Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Power of Grace (Part II)

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

Rejoicing in tribulations is the second rejoicing seen in this section. This rejoicing should greatly distinguish the Christian from the world, because such behavior amidst troubles is not natural. A believer who is not allowing the Spirit to fill him will not display this characteristic as he should. A false professor may also be distinguished by a lack of peace during times of trouble since he is void of God's Spirit. The verb worketh means to accomplish, work out, or produce. Whatever else may be said of trials, God allows them into believers' lives for the simple fact that they systematically teach positive Christian character. The word patience is comprised of two words which, when put together, give the meaning of continuing under a load for a long period of time. Therefore, the resultant meaning is steadfastness or perseverance. God desires that His children be steadfast under pressure, not easily moved to compromise or failure. This steadfastness in turn works experience. This word literally means, the quality of being approved; therefore, it may be thought of as character. Under the pressure of trials, patience is learned, and this results in character building. As character is developed, one begins to learn, through continual experience of God's faithfulness, that hope is always present. This brings the discussion full circle to the hope of God's glory mentioned in verse two.

Unlike the world's hope, this hope is real and will never put the believer to shame. The presence of God's love, through the giving of His Spirit, is sufficient evidence that such hope is worth trusting in. The phrase shed abroad has the idea of an action that took place in the past but is always applicable to the present moment. The love of God is sufficient to carry the believer through any trial at any time. It may be called upon regardless of circumstance or season. It is a love that is given by means of the Holy Spirit which is given once and for all to every believer.

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)

Verses six through ten elaborate on the love of God mentioned in verse five. It is a self-sacrificing love, characterized by a willingness to give with no promise of return. This love of God that dwells within a Christian's heart should be a constant reminder of God's pity toward those who cannot help themselves. Christ died for the ungodly. Let every believer beware of an arrogant attitude that would keep them from ministering to those for whom Christ died!

The word scarcely means with difficulty. People are not likely to give up there lives except on behalf of those who would seem worthy. It would be difficult enough to die for a righteous man, and perhaps some would even be willing for a good man, but no man wants to give up his life for an unworthy wretch! Yet, this is exactly what God's grace motivated Christ to do. The word commendeth means to demonstrate or display. God's love has been openly displayed to mankind through the death of His Son on behalf of unworthy wretches. The preposition for appears four times in these verses. It means on behalf of. Christ's substitutionary work may be seen in the use of such language. Christ died in the sinner's place on behalf of the sinner who deserves to be damned for all eternity.

Such words as these give greater depth and meaning to the love of God spoken of in verse five.

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:9-10)

Sin must have a payment. In this sense, Christianity is a bloody religion. Without blood, it has not much meaning. For thousands of years, through the Old Testament sacrificial system, God pictured Christ's divine blood that would be shed for all mankind. Yet, as Hebrews 10:4 says, “...it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” Therefore, Christ's sinless blood was shed for the purpose of appeasing God's fierce wrath toward man's wickedness. The word wrath is literally the wrath in the Greek text. It is the specific wrath of God seen in “the great and dreadful day of the LORD.” (Malachi 4:5) The believer need never fear this wrath again since his soul is safe in Christ. Christ's death has reconciled (put on good terms) the sinner to God, and the resurrection of Christ assures future deliverance from death's clutches.

And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” (Romans 5:11)

The third of three rejoicings is now presented- Rejoicing in God. The word joy is the exact same word used for rejoicing in the previous verses. Ultimately, God's grace should spur the believer to rejoice in his King. Such holiness, such love, such divine grace leaves a man with no other appropriate response. Such rejoicing is only made possible through, or by means of the Lord Jesus Christ. Without Him, rejoicing would not be possible, because reconciliation would not be possible. The various religions that seek to rejoice in God apart from the work of Christ are empty, vain religions, because a relationship with Christ is the only means by which a man may truly rejoice in the Father. The word atonement means reconciliation. In fact, it is the noun form of the verb used for reconciled in the previous verses.

With such magnificent grace displayed toward unworthy sinners, what choice does the Christian have but to rejoice!

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