PREMISE: Christians have obtained through faith in JESUS CHRIST an introduction into the grace of God and can exult, even in tribulation, in the hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-11.

In the first four chapters of the Roman letter Paul has shown the Romans that we have all broken God's law for our lives. Because of our transgressions we are without excuse before God. Under God's system of justice, God's wrath is revealed as being stored up for us. Although God is just, we need something more than justice. Although we can do nothing to satisfy justice, God, in His grace, has provided what we need, justification. For God is not only just, He is our "justifier".

Christ was delivered up as a sacrifice for our transgressions. His offering of His own blood serves as the propitiation for our sins. In this manner, through Christ's merit and not our own, we are brought by our faith into blessings we could have in no other way. God's justification of us is so thorough and so complete that God reckons us as righteous and as though we had never sinned in the first place. In Romans 5:1-11 Paul summarized the results of our justification.

"(1) Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (2) through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we exult in hope of the glory of God." Romans 5:1-2. NASV.

Let us first notice Paul's statement, "we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand." Notice the verb "stand." Paul said that we "stand" in God's "grace." In Paul's letters, to "stand" was one of the most important results of "justification." He used this simple verb, "stand," to illustrate something that Christians were to do. They were not to "work" as though to earn anything, but they were to "stand."

In Paul's letter to the Ephesians, Paul said that a goal of Christian lives was to "be able to stand firm against the schemes of the Devil." (Ephesians 6:10.) But first in that letter, Paul said that Christians had to "sit" with Christ in heavenly places. (Ephesians 2:6.) Then Paul said that Christians had to learn to "walk," "not as unwise men, but as wise." (Ephesians 5:15.) Then, after being "seated" with Christ, and after learning to "walk," they would finally be able to "stand." The point was that there must be a progression in the Christian life from first being "seated with Christ," then learning to "walk" in the new life, and finally being enabled to actually "stand" in heavenly places.

Now in this fifth chapter of the Roman letter Paul said that we "stand" by faith in the grace of God. From the things which Paul said between Romans 5:12 and the end of Romans 8, we note that Paul was here introducing the idea of a progression in the Christian life which goes through stages similar to those described in the Ephesian letter. Although forms of the verb "to sit" were not actually used in the Roman letter, the stage of being "seated" with Christ next to God was described in Paul's explanation of God's "justification," or His "reckoning of righteousness" to us. And forms of the verb "to walk" were used extensively in chapters 6 and 8 to describe how we are to progressively conduct our Christian lives.

The fact that Paul described a progressive life in Christ was borne out by his use in Romans 5:2 of the word "introduction." God's justification of Christians was an "introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand." In the first four chapters of Romans Paul described a sequence or progression of events in everyone's life starting with one's breaking God's law and becoming a sinner, then progressing to one's becoming a believer who through obedience of faith received God's gift of justification. This placed one at a point of "introduction" to a further sequence of progression in the life God would have one live.

What are some of the other results of our justification mentioned here by Paul? In Romans 5:1 Paul said that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We are reckoned as righteous and as a result we have peace with God. This was an eternal truth that was stated by Isaiah, "And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever." (Isaiah 32:17).

Paul said later in Romans 8:7 that "the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God." Before we were reckoned as righteous, while we were still trapped in sin, our mind was set on the flesh and we were enemies of God. We were actually at war with God. We needed to be at peace with God. By faith in our Lord Jesus Christ we were justified and reckoned as righteous. Then we had peace with God.

In addition, when we were trapped in sin with no way to justify ourselves, we were in a state of turmoil of mind. We were trapped in a state of guilt and in danger of the wrath of God. We had no peace of mind. This too was expressed in the long ago by Isaiah, "The wicked are like the troubled sea, for it never can be at rest; whose waters cast up dirt and mire." (Isaiah 62:20). The Roman letter told us that we had broken the law of God and we knew it. Unless our consciences had become completely "seared over," we knew that we were in bad standing with God. But now, "having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Christians trying to take the gospel of Christ into pagan lands should know about the turmoil that exists in the minds of people who are at odds with their Creator. They may not express their turmoil of mind in the way that people of our culture do. They may know very little about God, their Creator. But, as Paul said in Romans 1:19, some knowledge of God is "evident to them," and they have turmoil within them for they sense that they are without excuse. When they have the Scriptures opened to them and the gospel of Christ preached to them, they recognize that it is what they need to have the peace of mind for which they yearn.

