|IIIM Magazine Online, Volume 1, Number 27, August 30 to September 5, 1999|
In the first four chapters of Romans, Paul explained that men are sinners, separated from God, and going headlong into a Christless eternity. Unless a person comes by an act of faith and trusts in Jesus Christ as personal Saviour, he has no hope for eternal life.
Paul has declared that it is by faith that men are justified. God will not accept good works, good intentions or sincerity. Justification comes only by faith in Christ Jesus. He showed that justification by faith does not fail in times of extreme testing, but that testing strengthens the believer and builds Christian character in the child of God so that he longs for eternal fellowship with Jesus Christ.
This section of Romans tells us that justification by faith works because if God has done the most for a person by justifying him, then he will certainly do the least for him by taking him into heaven. God requires only faith in Jesus Christ and his death for sin. He does the saving, and he does it perfectly, for he is God.
In Romans 5:5 Paul told us that in the midst of suffering, the Christian is surrounded by the love of God. He told us that God really understands and cares about us. We have the subjective assurance that he loves us when things are very rough. Here Paul tells us why we can have this assurance of God's love. It is because we have the objective fact that he loves us so much that he sent his Son to die for us.
"For when we were yet without strength." "Without strength"means "powerless, helpless." While we were unsaved we were absolutely powerless to save ourselves. In our natural state we have nothing in ourselves that can respond to God.
"Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).Men need supernatural enablement if they are going to respond positively to Jesus Christ.
"Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word" (John 8:43).
"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you" (John 14:16-17).
"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rom. 8:7-8).
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14).
Paul does not have a high concept of natural men who know not the Lord Jesus, for he calls them "helpless" (unable to save themselves), "ungodly" (revolting against God's authority and holy standards), "sinners" (missing the mark of perfect righteousness), and "enemies" (hostile to God). What a fearful, devastating description of men in sin!
"In due time [appointed time] Christ died for the ungodly." Jesus Christ did not die for good people, but for the ungodly, for those who recognize their need and their sinfulness.
"For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die." Paul argues that some men would be martyrs for other men, but that these would have to be men of such a good moral stature that others would die for them.
"But God commendeth [proves, shows, demonstrates] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." The "But God" shows that God intervened and, through the death of his Son, brought sinners to himself.
Christ died for men when they were unlovely, unattractive, unworthy, undeserving. This shows the utter bankruptcy of the human race — no spiritual or moral values, no capacity for God, and abject helplessness to do good. Christ died for the scum of the earth. That is real love! He was holy, and he died for the unholy.
I read of a fine young man who rescued a drunken bum from drowning and in the process lost his own life. At the scene of the tragedy the remark was made, "What a shame for such a fine young man to give his life for a worthless bum!" This is nothing compared to the sacrifice of Christ for sinners.
When he says, "Christ died for us," who does Paul mean? He means those who have trusted in Christ. The death of Christ can only be applied to those who will believe that Christ died for them. It is personal. If you want to know the love of God, you can only see it manifested at Calvary where God put to death his own sinless Son to be a perfect and complete sacrifice for sin.
The argument in this section hangs on the words "much more." This is an a fortiori argument or an argument from the greater to the lesser. If God loved us when we were his enemies (the "greater," more unbelievable thing), how much more will he love us when we are saved (this love is the "lesser" because it is easier to understand)? If he did the hardest thing in saving us, will he not do the lesser thing by keeping us saved?
"Much more then, being now justified by his blood." Justification is a "declaration of righteousness." The moment we trusted in Christ, God declared us perfectly righteousness in Christ's blood.
"We shall be saved from wrath through him." If God justified us and gave his Son to complete this act, we shall be saved in eternity from his wrath forever.
"For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son." The word "reconcile" means "bring from a position of being an enemy to the position of being a friend." Before salvation, an unsaved person is an enemy of God. He is at war with the Deity. He hates God and the authority of God, and exerts his own independence from God. Through the Cross, God has provided a way in which man may be reconciled to God. He can be changed from an enemy to a friend, from a position of enmity to amity:
"And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor. 5:18-21).
"Much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." If God reconciled us to himself through the death of Christ, will he not also take us into eternity? Yes, he will save us completely and perfectly! He will fit us for heaven. The primary thought here is future salvation where we will be saved for all eternity. This is one of the strongest arguments in all Scripture for the security of the believer.
This may also be an indirect reference to the resurrected life of Christ, which is the possession of every child of God, to enable Christians to live lives of progressive victory over sin. Christ's life is the Christian's life because the Christian is in spiritual union with Christ:
"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory" (Col. 3:4).The very resurrected life of Christ is the Christian's life, and this life is given to God's children to help them overcome sin in their experience.
"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection" (Phil. 3:10).
"For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil. 1:21).
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Phil. 4:13).
"And not only so, but we also joy in [or through] our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement [reconciliation]." Because of Christ's perfect work in providing salvation, we Christians rejoice exultantly in God. He has justified us and reconciled us, and he most certainly will glorify us! What a cause for rejoicing.
In vs. 2 of this section of Scripture, the Christian rejoices in his hope of future glorification. In vs. 3 he rejoices in tribulations and afflictions. And in vs. 11 he rejoices in God for the perfect work of salvation provided in Christ. The key word is "rejoice." Paul got excited about his salvation!
Can you rejoice today that your sins are forgiven and that you have eternal life? If you will turn to Christ as personal Saviour from sin, he will justify and reconcile you, and give you the promise of future glorification. When in reality you experience this and know Christ personally, then and only then will you be able to rejoice in God, and Christ's finished and perfect work for sin.