The Blessings of Justification

The Blessings of Justification

We’ve obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand. We rejoiced in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoiced in our suffering. Knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person, though perhaps for a good person, one would dare even to die. But God shows his love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life? More than that, we also rejoiced in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. The word of the Lord.

Thank you, God. Several Christian writers and podcasters, they speak of our current moment as a negative world. What they mean by that is Christian ethics, especially in the area of sexuality, are thought of in negative terms as being actually unjust or immoral. There’s a hostility towards any belief, Christian or otherwise, that do not line up with mainstream cultural values. We see that. We feel the pressure. But more than that, when you ask larger questions about life, the what is the meaning of life? Kind of questions, we see even there changes in answers over time. And some of the ones that we currently hear back to us. What is the meaning of life? For some, it’s feeling personal peace. Others, it’s finding pleasure. For some, it’s doing justice, correcting wrongs. Then, of course, there’s a whole group out there, more nihilistic. They just want to opt out of everything. The meaning of life is to escape it, to not feel anything at all. We hear those sorts of things. But if you step back from them and you zoom over it at 10,000 feet and include 2,000 years of history, our social moment, it fades into a much larger picture.

Because in one sense, we have always lived in a negative world. Trends change, belief systems change, but they do so in a way similar to fashion. If you wait long enough, bell bottoms and a mullet, it comes back around. Same with beliefs. But for a rotisserie of bad news, the good news is the good news has stayed the same. Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle has just given us four chapters of bad news. Humanity has rejected God. There are patterns of history that are marked by descending spirals of disordered and depraved relationships. Whether you’re Jewish or Gentile, things are a mess. We are unable to pull ourselves up, unable to fix ourselves, because as Paul has told us, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The answer to our human dilemma is that God is going to have to solve the problem. Our primary problem is that we are not in right relationship with him, and it flows into all of our other relationships with one another. Now, Paul has given us plenty of what’s wrong with us, and now he continues to speak of what’s right with Jesus.

Because he has made us right with God, we are united to him by faith, and the blessing upon blessing flow from that in our justification. We have peace with God. We have joy in suffering. We have salvation from wrath. Well, we’re looking first at this peace with God. It begins, Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, and that status has been given to us that we are now in right standing with God. It’s an objective status. How we feel about it, it doesn’t change it. And this objective status flows into an objective peace. Not simply a momentary feeling of peacefulness. He says, We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. God has ceased to be hostile towards us. Now, most people, they think of their hostility towards God. They’re angry with him, they’re indifferent to him, they demand that he answer questions in their life. Paul is telling us, especially in verse 10, that we are enemies of God, that God was reconciled to us. And more than that, we are at peace with him. And in the Bible, that word peace, Shalom in the Old Testament, is much more than just the absence of conflict.

We speak of peace like a ceasefire where enemies just stop shooting at one another. That’s not what’s in mind here. In the Bible, this Shalom is joy of right relationship. It’s fullness, it’s blessing, well-being, and inner security, a completeness. This is not a fleeting feeling of goodwill, it’s a status. Jesus has given us peace with God, harmony with God. It’s personal, relational, includes forgiveness, but goes beyond it. In Isaiah 32, the prophet says, When the spirit is poured out upon us from on high, the effects of righteousness will be peace. The result of righteousness, quietness, security forever, my people will abide in peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, in quiet resting places. That’s God’s Shalom for his people. His peace for us. Paul goes on, verse 2, Through Him, we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Now, access It speaks to us a special privilege. Backstage passes, accesses to corridors of power. We’ve been given access to this ongoing work of grace. We’d almost expect to be have access to God, but he’s highlighting we have access to this ongoing work of God’s grace.

We do not fall in and out of grace. We stand in it because it’s not dependent on us. It’s dependent on what Jesus has already done. Again, that’s why it’s good news. And this good news gives us hope. We rejoice in a confident expectation of what we do not yet fully see. The fruit of our justification, our past, their present, their future. Peace with God based on what Jesus has already done in the past. Standing in grace now, our present privilege given to us. The future glory which will yet be revealed, awaits us. Then adding to all this is something absolutely remarkable. Joy and suffering. Verse 3, not only that, but we rejoiced in our suffering. Immediately, you got to ask, How is that possible? Nobody rejoices in suffering. Suffering is a major problem for all beliefs. Think about it. When things are broken, there are lots of wrong ways to fix them. Now, apparently, since the invention of spray foam insulation, a number of people have tried to fix an assortment of car problems with it. Flat tires, externally, broken car parts, foam together, leaks and tweaks, frayed around them. Absolutely does not work, and people absolutely keep trying to use it.

