The NASB opens chapter five with this headline.
Peace with God through faith.
Spend any amount of time, in church and someone will tell you that you are just a sinner, saved by grace. Often, they take it a step further and point out how you are only one step away from hell’s flames because of your sin.
Is that the case?
Let’s find out what Paul says about it. Know this; chapter five is not meant to stand alone. It is part of a saga that began with Paul opening his definitive letter to the church in Rome – a church comprised of Jewish believers who were holding fast to traditional and legalistic values, with the words:
I, Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ.
How does Paul’s admission that he is a slave of Jesus Christ, affect our reading of, in this case, chapter 5?
If you thoroughly understood what it means to be a slave, you would cringe at reading that word. The implications of slavery are horrifying And yet, Paul identifies with being a slave to this Christian community. It may add to your understanding if you read Paul’s letter to Philemon, another Jewish believer, who was also a slave owner. Notice that neither here in Romans, or in his letter to Philemon, that Paul does not put down the ghastly treatment and ownership of another human, for it was commonplace. However, we need to know that to identify or speak out against a way of life where 1 in 10 people in Rome was enslaved, was unheard of.
There are so many bits of information that explain to us who Paul is really writing to. I think I covered a touch of history, and how that the Roman’s, under Claudius, expelled the Jews for their insurrections. Apparently, the Jews attributed their revolts to one the Roman’s called Chrestus – Christ Jesus. So Paul then is writing to a primarily Jewish community of believers, who were treating the Gentile converts like slaves, in attitude and mannerisms.
I suppose I included this bit about Paul and slavery because, it seems, Paul was not afraid to speak out against tradition and social behaviors, especially when those practices seem to go against God’s will.
Sadly, a good deal of what we have read in Romans, to this point, is engaged with addressing traditions, mental attitudes, and religious ideals of men.
Here in chapter five, we have this somewhat eye-opening statement.
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. (Romans 5:1-2 NLT)
“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith,”
The mere fact that the sentence starts with the word, therefore, tells us that something essential and defining was previously explained.
Briefly, we have an answer from Paul when he says,
“ We have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”
Doesn’t the quotation above beg the question, what happened to create, not only the righteousness in us but what did Jesus do?
Fortunately, Romans 4:25 spells out rather succinctly what happened.
Jesus was handed over to die for our sins, and he was raised from death to make us right with God. (Romans 4:25 ERV)
This being made right by God didn’t just happen; it took some participation on our part, and Paul, in Romans 5:1-2, makes that clear.
“ Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.”
As I stated in beginning, some, feeling threatened, will condemn you to hell simply because you live outside the grace they are comfortable with; but what did Paul say? Our faith in Jesus and the price he paid on our behalf, has gained our acceptance into this righteousness. The other half of this paragraph says, “Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand.”
Where is the threat in that?
There is none. Consider how God has consistently dealt with those He calls His own. He says to them, as for Me. This approach says I will hold up my end of the bargain, regardless of what you do.
Can there be negative results for not following God and His ways? Indeed, yes, at some point, He laid down the law, and along with that He points out following Him is good, and NOT following Him brings pain and destruction.
Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: A blessing if you obey the commandments of Jehovah your God which I command you today, and a curse if you will not obey the commandments of Jehovah your God, but will turn aside out of the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known. (Deuteronomy 11:26-28 MKJV)
I suggest that you read Deuteronomy 11 and 28. In chapter 28, God lays out the blessings for obedience and the curses for disobedience. If your life seems like it is out of control, then take a look at those blessings and curses. While we who follow Christ are not under the law, the law, like gravity, certainly plays a role in our lives. If you have chosen to function within the realm of the curses, you subject yourself to a tremendous amount of destructive effects.
Romans 5:2 ends with,
“and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”
Paul, writing to the church in Colossae, said,
“For to them, God would make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,” (Colossians 1:27 MKJV)
Isn’t our hope, an eternity filled with peace; free from the bullies of this life; and a life spent with the Father. That last part takes on a different meaning if you have been abused or been given some horrendous example of fatherhood. If this was you, let me say, I understand. However, I have found God to be a good Father and one that you can trust and count on. If we can set the dysfunction aside, we begin to see that hope is the backbone of our beliefs. I get it, for dysfunction took on a different meaning when I was accosted within the church community by a friend, and a pastor, about what they believe is a false hope. I don’t think they disagree that there is hope, but they certainly disagree that this hope we long for is anywhere in the near future.
Again, I give you Paul’s voice as pertaining to hope.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 MKJV But let us, who are of the day, be calm, having put on the breastplate of faith and love and the hope of salvation for a helmet.
Salvation can take on a variety of meanings depending upon the circumstances. I am not in dire need, nor under a threat of death, but many are. Perhaps you are as well. If that is the case, I pray that the Holy Spirit gives you a strength that you did not know could exist within you, so that you stand strong in the face of the enemy. Why would that be important, because WE HAVE HOPE? Hope that the restoration of all things will come and that Jesus Christ will reign as the Messiah that the Jews have longed for.
This next verse began to be a problem for me when I figured out that I could think for myself.
Romans 5:3-4 MKJV And not only this, but we glory in afflictions also, knowing that afflictions work out patience, (4) and patience works out experience, and experience works out hope.
Why would this be a problem for me? Because I was raised to keep sticking your face out so that they could slap it off if they wanted to. I found no comfort or peace in that attitude. I was also told that if I defended myself, that I would be handed over to my Father and his belt. That kind of treatment makes the idea of afflictions even more painful.
If what Paul wrote has had an impact on me, then I should be well established in a hope based in the peaceful reign of Jesus. But then, there are these bizarre words:
“We glory in afflictions.”
Who, in their right mind, would do that?
Someone who has come to understand, thoroughly, what Christ has done to and for us. Sometimes we all need a reminder.
- We have been made righteous in God’s sight.
- We have peace with God
are we righteous, and have peace with God?
- Because of what Jesus did on our behalf.
- Because of our faith, that we put in Him.
- And, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege (grace) where we now stand.
Another way to read this comes from the NLT.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. (Romans 5:3 NLT)
So there it is, this peculiar manner in which we handle life’s problems, thanks to hope, causes us to have perseverance, and proven character.
Scripture speaks of judgment, particularly, the Bema seat of Christ. Said in menacing tones, this can be very disheartening. Two things about this so-called time of judgment that I have come to understand: 1. The Bema Seat is a time for Christ to give back to us. It is not about some ominous, detrimental judgment, as most proclaim. 2. Jesus said, you will be judged, as you judge. A question, how do you judge others; harshly, critically, and without mercy? Well, that is what I did, and six months later, those very words came back to judge me. In that season, my world turned upside down and ended. The comfortable world I knew came to a crashing halt. Because of all this judgment, I have learned perseverance that I did not think I was capable of, and, I have had to establish and demonstrate my character repeatedly.
“knowing that afflictions work out patience, and patience works out experience, and experience works out hope.”
Odd how that all works out. Our relationship with Christ allows for us to have these character traits in our lives; so that, when troubles arise (which Jesus guaranteed would come as you follow Him,) we would have the patience to endure the problem, no matter how deadly. This patience turns into experience, and experience causes even more hope to arise in you.