Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 1 Study # 1
January 24, 2006
:Because Jesus did, and does, what is necessary for our "Life", we exist in a state of peace with God.
:This evening we are beginning a new chapter in our studies of Romans. We have spent a great deal of time considering the mechanics of "justification before God". One of the most emphatic claims that Paul made is that justification can not be tied to our performance in any objective way. It rests, objectively, upon Jesus Christ alone. The natural corollary to that claim is that, on the subjective side of the coin, we are justified when we "believe" that God's offer to justify us on the basis of Christ's obedience alone is a legitimate offer and we "receive" it as the means to an end that we genuinely desire. That "end" is relational harmony with God.
As we begin our consideration of Romans 5, it is interesting that Paul specifically addresses that "end". He declares that justification results in our possession of peace with God. There is, apparently, a theological tension that continues to "survive" even after Paul has cut our standing before God loose from all of both our failures and our successes. It seems to me that there is no point to the declaration that we have "peace with God" unless there is some question that remains.
So, what is that "remaining question"?
Does it not have to be the question of the reality of our "faith"? We are sure that Paul has established the fact that "faith" puts us "right" with God. That is what Romans 4 is all about. But, what often lingers is the question of whether what I am calling "faith", as it concerns my heart and mind, is what Paul calls "faith". We all know that we do not "love" as we ought, nor do we "think" as we ought. So, how do we know that we have "believed" in the biblical sense of the word? There are three answers to that question. First, there is the answer we addressed some weeks ago when we saw that Abraham's "faith", which allowed the conception of Isaac, did not keep him from deceiving the king of Gerar (Genesis 20). This part of the answer is this: we do not determine the legitimacy of our "faith" by the consistency of our behavior. Second, there is the answer which the text before us addresses first: do we have any "hope" that we will participate in the glory of God? It is inconceivable that we can have any "faith" in what Jesus did for us if we do not, as a consequence, have any "hope" that we shall enter into the result of His actions. And, third, there is the answer which the text introduces second: there is a real ministry of the Holy Spirit Who has been given to those who believe (Romans 5:5).
This evening we are going to zero in on the declaration of Paul regarding what happens when we believe. He says we come into possession of "peace" with God. This evening we want to consider what that means in regard to "faith".
- I. The Order of the Process.
- A. First, there is the real, objective, identity of Jesus.
- 1. Paul refers to Him as "our Lord".
- 2. This identity is rooted in the message of the Gospel: Acts 2:36.
- a. The crucified Jesus was "made" both Lord and Christ by God.
- b. According to Philippians 2:9-11, this "making" was the consequence of His self-humiliation unto the cross.
- 1) The "wherefore" means "as a consequence".
- a) The "consequence" is what the Father did to Him because He was willing to be "Jesus" -- the One Who pays the ransom price.
- b) The "consequence" includes both of the concepts of "Lord" and "Christ", which have little distinction ("Lord" refers to the Final Authority and "Christ" applies that authority to the Kingdom of God).
- 2) The "consequence" is the "making" of Him "Lord" and the subsequent recognition by every tongue (as verse eleven declares).
- c. According to John 5:27, this "making" was the consequence of His entrance into the reality of humanity.
- 3. This identity is the foundation of any hope we have of "peace" with God.
- a. It should be obvious that if the One established as "Lord" accepts our "faith", we are accepted.
- b. It is Paul's thesis that when our "faith" is accepted, we acquire "peace" with God.
- B. Second, there is the issue of what we "believe".
- 1. It is an issue of whether our "faith" is really in what He did/does as opposed to what we did/do.
- a. On one level it is clear that Paul absolutely destroys any confidence man might have in his "performance of law".
- b. On another level it is inconsistent to think that "faith" operates on a "law" basis; meaning that "faith" is turned into a "legalism" if it is seen as a "free will production of man".
- 1) Biblically, faith is not the result of the exercise of the will; it is a result of the presence of persuasion. We do not believe things because we choose to; we believe things because we cannot escape the persuasion to which we are subject.
- 2) Man can take no credit for "believing" because he simply yields to the facts. If there is any credit anywhere in the mix, it is merely the "credit" for ceasing to rebel against the obvious.
- c. So that if our "faith" is in our "faith", we have not believed; but if our "faith" is in His labors on our behalf, we have believed. The issue is "object".
- 2. It is an issue of whether our "faith" is focused upon the question of "How is one justified before God?" and the answer is "By receiving the truth that Jesus did everything necessary for us."
- C. Third, there is the issue of what God does as a consequence of our acceptance of His Son as "Lord".
- 1. When a person embraces Jesus as the only hope of eternal life through substitutionary atonement, whom the Father has made "Lord", the Father "justifies" him.
- 2. When the Father "justifies" the believer, He ceases every kind of adversarial activity in which He was engaging.
- a. "Peace" with God means the absence of adversarial activity by Him.
- b. "Peace" with God does not mean, however, that God turns the believer into "God".
- 1) The issue of "adversarial activity" is the issue of the pursuit of death for the adversary.
- 2) The issue of "peace" does not eliminate the activities of any legitimate "father" who seeks "Life" for his children.
- a) Many times the child cannot tell the difference between the pursuit of death and the pursuit of life...the actions often look the same.
- b) The difference, however, stands: there is no pursuit of death on God's part once a person is "justified" -- no matter what the "child" does.