The Apostle Paul continues, “More than that (obtaining access to God) we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…” Here he is saying since we are at peace with God, and since we have access into his grace, the end result will be hope.
Have you ever wondered why you experience certain struggles, trials and suffering in your life? Have you ever asked God, “why is THIS happening to me? I don’t deserve this.”? I have.
There was a time in my ministry where I went through one of the most difficult phases of my life. Some people whom I trusted and respected strong armed me into resigning from a ministry position. My family and I were (still are) devastated. I am not going to go into details but during this trial I continually asked God why this was happening. I was brought back to Romans 5:3, 4 numerous times. Because of the work God was doing in my life I was able to rejoice in my trial. Why? God was and still is working in my life. I was/am learning patience, I was/am learning to trust in God and the best part was I had hope. The hope I had was not in the temporary but it was in God and the promise of his future glory.
Hope in the Bible is not synonymous to crossing your fingers and wishing for the best. The Bible defines hope as having absolute assurance that something will happen even though it is still future. It simply means being certain a future event will happen. In the Christians case our hope is in the future glory that God has promised us. None of us here on earth have received our future glory, we will have to wait. But we can live in certainty that God’s promise to those who trust in Jesus Christ alone will inherit an eternal glory that He has prepared for His children.
When we see our trials and sufferings through the lens of hope then it all makes sense. Look throughout the Old and New Testament at the men and women of faith who endured hardships, trials and suffering and were able to rejoice in these times. They were able to endure because their hope was in the promise of God’s future glory.
Are you facing a challenge in your life today? Rejoice, because your challenge will produce patience. Your patience will build character. Ultimately your patience and character will result in hope even amidst your trial.
I used to be an editor for an online review site, as a result I had a few perks. I would receive for free literally 100s of CDs, books and DVDs for review per month. Sometimes I would get free tickets to concerts and on a few occasions I would get press passes with the tickets. Press passes were awesome because they gave you access to places where most people were not allowed to go. Sometimes I would access the photo pit, other times I had access to the backstage area with the road crew and bands and occasionally I was granted access onto the tour bus of band. I would wear this little sticker or laminate with pride, because I had access to special places.
I share this tidbit of information with because I believe it fits well with today’s passage. In Romans 5:2 the Apostle Paul writes, “Through him (Jesus), we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Because of have faith in Jesus Christ believers now have access to the glorious grace in which we stand. This is the perk of justification. You are now sons and daughters of Christ, you now have the special privilege of standing firm in God’s grace.
I love what Timothy Keller writes in his commentary of Romans, “Access to grace means we are given a favorable position from which to develop a personal relationship. In Christ, we are ushered into the royal throne room, and we stand – remain- there. Wherever we go in the world, we are always in the heavenly throne room.”[i] We have eternal access to God, wherever we are.
In these first two verses Paul tells us that faith in Jesus Christ does two specific things. First, it puts us at peace with God. Second, it gives us access to stand in the grace and glory of God. This means that we are secure in Christ. Jesus is our ally and he is our access to God’s glory.
What should our response to all of this be? Rejoicing! We may enter the presence of God whenever we desire and we have the certainty that one day we will share in God’s future redemption. This, my friends is cause to celebrate every day.
[i] Keller, Timothy: Romans 1 – 7 For You. Purcellville, VA: The Good Book Company, 2014, p. 110
Read Romans 5:1 – 5
Peace. It’s a word we hear often. John Lennon encourages us to “give peace a chance.” Curtis Mayfield sings, "We've got to have peace to keep the world alive." Cat Stevens tells us to get on "The Peace Train". The hippies in the 60s gave us the peace sign. The peace logo graces T-shirts, posters and countless pieces of jewelry. In the Christmas season we wish, “peace on earth and goodwill to all men.” Generally when people talk about peace they are talking about and state of quietness, harmony or serenity. It is usually referred to as a feeling or a state of mind. It can be thought of as the absence of chaos, fighting and noise.
