Restored to Worship
Restored to worship (rom 5:1-11)
Read Rom 5:1-11
Last time I summarized vs 1-5 by saying, we have a new standing, a new hope, a new boast.
A new standing
· Rom 1-3 explains that God’s wrath is rightly directed against all men because we have fallen short of God’s glory, rejected His rule and rebelled against His law.
· We are all therefore destined for eternal destruction away from God’s presence and there is nothing that any human being can do to remedy the situation.
· The second part of Rom 3 explains that God himself has provided a way of righteousness, a way to be reconciled and come to stand in a right relationship with Him. We are justified by faith in Christ as a gift.
· Rom 4 expands on our justification. Justification happens when the sinner turns from trusting in his or own righteousness, goodness or performance and instead trusts in Christ’s sacrificial death and Christ’s perfect life to give him a right standing before God. The Father, on His part turns from looking at the sinner and instead sees Christ in Him and reckons Christ’s righteousness to his or her account.
A new hope
Rom 5 introduces a new section of Romans – 5:1 starts, “therefore having been justified” and Rom 5-8 will explain what is the result, or what flows from our justification.
In a word, it gives us a new hope. The section from Rom 5-8 contains more references to hope than any other book of the New Testament. One of the main implications of justification is that we now have hope = the confidence that God’s promises will be realized, that our future is better than our present. Particularly, we have the hope of glory, the hope of heaven, the hope that we will be rescued from God’s wrath and be the recipients of His eternal blessing.
So that gives us a new boast.
A New boast
The gospel, or our justification causes us to stop boasting in ourselves and our own goodness and performance and instead we boast in God and in what God has done for us and is doing for us in Jesus Christ.
The climax towards which this paragraph ends is our boasting, or our exalting in God. Vs 11 this term rejoice actually refers to boasting, or exalting or glorying in someone or something.
· Vs 2 The fruit of justification is that we no longer boast in ourselves but boast in the certainty that the glory which comes from God will be ours. We will enjoy God’s glory with Him forever.
· But we don’t just boast or exalt in the future, we boast or exalt in the present, even in the midst of adversity because affliction only serves to confirm that our hope in God is not misplaced.
· Ultimately, the paragraph climaxes by bringing us back to this reality – our boasting or exaltation is in God.
In other words – justification makes us worshippers again. We no longer worship ourselves, or creation but we worship God. We worship Him for future glory, we worship Him in present suffering we worship Him in everything. So I’ve called this message “restored to worship.” That’s what justification accomplishes and this passage gives us the reasons why we can and should now boast or exalt in God.
4 motivations to worship God for our justification.
1: The work of God on us (3-4)
2: The Spirit of God in us (5)
3: The Son of God for us (6-9)
4: The friendship of God toward us (10-11)
1: The work of God on us (3-4)
We looked at this a bit last week in vs 3, we not only exult in the certainty of future glory, but in the midst of present afflictions. Justified believers are characterized by worshipping God even in the midst of present affliction, present difficult, present hardship and weakness.
Why? How can this be? Because of the chain of cause and effect that Paul presents in vs 3 and 4. Suffering produces endurance and endurance produce proven character and proven character results in a more sure hope which will not fail or disappoint us. In other words, our hope in God, our confidence that we will enjoy glory with God and in God, is only strengthened through afflictions.
To understand this, you must notice something about the text here…. Note carefully, that Paul doesn’t move into imperatives. He doesn’t say you need to endure suffering, you need to respond in a godly way. He presents a chain of certain outcomes here. Suffering will produce endurance, endurance will produce proven character, proven character will confirm that our confidence in God’s goodness was not misplaced.
The focus in this text is on what God is doing, not on what we should be doing in adversity. That is not to say that we don’t have any responsibilities to respond in faith and obedience in the midst of suffering, but that is not the focus of this text. This text is not here to exhort us with what we must do, but to encourage us with what God is doing in the midst of our afflictions. God is at work giving us endurance, causing us to press on, to push through and God is forming Christ-like character in us.
Even when our circumstances seem to be saying that God is not for us, that God has abandoned us, that God intends to do us harm rather than good – we can know that even through adversity God is carrying us through, and God is refining our character, God is doing us good and preparing us for glory.
Rom 5 and Rom 8 form book ends for this section of Romans which focusses on our hope, our confidence. Turn to Rom 8:28 – read 28-30. What does Rom 8:28 tell us?
· And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Same idea as we have here in Rom 5.
· Then again in Rom 8, what follows is this chain of divine dealings – for those whom God foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the image of His son, those who he predestined he also called, those whom he called he also justified, those whom he justified he also glorified.
· The chain starts with those whom God foreknew, which means those whom God chose to set His love upon, to bring into a personal relationship with himself. The end of the chain is those people being glorified. The middle link is our justification and again, sanctification is left out because the emphasis is not on what we must do, but on what God is doing for us.
