Romans 5:6-8 God’s Love Commended

 

Romans 5:6-8 (and verse 5) speak about the love that God has for us. The greatness of this love, which is mentioned here in Romans for the very first time, is an uplifting and positive theme. Besides, it’s brought into the argument at this point to assure us that all who have been justified by faith in Christ have been saved because of God’s love for them and that nothing will ever be able to separate them from it. This is the climax to which we will also come at the end of Romans 8. Nothing could be more positive and edifying than this theme. Yet Paul’s statement of the nature, scope, and permanence of God’s love is placed against the black backdrop of human sin, and rightly so (v. 8).

Since Paul is describing the love of God against the dark background of human sin, he is saying that it is only against this background that we are able to form a true picture of how great the love of God is. In other words, if we think (as many do) that God loves us because we are somehow quite lovely or desirable, our appreciation of the love of God will be reduced by just that amount. If we think we deserve the best of everything, we will not appreciate the love we receive irrespective of our beauty, talent, or other supposedly admirable qualities. The other point is this. If we think we deserve God’s love, we cannot ever really be secure in it, because we will always be afraid that we may do something to lessen or destroy the depth of God’s love for us. It is only those who know that God has loved them in spite of their sin who can trust Him to continue to show them favor.

There are four powerful words Paul uses to describe the people God loves and has saved, three in the passage we are studying and one additional word in verse 10. They are: (1) Powerless. This word is translated a variety of ways in the Bible. Here in means an unconditional impossibility, which is one which no possible change in circumstances can alter, and it is this that describes us in our pre-converted state. (2) Ungodly. This word conveys the same idea Paul expressed at the beginning of his description of the race in its rebellion against God (Rom. 1:18). In these verses, “ungodly” and “godlessness” mean not so much that human beings are unlike God (though that is also true), but that in addition they are in a state of fierce opposition to Him. (3) Sinners. “Sinners” describes those who have fallen short of God’s standards (Rom. 3:23). It means that we have broken God’s law and in this sense is probably parallel to the word wickedness in Romans 1:18. (4) Enemies. This is the final word Paul uses to describe human beings apart from the supernatural work of God in their lives. It affirms that not only are we unable to save ourselves, are unlike and opposed to God, and are violators of His law, but we are also opposed to God in the sense that we would attack Him and destroy Him if we could, which is what many people actually tried to do when God came among them in the person of Jesus Christ!

We have seen that God loved us, not when we were lovely people who were seeking Him out and trying to obey Him, but when we were actually fighting Him and were willing to destroy Him if we could. That alone makes the measure of God’s love very great. However, we may also see the greatness of the love of God by looking at the brighter side: God’s side. Here we note that God did not merely reach out to give us a helping hand, bestowing what theologians call common grace – sending rain to the just and unjust alike for instance – but that He actually sent His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die for us (what is sometimes called “costly grace”). Paul points out that while a human being might be willing to give his life for a righteous or morally superior man or woman under certain circumstances, Jesus died for us while we were still sinners, which is the precise opposite of being good or righteous. When we read of the love of God in Romans 5, we learn that it was not for those who were close to Him or who loved Him that Jesus died – but for those who were opposed to God and were His enemies. It is on this basis that God commends His love to us.

Isn’t it astounding that God should need to commend His love to us? We are told in the Bible, though we should know it even without being told, that all good gifts come from God’s hands (James 1:17). It is from God that we receive life and health, food and clothing, love from and fellowship with other people, and meaningful work. These blessings should prove the love of God beyond any possibility or our doubting it. Yet we doubt it. We are insensitive to God’s love, and God finds it necessary to commend His love by reminding us of the death of His Son. So it is at the cross that we see the love of God in its fullness. What a great, great love this is!

Romans 5:6-8 Reflection Questions:

Paul constantly keeps in mind how justification or being “declared to be in the right” works out in practice. Describe the past, present and future aspects of the work of God in verses 6-11.

Romans 5:3-5 God’s Purpose in Human Suffering

 

The fifth chapter of Romans lists the grounds on which a person who has been justified by God through faith in Jesus Christ can know that he is saved from sin and can be steadfast in that knowledge. Verses 1-2 have listed several ways a Christian can be sure of this. Verses 3-5 give one more reason. It is the way believers in Christ respond to the troubles, trials, and tribulations of this life. Christians do have tribulations, just like anybody else. Paul says that Christians respond to their trials by rejoicing in them, however strange, abnormal, or even irrational this may seem to unbelievers, and that this is itself another evidence of their salvation.

