Access Granted (Rom. 5:1-11)
Access Granted: Not Ashamed of the Gospel
Alcides Moreno was a window washer in Manhattan. He rode platforms with his brother Edgar to wash skyscrapers. From there, he could look down to see the pavement far below where the people looked like ants. On December 7, 2007, catastrophe struck the Moreno family. The brothers were 47 stories up when their platform collapsed. Alcides and Edgar fell from the sky.
They did not land on a passing airplane or get snagged by a flagpole like we see in movies and on cartoons. They fell 47 stories all the way to the pavement below. Edgar died from the fall. Alcides did not. He hung on to life by a thread for two weeks. But on Christmas Day, he reached out and touched the nurse’s face. A month later, an amazed doctor stated that Alcides would probably walk again.
No one of us have ever had a relationship with God like Adam and Eve did. None of us have ever walked with God like they did. And when they disobeyed God, their decision brought sin, death, and judgment into man’s world. And today, we still struggle against flesh and blood, weaknesses and temptations, wondering how we could ever get back into a relationship with God.
Of course, we know that when Adam and Eve ate of that forbidden fruit, Jesus stood up and began packing His bags… He knew He would have to endure His own temptations in order to live a righteous life and go to the cross to die for the sins of mankind. His death made it possible for us to be holy, prepared to be in God’s holy presence.
Then when Jesus rose from the dead, He made it possible for all of us to rise from the dead in order to be in God’s presence forever.
That message of the gospel is for everyone and it is made available and known to everyone through the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.
As you know, our Lads to Leaders is studying the gospel of Romans this year; I have had a monthly lesson on Romans and today we will feed our spirits on the access to God we have through Jesus Christ as Paul presents it in Romans 5:1-11:
WE HAVE PEACE WITH GOD - 5:1-2:
There are two key themes that run through these eleven verses: the idea of reconciliation and the idea of “boasting” or “exulting.”
At the end of chapter 4:23-25, Paul had written: “Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”
Paul stated that Jesus was delivered over by God to be crucified because of our transgressions and He was raised for our justification.
Now, in verse 1, Paul says, “after we have been justified by our faith,” we can have peace with God which comes through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
To call Jesus “Christ” is to emphasize that Jesus is the Messiah promised int he OT; He fulfills the OT prophecies of a coming Savior. To call Jesus “Jesus” is to acknowledge that He is God in the flesh. He came to earth in human form.
And to call Jesus our “Lord” is to acknowledge that He is the Master and we have to obey Him in all that He says to do to be saved from the wrath of God. Back in 1:5, Paul had bound together tightly the ideas of faith and obedience. If we have faith in Christ, we will obey what He says to do in order to receive the blessings He wants to give us.
Having been justified, Paul writes, we have “peace with God.” When Adam and Eve sinned, when you and I sin, we create a barrier between us and God (Isa. 59:1-2); we put ourselves on a collusion course with the wrath of God - notice verse 9.
In fact, consider how Paul identifies us - before we were washed by the blood of Christ - from God’s perspective:
We were “helpless” (ver. 6)
We were “ungodly” (ver. 7)
We were “sinners” (ver. 8)
We were “enemies” (ver. 10)
That was all brought about because of our sins. That’s the impact that sin has on our spiritual relationship with God.
There is a picture of Sasha, a five year old, who was born in Chernobyl after the nuclear meltdown and explosions at the Russian nuclear facility in 1986. Sasha’s tiny arm grips the side of a crib. His other hand flails upward toward his ear. His head and shoulders appear normal, but on Sasha’s chest is a lump the size of a softball, and his belly is so big he looks pregnant.
His legs are oversized and blocky, and he has no knees, only rounded flesh flowing awkwardly to his oversized feet. From the bottom of his stomach protrudes a rounded flow of flesh as though it were a separate limb, stopped in half growth. Sasha lives in constant pain. If I were to show you the picture, some of you would instantly feel love and compassion and would want to adopt such a youngster. Others would be repulsed by the image and it would make you very sad.
That’s our condition from a spiritual perspective.
Few people are happy in the way we are supposed to be happy. Nobody on this planet is so secure, so confident, in their state that they feel the way Adam and Eve felt in the garden before they knew they were naked. We humans are in the wreckage of a war, a kind of Hiroshima, a kind of Mount Saint Helens, with souls distorted like the children of Chernobyl. As terrible as it is to think about these things, as ugly as it is to face them, until we see ourselves this way, in the eyes of God, salvation will not mean anything to us.
But how can we have peace with God?
“Through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jesus provides us an introduction into the grace in which we stand, which we have by trusting Jesus (ver. 2). Do you stand in the grace of God? Do you constantly remind yourself that you are saved by God’s grace, through the blood of Christ, and that gives you hope and security in your relationship with God? Honestly, we ought to be doing that - reminding ourselves of that - every time we take the Lord’s Supper. We are here by the grace of God. Let us stand firm in that grace and not be moved away from it by discouragement, by temptations, by distractions in this world.
Not only do we stand in the grace of God through Jesus Christ, but the second theme we have in this text is the idea of “boasting” or “exulting.” The NASV translates the verb as “exult” because that verb has more positive connotations than the other translation “to boast.” But they are the same word.
Over in 1 Corinthians 1:31, Paul, quoting from the prophet Jeremiah, says, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
During a British conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world debated what, if any, belief was unique to the Christian faith. They began eliminating possibilities. Incarnation? Other religions had different versions of gods appearing in human form. Resurrection? Again, other religions had accounts of return from death.
