GROWING STRONG IN GOD’S PEACE
God’s Invitation to Grace ❧ Part 26
Romans 5:6-11 ❧ June 4, 2023
I think one of our favorite words as Americans is “security.” Everyone wants to be secure. We want job security so one day we can retire. When we retire, we’ll want our Social Security. And in the meantime, we want financial security. We also want home security and national security so we can sleep at night without fear wrapped in our security blanket. If that’s not enough, we also want relational security; to know that we are loved and accepted unconditionally. We all want to be secure because we know the more secure we are the more at peace we will be.
But there’s another kind of security that yields a peace that is more important than all of these -eternal security. We know that we are made up of mind and body and soul. We know that our minds will not last and that our bodies will wear out, but our souls will last forever. The Bible says that when we die our souls go to one of two places-heaven or hell.
The truth we know and there are many believers who are very insecure when it comes to the assurance of their salvation. There is a deep lingering fear in their hearts that maybe they’ve ticked God off beyond the point of no return. Their failures and blunders have disappointed God one too many times. They do not feel as though they are at peace with God or that God is at peace with them.
Well this morning I want to talk to you about growing strong in God’s peace. We have been working our way through the book of Romans for some time now. And the great theme of Romans is justification by faith alone. That is we are made right with God by our faith in Jesus Christ alone. Romans chapter 5 saysTherefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ(Romans 5:1). The apostle Paul states a declarative fact that because of our faith in Jesus Christ we have peace with God. The peace that Paul is talking about here is not a feeling but a fact. Feelings may and should result from this fact, but this peace is first and foremost a fact.
Why is this important? For the simple reason that our feelings by themselves are unreliable. In order for our feelings to be trustworthy, they need to be founded on fact. Paul points some of these facts out in the following verses. One of them is the confidence that we have 24/7 access to God (5:2, we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand). As children of the King, He has given us unlimited access to Him. In addition, we are assured that no circumstance in our lives is an expression of God’s ill will toward us. Yes, bad things do happen, but they are not because God is punishing us. Our feelings may revolt in pain and question God’s love for us. Now, because of God’s peace, we are assured He will use every painful thing in our lives for our good (5:3-4 when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment). So, by saying we as believers have peace with God through our faith in Christ, Paul is giving us a reliable foundation in which we can rest our feelings.
In following verses (5:6-11) Paul continues to build on this secure foundation showing us how we can grow in our assurance of God’ peace. Paul gives us three additional facts intended to strengthen our assurance of God’s peace in our lives. Very simply: 1) God’s love, 2) God’s deliverance, and 3) God’s reconciliation.
- I. God’s love. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us(Romans 5:6-8). Paul is saying there was nothing deserving or attractive about us that God should love us or ever want to love us. We were “helpless,”(powerless to save ourselves), “ungodly,”(“wicked” GNT), and “sinners.” In verse ten he says we were “enemies” of God. Paul points out that someone might give his life for a righteous or good person. But who would volunteer to die in the place of cruel human butchers such as Vladimir Putin, Adolf Hitler, Saddam Husein? Who would give his life for a notorious serial killer on death row? Jesus Christ did. We may not think we’re as bad as they are, but we forget the same sin-corrupted heart that beats in their chest beats in ours as well.
It is here we learn the profound depth and security of God’s love for us. God’s love for us is neither motivated nor sustained by anything in us. Rather it comes from His unchanging character. Therefore God’s love is the permanent possession of the believer. Think of it, once you come to Christ you’re forgiven, a new creation, a child of the king. You will never be the ungodly sinner you were before you were saved. If He loved you totally then, how could His love be any less now?
During the Revolutionary War there was a faithful pastor of the Gospel by the name of Peter Miller. He lived near a man who hated him intensely for being a Christian. In fact this man, violently opposed him and ridiculed those who attended his church. One day this same man was found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. Hearing about this, Peter Miller set out on foot to intercede for the man’s life before George Washington. The general listened to the minister’s plea but told him he didn’t feel he could pardon his friend. “My friend! He is not my friend,” answered Miller. “In fact, he’s my worst living enemy.” “What!” said Washington. “You have walked 60 miles to save the life of your enemy? That, in my judgment puts the matter in a different light. I will grant your request.” With pardon in hand, Miller quickly went to the place where the man was to be executed. Arriving just when the prisoner was walking to the scaffold the traitor saw Miller and exclaimed, “Old Peter Miller has come to have his revenge by watching me hang!” But he was astonished as he watched the pastor step out of the crowd and produce the pardon which spared his life.
Peter Miller and his act of nobility will be remembered for time immemorial. But what he did was just a shadow of what Christ did for us. Jesus not only gained our pardon, but He died in our place to accomplish that. It has been well said, “God’s love is the love that never fails. The unfailing love that we desire comes from Him. His love runs toward me, even when I am unlovely. His love comes to find me when I am hiding. His love will not let me go. His love never ends. His love never fails.” The greater our understanding of God’s love for us, the greater our assurance of His peace in us.
