I pray that you are each well and thriving in God’s Spirit.
Today we will look at the words of Paul. Having just finished the book of Revelation, my prayer is that our goal is very much before us, fresh in our minds.
That goal: Eternal life in God’s kingdom.
We spent the summer, in the book of Revelation, looking at the history of the church, the modern church, Christ as our Kinsman Redeemer, the second advent of Christ, the two judgments, the new heaven and earth, and the New Jerusalem.
While Christ’s first advent and subsequent death on the cross were historic, earth-shattering, and necessary for mankind’s salvation; Christ’s second advent will be even more earth-shattering, and necessary for mankind, for it will usher creation into eternity.
Emphasizing this simple question as the determining factor for where an individual will spend eternity: What is your relationship to Jesus Christ? For the nature of our relationship with Christ will determine if we are at peace or at war with God. It will determine where we spend eternity, heaven or hell.
While the book of Revelation crystallized the importance of our need for a relationship with Christ, belief in Christ, being born again, admission of sinfulness, confession, and our blood covering for righteousness, the book of Romans helps to explain the inner workings of God's Spirit within humans as we change from being at war with God to peace with God. The words of Paul, I believe, explain how this all works. Paul has a way with words that help the human mind understand what is taking place in our mind as we travel from one at war with God, to a person who is at peace with God.
Like I did with Revelation, allow me to dispel any notions that the book of Romans is confusing or boring, or unnecessary to the reader. Paul, at times, does speak with paragraph-long sentences. Be patient, break his words down, and let the Spirit guide your understanding and you will not be confused. As the Holy Spirit takes charge of your learning, I promise, you will not be bored, you will be excited. Finally, you will realize the importance of Paul’s words related to your eternal journey with Christ. The beauty of this understanding is that if you understand it for yourself, you will be able to explain it to others. Thereby adding to the harvest of Christ and ushering in His Return.
So, over the next several weeks we will go to the teachings of Paul in the book of Romans. Today, we will begin in chapter 5 of the book of Romans. Remember, many scholars believe that Augustine, Martin Luther, and John Wesley met the Holy Spirit in the book of Romans. This fact alone should heighten our interest in this book containing Paul’s teachings. Chapter 5 in Romans is where I believe their transformation took place.
Mankind, through Adam, was meant to be eternal. However, when he ate from the tree of good and evil, he sealed his, and all of mankind’s fate. Genesis 3:22,
“And the Lord God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.’”
To this purpose, God banished Adam and Eve from the garden and posted a cherub with a flaming sword to guard the tree of life.
Humanity is now at war with God. But it does not have to remain this way. Jesus came to bring us peace with God, among many other wonderful things. Romans 5:15-19, here Paul compares Adam’s sin with God’s gift to us through Jesus Christ.
“But the gift (Jesus) is not like the trespass (Adam). For if the many died by the trespass of the one man (Adam), how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of Adam's sin: The judgment followed Adam’s one sin and brought condemnation, but Jesus followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of Adam, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Consequently, just as the result of Adam’s one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of Jesus’ one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of Adam the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of Jesus the many will be made righteous.”
So, through the sinless life of Christ, sacrificed for all of us on the cross that was meant for each of us, we now have the opportunity to believe in Jesus Christ. We can call on Jesus’ name, admit our sinfulness, confess our sins, receive forgiveness and salvation, and be born again into a new life with Christ.
Once this happens, we are no longer at war with God. We are at peace with God, however, we are not at peace with those humans that are still at war with God. Also, we live in a world where sin reigns under Satan’s control.
This means that just because we have given our hearts to Jesus, life isn’t going to be easy. Our eternity is settled, but we still have to struggle against sin, death, and darkness while we finish our lives on earth. All believers will have trials, temptations, and difficulties.
Paul explains how because we now have faith, hope is ours because we are no longer against God, God is for us. God has always been for us. God loves us. Romans 5:1-2,
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”
This hope of the glory of God is our confidence and trust in the fact that we are indeed redeemed and covered by the blood of Christ. This confidence and trust in Christ goes with us, as believers, wherever we go, including the darkest and most difficult trials that come during our lives. We sense we feel the assurance that our eternity with Christ will be realized.
This is why Revelation is so very important for us to know and understand. Realizing God’s true eternal creation can only add to this confidence and trust in God. That’s why Satan wants to frighten us off from reading and understanding the book of Revelation specifically, and the Bible in general.
So, when trials come our way, because of this confidence and trust in God, we can then rejoice, even though we may be suffering. Romans 5:3-5,
“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
The only way that we learn sympathy is from the struggles that we encounter in our lives. The only way that we understand how to empathize with others is through our developed understanding of sympathy. Think it through, this is truth.
The hope of the believer is not just being positive and optimistic. It is so much more than that. It is assurance, again, that confidence and trust in God, in His Son, in His Word, and in His Holy Spirit that our future with God is not just make-believe. It is not Disney. It is real and true. God’s Spirit will confirm this in the believer. Then, we know this hope to be true.
My guess is that this is when Augustine, Martin Luther, and Wesley came to a face to face with God’s Holy Spirit. Every time I read this passage in Romans my hope soars. Paul continues, Romans 5:6-8,
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
This blows me away, it never ceases to amaze me. This is a life verse of mine. I preach it constantly. God really does love us. God really does have the capacity to not only forgive our sins but also to forget them. God really does want us to have a tight, close, and personal relationship with him.
Another point, this passage said, “at just the right time, …Christ died for the ungodly”. How many times, for you, has God acted at just the right time? I can testify and testify and testify to this. I’m sure many of you would agree. Paul’s final thought here, Romans 5:9-10,
“Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”
This last sentence is not a question, but a statement of fact. Ponder this, if God saved us while we were at our worst, still sinners, how can we not hope for more? God will see our personal victory through to the ends of eternity.
I spent fifteen years at war with God. I hated God and Jesus. By not answering my prayer to heal my mother of cancer, I truly believed that God had killed my mom. I now understand that God healed her, and ended her suffering in a manner that I never had considered. In fact, God rarely, if ever, answers prayers the way that I anticipate he will. This is a lesson that we all must learn. God loved me so much that I became a target of his love. He wasn’t going to let me go.
It’ll be the same way with you. Don’t waste the time, effort, and true heartache of being at war with God.
If the promises of the Old Testament prophets and Jesus are true, and the promises of the New Testament disciples and Jesus are true, how can we not have the hope that the promises of Jesus Christ and his Revelation are true, thus making us saved truly for eternity come what may.
Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God. At it, all at it, always at it.
and Harmony UMC