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Sunday, November 23, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "The Blessings of Justification"

“The Blessings of Justification”
All Roads Lead to Romans
November 23, 2014 :: Romans 5:1-11 

I love how the Lord has orchestrated this passage to be for this Sunday.

I didn’t plan it that way, but Somebody did.

The name of today’s message is “The Blessings of Justification.”

Because this passage is so full of blessing. It’s an explosion of blessing.

Which is just perfect for the Sunday right before Thanksgiving when we concentrate our celebration of all of the blessings that God has given us.

Count Your Blessings.

Well, we’re going to do that today in Romans 5, verses 1 through 11.

And they are just breathtaking!

I could easily preach 10 or 12 messages on these 11 verses. It wouldn’t be hard at all to spend a full quarter of a year on Romans 5:1-11. It’s just that good.

In fact, I ended up with a 6 point sermon for today. Don’t worry. They’re brief points, but I could have made it an 10 or 11 point sermon! There is just so much goodness here in just 11 verses.

And one of the great things about this astonishing passage is that it isn’t hard to understand. Unlike other parts of Romans!

All I have to do is read these verses to you, and you’ll get it. Especially because for most of you, this is not the first time you’ve heard them.

And that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to read all eleven verses.

And here’s what I want you to listen for as I read.  Listen for “justification.” Because that’s been the theme of the letter so far, hasn’t it? Listen for how all of these blessings flow from our justification by faith in Jesus.

And also listen for all of the logic words. Paul is a logician. Listen for the words that indicate his logical argument. The “therefores” and the “how much mores” and the “not only that buts” and so forth. Because all of those are important for getting the message that Paul and, more importantly, God have for us to hear.

Ready? Here we go. Romans chapter 5, verses 1 through 11.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.  (NIV 1984)
Did you hear those logic words?

And did you hear the tone of exultation? There is so much praise and rejoicing and wonder going on in these eleven verses!

Paul is just bursting with joy in the blessings of justification.

Did you catch that word justification again?

Verse 1.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith...”

Chapter 5 is the next step in Paul’s argument. He hasn’t left his explanation of the gospel of grace. He’s taking it to the next level.

There is a shift going from chapters 1-4 to chapters 5-8, but the thing that ties them together is justification. Righteous-ification.

That’s what Paul has been talking about since chapter 1.

In the gospel of grace, God solves our righteousness problem and His righteousness problem.

Our righteousness problem is that we are unrighteous and that invites the holy wrath of God.

God’s righteousness problem was that He had forgiven His faith-followers their sins before the Cross opening Him up to the charge of injustice.

And at the Cross, He solved our problem and His.

“...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished–he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

An incredibly important paragraph.

And then last time in chapter 4, we saw that Paul defended this idea of justification by faith alone by using the illustration of Father Abraham.

Paul said, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.”

That’s a radical idea. Justification by faith in Jesus alone.

The last chapter ended, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”

And now Paul will show us what that leads to.

It changes absolutely everything.

Six points. Six blessings.

#1. PEACE. V.1

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

See the logic?  Since we have this justification, this righteousness coming to us by faith alone and not through moral effort, we have peace with God.

That’s amazing. He’s going to say more about this peace in verses 10 and 11. There, he’s going to call it reconciliation.

This is not peace, the feeling. “I feel peace about it.”

This is peace, the restored relationship. “Peace with God.”

Because of our justification, we are no longer at war with God.

Everything we read about in the Bad News section of Romans about the wrath of God that is coming on those who are unrighteous and disobedient?  That’s over now for those who are justified.

God is no longer our enemy. We are at peace.

You don’t God as your enemy.

Who do you think will win that one? Who wants to go to war against and omnipotent enemy?

Well, stupid sinners do. Sin is irrational and unreasonable.

We have made war against God.

But Jesus has become our peace. Verse 1 again.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

It’s because of Him. As we count our blessings this Thursday, we need to realize that they all come through Jesus.

That’s what Paul says about this second one. V.2

“...through whom [Jesus] we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”

Blessing number two?

#2. GRACE.

It’s through Jesus that we have “gained access” into grace.

That’s wonderful, isn’t it?

Notice, again, that’s “by faith.” This is not something we earned. It’s grace!

And notice also that this grace is something in which we “now stand.”  It’s a free place to stand. It’s a new standing.

Not something we have done. Not a place we took ourselves to. But something Jesus has done. A place to stand made by Jesus for us.

That’s a blessing.

And then Paul goes from the present to the future. From NOW to WHAT’S TO COME. V.2

“And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

Are those words familiar?

They should be. They’re right up here.

When Kathy Moore asked me what scripture verses to put on the praise banners, this was my first recommendation for her.

“And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

#3. HOPE.

In many ways, this is the next big theme for the book of Romans.

He’s going to talk a lot about the hope of every Christian in the next four chapters.

And our hope comes from our justification.

“And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

That word translated “rejoice” is a strong word. It means to exult. Some translations even have “boast.”

The idea is that we are so blessed and so excited about that blessing, that it just erupts  out of us.

“We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God!”

It’s a wahoo word.

Yes!  Woot!  Yehah!

And what do we rejoice in? The hope of the glory of God.

Remember, this is not hope as a wish. This is hope as a sure future. Something that we don’t have yet but we KNOW is coming.

The glory of God.

Sharing in the glory of God.
Seeing the glory of God.
Living in the glory of God.

Heaven.
Glorification.

Where we become like God because we see Him as He is.

