God’s Salvation By Faith (Part 2 of The Sufficiency of Christ’s Righteousness)
ROMANS 5 (cont.)
We endure suffering for His name sake, in whatever form it comes. Paul says as trials come and we endure them, perseverance becomes a product of that. Why do you persevere in the face of trials? Why don’t you let it get you down or discourage you or put an end to your walk with Christ? Because of what you just read. It exaggerates your hope in what is coming after it. And as we persevere in that way, Paul says that perseverance grows our spiritual character. Strengthening our resolve all the more so the development of spiritual character through trials is the blessing God gives to the believer because that character growth lasts into eternity and it’s the basis of our reward. James says, count it all joy brethren when you face various trials and he goes on to explain the effect of those trials and you will end up with being perfect, complete, lacking nothing, speaking of your reward in the kingdom.. A persecuted church in general is a strong and growing church while a comfortable church is a weak and lethargic church.
Finally, as our character strengthens under trials, we become all the more sure in our hope for God’s glory, leading to hope again, he says. And Paul says in verse 5 that our hope will not be disappointed, because it’s not without solid foundation. Because we have in us proof that we are at peace with God. We have the presence of God (The Holy Spirit) dwelling in us. Clearly, if we were God’s enemy He would not set up His temple in us. So as we increase in godly character having persevered in trials, we see the word of the Spirit in our hearts. That is our confirmation that we are at peace with God. Your changed life made possible by a hope in God and the presence of the Holy Spirit is proof #1 that your faith has truly accomplished something real in you for eternity. You have been justified, your salvation is real, your hope will not disappoint. Just consider how you have changed since before you knew Christ to who you are now. That’s fruit, good fruit! And the Bible says that good fruit like that can’t come from evil hearts. It can only happen when something good lives in you, and only God is good. So God is living in you is what produces the good change out of you that we see in sanctification over time. That is the evidence itself of the Spirit working inside you. That’s your first proof… that you think and live differently. Even as the unbeliever lives with increasing fear of what lies ahead. You exult in God, you feel peace with God
Phillips Brooks, former minister of Boston’s Trinity Episcopal Church, is perhaps best known as the author of “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” He was a very busy pastor, yet he always seemed relaxed and unburdened, willing to take time for anyone in need. Shortly before Brooks died, a young friend wrote to him and asked the secret of his strength and serenity. In a heartfelt response, Brooks credited his still-growing relationship with Christ. He wrote, “The more I have thought it over, the more sure it has seemed to me that these last years have had a peace and fullness which there did not used to be. It is a deeper knowledge and truer love of Christ…..I cannot tell you how personal this growth is to me. He is here. He knows me and I know Him. It is the most real thing in the world. And every day makes it more real. And one wonders with delight what it will grow to as the years go on.”
That’s an eloquent way of expressing what is being reflected in Paul’s writing here. What we believe in our spirit results in a true change in heaven. The proof of that is it’s already changing in us by God’s presence. Then Paul has a second argument to make in assuring that your salvation is by faith alone is real –
Romans 5:6-11 (NKJV) **
Christ in Our Place
6 For when we were still without strength, in due time (at the right time) Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
**All scripture is from the New King James Version unless other wise noted
Back in verses 1-2 of Romans chapter 5, Paul gave a brief chain of events. And I mentioned that would become important later on. This is where they become important.
First came the payment when Christ died. That is when our peace was made with God. Then secondly came our personal introduction to that act of grace by our faith in that payment. This order is important to understanding the argument Paul is about to make to answer in the second half of the first question.
Which came first? God’s act of grace or your act of faith? Obviously, Christ died before anyone in the church placed their faith in that sacrifice. In fact, God proclaimed His intention to put His Son to death as early as Genesis chapter 3. Long before anyone was asked to believe in it. So the point should be obvious. The Lord was working this plan long before we got personally involved in securing this salvation. More than that, His work on our behalf started when we were helpless and ungodly. Paul says that while we were still helpless, Christ was dying for the ungodly. Helpless refers to our prospects for finding salvation.
Before Christ made the one and only payment God will accept, there was literally no way to get to God. None. And that is true even in the Old Testament in this sense. Even an Old Testament saint who believed in the coming payment nevertheless when they died in faith, where did they go? They had to stay in Sheol waiting for the death of Jesus before they could enter the throne room themselves. So the point is, God was enacting the plan long before anyone else was in the position to act, even in the Old Testament. Much less did any of us contribute to the process. So what Paul does now is he compares Jesus’ sacrifice for us as opposed to a human being dying for another person to live. Generally, we consider this to be the highest act of personal sacrifice anyone could make on behalf of another person. There is nothing greater we can give to someone else than your own life. And it’s usually so precious to us that we hesitate to give it at all. Except for under the most extreme circumstances. Paul says that it’s exceedingly rare for someone to give up their life for another person. And even then if we were willing, we would then consider to do it for someone we thought was good.
In our world, what good means here is someone we perceive as innocent or
undeserving death. Like our own children or spouse. Or maybe an innocent bystander or comrade in arms. We’ve all seen news reports of these moments and we admire the one who gives the ultimate sacrifice. But what would you say if someone suggested you die for an evil person? Or would you die to free a murderer from death row? The very thought seems ridiculous. And yet that’s exactly what Jesus did. The ultimate good person gave His life for the ultimate evil people, you and me. You couldn’t find a greater extreme than that. Paul says that demonstrates how much God loves us.
