Chris Appleby Ministries

Chris Appleby Ministries



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Romans 5:1-11

“Therefore, since we are justified by faith ...” But hang on, what’s this “Therefore” mean? This is like coming in halfway through a TV series, isn’t it? We first need to hear about the story so far.

The story begins in chapter 1 with one of Paul’s major affirmations: “The gospel is the power of God for salvation for everyone who has faith - for the Jew first and also for [everyone else].” Then in the rest of ch1 he shows how people throughout history have chosen to ignore God, to decide for themselves how they should worship, how they should live; how in their desire to have their own way, make their own personal decisions, they’ve broken down social norms, exhibited all sorts of antisocial behaviour, envy, slander, insolence, arrogance, greed, murder; and the list goes on. And you’d have to say that things haven’t changed much. We live in a world where the rich get richer and the poor are simply overlooked, where people have become more and more self-centred, - narcissism seems to be the dominant characteristic of our society at the moment; “Not in my backyard” is heard much more often in public forums that “what can we do to help?” We see it in the increasing insistence on personal rights – not just the righting of social injustice that the rights campaigners began with in the 60s, but personal rights: my right to choose: whether I have a vaccination is one of the most recent; my right to choose when I die, my right to choose what pronouns you’ll use for me. God has become irrelevant to people’s decision making. The point of what he’s saying is that the world needs to be saved from itself.

But before we jump in and start to target particular people or particular sins, he goes on in ch2 to fire this giant killer at us: “2:1You have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.” He says this to his Jewish audience but he could equally have addressed it directly to modern day evangelical Christians. He goes on in the next couple of chapters to point out that there’s this universal failing of humanity to do what’s right, an inability to please God. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” But even if humanity has failed to be righteous, he says, God hasn’t. He’s remained faithful to his promise to Abraham to bring a blessing on all of humanity through his descendants. How? By sending Jesus to bring redemption to all who have faith. 3:24: Now all people can be “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” All we need is faith in God. Then in ch 4 we discover that this has always been the case, ever since Abraham. Abraham was justified because he believed God. His righteousness was counted to him as a gift, simply because of his faith in God, just as our righteousness is counted to us as a gift now, purely on the basis of our faith.

And so he can say “Therefore …we have peace with God.”

Dianne talked about peace a few weeks ago didn’t she? She reminded us that peace has the idea of living without fear, of being in a place where God provides everything we need. But here the peace we’re thinking about is the precursor to that state of contentedness. Here it’s more like the moment we think back to on Nov 11, when the First World War armistice was signed and that long period of conflict was over. It’s the sort of peace we pray for in Ukraine, or Somalia, or Myanmar, or Israel, or Taiwan; a peace that comes with the end of conflict.

This peace we now have with God through our Lord Jesus Christ is a peace which affects us both in the present and in the future. Listen to what he says:


“Through [him] we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand.” Our current status is that we now have access to the free gift of God which allows us to stand before God without fear. In other words we can access that righteousness that Jesus Christ has won for us right now. You hear about young people who are left a large inheritance that’s tied up in a trust account that they can’t access until they’ve met certain conditions: getting a degree, getting married, getting rid of their nose ring. Sometimes Christians think of the righteousness that God offers us as being like that. It’s something they know is theirs but they think they have to do something, pass some test, before they can actually get their hands on it. It might be some moral reform, it might be some regular religious service, it might be having a regular quiet time. Whatever it is, they think that this gift of righteousness is dependent on how they behave. But that’s to misunderstand the grace and the gift of God. There are no strings attached to this gift. We have access to it right now. When God looks at you today, he sees, not your failings, but the righteousness that Jesus Christ gives to all those who believe in him. So we have peace with God right now.

But there’s a future hope as well.


“We boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God” (v2).

If right now we can enjoy the knowledge that Christ has made us right with God, we can also look forward to the day when we’ll share God’s glory. That is, we look forward with eager anticipation to the day when our whole being will be transformed into the likeness of God, into a state not enjoyed by human beings since the day when Adam and Eve first disobeyed. We look forward to a day when our righteousness will not just be a conferred righteousness, but an actual righteousness, when our old sinful bodies will be replaced by new bodies that are finally at one with God. That’s what he means by sharing God’s glory. No wonder he rejoices in what’s to come.

But even in the present, in this imperfect world in which we still live, we can rejoice in the peace we have with God. Even when we suffer as a result of our faith we can be confident in the peace we have with God.


3And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not disappoint us.”

Even living in a fallen world, we can rejoice, we can give thanks that whatever happens to us leads on to peace with God. Now remember that when Paul talks about suffering, he’s thinking of being thrown out of the synagogue, of being spat on and cursed and insulted. He’s thinking of being imprisoned, whipped, shipwrecked, stoned, all because of his proclamation of Jesus Christ as Lord. But those things haven’t stopped him, or depressed him. Rather they reinforce his confidence in the gospel. How is that? Well, he says, suffering produces endurance, endurance character, character produces hope, which doesn’t disappoint us. (Nietzsche:) What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? Or in this case assures you that your faith is real and lasting.