People must come to a realization that they need justification from their sins. Then, they will recognize the message of Christ as the good news that it is. God is the justifier by grace to those who have faith. When they have exercised some faith to gain access to justification, they find inner peace that can come in no other way. They then stand in the grace or favor of God as a result of their justification.

Also as a result of justification Paul said that "we exult (KJ, rejoice) in hope of the glory of God". In his Philippian letter Paul stressed the joy he had as a Christian. Paul said, "I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice," "I urge you to rejoice," and "Rejoice in the Lord always." Here in the Roman letter Paul told us that we rejoice by reason of the hope of the glory of God which comes through our justification.

Hope is a complex state of mind made up of a desire for something as well as an expectation of obtaining that something. The hope which Paul spoke of so often in his letters was unselfish. It was given to the Christian by God as a result of his justification by faith. The Christian has an earnest desire for the glory of God, and he has a confident expectation of obtaining it.

"(3) And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; (4) and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; (5) and hope does not disappoint. because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:3-5. NASV.

"And not only this", Paul reminds us that we are in a world which brings affliction and tribulation to us. Christians, like everyone else in the world, are surrounded with affliction and tribulation. What effect does our justification have upon us in supporting us in this affliction and tribulation? Paul said the result is that we exult (or rejoice) in our tribulations as a Christian. Why? Because "tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint". We rejoice in tribulation because it leads us through a progression of life which ultimately strengthens our hope. And hope is one of the great sustaining forces in our lives.

But Paul mentioned a progression of steps of growth between tribulation and the full realization of hope. The steps are that tribulation first brings about perseverance (KJ, patience), then proven character (KJ, experience), and then hope. Let us examine each of these steps of Christian growth.

First, Paul said, tribulation brings about perseverance (KJ, patience). Apparently Paul was thinking of the contrast between the effect of tribulations in the lives of the unrighteous, unjustified people that we once were, and their effect upon our lives as justified Christians. Before we were justified from our sins we lived in the same world that we live in now. It is a world that brings tribulations upon everyone. But, before we were justified we were lost in our sins. We lived with the knowledge that we were without excuse and that we had no hope. On top of that, we had daily tribulations. We could easily have gotten the idea that life was not worth living. With no remedy in sight, we had no reason to persevere in a life of afflictions and tribulations.

Many people of the world feel that life really is not worth living. Many are unwilling to persevere in the tribulations that come to them. Many people of the Far Eastern world follow teachings which say that everything on earth is bad, that nothing but misery exists in this world, and that there is no hope of a better life in this world. Some of them persevere in life only because their religion teaches that they inevitably will have another existence which may be worse if they do not persevere in their present existence. But others are unwilling to persevere, and they seek to end their lives. They ask, "If there is no justification from sins and no hope of a better world, is there any reason to persevere in this life?" The suicide rate in some countries of the Far East is high.

But, with the knowledge that we are justified from our sins and are reckoned righteous, then tribulations (which we can't escape) become bearable. We have a reason to wait patiently through life for the glory of God of which He will allow us to partake. This reason for perseverance in life is powerful good news for many people of the earth.

Secondly, Paul said that in our growth through tribulations towards full experience of hope, "perseverance" brings about "proven character (KJ, experience)." There is nothing like the experience of actually entering into and trying out this Christian life. The experience which God gives to us as we persevere in afflictions constitutes a proving of our Christian character. And after we have persevered, we have "proven character."

The proven character which comes through our experience brings about the "hope" that will sustain us until the goal of that hope is actually seen. Unlike the hope which we place in the socalled "pay¬offs" of this world, this hope is a "hope which does not disappoint".

This reminds us that Job, who lived long ago during the time of the Patriarchs, experienced the same growth in his faithful life. The redemption which was to come to him through Christ was a mystery to him. Yet he persevered in his faith through great tribulations to eventually have proven character and full hope in the goal of his faith. His hope finally prompted him to say, "I know that my redeemer lives." (Job 19:25).

