, God has given it to us in Christ. Through faith, the benefit of Jesus’ work on the cross is made our own. Then we left it there since that’s where Paul left it.
But now, in chapter 5, Paul is picking the topic back up. Now he’s answering the questions SO WHAT? Why is it such a big deal that salvation and forgiveness is a free gift to God? How does free salvation in Jesus impact your life? So, let’s answer that question: so what?
“5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…” Right away, we have three big words to unpack. The first one: justified. What does it mean to be justified? Simple definition for justified: declared not guilty. The picture behind this word takes place in a courtroom. God is the judge. He’s reviewing your case. On the table next to him is the stack of evidence that stands against you. It’s a pile of papers that just about reaches up to heaven. Over the course of the trial, God examines each and every sin you’ve ever committed. One piece of paper after another. One sin after another. The evidence is clear. God picks up his gavel and he’s about to declare you guilty and deserving of eternal punishment. But before he does that, Jesus pipes up and says, “hold on.” I’ve already paid for those sins. Every sin of lust—paid for it. Every sin of overindulgence—paid for it. Every selfish thought—paid for it. Every hurtful word—paid for it. I paid for them all. This person has a clean slate.” After reviewing the new evidence Jesus brings forward, God picks up the gavel, bangs it, and says, “Not guilty.” To be justified means you stand before God without sin—because every sin has been paid for in Jesus.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith…” Our next word—faith. Simplest definition of faith: Trust in God’s promises. I’ve heard it before—someone is going through a period of trial and doubt in their life and they say something like this: “How can I be certain I have saving faith? I can't see my faith. I can't touch it. Sometimes it feels like it’s there, sometimes not.” Well. Here’s the response to that one. Faith is trust in God’s promises, so let me ask you, do you believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins? Do you believe that through the death and resurrection of Jesus, you have forgiveness of sins, life and salvation? Yes? Then you have faith. You trust in God’s promises and therefore, you have faith. And through faith, God promises that forgiveness of sins—justification—is yours personally. Because of your faith, you are justified—you are forgiven of your sins. (John 3:16—doesn’t get any clearer than that.)
“5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…” Our next word is peace. Simple definition for peace: harmony with God. Since we have been declared not guilty through faith, we have peace with God. This is a powerful point. In the English language peace is wishy washy. It is attached to our emotions. It is attached to our mental health. In our English language, when we’re sitting on the beach on vacation—we have peace. Scriptural peace is different. Scriptural peace is an objective fact. It doesn’t come and go based on how you’re feeling on a given day. You simply have peace—whether you feel peaceful or not, you have peace. Reason being, is that your sins are forgiven in Christ. Previously, your sin separated you from God and peace was not an objective fact. Because of our sin, we deserved eternal punishment. But now that our sin has been paid for, we are no longer separated from God. We have harmony with him—we have peace.
“5:1 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.” Next word: Grace. Simple definition of grace: undeserved love. Through Jesus, and through faith, we now have access to this thing called grace. We have access to God’s undeserved love. As sinners, we don’t deserve God’s love, but because of Jesus we have it. We don’t deserve eternal life in heaven, but in Jesus, we have it. We deserve God’s mercy and forgiveness, but in Jesus, we have it. That’s grace. And check out how Paul describes grace—it’s similar to John 1:16. Paul says we STAND in grace. We STAND in God’s undeserved love. Meaning, God’s undeserved love is not a one time thing. It’s not an event. It’s a state of being. Something that just is. God’s grace—his undeserved love—is a continual and unchanging face fact. It never runs out. It never abandons you.
“(2) And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.” Two more words here. A simple definition of hope: eternal certainty. Here’s another place where our English language doesn't do us any favors. In English, hope is wishy washy—just like peace. We hope for the best. We hope we get a raise. We hope we get to go on vacation next year. In English, when we hope for something, we’re saying it may or may not happen. In God’s Word, hope isn’t wishy washy. A synonym of the Scriptural word for hope is certainty. The hope of heaven is yours—heaven is yours. In Jesus, that is a fact. You can't change it. There’s nothing uncertain about it. If you were to die in your sleep tonight, your going straight to heaven because you believe in Jesus. That’s Biblical hope—it’s certain.