- II. God’s deliverance. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 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(Romans 5:9-10). Twice Paul uses the expression, “much more.” The first is saying in effect if we have been made right with God through His Son’s shed blood on the cross, then it is even more certain we will be delivered from God’s wrath. The wrath of God Paul is talking about is God’s future judgement on the world that take place during the Tribulation. Twice in 1 Thessalonians Paul reminds us of God’s promised deliverance from the terrors of this coming judgment (1 Thess. 1:10, 5:9).
There are some today who believe Christians will endure God’s wrath poured on during the Tribulation. But the Bible is clear both here in Romans and elsewhere believers have been delivered from God’s coming wrath. This does not mean we will not have tribulation in this world. Jesus said we would (John 16:33). But the tribulation He is referring to the hatred and hostility from the world toward God and His people. There are three kinds of wrath in the Bible as I see it: Man’s wrath, Satan’s wrath, and God’s wrath. Believers are not immune to experiencing mans wrath or Satan’s wrath. History is chalked full of their wrath. Jesus warns us, Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell(Matthew 10:28). But the world has yet to see God vent His wrath on the world like He will in the Tribulation. We will escape this wrath, not because we are worthy, but because we have been saved by God’s grace. So, Paul says if we have been justified by Jesus’ blood, then it is even more certain we will be spared God’s wrath.
The second expression “much more” says if God brought us to Himself through His Son while we were His enemies, then how much more will He save us because we are His children.
Paul’s point in both expressions is to strengthen our assurance of what it means to have God’s peace. Because of the great certainty we have of being delivered from God’s wrath and being saved, then we are also delivered from any feelings of uncertainty or doubt that may try to discourage us. I like the words of one commentator who said, “How can a Christian, whose past and future salvation are secured by God, be insecure during the time between? If sin was no barrier to the beginning of our redemption, how can it become a barrier to its completion? If sin in the greatest degree could not prevent our becoming reconciled, how can sin in lesser degree prevent our staying reconciled? If God’s grace covers the sins even of His enemies, how much more does it cover the sins of His children?
What Paul is doing is showing us that when it comes to having the assurance of God’s peace in our lives we need to learn to trust God’s Word more and our feelings less. A man once came to D. L. Moody and said he was worried because he didn’t feel saved. Moody asked, “Was Noah safe in the ark?” “Certainly he was,” the man replied. “Well, what made him safe, his feeling or the ark?” The inquirer got the point. “How foolish I’ve been!” he said. “It is not my feeling; it is Christ who saves!” God’s deliverance is not based on your feelings, but the certainty of His promises.
- III. God’s reconciliation. And not only this, but we also exult (rejoice) in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation(Romans 5:11). I like the way the New Living Translation captures the essence of what Paul is saying here: So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God(Rom. 5:11, NLT). The more we think about our great salvation in Christ, the more we want to rejoice!
Using the expression we also exult, reminds us of the other two times he used it in this passage. In verse two Paul says we exult in hope of the glory of God. Where we used to fall short of God’s glory, now we rejoice in it because God has given us confident hope of the future! This sets us apart from every other so-called faith. Eastern religions offer no hope with their endless nightmare of reincarnations. Who wants to keep coming back to this world? Existentialists see the world and the future as absurd. Evolutionists offer even less comfort. Because of Jesus Christ, Christians can rejoice in hope of the glory of God! In verse three Paul says we rejoice as well in our sufferings because we know God has a purpose in them and we will not be disappointed. Then in verse eleven, we rejoice in God Himself!
Do you see what Paul is doing in this passage? He is strengthening our assurance of what it means to have God’s peace. By examining God’s love, God’s deliverance, God’s reconciliation, Paul is deepening our faith in our great salvation. How can we be loved more than God loves through Jesus Christ? How can we be more delivered from the wrath to come than what God has done through Jesus Christ? Who can reconcile us with God better than Jesus Christ?
In the early days of our country a weary traveler came to the banks of the Mississippi River for the first time. There was no bridge. It was early winter, and the surface of the great river was covered with ice. Could he dare cross over? Would the uncertain ice be able to bear his weight. Night was falling, and it was urgent that he reach the other side. Finally, after a great deal of hesitation and with the heavy weight of fear, he began to creep cautiously across the surface of the ice on his hands and knees. He thought that he might distribute his weight as much as possible and keep the ice from breaking beneath him.
About halfway over he heard the sound of singing behind him. Out of the evening there came a man, driving a horse-drawn load of coal across the ice and singing merrily as he went his way. Here he was on his hands and knees, trembling with fear that the ice may not be strong enough to bear him up! And there, as if carried by the winter’s wind, went the man, his horses, his sleigh, and his heavy load of coal, upheld by the same ice on which he was creeping!
How many of us are like this weary traveler! Some of us have learned only to creep upon the assurances and promises of God. Cautiously, timidly, tremblingly we rest our weight on His assurances, as though the lightness of our step might make His promises more secure! As though we could contribute even in the slightest to the strength of His assurances! God has not called us to creep upon these promises as though they were too fragile to uphold us. We are to stand upon them –confident that God is as good as His Word and that He will do what He has promised.