More Reasons to Rejoice
Romans 5:5 spoke of the revelation of God’s love flooded into the believer’s heart by the Holy Spirit. Verses 6-8 explore the objective basis for that subjective experience as Gods love is expressed by the cross of Christ.
The apostle’s argument can be summarized as follows:
- Human love, at its best, will motivate a person to give his or her life for a truly “good” person (v. 7)
- Christ, sent by God, died, not for “righteous” people, or even for “good” people, but for rebellious and undeserving people (v. 6)
- Therefore: God’s love is far greater in it magnitude and dependability than even the greatest human love (v. 8).
Here Paul provides further evidence that the Christian’s hope cannot fail. A God who loved people enough to die for them while they were at war with Him will never let them go.
That thought brings Paul to verse 7 and the human approach to giving our lives for someone or even helping them. Out first question when asked to help someone, even at the financial level, is “Are they worthy? Do they deserve help? Will they appreciate it or merely squander the fruit of my gift?” It is only in the light of our human attitudes that the absolute radicalness of God’s love shines forth. Romans 5 tells us that Jesus did not die for the worthy but for those out of harmony with Him and the Father. It is that kind of love that undergirds the Christian hope.
Verse 8 continues Paul’s thought by telling us that Christ died for us “While we were yet sinners.” Now, a sinner is not merely out of harmony with God’s will but active rebellion against Him. The Bible describes sin as being against God personally.
But beyond being personal, sin is moral. It is a deliberate act of the will to rebel against God. Sin is a choice, a conscious rejection of God. Let’s look at sin in this way; “it is like the son who strikes his father’s face in anger. It is the bold self-assertion of the son’s will above that of the father.” It is with those thoughts in mind that we can begin to see the height and depth and breadth of God’s love.
Verse 9-11 flesh out the conclusions that can be drawn from the revelation of the love of God at the cross. Verses 9 and 10 each focus on “much more” than statements that parallel each other. “Much more than, “we read in verse 9, “having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (NASB). The focal point in the first half of the verse is justification “by His blood,” a reference to Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice that laid the foundation for God’s justification of sinners (previously presented in Romans 3:24, 25). Paul never tires of reflecting on the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). “For our sake,” he wrote to the Corinthians, “he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (II Corinthians 5:21). And, he pointed out in Galatians, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the broken law, having become a curse for us – for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13).
That brings us to the second “much more” in Romans 5:10. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” The first word we should highlight in that verse is enemies. We have seen in verses 6-10 a progression of Paul categorization of the lost from “weak (v. 6a) to “ungodly” (v. 6b) to “sinners: (v. 8) to enemies (v. 10). Each term in that sequence is more serious and more explicitly descriptive than those before. With enemies Paul has come to the apex of his description of the lost. “Enemy is a strong word. “An “enemy is not simply someone who falls a little short of being a good and faithful friend. He belongs to the opposite camp. He is opposed to what one is doing. Sinners are putting their effort into the opposite direction to that of God.
But those who accept God’s reconciliation made possible “by the death of His Son” (v. 10) will discover the second much more. If the first had to do with being “saved by him from wrath” (v. 9), the second is that those reconciled shall “be saved by his life” (v. 10).
Here we find a statement akin to that of Romans 4:25, which states that Christ was “raised for our justification.” The resurrection is an essential part of Paul’s gospel (I Corinthians 15:3, 4) because Christ’s salvific work was not completed at the cross. Subsequent to His death come His resurrection and high priestly ministry for His children in the heavenly sanctuary (Romans 8:34: Hebrews 7:25; I John 2:1, 2). And after that will come his second advent at which time He will save His people from the presence of sin eternally.
With that thought Paul returns to the imperative to rejoice in God’s salvation that he had raised in Romans 5:2. There is no doubt about it in his mind: Christians ought to be the happiest people on earth.