The problem of suffering is a big one, and it’s not easy to answer it in a single study or even a single book. Here we will study God’s purposes in human suffering, since there are a number of them. We will study a few of these as part of our general approach to this large topic.

Corrective suffering: The most obvious category of suffering for a Christian is what we can call corrective suffering, that is, suffering that is meant to get us back onto the path of righteousness when we have strayed from it. We have an example from family life in the spankings given to young children when they disobey and do wrong. It’s the same in the case of the divine Father and those who are His spiritual children. The author of Hebrews quotes Proverbs 3:11-12: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and punishes everyone He accepts as a son” – concluding that we should: “Endure hardship as discipline…For what son is not disciplined by his father?” (Heb. 12:5-7). The first thing we should do when suffering comes into our lives is ask God whether or not it is intended by Him for our correction. If it is, we need to confess our wrongdoing and return to the path of righteousness.

Suffering for the glory of God: A second important reason for suffering in the lives of some Christians is God’s glory. As an example read John 9:2-3. The idea is hard for many people to accept, particularly non-Christians. But it’s not so difficult when we remember that life is short when measured by the scope of eternity and that our chief end is to glorify God – by whatever means He may choose to have us do it.

Suffering as a part of cosmic warfare: A third kind of suffering is illustrated by the story of Job from the Old Testament. The story explains a great deal (perhaps most) of the suffering some Christians endure. I can imagine that for every believer who is suffering with a particular form of cancer there is also a nonbeliever in exactly the same condition and that the Christian praises and worships God in spite of his afflictions while the unbeliever curses God and bitterly resents his fate. Here God is showing that the purpose of life lies in a right relationship to Him and not in pleasant circumstances.

Constructive suffering: The fourth purpose of God in suffering is what Paul presents in Romans 5, namely, that God uses our troubles, trials, and tribulations to form Christian character. Paul indicates that steadfast, approved character by perseverance in its turn produces hope. We see it as an assurance of what will one day be ours, though we don’t possess it yet. When we look at our sufferings, we see why we can rejoice in them. It’s because they lead to endurance, endurance to an approved character, and character to an even more steadfast hope. And all this is further evidence of our security in Christ – when we share in Christ’s sufferings and embrace them in like fashion.

According to the Bible, suffering is not harmful; on the contrary, it is a beneficial experience. It’s beneficial because it accomplishes the beneficent purposes of Almighty God. It is part of all those circumstances that work “for the good of those who love Him…” (Rom. 8:28).

Romans 5:3-5 Reflection Questions:

How does the progression that is outlined in verses 3-5 build from one point to the next?

How are verses 3-5 both difficult and hopeful for us as we live out the Christian faith in the world today?

What would the celebrating or rejoicing of verses 2-3 look like in each of the contexts talked about in these verses?

Weekly Seed of Faith 1/18/20

Seed of Faith – BURIED WITH CHRIST — RAISED TO A NEW LIFE   By Pastor Dave  

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7

Dear Faithful Friends and Spirit-Filled Seed Sowers:

I hope and pray that your week is going well and that this New Year is unfolding with God’s grace upon grace as you walk in Christ.

I encourage you to pick up your Bible and read Colossians 2:6-15.  Have you ever thought what it means to walk with Christ? Have you ever thought that you have been buried with Christ in His baptism and then raised into a new life with Him?

When Paul writes this letter to the Colossians, he is sitting in a prison cell in Rome.  Paul wants the Colossians to remember that Jesus Christ is God, that Jesus Christ is the head of the church and that we can have union with Jesus Christ by walking with Christ and remembering His and our own baptism.

I love the opening verses — “Just as you have received Christ as Lord.”  When you were baptized, you received Christ as your Lord and Savior.  To “receive” means “to take your inheritance, to bring alongside, to hold, to draw oneself to and learn from someone.”  Do you notice what Paul says?  He writes us to say, “Receive, take your inheritance, take a hold of, learn from and bring alongside Jesus Christ as your LORD!  Lord means master, ruler, one who has power and authority over you.  This was a radical teaching then and is still a radical teaching today. Receive the LORD JESUS as the one who has power and authority over you. I received Christ as my Lord and Savior in 1981. I’ve never once regretted Christ being the master and ruler of my life.