The debate went on for some time until C. S. Lewis wandered into the room. “What’s the rumpus about?” he asked, and heard in reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity’s unique contribution among world religions. Lewis responded, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”
The notion of God’s love coming to us as a matter of grace seems to go against every instinct of humanity. The Buddhist eightfold path, the Hindu doctrine of Karma, the Jewish covenant, and the Muslim code of law—each offers a way to earn approval. Only Christianity dares to make God’s love by grace.
What can we boast “in the Lord?” Listen to what Paul says here in our text:
We boast in the hope of the glory of God - that is, we are grateful that we have the hope that God will glorify us one day. That glorification will come, of course, beginning with our resurrection from the dead to eternal life. We will be raised one day! Our physical bodies will be transformed into spiritual bodies, one day! That hope is ours because of Jesus Christ.
Secondly, based on verse 11, we “exult” or “boast” through Jesus Christ that we have received the reconciliation with God. To “reconcile” means that the relationship of being enemies with God has been removed. We have been changed from being God’s enemy to being God’s friend, even more than that, His children. We boast in that - that we are children of God. That’s what Paul meant when he wrote in Galatians 6:14: “God forbid that I should glory / exult / boast save in the cross of Jesus Christ, by whom the world was crucified to me and I, to the world.”
Thirdly, back in verse 3, we exult / boast in our tribulations…
WE EXULT IN TRIBULATIONS - 5:3-5:
This life is specifically designed to help us be conformed into the image of God’s Son. This life is designed by God to teach us and disciple us into loving God supremely and serving our fellowman sacrificially.
If you think about the fruit of the Spirit, how can we learn to live the fruit of the Spirit without tribulation in our lives? Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control. God allows Satan to bring tribulations into our lives so that we can learn how to live like Jesus lived. God is preparing us for heaven.
Notice what Paul says here… Tribulations bring about perseverance. Perseverance brings about “proven character.” Proven character brings about “hope.”
Remember back in verse 1 that Paul said that we boast in the hope of the glory of God? How can we experience that hope? Because we have to endure tribulations. One produces the other: tribulations: perseverance: proven character: hope.
But this hope we have in Jesus Christ does not disappoint us. How do we know that? Because God’s love has been richly and abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us once we were baptized into Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). We’ll talk more about the role of baptism in our reconciliation with God next month when we look at Romans 6.
In the darkest days of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem back in the OT days, God asked Jeremiah to go out and buy a piece of real estate—complete with witnesses, a deed, and money (Jeremiah 32:6–15). This act seemed to make no sense, since Judah was about to be conquered and its people taken into exile. But in seventy years, as God reminded Jeremiah, the people would be set free and return to the land to rebuild homes and replant vineyards. Jeremiah’s purchase of land was to provide a beacon of hope during the long years of captivity.
One man wrote that his father, at age seventy-five, planted a number of small fruit trees. “What an optimist,” he said to him, somewhat mockingly. His dad passed away a few years later. Now when he returns to the old homestead, he has an option. He can go to the grassy cemetery on top of the hill and brood over his grave, or he can eat the fruit of his trees and reflect on a man who knew a great deal about hope.
How do we know that God loves us? Notice that verses 6 & 7 both begin with the word “for.” How do we know that God loves us?
CHRIST DIED FOR THE UNGODLY - 5:6-10:
The word “helpless” translates the Greek word “weak.” That is, we were and are powerless to take care of our own sin. We cannot live faithfully before God, sinlessly before God, without Jesus Christ. We are weak and impotent.
But at the right time - when all was right according to God’s time schedule, Christ died for the ungodly. All those people who had committed all those sins which Paul had listed back in 1:18-32 who deserved death - Christ died for them. If they were to die for their own sin, they would simply be getting what they deserved. That’s justice. But for Christ to die for them / us - that’s grace.
In verse 7, Paul states a general principle that no one usually gives up their lives for the sake of even an righteous man. Someone might die for a good man, but generally speaking, they do not. So to think that God would allow Jesus to die for God’s enemies is unprecedented!
That’s the point in verse 8: God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. God could not wait for us to be righteous before Jesus died for us; we would never be righteous. God could not wait for us to become sinless before Jesus died for us; we could never be sinless outside of Christ.
So Christ died for us when we were weak, impotent to do anything for ourselves, and when we were still sinners before God.
“But wait, there’s more!” Once we have been justified, which Paul had stated back in 4:25; here he states we are “justified” by the blood of His Son, we can now be saved from the wrath of God through Jesus Christ. God’s wrath is coming. God’s wrath is coming against sin and all those who are still engulfed in sin and refuse to believe in God and obey the gospel of His Son. But there is deliverance; there is an escape - through the blood of His Son.
Again, in verse 10, Paul writes that if we were enemies of God but were reconciled to God through the death of His Son on the cross, now we have also been reconciled to God and we will be saved by His life. Back in 1:4, Paul reminded the Christians that God had raised Jesus from the dead by the Spirit of holiness. Because Jesus is alive forevermore, He can now continue to make intercession for us and can continue to make us holy by His blood, and the Holy Spirit can continue to dwell in us because of the resurrected Messiah.
WE HAVE RECEIVED RECONCILIATION THROUGH JESUS - 5:11:
Again in verse 11,Paul says, “But wait, there’s more!” We can boast / exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ because it is through Him that we have received the reconciliation with God.
We are no longer God’s enemies, destined to experience the wrath of God, if we are washed by the blood of Christ and are God’s children adopted by Him in Christ. That’s the topic of chapter 6 and the subject of baptism, which we’ll study next month.
Take home message: Christ reconciles us to God so that we can have peace with God. Be reconciled to God and exult in tribulations because Christ is preparing us to live with Him forever.