Paul went on to say in Romans 5:5 that after God's justification of us we were given access in our Christian lives to the "love of God which has been poured out into our hearts..." Paul added mention of the gift of "love" to the gifts of "faith" and "hope" which he had already mentioned in the Roman letter. Often in Paul's other letters he spoke of "faith," "love," and "hope" as the three great sustaining and motivating factors in a Christian's life. "Faith, hope, love, these three" gifts of God sustain us, said Paul in I Corinthians 13:13. In his 1st Thessalonian letter Paul mentioned God's choice of us concerning "works of faith," "labors of love," and "steadfastness of hope." (1st Thessalonians 1:3). In his Roman letter Paul spoke similarly of "obedience of faith" (Romans 1:4), "the love of God poured out within our hearts", and "hope" that "does not disappoint." (Romans 5:5).

"The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us," said Paul. With reference to this greatest of all gifts to Christians, the Holy Spirit of God, Paul reminds us that we need not fear the tribulations of life. We have help directly from God in the Person of His Holy Spirit. Tribulations will come. But they absolutely cannot affect the love of God or the Holy Spirit who was given to us. When we get some experience in perseverance through the help afforded by the love of God and the Holy Spirit, then we will get full confidence that nothing can overcome us before our hope becomes real. Our hope cannot disappoint us. With gifts of faith, love, hope, and the Holy Spirit, what riches we have in our lives!

By this mention of the gift of the Holy Spirit, Paul prepared his readers for the subject which took precedence in chapters 6, 7, and 8 of the Roman letter. In these chapters he revealed details of how God enables Christians to be of use to Him as they take on His "work of faith" and "labors of love". But in the first eleven verses of chapter 5, Paul completed his comments on the subject of God's justification of us from our sins by reckoning us as righteous through faith.

"(6) For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For one will hardly die for a righteous man, though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. (8) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:6-8). NASV.

How do we know that we will not be disappointed in this hope which comes through, and in spite of, our tribulations? We know because, in bringing us the gift of hope, Jesus Christ "persevered" through greater tribulations than we will ever have. Jesus' tribulations resulted in His persecution and death on a cruel cross. How do we know that God truly loves us? We know because of God's "proven character", proven through the giving of His Son to die for us, the ungodly, while we were still helpless, while we were yet sinners against God. There is the proof of God's love and care for us. There is the evidence that God has not forsaken us although "we like sheep have all gone astray." God took the initiative! God made provisions for our justification while we were still helpless sinners. Indeed, God knew that we would be helpless even before we were born into the world. God made provisions for our justification from sin before the creation of the world.

Paul intimated that in God's actions to justify people from their sins, He caused the death of Christ to occur "at the right time." He seemed to intimate that the "right time" was crucial in the carrying out of God's plan. Nothing about God's plan for justification of mankind was haphazard, random, or arbitrary. There was a specific "right" point in all the time that would elapse, between the creation of the world and its destruction in the final judgment, for Christ to live on earth and give his body to die for all humanity. It was the proper point in time for the sacrifice of Christ to cover the sins of all people of faith who lived prior to Christ ("because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed"), and the proper point in time to cover the sins of all people of faith who lived after Christ ("for the demonstration of His righteousness at the present time"). (Romans 3:25-26).

Not only was there a "right time" for Christ to die, it becomes clear that there was a "right time" for all the events of history to occur which led up to His death. By this little phrase "at the right time," we can recognize the fact that God brought to pass throughout all history the proper events at the proper times to assure that justification from sins would be effective for all mankind, such events as the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, the Old Testament prophets, Joseph, Mary, and many, many more events than we can ever imagine. And from the phrase we get an inkling of understanding of how the spiritual realm of God transcends the realm of our lives on earth where the concept of time is a limiting factor. God is not limited by the dimension of time but is able to use it to bring about His purposes in the lives of human beings who live past, present, or future to us. We confidently expect that He will send Christ to fetch the faithful and bring about His final judgment at another "right time" to come. In this present time we praise God and thank Him for His patient forbearance toward sinful mankind while His servants continue to preach, even until now, "the gospel." "For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." And we thank God that "the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith," even to the faith of our present time. As servants of God, should we not be "redeeming the time"? (Ephesians 5:16).