“(2) And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.” Next word: glory. Simple definition for the glory of God: God’s full greatness and goodness. God is the embodiment of goodness and greatness. Everything about him is good. Everything about him is great. He is so good and so great, that as sinners, we can't even fully comprehend or understand his goodness or greatness. God’s goodness, his glory is so intense that we can't even be in it’s full presence this side of heaven. However, this side of heaven, he does reveal it to us in part. Everything we have is from God. Every good and perfect gift is from him. He uses every good thing in this life to get us excited about and make us long for heaven. Even more powerful than that, we see God’s goodness at the cross. So, to say, ““(2) We boast in the hope of the glory of God.” is to say that we rejoice in the fact that someday soon, we will, without a doubt, be in our eternal resting place and we will finally get to see the fullness of God’s love and goodness and mercy. And it’s going to be more incredible than we can even comprehend.
Alright…. 6 words in the span of 2 verses. We going to pick up the pace now. Verses 3-5: ”3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” The greek word here for “glory” is a different word than when it spoke about the “glory of God.” Here, when it says glory, it’s more like pride. We take pride in our suffering. We boast in our suffering. It’s kind of a strange way to think about suffering. Nobody likes suffering. But as Christians, and because of everything we have talked about up to this point, we can take pride in suffering. We can boast in suffering. Since we have been justified, since we have peace, since we stand in grace, we can take pride in our sufferings. We take pride in our sufferings because we know that God uses them for our good. God does not waste the suffering of his children. Look at what God does with suffering. He uses suffering to produce perseverance. From perseverance, he builds character. And from character he grows our hope. God uses our sufferings to increase our hope. He uses our suffering to make us turn to him and cling to him. He uses our suffering to make us more certain about our eternity in heaven. And there again in verse 5, we see the essence of Biblical hope—it’s not wishy washy. It will not put us to shame. Hope and faith go hand in hand. When we suffer and cling to God, God’s love and the Holy Spirit go to work in our hearts and lives and teach us to better trust God. Our faith grows and our hope grows with it. A deeper trust in God’s promises results in a deeper certainty and conviction about the eternal life waiting for us when we finish our earthly journey.
With all this really thick doctrinal language, Paul has been building up to an important point. Here it is, “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 person, though for a good person 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.” How can we be certain of God’s love? How can we be certain we have all the blessings we just spoke about? Paul lays it out. He essentially says, you can trust in God’s love and goodness in your life, because that’s who God is. God is love. When you think about love in an earthly relationship, it is usually a 2 way street. I show my wife love, and she shows me love. It’s a two way street. If the love in either direction were to stop, things would go terribly wrong. It takes 100% from both of us. However, when we speak about the love of God that saved us, it was a one way street. We did nothing to show God love. We were sinners. We were ungodly. As sinners, God received no love from us, and yet, he gave us his love anyways. While we were still sinners—while we were still evil—God’s one way love sent his Son to earth to die on our behalf.
Last two verses, “9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” Simple definition for save: rescue from danger. Formerly, we were on a one way train to experiencing an eternity of God’s wrath and anger… but he rescued us from that eternal danger by the blood of his son. Simple definition of our last word—reconcile: to mend a broken relationship. Through the death of Jesus, our relationship with God has been mended. Previously, our sin stood in between us and God, but now that’s gone, it’s washed away in the blood of Jesus—so our relationship with God has been fixed. Paul says, God sent his Son for you. His Son died and rose again on your behalf. Through his Son’s death, your relationship with God was fixed, and through his resurrection, your salvation has been made 100% certain. Believe it. Have no doubts about it.
Alright. Let’s wrap this up. Verse 11: “11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Today I’m going to leave you with the same encouragement as Paul. You have been justified through faith. You have peace. You stand in grace. You have hope. You experience the glory of God in part in this life, and you’ll get to fully experience it in the next life. You stand before God as a righteous individual. You have been saved. Your relationship with him has been mended. ALL OF THIS—God did ALL OF IT. For you. SO…. go boast in your Lord. Rejoice in him. Live like you’ve been given a beautiful new life—because you have. Amen? Amen.