Paul writes in verse 1, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ.” Did you catch that? If you are a follower of Jesus Christ you have peace with God. You are declared innocent in the eyes because of your faith in Jesus Christ. You have been acquitted of your charges of sin. You are now at peace with God. It is not the peace from God which results in a quiet and fulfilled heart. It is a declaration that the war I have been engaged in against God is over and He and I are at peace with each other. I am no longer at war with God in my being. I am no longer fighting and resisting Him. Douglas Moo writes in his commentary on Romans, “While the word is not used again in this paragraph, the language of ‘reconciliation’ in vv. 10 -11 picks up this concept… we must recognize that Paul conceives this ‘peace with God’ or ‘reconciliation’ as created out of a situation of hostility; while it was while we were ‘enemies’ of God that he reconciled us. We were weak, ungodly, sinners when God in his love brought us into a new relationship of peace with him.”[i]
[i] Moo, Douglas: The Epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids, MI/Cambridge UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996, p. 297
Paul has spent a good amount of time from Romans 1:18 – 3:20 talking about life according to the law. He now transitions to a new thought. Verse 21 starts, “But now…” and it is here that Paul refers to a new era that has begun after the law. We have already looked at some huge topics that I could spend weeks on as we encounter words like redemption, propitiation, manifested and so on. But I don’t want to spend a lot of time delving into these topics which may lead to confusion. Instead I want to focus on two key words… Justification and faith which can be found in verses 22 - 24.
For clarification purposes I would like to define the words justification and faith.
Paul sets the record straight here for both Jews and Gentiles. He is clearly states that we are now in a new era in regards to salvation. Salvation is not on works nor by keeping the law; instead it’s through faith in Jesus Christ and completely by God’s grace. Paul informs the Jew that keeping the law means nothing when it comes to redemption. Paul is releasing the Jew from the law and freeing the Gentile from the idea of works based salvation and introduces both to the truth of justification by grace through faith. Since justification and faith are key to salvation neither Jew nor Gentile has room to boast. They, and we for that matter, have done nothing to merit salvation.
Have you ever encountered Christians who are EXTREMELY hateful and judgmental in their self-professed righteousness? There are actually “Christian” organizations who make outrageous claims who ultimately end up looking like hate filled, doom and gloom groups. Their witnesses make God out to be this tyrant who is out to kill and destroy all sinners. These self-righteous “Christians” end up thinking of themselves as God’s spokes people. They take their angst, bitterness and hatred and say that it has God given ordained them the authority to be His sounding board.
For example, Pastor Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS leads a campaign that is hate-filled and offensive to anyone who does not hold to his convictions and personal interpretations of Scripture. I cannot mention some of the outrageous claims he has made without sounding crass or bigoted. His message of hate and God’s judgment have caused people to make a mockery of Christianity and a mockery of God. As a result many have turned their backs to God and Christianity.
On the other hand how often do you read in the papers or hear in the news of Pastors, self-professed Christians and religious leaders falling into sin? There never seems to be a shortage of news stories about Pastors of congregations who have been caught in scandalous sex affairs or leading a double life contrary to what they preach. In recent years we hear the sickening stories of supposed men of the cloth (Priests) who have molested hundreds of children throughout the generations. The divorce rate among Christians is embarrassing as it is just as high within professing believers as it in with non-Christians.
Pre-marital sex and adultery are running amok among Christians as well. A number of years ago Mel Gibson who was adamantly open about his Christianity when he released the movie “The Passion of Christ” and he announced he and his wife are divorcing and his girlfriend is pregnant. Huh? I am not trying to be judgmental but something doesn't sit right with that.
I think the problem arises in so many Christians is because they have taken on this false sense of security. Some say, “I have faith in Christ so I am a Christian and saved so it doesn’t matter what I do.” This attitude only leads to prideful presumption and arrogance which ultimately leads to self- righteous, self-centered, and heartless individuals.
Some professing Christians fail to see that their sins not only affect themselves and the ones they hurt but it also brings disgrace to God and the body of Christ.
So what is our response to all of this? I hope the answer is painfully obvious… Since you are a follower of Jesus Christ (Christian), you need to practice what you preach? Is your life and actions reflective of the God you serve? Like it or not, if you are open about your faith in Christ you are a representative of Him. What you do does reflect on Jesus and the body of Christ. People are watching you and sadly, many are looking for an excuse to call you on the carpet when you sin. Don’t give them a reason to blaspheme God because of your freedom to live however you choose.