No longer are we falling short of the glory of God.

Now, we look forward to the glory of God. So much so, that we rejoice even though it’s not here yet like it will be!

Wow!

And Paul says, verse 3, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings...”

Wait. What?!

We rejoice in what?

In our sufferings? In our trials? In our tribulations? In our problems?

Hey, Paul, this is Thanksgiving season. We don’t want to think about that tough stuff.

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

The justified know that our sufferings are for a purpose. And the end result is more hope.

We don’t rejoice in our sufferings because we like pain. Christians are not masochists.

But we do rejoice even in sufferings because we know that they will produce more hope in us.

How does that work?

Paul gives us a chain of events that happens for all truly justified believers.

It’s very similar to the one in the first chapter of James which Alex Ielase taught us about in August.

First, we suffer. We go through hard things. Happens to everyone, including believers.

But believers are justified. They are righteous by faith in Jesus. And they believe. They trust. They put their hope in God.

And when they do. When we do, it produces perseverance.

Anybody want to guess what the Greek word is here translated “perseverance” in the NIV and “patience” in the King James?

It’s hupomonen.

Remember Alex making us repeat that word?

It’s stick-to-it-iveness. It’s endurance. It’s holding on.

The justified hold on. And that forms their character. They change.

Believers become more like Jesus over time.

And when they look the changes that God is working in them, however, imperfect they are, they know that what they hope for us coming.

And what they hope for us the total transformation of their lives into the image of Christ. Their glorification.

We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God! V.5

“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

We will not be ashamed on that day. We know that what we hope for us coming. It will not disappoint.

And how do we know? Because the Holy Spirit tells us so.

Because “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

Yes!

#4. LOVE.

God has taken the great big pitcher, the hugemongous jug of the water of His love and poured it into our hearts.

Do you know that you are loved by God?

Remember when we started Romans, I challenged you to write it on a card and repeat it into the bathroom mirror?

“I am loved by God.”
“I am loved by God.”
“I am loved by God.”

The Bible tells me so.

And the Holy Spirit Himself pours that knowledge into our hearts.

And then Paul tells us how God shows us that He loves us. V.6

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. [He’s just amazed by this. He’s like, “Let me tell you this!”] Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

It’s almost too good to be true.

This is how the justified are loved.

We are loved before we are justified.

When we were powerless, weak, helpless, and ungodly, Jesus died for us.

That’s love!

“God demonstrates.” Notice that that’s present tense. He is demonstrating right now His own love for us in this: back then while we were still His enemies, Jesus died for us.

Now, I know that you know this. We talk about this all the time.

But don’t let it slide by without marveling.

I would die for my children.
I would die for my wife.
I might die for a stranger if I thought it was the right thing to do.

But to die in the place of the one who wants me dead? The one who is my enemy?

That’s what Jesus did.

Amazing love, how can it be? That you my King would die for me?

But that’s not all. There are even more blessings of justification.

Future blessings. V.9

“Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!”

#5. SALVATION.

This is future salvation.

Not just initial justification but salvation from the wrath of God in the future.

“Since we have now been justified by his blood [his death], how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!”

Do you hear the logic?

It’s the harder to easier thing.  V.10

“For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”

If God has already done the hard thing of sacrificing His One and Only Son for us, then how easy it will be for Him to shield us from the wrath to come.

Our justification has led to our reconciliation.

We have (v.1) peace with God.

We are no longer enemies. We are friends.

We are no longer separated. We are together.

We are not longer estranged. We are reconciled.

And we have been reconciled by Jesus’ death, how much more will be saved through His resurrection life?!

How’s that for a blessing of justification?

Safe from the wrath of God. FOREVER.

Salvation.

But it gets even better than that.

Can you believe it? It gets even better than that. Here’s blessing number six.

#6. GOD.

God Himself!  V.11

“Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

We don’t just rejoice in the hope of the glory of God or in the knowledge that our sufferings have a purpose.

We don’t just rejoice that we stand in grace or that we are loved or even saved from the wrath God.

We rejoice. We exult. We boast. We praise because we get God Himself!

“Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Again, through our Lord Jesus Christ.

He’s the One that makes it all possible.

He’s the One from whom all these blessings of justification flow.

The Lord Jesus Christ.

Two points of application and then we’ll sing it!

First: PUT YOUR FAITH IN JESUS TO BE JUSTIFIED.

All of these blessings come to those who have been justified by faith (v.1) and by His blood (v.9).

They do not come those who have not put their faith in Jesus and His blood.

If you are not trusting in Jesus, you are not a peace with God.
You are not standing in grace.
You have no hope of the glory of God.
Your suffering is to no eternal purpose.
The love of God has not been poured into your heart.
You are not saved.
You cannot rejoice in God.

 You cannot sing the songs we’ve sung today.

Turn from your sins and trust in the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Turn away from trying to earn God’s favor because justification is not by works. It’s by faith.

Put your faith in Jesus to be justified, and you will receive all of this!

And second application: REJOICE, REJOICE, REJOICE!

Raise your voice with Paul and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God!

Rejoice even in your sufferings because they will end up giving you more hope.

Rejoice in God (and all that He is and does and gives) through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rejoice in the blessings of justification.

Forever and ever. Amen.

***

Messages in this Series

01. All Roads Lead to Romans
02. I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel
03. The Bad News
04. Hope for Holy Sexuality
05. The Even Worse News
06. The Worst News
07. Justified
08. Father Abraham

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