All people are carnal by nature. As such, we all sin against God’s commands. Regardless of whether we have them codified in formal documents (such as the Mosaic Law) or simply “written on our hearts” (our conscience), all of us voluntarily choose to do things we know to be wrong. Thus, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. The result is that every person is in desperate need of salvation.
Where can we go or to whom can we turn to find this salvation? The Bible states that “God so loved the world that He sent his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone, and “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” When we turn to Jesus in faith, placing our trust in Him, we are saved by God's grace.
Even those who lived before the cross, such as Abraham, or perhaps have never heard the name of Jesus specifically are still saved by His atoning sacrifice. When these people turn to the Father in faith, realizing their need for salvation and their dependency of God to provide it, He “credits their faith as righteousness” through the work of Jesus Christ nonetheless.
Thus, the divine work of salvation functions in the same way for all people. It is always activated by faith and never by works or any other mechanism. Once applied to a person’s life, the salvation process unfolds in a series of sequential and sometimes concurrent steps. The initial phase of the salvation process is justification, which we have been studying for the past few weeks.
Justification consists of at least 3 specific actions. The first of these is forgiveness of sins, which deals with our behaviors. The second is an acquittal or pardon of guilt, which deals with our penalty. The third is a declaration of righteousness, which deals with our condition. We have discussed each of these extensively already.
This morning, as we move in chapter 5, we will consider the results of justification. The message will consist of 4 main points. They are “Peace with God”, “Rejoicing in God”, “The Love of God”, and “Reconciliation with God”.
I. PEACE WITH GOD (Romans 5:1-2a)
When 2 or more nations are at war, there is hostility between them. They are adversarial toward one another. But should these enemies agree to cease fighting and lay down their arms, a peace can be established. This generally necessitates a formal ceremony in which the warring factions come together to establish a treaty. Once agreed upon, this treaty serves as the basis for the peace that follows.
In similar fashion, justification by faith results in peace with God. Our battle against Him is officially ended and a new era begins in our lives. We are no longer enemies of God, but rather friends. Through our faith, we are introduced to God’s grace. It is a spiritual treaty of sorts and a marvelous one indeed.
Imagine a dam that is holding back a mighty river of water. The water represents the abundant grace of God. Now picture a person standing on the opposite side of the dam, in a dry and hardened river bed. When we come to the LORD in faith, it is as if He shatters the dam of separation between us. Torrents of His matchless grace flow upon us completely unhindered. What an overwhelming feeling to know the grace of God!
II. REJOICING IN GOD (Romans 5:2b-5)
To “exult” means to rejoice. Not only does justification lead to peace with God, but it also is a cause for great rejoicing. Paul writes that he and those with him rejoice in the hope of glory. Isn’t it a wonderful thing to have hope in God? Such hope is not wishful thinking, but a sure confidence that we are His and safely secured in His hand. Such hope can see us through the storms of life.
It is this type of assuring hope that also allows us to rejoice in our tribulations. These hardships teach us to persevere or to press on even during the darkest of circumstances. As we do so, our character is developed and our witness is proven as we are conformed increasingly into the image of Christ. And the closer we become to Christ, to stronger our hope in Him grows, which serves to strengthen our ability to endure tribulation... and the cycle continues.
We can be certain that our hope in the LORD will not leave us disappointed. Our salvation is secure in Christ Jesus and is sealed by the Holy Spirit. His presence in our lives as believers is the guarantee of our eternal destiny. Truly justification gives us reason to celebrate! It is sad to see so many Christians who seemingly lack the joy of their salvation.
III. THE LOVE OF GOD (Romans 5:6-9)
Before a person is saved they are both “ungodly” and “helpless”. They are at enmity with God, the targets of His wrath and judgment, and are helpless to change their condition by their own merits. It is highly unlikely that anyone would care for such a worthless or contrary person, much less die for them. I mean, let’s be honest, most people would be at least hesitant to die for someone who was a good friend.
This is one one the distinguishing factors of God’s love for mankind. He sent his Son to die for us while we were still sinners. He didn’t wait for humanity to repent before sending Jesus to die on the cross. He didn’t wait to see what we’d do before extending His love to us. Rather He loved us unconditionally, even as we continued to despise Him. He made a way for us to be saved, but didn’t force it upon us. Jesus died to provide us with an opportunity. Ultimately, love is a choice. Just as God chose us, He allows us to choose Him in return.
It is Christ’s sacrificial atonement that makes justification possible, because He bore our sins and paid our penalty. It is horrifying to think that those who die apart from Christ end up paying a debt that has already been paid. By rejecting the love of God that is demonstrated through our Lord Jesus, the unrighteous needlessly face the ferocious wrath of Almighty God.
IV. RECONCILIATION WITH GOD (Romans 5:10-11)
Finally, justification by faith leads to reconciliation with God. Reconciliation is “the bringing together of God and man again”. It is the restoration of the relationship between the two. What had been characterized by hostility and alienation is now characterized by peace and fellowship. Reconciliation allows us to walk hand in hand with God.
If you are like me, you reconcile your “checkbook” with your bank statement regularly. The goal of this process is to get your records to match those of the bank. The bank statement does not change to accommodate our “checkbook” but rather our “checkbook” must be updated or corrected to match it. In the same way, when we are reconciled to God He brings us into agreement with Him. Our spiritual “checkbooks” are balanced so that we are no longer at odds with one another, but rather are in one accord with Him.
Renewed fellowship with God opens the doors of communication and intimacy with Him in ways that are unknown and unavailable to the lost sinner. Reconciliation allows us to have a daily walk with the LORD, an ongoing relationship that can develop and mature over time. How disheartening it is to see Christians discount or neglect the relationship with God that reconciliation has made possible for them!
The results of justification include peace with God, rejoicing in God, and reconciliation with God. Because we have been justified, we can now walk with the LORD as friends in a harmonious and amicable relationship. We have not only become heirs of eternal life with Jesus in heaven someday, but also recipients of an abundant life with Him on earth today! As His faithful followers, we can experience the grace of God every single day of our lives. Doesn’t this truth make you want to rejoice? It should.
Next Sunday we will conclude our teaching on justification as we consider its origin or source. We are going to study how sin infected the human race, and how death spread to all mankind as a result. Then we will learn how righteousness intervened to make salvation possible for all who would believe. It promises to be a great message and I hope you will be here to hear it.