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Peace and Joy February 10, 2011

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Romans 5:1-11.

Summary: In this passage, Paul describes some of the benefits that arise from our justification (besides the fact that by definition, we have been declared righteous in God’s sight). In particular, the work of Christ has now made peace between God and those who put their faith in Him. Believers can now enter God’s presence and not fear the loss of their righteous standing, because God, who is unchanging, has given them that status. Interestingly, Paul also shows that sufferings are a benefit of justification, since it is God’s desire that justified believers develop a mature, battle-tested faith; clearly, suffering is a necessary means to this end. In addition, we see that those who are justified receive an abundance of God’s love via His gift of the Holy Spirit. To illustrate the abundance of this love, Paul begins by noting that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. Now, if someone were compelled to give up his life for his fellow man, his natural preference would be to die for (in decreasing order of willingness) 1) a good man, 2) a merely righteous man who is not guided by love, or 3) a sinner. Clearly, then, Christ has shown a mind-boggling love for us through His work on the Cross. It should not be forgotten that those who are justified will receive salvation; Christ has removed 1) our enmity towards God and 2) God’s hostility towards sinners, paving the way for salvation to occur. In conclusion, Paul states that all of the blessings of justification are due to the work of Christ and are secured by the fact that He lives. His work allows us to share in God’s glory both here on earth and in eternity.

Thoughts: Verse 5 illustrates the critical role that the Holy Spirit plays in the Christian life. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for Christians, except for Pentecostals, to focus on the first two members of the Trinity at the expense of the third member. Here we see that the Holy Spirit should not get short shrift in our lives. Paul asserts that the Holy Spirit is the source of God’s love, which, as Hodge notes:

‘The love of God,’ says Philippi, ‘does not descend upon us as dew in drops, but as a stream which spreads itself abroad through the whole soul, filling it with the consciousness of his presence and favor.’

Christians must constantly revisit this fact so that they can be guided by the Holy Spirit through the storms and difficulties of this life, as we hope for God’s glory in both this life and in the next life.

It is clear that the major benefit of our justification rests in our salvation. Hodge clarifies the meaning of salvation as follows:

Salvation, in a general sense, includes justification, but when distinguished from it, as in this case, it means the consummation of that work of which justification is the commencement. It is a preservation from all the causes of destruction, a deliverance from the evils which surround us here or threaten us hereafter, and an introduction into the blessedness of heaven.

It is also apparent that if salvation were not one of the benefits of justification, justification itself would be rendered utterly meaningless and useless. What would be the point of God’s justification if the objects of His justification did not receive salvation? This justification would only be temporary, and would rob Christ’s work of its power and effectiveness. Thus, we see the full impact of Christ’s work in that justification is truly a “once for all time” event, and so truly justified believers should not fret about losing their salvation.

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