Now, when it comes to beliefs we live by, our view of the nature of life has to handle reality as it comes to us. The number one Buster of beliefs is suffering. And no matter what the spray foam fix that we try, if it’s trying to live for pleasure, the meaning of life, live for an inner peace, live for justice, live just to escape, suffering blows it all up. They do not work. This is also where you see people who don’t believe in God or agnostic about him get really mad and upset. Why would a loving God allow my mother to die, my son to have spina bifida, my job to get outsourced? I will blame God for allowing things in my life that I don’t understand. I will hold the Almighty accountable for having an infinite wisdom that I in my finiteness, cannot grasp. Here Paul says that the Christian man or woman has the ability to rejoice in suffering. How? Because the Lord can direct even those moments to our great good. Paul goes on. He says, Knowing that suffering produces endurance. Now, the knowing is applying all of this to our circumstances and walking by faith in the midst of it.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of Christians who gain very little in their suffering. Saved, yes, but very stunted because of the lack of knowing connecting these thoughts. Paul says, Knowing and endurance produces character. Character produces hope. Hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy spirit who has been given to us. The gospel enables us to have a greater capacity for understanding and walking in grief and suffering. Because the greater the hope and the joy, the greater the lament and the sorrow. We grow both ways. There’s a greater capacity for dealing with life because of the gospel. Nowhere are we told that we are to take on suffering with nothing more than a stiff upper lip. The Psalms are filled with God’s people pouring out their struggles to him. They’re real, they’re difficult. We can take the worst of those things to him and not try to hide our feelings, the struggles that we have. We can bring them honestly before him. That’s what we’ve been called to do. At the same time, then we do not use our suffering as some perverse identity. My life is hard and filled with sorrow.

Nobody can understand me. In fact, it’s so difficult and complicated. I’m going to write my memoirs of my life and suffering at age 28. I’m going to blog about it continually and tell you how complex I am. That’s a phony identity in the wrong things. Our joy in Jesus, it deepens our capacity for empathy for others. It deepens our trust in the midst of our own hardships and an unshakable hope that can carry us forward. We’re not overcome because the Holy spirit dwells in us and God loves Love is poured into our hearts through him. All believers have the Holy spirit. There’s not some special class of the spiritually gifted and the rest of us. God is not dripping his love out there, little droppers He’s pouring it out through the Holy spirit. From this peace with God to this joy in suffering, we have also the blessing of reconciliation. We see that here, the salvation from wrath. For while we were weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. That word ungodly is a little bit surprising here, but it clearly means someone who’s morally insufficient, powerless to change their circumstances, sinners.

Paul on, For one will scarcely die for a righteous person, though perhaps for a good person, one wouldn’t even dare to die. Now, when you hear that, immediately you have this image of the soldier jumping on the grenade and saving all of his buddies. We think rightly so, what a hero. We throw grenades at enemies, and we don’t care who gets killed. One guy will get a medal for killing a bunch of his enemies, and another gets a medal for saving a bunch of his friends. Jesus went to the cross for his enemy so that they could become friends. That’s the difference. Who does that? Nobody. Jesus dies for his enemies in order that we could become friends of God. Paul goes on, But God shows his love for us that while we were sinners, Christ died for us. Again, so many are offended at this idea God has something against them. We want to be the ones indignant with God. I broke up with you first. No, God has the problem with us. Few are willing to ask this question, What’s wrong with me that I offend a holy and a righteous God? Paul highlights again that our right standing, our justification, our peace with God is entirely a work that’s been done by Jesus before we could do anything.

We We were incapable of lifting a finger. Jesus lifted us up. All grace, no boasting. Paul, verse 9, says, Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, his sacrifice, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. Real judgment of sin. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his son, Much more now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life? Arguing from a lesser to a greater. Never forget the clear message of scriptures that we are saved from our sins and the penalty of death. It is true, we live very much in a therapeutic age. Everything is seen in terms of our personal benefits now, as if the purpose for Christ is a little more than to help you and I achieve our maximum potential by removing emotional hurt and pain and discomfort. Comfort. See, the focus of all that’s on us. But Jesus frees us from the tyranny of our self-centeredness. He frees us even to step into greater vulnerability. That like him, we are willing to be betrayed and hurt for the purposes of God’s love and reconciliation.

Because he has freed us to love sacrificially, to love in a self-giving way as we were made in designed to. We don’t have to wrap ourselves with some hard impenetrable shell to keep us from feeling, from being hurt. We don’t have to be stuck in bitterness and resentment because the love of God has freed us to be what he has made us to be in himself. Loving people, giving ourselves to others, not afraid of vulnerability, because Jesus has gone there already for us, and nothing will crush us. That’s beyond his ability to heal, and to hold, and to shape, and to use. Paul says in verse 11, more than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, whom we have now received reconciliation. Paul uses justification and reconciliation here almost interchangeably. It shows us that it’s more than a transfer of legal status. Yes, it is that. It includes a relational one, too. Our relationship to the Father has been restored. Now, think about the implications of that for a moment. Puritan Minister Thomas Goodes, when he put it this way, he said, Christ died to make his enemies his friends, even though he could have created new ones cheaper.