God's act of giving His Son to die for us is not easy for us to understand. We have heard of examples of one man dying for another who was considered to be a good man. Seldom if ever has anyone ever offered his life to save a criminal or an enemy. But God demonstrated a love which man does not know. This "love," translated from the Greek word AGAPE, is a love that only God has. It is not inherent in humans. We can learn it only from God. This love was demonstrated by Jesus offering His life and dying for the sake of human sinners who were living under the influence of His enemy, Satan.

"(9) Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. (10) For if while 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 this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation." Romans 5:9-11. NASV.

In these verses Paul "wrapped up" the major topic of the first part of his Roman letter: The righteousness of God is revealed through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ which justifies sinners who believe. He has said that we who were formerly classified as ungodly and unrighteous have been saved through the blood of Christ from the wrath of God to come. The words "ungodly" (Romans 5:6) and the phrase "wrath of God" (Romans 5:9) remind us of the statement made at the beginning of this part of the letter: "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men..." (Romans 1:16). But God's wrath does not threatens people of faith and Christians are not classified as ungodly because we have been justified by the blood of Christ. We "stand" in God's grace. We have peace. We are now able to exult or rejoice, even in tribulations. We have a hope that does not disappoint. Love has been poured out in our hearts. The Holy Spirit of God Himself has been given to us.

Paul then introduced in Romans 5:10 the words "reconciled" and "reconciliation." The verb "reconciled" meant "to be changed thoroughly." The noun "reconciliation" was used to describe a thorough change in the relationship between God and people who were justified from their sins. The original estranged relationship was brought about by people's breaking of God's law. The change in the relationship, that is, the reconciliation, was due on the one hand to the change in the people who gave up striving for justification through works of merit and embraced God's system of simple obedience of faith. But the change in the people was brought about by God. The people "were reconciled," not by their own power to change the relationship, but by God's power through the blood of Christ to change His relationship with people of faith.

We were reconciled to God through the death of His Son. But not only were we reconciled (past tense) through that death, "we shall be saved (future tense) by His life". It was after the death of the man Jesus that He was saved and raised to "life." The "saved life" was future to the "death." The "one man, Jesus Christ," in the new "life" to which He was raised, served as a type of those people who also would be raised to "walk in newness of life." Paul pointed this out in later chapters. We, as Christians, also have been granted "saved life" that is future to our "death" in Christ. Paul here set the stage for another important part of his message to start in Romans 5:12, a part which rightly could be discussed separately after his remarks about our "justification" from past sins.

If God justified us from our past sins while we were his enemies, can there be any doubt that God will carry thru and finally save us? That is a pertinent question for our past sins are not our only fault. Paul explained in later chapters that our human character, inherited from the first Adam, is flawed by the "principle that sin dwells in us". After all that God has done in justifying us from our sins, we still continue to sin! How can we be of any use to God in a "new life"? Paul assured us in Romans 5:10 with the statement, "Much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His Life." Then in Romans 5:12 he began a discussion of how we are saved from the "sin principle" within us and how we can become useful to the carrying out of God's purposes.

"And not only this", Paul said, there is still another blessing which results from our justification. "We also exult in God." Paul said a few verses earlier that we exult in tribulations and in the hope of the glory of God. Then he added that we also exult in God Himself. That would include exultation in God's existence, His attributes, His justice, His grace, His mercy, and His unique love. This exultation of God was the very thing that the sinful lawbreaking people of Romans chapter 1, 2, and 3 did not do! "For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks;" (Romans 1:21). Aren't we glad that the universe and everything in it, including ourselves, is under the administration of this God. Our Lord Jesus Christ has revealed God to us. But not only that, He has brought about our reconciliation with God!

(This was taken from the book, "God's Righteousness Revealed," a commentary on the Roman letter, by F. M. Perry.)

© 2002, F. M. Perry