BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVES/Justification by faith flows from the love of God
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 1:00 PM
We'll look this week at Romans 5:5-8. Last week we saw in Romans 5:1-5 that God's grace in justification puts things right between us and Him, past, present and future.
This week we'll study Paul's argument that says not only can we who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ rejoice in suffering, but we are the recipients of the lavish, the undeserved love of God.
I. Justification means that we are the object and recipients of God's amazing love and apprehend it (v. 5)
In a courtroom, if you go before a judge guilty of a capital crime, you are convicted of that crime in the course of that trial. The judge sentences you, and then he dismisses you. And never again do you have a relationship with him.
By contrast look at our just Father who is a judge, and the way that an earthly judge deals with us when we are guilty. The earthly judge, if we are guilty, convicts us. The heavenly Father, when He finds us to be guilty, and we all are, gives His Son to bear the due penalty of sin, and then He acquits us. But He's not done. He doesn't dismiss us from the courtroom. He adopts us into His family. And He lavishes on us the love of God. That's what Paul says there in verse 5. The love of God has been poured out within our hearts.
Even though ever since at least chapter 3, Paul has been telling us about the love of God, this is the first time it is explicitly mentioned. The reason we can glory in suffering, the reason that we can be assured of a hope that will not disappoint is because the love of God is certain. It has been poured out within our hearts. Justification means that we are the objects of the love of God.
II. The Holy Spirit is the agent of God's love (v. 5)
Justification is joined with the incalculable gift of the Holy Spirit. And it's the Holy Spirit who ministers in us to root us in God's love. The Holy Spirit has been given to root us and ground us in the apprehension of God's love for us. He is the agent that God implants in our hearts that we might experience and know the love, which God has for us in Jesus Christ.
It's the Holy Spirit that gives us the ability to see the greatness of God's love and grace. He alone grounds us in that reality. Paul means that God's love has been sealed and applied to us in the gift of the Holy Spirit. Paul's not talking about some secret, second, subsequent blessing. He's talking about something that God does in every believer by the Holy Spirit. As he justifies you, He gives you His Spirit that you might know the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ.
III. God's love has been shed abroad not merely in the death of Christ, but the death of Christ for sinners (v. 6)
Paul explains that Christ died for us while we were helpless and hopeless, while we were weak and sinful, unbelieving and undeserving. It's not just nice people that Jesus has died for; Jesus didn't die for the righteous or good people. Why? There are no good people, there are no righteous people.
Paul uses two words, "helpless" and "ungodly," to make this point clearly. That's you apart from Christ and grace: Helpless in the sense that apart from God, apart from Christ, apart from grace, and under the power of sin, you unable to see the gloriousness of the offer that's being made.
Paul describes us from two perspectives as those who are captive to sin and to those who are out of a right relationship with God. That's his summing us up. That's us apart from Christ.
And he tells us that Christ died for people like that. That's who Christ died for, people who are weak, people who are helpless, people who are captive, people who are sinful, people who are ungodly, people who had no relationship with God. We can know God's love for us because Christ died. He died for the ungodly.
Think of your sin at its worst point. But think for a moment. Think about that thing or those things perhaps that you have worked hard even for those closest to you not to know. Those things that you think, 'if my wife, if my husband knew that, she'd, he'd leave me in a second.' When you're honest, in those few moments that you're willing to be honest with yourself, it's precisely at those points that Christ loves you, that Christ dies for you.
IV. God's redemptive love cannot be presumed upon (v. 7)
Paul gives an illustration of just how rare such a sacrifice is among people, even on behalf of virtuous people. From time to time in our experience and perhaps in our reading we have heard about people who have nobly given themselves on behalf of another person. When we do, it is always the case that that person is giving his life for something that he considers to be good and righteous: a man laying down his life for his country or his family.
But Christ laid down his life for us as sinners, and Paul is drawing our attention to that gracious truth by his illustration. That's the kind of love that God has for us. It's not like any other kind of love: God would give His Son for those who don't deserve it, for those who are sinners. The unparalleled love of God.
V. God's unique love is expressed and proven in the death of Christ for unworthy sinners (v. 8)
He brings it home, the conclusion of His argument is found in verse 8. He says, "The proof, the manifestation of God's love for us is seen in the death of Christ for the ungodly." Romans 5:8 is the "John 3:16" of Paul's writings. God's love is proven in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Paul is saying that this death of Christ is the very manifestation of the Father's heart of love for us. His love is unprecedented, and it's unparalleled, and it is yours if you believe on Him.