New Creation Deep dive: Romans 5 (Volume 1)
All scriptures are taken from the Amplified Bible.
1THEREFORE, SINCE we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
Our Righteousness is based on accepting Jesus' finished works
Since we have been acquitted of wrong doing, we now have the peace of reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ. To be acquitted means to be adjudged free of wrong doing. In our law courts today, people may stand trial accused of wrongdoing. If the court however acquitted them, they would be accounted never to have committed that wrong as far as the law was concerned. Sometimes, those on the receiving end of those wrongdoings feel that justice has not been meted out to them because the offender has been acquitted. To them, the justice system may be accused of unfairness or injustice. We (mankind) were sold to sin, born in sin and legally made sinners by Adam's transgression and disobedience. As the wages of sin is death, we were destined to eternal death and condemnation but God the supreme judge acquitted us. In acquitting us, God could not be accused of injustice as He acted perfectly justly by giving His son Jesus up to die in our stead (Romans 3:26) thus taking upon Him the punishment that was the legal punishment for our offense. In fact, as had sinned vicariously in the first Adam, so were we adjudged to have obeyed (Romans 6:16) vicariously in the second Adam, Jesus Christ. This vicarious ‘sin unto death’ and ‘obedience unto life’ is crucial to our salvation because if one died for all, then all are adjudged to have died (2 Corinthians 5:14). Indeed, one disobeyed for all so that all were adjudged sinners; similarly one obeyed for all so that all were adjudged righteous. All that we had to do to be born sinners was to be born first, naturally; all that we had to do to be born righteous was to be born again, this time spiritually. So it is perfectly correct to claim that we fulfilled the demands of justice in that anyone who expresses faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection died with and in Christ when He died on the cross of Calvary. Likewise as Jesus was raised from the dead, such a person was also raised from the dead with him. So our righteousness and peace with God is an actual reality founded not our own right and acceptable doings but on acceptance of the fact of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Through grace we live in the reality of salvation
We have already established the fact that the faith we express in Jesus' finished works grants us the peace of reconciliation with God. In addition to this however, that faith also grants us access to the grace of Christ. This grace is one of the three messianic blessings (1 Tim 1:2) that every believer must consciously appropriate in their lives (the others being mercy and peace). This grace is available from the throne of God, to which we are invited by Jesus Christ and, where we receive mercy and find grace to help us in times of need. While mercy is forgiveness for the consequences and guilt of missing the mark of God for our lives, this grace is that activity of God in our lives by which the intrinsic shortcomings of our soul that cause us to miss the mark of God for our lives (and therefore need mercy) are removed. In fact, until this intrinsic defect of the soul is removed, we are never able to appropriate or actually experience the benefits of salvation. In His ministry as high priest, Jesus stands ministering to ensure we receive the promise of eternal inheritance which he had actually given to us (Hebrews 9:15). He does this by ministering grace into our hearts so that every defect in our souls that keeps us from living in the reality of what He died to secure for us is removed. It is when we stand in this grace that we have any hope (fervent desire with expectation of receiving) of actually experiencing and enjoying the divine glory Jesus died to pour out unto us.
3Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. 4And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.
There’s a reason for every season of trial
Sometimes a believer passes through trials and affliction and wonders why they have to do so at all. Well, in verses 3-4, the Holy Ghost tells us why. We have highlighted earlier how Jesus Christ ministers grace to the heart of a believer to ensure that they actually receive the benefit of His sacrifice. But how does His grace produce this reality? This is how: when God wants to produce a deep, fresh and powerful experience of salvation in our lives, He does it through the grace of Jesus Christ in the furnace of trials, afflictions or crisis (Mark 9:49). According to Genesis 1:5, the day starts with the night season (evening and morning were the first day). So when a seed is cast into the earth and experiences the darkness of death, it is so that a fruit outweighing the seed sown may emerge from it. When Jesus went to the cross to die, He had already indicated that a corn of wheat falls to the ground in order to die; without doing this it abides alone (John 12:24). The devil did not understand it and he sought to kill Jesus, just as he seeks to bring crisis and afflictions (experiences of death) into the lives of Christians today. But in the foreknowledge of God’s wisdom, the death of Jesus was a means to an end, that end being that many sons would be born unto God (Hebrews 2:10). If Satan had realised this, he would not have crucified Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:8). But he still doesn’t get it because he can only savour the things that be of men and not of God (Matthew 16:23). In the same way, a believer’s trials and afflictions bring to him/her to an experience of death so that the life of Christ may be manifest in them. When Paul understood this wisdom of God, he said rather exultantly, “therefore I take pleasure in reproaches, persecutions” (2 Corinthians 12:10). He became aware that when a Christian goes through crisis, in the eternal counsel of God, it is because that tribulation would produce endurance, maturity of character, integrity and hope. These qualities are crucial for us as believers to be able to exercise the judgment and justice that God requires of us in the administration of His blessings and abundance in our lives when we enter into the experience of salvation (Isaiah 5:7). A Christian who has not allowed the grace of God to develop these qualities in them will misappropriate God’s blessings if they ever into it. The purpose of God’s grace is to work in our souls to produce these qualities when we’re in the furnace of afflictions. That is how the believer, being offered to God as a living sacrifice, is salted by fire (Mark 9:49 and Romans 12:1) and comes mature and fully equipped into the reality of God’s salvation.
Kelechi E. Nnoaham