Pray that God would fill you with the Holy Spirit to enable you to live a life that is pleasing to Him and brings honor to His name; because the Holy Spirit is key to living the spirit-filled Christian life.
Romans 2:17 - 24
The Gentiles are seeing that the Jews were not practicing what they were preaching to the world and they resented this. They looked to the Jews to point them to God but what they saw were sinful practices that were very similar to the gentiles and this caused them to blaspheme God. The Jews that lived in accordance to the law should have been drawn to living holy lives but instead their supposed righteousness produced an arrogant, prideful, and egotistical race of people. Gentiles were saying, “Why would we want to serve a God whose law just produces hypocrisy?”
I think it is sad but Christianity can be just as guilty. God has given His Word to us believers and we have the joyful responsibility of representing Christ to the world. When we proclaim the name of Jesus as savior of the world we have a responsibility to uphold His Word and teachings. This reminds me of phrase that I have heard often, “You may be the only Bible some people may ever read.” That is a HUGE statement and it is one that comes with a lot of responsibility.
It is unfortunate that so many Christians have become like the religious moralizing Jews. They have become so familiar with Christianity, its language and the human imposed rules and regulations of God that their actions are turning others from Jesus Christ. Sometimes people think the evidence of their righteousness is in outspoken morality and rule following; yet they forget their righteousness and salvation comes through the grace of God and His promises. Not in what WE DO.
It is sad to see how Christians can be judgmental towards others and they do impose their man made morals on others, all the while not practicing what they preach.
Let us be mindful that our actions and words DO matter. I believe this is a question we all need to ask ourselves, “Are my actions and words pointing people to Jesus or pushing them away?”
Read Romans 2:4 - 5
I live in Florida so I am often stuck in traffic; whether I am in the school parking lot dropping off my kids or on the highways driving to and from work. It is annoying. Traffic delays bring out the worst in people. I have observed that when the flow of traffic stops people start making new rules for driving. Some start making U-turns in weird places or they try and pass the long line of cars on the shoulder of the road or force their way into a spot a little closer down the line. I have a name for these people; they are the “special people”. I call them this because their actions give the vibe that they think they are more important than others because they ignore the traffic rules so they can get further ahead of everyone else. It doesn’t matter that it inconveniences everyone because they are special.
I think Christians can be guilty of this as well. Sometimes people think that since they are a child of they have special privileges. They “presume” that the rules don’t apply to them. They have an attitude of, “Yeah I know it’s a sin but I am forgiven and God won’t judge me for it?” Many people who claim Christ as Lord end up taking His grace for granted. The Israelites did. So why wouldn’t we?
We know God is gracious, kind, loving and forgiving. Sometimes we take this for granted and instead of it leading us to the repentance (Which is what it is intended to do), it leads to giving us an excuse to sin. Romans 2:4 says, “… God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” God doesn’t show kindness so you have an excuse to sin. No, his kindness is intended to be an avenue that leads you to the pathways of repentance. When you sin God does not dismissively pass over your sin because you are a believer. The rules sill apply.
You are a beloved child of God. He loves you more than you can imagine. He has given you the privilege to be called His son or daughter. He has NOT given you special privileges so the rules no longer apply to you. This attitude angered Jesus often. The religious leaders of his time felt they were above the rules and that they didn’t apply to them. Jesus pointed out their hypocrisy and corrected them.
Let us not take God’s kindness for granted. His kindness is not intended to take advantage of, instead it is intended to draw us near to him. So let's use our energy drawing close to him.
Read Romans 2:2, 3
Did you know the church is filled with hypocrites? You may have heard someone say, “Christians are just a bunch of hypocrites!” Unfortunately they are right.
The Greek word for hypocrite is defined as one who is an actor, stage player or a pretender. In other words a hypocrite is a person who tries to be someone he/she is not. The truth is that all humanity is guilty of hypocrisy. It's interesting to me how humans are weirdly wired to be something or someone we are not.