· What is the good that God is working all things together toward in this text? That we would be conformed to the image of Christ.
· You can see that Rom 8 is expanding on Rom 5:4 and saying the same thing. It is our destiny, our calling to worship God in the midst of many and various afflictions in this life and to have Christ’s character formed in us until at last our hope is realized as we enter glory. And this will all be accomplished by God’s own power at work on us fulfilling His loving purposes toward us.
Glory in suffering
Or to paraphrase the words of Paul in 2 Cor 4:8-10: When We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; when we are perplexed, but not driven to despair; when we are persecuted, but not forsaken; when we are struck down, but not destroyed;… then we know for sure that the life and power of Jesus is at work in us and in this we glory.
If you are a believer, then you know what Paul is talking about. When you have been driven to your knees, stripped of all your pride and self-confidence, robbed of all strength and yet you lift your heart and voice and worship because somehow there is a strength and hope and power that comes from outside of you and is at work in you and moves you to worship because God is at work on you and in you….and something rises within and begins to sing… I will glory in my redeemer.
2: The Spirit of God in us (5)
There is another reason why our faith and confidence in God is not misplaced, because….you see that connective there in vs 5? This is supplying us with another reason to boast or glory in God as a result of our justification.
Don’t miss the language here. Some translations say, the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts, others say, the love of God has been poured out into our hearts. The idea is of something which has been completely saturated by, immersed in, drenched in. Like a sponge, which has soaked up water into every fiber, every space, every corner and is completely drenched in, dripping with water.
You get the picture don’t you…. Except what we’ve been drenched in is not water, but love and not just any love – infinite, impeccable, divine love. The only love which is perfect in nature, expression and degree is fully and completely ours. God’s love in fullest measure has been directed into every corner of our being.
God said to Himself – how can I convince my children of how much I love them. What gift can I give them that will help them understand just how much I love them….His answer was, I will give them myself as a permanent abiding possession. My Spirit to be with them and to be in them.
about the Holy Spirit
When Jesus was preparing his disciples for his departure, he said to them in Jn 16:7, “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go I will send Him to you.”
· As amazing as it was to have Jesus Himself with them, Jesus said there is something even more amazing and that is to have God’s Spirit in them.
· The helper, the comforter, the Paraclete who would come alongside them and guide them into the truth, convict them, encourage them, enable them, show them Christ – not just physically and externally, but spiritually at the heart level.
· The Holy Spirit is God’s special gift to those who are His children under the New Covenant.
· The whole of Rom 8 is basically devoted to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Anyone who doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ doesn’t belong to Him according to Rom 8:9 and the Christian life is described as life in the Spirit or walking by the Spirit. It’s the Spirit who leads us in victory over the flesh, who testifies with our Spirit that we are children of God, who intercedes for us, seals us, strengthens us, convicts us, changes us and draws us into intimate fellowship with the Father.
· He is the Spirit of adoption or sonship according to Rom 8:15.
· The Spirit is God’s personal presence with us and in us forever.
So we would want to avoid the wrong interpretations and applications of the Spirit’s ministry that dominate in some charismatic circles – but we don’t want to undermine the significance of the Spirit’s presence and ministry in our lives. He is the hallmark of the New Covenant believer. He is the deepest inner testimony of God’s love for us.
If you are a believer, then you’ve experienced His ministry.
· You’ve read God’s word, or heard a sermon and felt cut to the heart, a deeply encouraged.
· You’ve experienced him lifting you eyes to Jesus when they’ve become fixated on your problems.
· You’ve sensed Him warning you of temptations and prompting you to flee.
· You’ve felt the sting of His rebuke and the warmth of His comfort exactly when you needed it.
· We don’t have to get all mystical to recognize how He takes the external written truth in God’s Word and internalizes it for us in the most profound ways.
· He makes the love of God deeply personal, heartfelt and tangible.
3: The Son of God for us (6-10)
So we’ve got the ministry of the Father, the ministry of the Spirit and the ministry of the Son, all three members of the trinity working in specific ways for our good.
We’ve got the work of God on us giving us a future hope, the ministry of the Spirit in us giving us present assurance that we belong to God and we have the work of the Son giving us an objective, historical basis for our justification.
Note again the connecting word at the start of vs 6 – for, since, because. Our confidence in God will not be disappointed because of the internal, spiritual work of the Spirit in our hearts and because of the external, historical work of the Son on our behalf. Vs 8 explicitly says – God shows His love for us in this way – that Christ died for us.
The work of Jesus for us features throughout this paragraph
· Vs 1 through Jesus Christ
· Vs 2 through him
· Vs 6 Christ died for the ungodly
· Vs 8 Christ died for us
· Vs 9 we have been justified by His blood.