The motivation of God was his love for his people. A little later, Paul is going to tell us in Romans 8, If God is for us, who can be against us? Who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us, how he will not also graciously give us all things. Who can be against us as God is for us? The answer is no one. That’s personal. That’s relational. Our God is a relational God. Now, that doesn’t surprise us. We’re used to hearing this. That’s certainly not true of the major religions of the world. Muslims are offended at the idea of all of being a friend with anyone. He’s too transcendent. He’s too remote. Buddhism, Hinduism are impersonal, resulting ultimately in the disappearance of the self into the Cosmos. If you want to drop back to the Greek and the Roman gods, they were certainly personal but hardly transcendent. They were arrogant, capricious, and often indifferent to the plight humans. That the creator has united himself to his creation by becoming one of them is entirely unique to Christianity. And more than that, he takes the punishment we deserve in order to free us from our state of sin and misery.

God, as it were, gets his hands dirty in saving us. I mentioned this a little while ago when Ryan and Jenny adopted Benjamin. When he was there at the court, the judge was very involved. He rightly said, he goes, This is the most important thing I’m going to do today. And he stood there with taking pictures. We were able to take pictures with him. He actually had Margaret and Jeremiah and Wyatt come up and he talked to them personally. Because That’s the joy of adoption of something that’s going to transform the life of a child that he got to be a part of, and his desire was to be in the midst of it. That’s not how the rest of the day goes for a judge. They They come in at the beginning and leave at the end. There’s no interaction with the claimants at all. And yet what we see is that God could have made a decree of justification, and this left us to ourselves. A new status that’s given, but it would have been incomplete because reconciliation is restored relationship that goes along with that right-standing verdict. The Lord does not hold us at arm’s length.

He doesn’t tap the gavel and go out the side door. Jesus is a very embodiment of God’s love. We are united to our Triune God. Romans 8, The spirit you receive does not make you slave so that you live in fear again. Rather, the spirit you receive brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry out, Abba, Father. The spirit himself testifies that our spirit, that we are God’s children. That is what Jesus has done for us. That’s the blessings of our justification. We are now free to live for God’s glory and to enjoy him forever. We’re no longer slaves to our sin, an empty way of life. Blessing upon blessing flows from our union with Christ. Even in our sufferings and trials, the Lord is present with us. He’s working all things for our good. It doesn’t What do you mean you have to like suffering. That’s perverse. We don’t like the suffering, but we know that in the midst of the suffering, God is present with us. No fake plastic smiles here. What that tells us is that there is nothing that will crush your soul or end your faith because the spirit of the living God dwells in you.

What that does is it removes all the stupid spray foam fixes we try to find outside of Jesus. It shows them to be inadequate. It doesn’t fix those kinds of problems and the things that we are trying to use apart from him are shown to be deficient because God loves us, and he doesn’t want us to put our faith and our hope in that which is ultimately going to bring us death. The love of God is bringing to us the only fix that we live in in a negative world, and it will be negative until Jesus returns. Then and only then will things finally be put right, and all things will be placed under his feet, and death will finally be defeated. Until then, the hope of glory awaits us, motivating us forward because of what Jesus has done finally and perfectly in the past, that we can now stand unwavering in the firmness Of the grace that he has given to us currently, past, present, future, all flow from the work of Jesus. That is really, really good news. That’s what we have. Even if we see through a glass dimly at times, even in the midst of, Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief.

He has not let go of us. He is holding us tightly. Even while we were sinners, his love was shown to us. And now that we are friends and reconcile, how much more are all things ours in Christ Jesus? That’s we’re celebrating. Pray with me. Father Almighty, indeed, that is truly we’re celebrating. You are good and wonderful to your people. We thank you for it. And Father, we pray that you would help us to see beyond our sight in front of us, even in the midst of our sorrow. Father, the joy that is ours in your son. Father, thank you that our status has changed, that we are truly made right with you because of Jesus. And Father, we pray and ask that you would continue to encourage us to walk in the boldness of that truth. And Lord, that you’d be pleased to use us to bring Lord into this world the hope of glory. We bless you for the many benefits that we have received through you in our justification by faith. To you, to the Son, to the spirit, be all glory and honor forever and ever. Amen. Please stand.

Discaimer: This sermon text was generated by an automated transcription service.