Have you ever judged someone for certain sinful action but forget that you are just as guilty of other sins? Jesus mentions in the Gospel accounts that our sins are not just physical acts, they are also internal (sins of the mind and heart). He speaks to the outwardly “righteous religious leaders” as hypocrites. Jesus tells them that their hypocrisy was going to lead to more harsh judgment or condemnation.
As Christians we fail to acknowledge our own personal sins (internally and externally). We like to hide them or pretend they are not there. We have the tendency to focus our attention on the sins of others while ignoring our own. Jesus spoke about this, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matt 7:3) These people he calls hypocrites. The hard truth is that if we are guilty of pointing out other peoples sins and imperfections while proclaiming to be righteous we are in fact hypocrites.
Read Romans 2:1
I was taught in Bible college that whenever you see the word “therefore” you should always ask, “what is it there for?” In the case of Romans 2:1 The answer to the therefor is, “Since God has made himself known to all men (Jews and Gentiles) humanity has no excuse for sinful their actions.
Paul now turns his attention from the unrighteous Gentiles to the religious moralizing Jews (These were people who were very religious and imposed morals on others all the while living contrary to what they preached and pushed onto others). They believed since they were God’s chosen race they would not face God’s condemnation or judgment simply because they were Jews. The moralizers actually believed that they were free to sin as much and as often as they liked because they were exempt from God’s wrath.
There was a common tradition for the Jews to put Abraham at the gates of Hell so he could keep Jews out, regardless of their deeds. A Jewish man once allegedly said, “They who are the seed of Abraham according to the flesh shall in any case, even if they are sinners and unbelieving and disobedient towards God, share in the eternal Kingdom of God.” Paul sets the record straight. All sin will be judged, no matter who you are.
Romans 2:1 – 16 can be summed up as, “God does not discriminate. He is an equal opportunity God. He will judge and punish all sin equally.” Contrary to Jewish thought and tradition there are no “free rides” in God’s eyes. I believe there are many Christians who have taken on this same mindset. I know that not all Christians think this way, but if we are honest we may sometimes think God is going to judge us a little less harsher than He is an ungodly sinner.
Christians can sometimes be very self righteous. I know of some who seem a little anxious to know that God is going to send the ungodly to a place of eternal torment. We may think of this as justice and sinners getting what they deserve. Let us be aware that followers of Christ are not exempt from judgment. God will judge all sin without discrimination and He will be harsh in His judgment. God doesn’t care who you are or how long you have been a Christian. He doesn’t care if you were baptized as a baby or as an adult, it does not matter to him that you are a member of a church or not, if you were confirmed or unconfirmed, or a daily or occasional Bible reader. You will be judged for your actions here on earth. Thankfully, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ you will not be condemned in the same manner.
 Barclay, William, The Letter to the Romans (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1957, p. 35
Read Romans 1:21 - 23
People who intellectually know God exists but choose to live according to their own selfish motives dishonor God. I have read quotes and watched movies by renown scientists who are either agnostic, supposed atheists or irreligious intellectuals who acknowledge a Creator, but they refuse to give Him credit.
I do not want to criticize science as I believe science is a wonderful thing and has been helpful to humanity throughout history. I am a supporter of science. What I am not a supporter of is taking God out of the equation. When a scientist or “intellectual” refuses to acknowledge God as being part of the equation and instead give credit to science is plagiarism in the extreme. Plagiarism is taking the credit for something that is not your own. This is what science has done in the case of God. In the eyes of God when we give precedence to human intellect and science instead of the Creator we in turn become fools. When we do not give God the proper credit and honor He deserves I believe this makes God rightfully and righteously angry.
The result of suppressing the truth and dishonoring God ultimately leads to idolatry. When someone refuses to give God proper credit he gives the credit to someone/something else and this is not only plagiarism but it is also idolatry. God is very clear in his Word that He is a jealous God and He will not share His glory with ANYONE OR ANYTHING. Verse 23 talks about the fact that the unrighteous would rather serve an empty, dead, vain idol rather than give credit to the true Creator. These people would rather worship a lie than acknowledge the truth.
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I live in Florida with my beautiful family. The Lord has blessed me with 20 years of full time ministry. He is and has been faithful.