· Vs 11 through our Lord Jesus Christ
Our standing before God and our worship is because of and through and to the glory of Jesus Christ.
Christ died for the ungodly
What the text emphasizes is not just the Christ died for us, but the US for whom Christ died, our nature or condition when Christ died for us.
· While we were still weak, unable to help ourselves, morally suspect.
· At that very time, while we were still in that condition
· Christ died for the ungodly. God gave His son for those who had given no thought to God, who despised Him and rejected Him.
· In case we miss the point, Paul elaborates….Perhaps you might find an example of a good person dying for another good person, but you are not going to find an example of someone dying for the benefit of His enemies. Giving His life to save His enemies
· Yet the nature and extent of God’s love is demonstrated in this according to vs 8 – that while we were still sinners, shaking our fists at God, Christ died for us.
In other words, there was nothing in us, nothing about us, and nothing we did which deserved God’s love – but He gave Himself us to us in the highest possible form of sacrificial love anyway….God’s love toward us has never been conditional….
· 1 Jn 4:10 “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
· Eph 2:4-5: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved.”
Christ’s life greater than His death
Vs 9-10 takes the argument one step further by making the point – if God loved us and gave His Son for us while we were in this sinful, rebellious state and God’s enemies, now that we have been justified in Christ and made God’s children – how much more will God’s love not accomplish our good.
Then too, there is another element to the comparison as well, that if the once-for -all death of Christ accomplished all this for us, how much will His life, His resurrection, continue to accomplish for us? Rom 8:35 picks up on and expands on these same points – that Christ has been raised and is seated at the right hand of the father and lives to make intercession for us, He is our resurrected reigning advocate – can any charge now be brought against us that will stick? If God’s love overcame all these obstacles in order to bring us into a right standing with Himself, can anything or anyone dislodge us from this standing?
Paul is giving us reasons why our confidence in God is not misplaced, why it will not disappoint us. 4 motivations to worship God for our justification and they are powerful reasons and motivations
1: The work of God on us (3-4)
2: The Spirit of God in us (5)
3: The Son of God for us (6-8)
The final reason
4: The friendship of God toward us (11)
Vs 11 ends by wrapping up a theme which really runs throughout this passage and is the emphasis I want to end with as well.
Vs 10, we were reconciled, vs 10 having been reconciled, vs 11 more than this, more than all this, we rejoice or boast or worship God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have now received reconciliation.
And this last description adds a note of finality to it – we have received and now enjoy as our permanent and abiding possession the status of being reconciled with God.
In some ways, this is just the same as saying, we have been justified, or made righteous. We have a right standing before God. But the term reconciled makes it more personal, more relational.
The lost son (Lk 15)
Jesus told the parable in Lk 15 about this rebellious son who took his father’s inheritance and left home and went and squandered it and eventually found himself feeding pigs far from home. When he finally decided to return Jesus describes the fathers response, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” And he put his robe on him and his ring and slaughtered an animal and held a celebration in honour of his return.
Justification emphasizes our right legal standing before God, our status formally according to the law. Reconciliation emphasizes our personal standing before God, our relationship to Him.
For God, the point was not just to release us from the penalty of our sin and have us get on with our own lives without Him. The point was to reconcile us to Himself, to reestablish the broken relationship, to have his estranged children reconciled, to have intimacy with us restored.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” 1 John 3:1
Don’t miss the fact this this whole paragraph is couched in relational terms.
· 5:1 We have peace with God
· 5:2 we have obtained access to God and stand in His favour
· 5:2b we have the certainty of glory with God.
· 5:3-4 we have the work of God on us, even in the midst of adversity
· 5:5 We have God’s love poured into us and His personal presence invading us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit
· 5:6-8 We have God giving His son for us despite our sin
· 5:9 We have God’s wrath satisfied and averted away from us
· 5:10 we have the living Christ imparting His life toward us
· 5:11 In a word – We have been reconciled.
To paraphrase the words of John Chrysostom:
· “We have a new relationship with God, that overcomes all present adversity, that provides absolute security for the future and gives us every reason to rejoice in the present. (pg 322, Moo on Romans)
We have all of God, God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit, we have all of God’s plans and purposes, all of God’s power and wisdom, all directed toward doing us good.
“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
God himself inspired this text to help us understand that in the gospel He has ran toward us, even while we were running away from him and has flung wide His arms and reached out and drawn us into a heartfelt and loving embrace and nothing and no-one will snatch us from His bosom ever again.
Lift up your head this morning and look intently into the face of God as it is painted in this text and you will see that it is radiant with God’s love, full of His tender mercy and compassion toward you, and beaming with a smile as He looks upon you and invites you to enjoy intimate friendship with Him
Justification allows God to enjoy you again – will you enjoy Him? Will you exult and praise and rejoice and sing and worship and glory in God in everything, even in the midst of adversity? You were saved in order to do just that.