You see, as we endure as Christians, as we persevere in our faith, we gain confidence that we’ll continue to endure. Our weak faith grows and character develops.

And it isn’t just our own perseverance that does this.

Those who are young in the faith sometimes wonder whether they have enough faith to see it through, whether the faltering belief they have is enough. The answer to that question is yes! It is enough. Why? For two reasons. First, because faith is never measured by quantity. Jesus said faith the size of a mustard seed was enough to move a mountain. The quantity of faith isn’t what matters because, second, what matters is the God we have faith in. He’s the one who supplies the power, not us. Why is the church still here despite 2000 years of opposition? Because people have endured, they’ve persevered in their faith in God. And God hasn’t let them down. So again we can look forward:


He says: “Our hope doesn’t disappoint us.” He knows he’ll go on, and that the church will go on, because our faith has been proven over and over again. What’s more, the proof of the Christian’s future hope is more than just the perseverance of the saints. It’s this: v5: “Because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” As we look forward to the hope of God’s glory, we begin to experience it even now in the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit. God has shown his love for us not just by sending Jesus to die for our sins and to rise for our righteousness. He’s poured his love into our hearts, Paul says, by giving us his Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit’s presence is the reason that Christians have endured.

Our hope doesn’t disappoint because each step of the way God is with us strengthening us, guiding us, empowering us. And notice the way he expresses this gift of God’s love. He’s lavished love upon us. There’s a sense of abundant generosity in that phrase ‘poured out’.

 To show just how generous this gift of love is he goes on to show us what God’s love means in practice”

[Before:] He says: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” God chose just the right time to show us how much he loved us. How was it the right time? It was the right time because it was while we were helpless, weak. “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.”

Can you see why this was “the right time”?

  • It shows the nature of his love for us. That is, his love is unconditional. Christ died for us while we were still sinners, while we were his enemies. You can imagine a soldier taking a bullet to save his mate, but you can’t imagine him trying to protect one of the enemy, can you? Yet that’s the nature of God’s love for us. Even when we were bitterly opposed to his rule over our lives, even when we stood under his righteous judgement, he sent his own Son to die on our behalf.
  • Secondly it shows that our righteousness is all his doing. There was nothing that we could do to make things right with God. As he says in the first couple of chapters we’re unable to do anything by ourselves to please God. Whatever we try will be flawed. But God does what’s needed. It’s all his doing. It depends on him alone.
  • Thirdly because he did it while we were still sinners, it assures us that nothing we do can separate us from his love. Now Paul develops this idea further in chapter 8, but today we just need to remind ourselves of this fact. Nothing you do can separate you from God’s love.

You know there are two dangers for us when we read the things I mentioned from the first chapter of Romans. The first is that we can look at those around us and think how sinful they must be, how far they are from God; to think they have a lot to answer for before God. But that’s to forget that we were all far from God; we were all opposed to his rule until he came and changed us. And even now we still fail to do what’s right so much of the time. So remember that warning from ch2. Don’t judge others in case you end up judging yourself.

But the other danger is thinking to myself that God couldn’t possibly love me because I know how sinful I still am. You hear people say “I felt like God was a long way away;” or “God had abandoned me.” If you feel like that then it’s important that you reflect on what you were like when he first called you, when he sent Jesus Christ to die for you. It was while we were still his enemy. It was when we were still weak, sinners, deserving only his anger and judgement, that he sent Jesus to die, to bring us back to him. So why would he let you go now?

[Now:] Which brings us back to the present: He says, “But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (v11)  Reconciliation is a big word isn’t it? We use it in our discussions about the wrongs that have been done to our indigenous brothers and sisters. But here he’s talking about an even greater reconciliation: the reconciliation with God that we enjoy through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. This is a present reality that means that we can already enjoy the presence of God with us. The peace he talks about in v1 is a peace that rests entirely on this fact: though we were God’s enemies we’ve now been reconciled through the death of his Son. We can now get on with enjoying life in God’s presence, serving God to the best of our ability, as his Holy Spirit enables us and as we wait for the salvation he has prepared for us. And that brings us to our last point:


He says, in v10: “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.” You see, the peace we have isn’t just an external peace. It’s also the sort of peace that Dianne spoke about three weeks ago: an internal peace, a peace of mind, a confidence in the future. As we just saw, nothing can separate us from God’s love. But that’s now. As we look into the future, to the last day, when Jesus returns we can be confident that having been reconciled by Christ’s death we will also be saved by his life. Jesus died to reconcile us to God. That’s our present status. So when he returns we’ll meet him as those who’ve already been reconciled to God. All that will remain will be for us to be raised to eternal life with him; which brings us back to the beginning. Jesus’ risen life will become our risen life. We’ll be given a new body which will reflect his glorious body and in that new body we’ll share the glory of God.

 The peace we experience now rests entirely on God’s freely bestowed gift of forgiveness through Jesus’ death on the Cross. We don’t need to strive for it. We can’t lose it because we didn’t earn it. All we can do is live it out in the way we interact with those around us, sharing his peace in grace, mercy and love the way Jesus does with us.

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