So if you doubt whether your faith is sufficient to ensure your justification, Paul says you’re thinking about the problem the wrong way. You’re forgetting all that the Lord did before you were ever introduced by your faith into this salvation. In a sense you are suggesting that God would put His own Son to death for you, then introduce you to His grace by faith and give you His Spirit… but then later the plan will fall apart. That somehow it wouldn’t come to pass in the end. Paul says in verse 9, if God did so much for you while you were still ungodly and you were unable to even seek this grace, then how much more should you expect the plan to work after you have come to know Him and you now have a desire for that grace? Because you now have that desire of God’s grace because you are aware of it and you treasure it. But now we are suddenly worried we are going to lose it or not keep it?.
In verse 10 Paul asks, if while we were doing everything wrong, God reconciled us to Himself by Christ’s death, then how much more shall we be saved by His life, that is, Him living in us? Before you had His guidance and His word and His love He was doing what He did. Now that He has given you all those things, you still think you are in jeopardy? You begin to sense how ridiculous the worries are that Christians will fall into either by bad teaching or bad assumption. That makes them think they are in jeopardy of what they’ve been given by God. That it might fall away, disappear.
Imagine two soldiers that are at war on the opposite sides and suddenly one of the soldiers decides to act in great personal risk to save the life of the enemy soldier. That one soldier proved his love for the other soldier by risking his life for that enemy. Now imagine further, the war is over and later the two men decide to meet in a local café. They meet up and strike up a friendship and they reminisce over their experiences in war. And they know their friendship was made possible by that noble act of that soldier on the behalf of the other. Now imagine as they leave the table the soldier who had been saved turns to his rescuer and says, I’m sorry I don’t think we can meet again. When the friend asks why the soldier says, well I don’t think I can trust you. So I am afraid you might pull a gun on me and shoot me when my back is turned. That other soldier would be shocked and ask, if I was willing to rescue you when you were my enemy, why would I kill you now that you are my friend? That is what you are saying to God when you suggest that your faith in Christ’s death still leaves open some possibility that it won’t all work out for you in the end. If he had that concern in the first place He would not have befriended you so to speak with the death of His own Son. God was willing to reconcile us when we were farthest from Him. And we have nothing to fear now when we are at our closest to Him. This logical argument is a source of great confidence for any Christian burdened by worries about sin and security. How can you worry about the certainty of God’s promises to you when He put His Son to death for you? If you had any reason to think the plan wasn’t going to work, then how do you explain Christ’s death?
Let’s move on to the second question in the chapter. The first question was, how do I know what’s been said about my faith is actually going to be true when I face God? The answers are: Your changed life and God’s willingness to put His Son to death before you knew Him. Those two things prove that nothing is going to separate you from the love of God. Next question How can one man’s death accomplish so much for so many? Exactly how does this work?
Romans 5:12-14 (NKJV)
Death in Adam, Life in Christ
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
To explain how God is working through Christ to free us from condemnation, Paul takes us back to where our condemnation started: which was in Adam. Paul is going to examine the start of our sin problem in Adam and then he is going to compare how Adam brought all of us down to the way Christ lifts all of us up. In this comparison, Paul is going to refer to “one man” who is obviously Adam and later he will refer to another Man, who is obviously Christ. The point for us to understand is that the solution God provides in Christ draws directly from the problem that He is solving from. What we’re trusting in is based in what happened in Adam. So if it is true that Adam created the problem, then it is just as true that Christ can solve the problem in a similar way.
We can see the effect that Adam (one man) had on all humanity, changing all humanity.
Therefore, if we see it properly we can understand how one Man can change that problem for all of humanity. In this case both men, Adam and Christ, act as the federal representative of a group of people. A federal representative means someone who rules or makes decisions on behalf of a group of people they represent. All democracies work in this way, we’re not strangers to this concept. You have elected officials and they represent certain groups of constituents and that is a federalist system at least at some level. The actions of those individuals we elect, they carry consequences for the people they represent. And you accept this notion without any debate, hopefully. And it works the same way for humanity in a spiritual sense.
In verse 12 Paul says, through Adam sin entered the world. So Adam ate the fruit in disobedience to the word of God and at the moment he did, sin entered the world.
Right before that moment, God proclaimed that if Adam were to disobey His word concerning the fruit, He said to Adam, You shall surely die.
Genesis 2:16-17 (NKJV)
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Adam disobeyed and ate and he still lived over 900 years. Since Adam didn’t physically die on the day he ate, then we know the death God threatened was not a physical death. It was spiritual death, which is the Bible’s terminology for the arrival of a sinful corrupt nature that is opposed to God. So as Adam disobeyed God, his nature changed inside him. He became dead spiritually. And he died in that sense on that very day. The power that accomplished that change in his heart was the power of God’s word itself, since it was the decree of God that Adam would experience spiritual death in the day he ate of it.
Next: The conclusion (Part 3) of the three-part series about The Sufficiency of Christ’s Righteousness –
“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”
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