If you have never been baptized, I encourage you to go and talk with your pastor or come and talk with me. Let me know and we can baptize you when you are ready to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Even if you want to rededicate yourself to Christ, I’d be happy to remember your baptism–in your pool, hot tub, river or ocean! I remember in the summer of 2010, Jac asked me to dunk her in the ocean at Carona Del Mar. She wanted to rededicate her life once again to Christ. She had been through some hard seasons with the church and she wanted to profess: “My life isn’t about a religion, Jesus, my life is about a relationship with you. You are my Lord and my Savior. Period. Nothing less. Nothing more.” Big Ed and Dave dunked her as she intentionally washed away religion and rededicated her life to a relationship with Jesus Christ. She came up out of the ocean laughing and praising God. Yes.  If you ever want to rededicate your life, or DEDICATE your life to Christ, I am a text, an email, a phone call away.

Look at verse six again … “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him…”  Since you have received Christ, Paul then tells us to continue … “peripateo”—continue to live in Christ.  I love the verb “peripateo” It means to “walk with, walk along, walk up and down, traverse, behave and conduct oneself and live with.”  Wow!  That is a mouthful!

Paul is laying down a hard teaching: Take and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord, ruler and authority of your life, and continue to live in Christ day in and day out, hour after hour.  Walk up the hill and down the hill, walk alongside of Christ. Conduct yourself with Christ. This verb is a command, not a suggestion, and we are called to continually follow and walk along with Jesus Christ as Lord.

When I read verse twelve, I am reminded of our baptism.  We were buried in the waters of baptism with Christ and then immediately we were raised into new life through the power of God.  This power of God is the awesome Holy Spirit, who washes away our sins and sets us free to walk alongside Jesus. This is what Paul means when he writes that we were dead in our sins and, through the power of God, we are forgiven by Jesus’ death on the cross. As we remember our baptism, we remember that we, too, were dead in our sin but as we go under the waters of baptism–our sins are washed away. How can that be? By the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. All sin–PAID. Our debt–PAID IN FULL.  How can we not accept and follow this Savior?

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! You have been buried with Christ and raised into a new life.

Who wouldn’t want to be set free from the sin that clings so closely to us?  Who wouldn’t like to be set free from their past failures and faults?  Imagine picking up a black stone or two and casting it into the depths of the sea.  I love how the Old Testament prophet, Micah, states this idea of a God who forgives: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:18-19

Or think of Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

At the SEED, we do a “REMEMBER YOUR BAPTISM SUNDAY” after Epiphany Sunday. We set up a table with a tall, clear vase filled with water and we set a ton of black stones around the vase. As you come forward to remember your baptism, you are given the chance to bury into the sea your sins. Casting a black stone or two or three into the waters represents your past sins, failures, disappointments, defeats, setbacks, sadness, shame, disgrace, guilt, doubt, fears–anything negative that holds you back from walking into this New Year baptized in Christ, walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s a great experience. For those of you who live near water, take a hike! Take a hike and pick up some stones and toss them into the water. “Here, Jesus, here’s my ___________. I have been buried with you in my baptism. I have been cleansed. Help me to walk in the freedom you died for.”

At church last Sunday, we had the first vase filled with water and the stones to toss and then we had a table with a vases filled with water and white stones. In order to get a white stone, you had to dip your hand into the waters. As you we dipped your hand into the water,  you remembered your baptism: I have been buried with Christ and I am raised into a new life with Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. I am forgiven and I am free! I will walk continually rooted and built up in my faith with overflowing with thankfulness.”

Revelation 2:17 says — “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”

After you picked up your white stone, we had another opportunity to pick up a paper with a new name written on it for this year. If you would like a new name for the year, email me or text me and I will light a candle and pray for you and draw a new name for you for the year. 

As your pastor, I want you to know that God loves you.  God loves you just as you are.  We are bought back…redeemed.  We are forgiven.  Our slate is clean.  God promises to be with us as we grow and change this year…through the hard times, through the blessed times, through the easy times, through the difficult times…yes…God wants to bless the land we dwell in…both the mountain tops and the valleys.

Alone, we are not enough, but Christ is.  Christ’s body was broken, and his blood was shed…and that is enough.  With Christ in our hearts, we are enough.  We are forgiven.  We are cleansed.  We are free. Vision 2020–this is the perfect start to a new year and a new decade. This is the year when we decide that we will walk up the hills and down the hills with Christ in our heart.

My new name is Confident One. Jac’s is Full of Happiness. What’s yours? Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside! Have a great week.

See you Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www,theseedchristianfellowship.com

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