“The Christian's Exultation”
April 27, 2003
Because of what Christ did for us in the past, we have joy in the midst of present sufferings and we rejoice in the hope of God's future glory.
I. We Exult in Hope of God's Glory (vs. 1_2)
II. We Exult in Our Tribulations (vs. 3_8)
III. We Exult in God (vs. 9_11)
MessageOne of my favorite memories from early childhood is that of my birthday. My mother had a way of making birthdays very special, very exciting. What she would do was give me a gift every day for a week, leading up to the day of my birthday, and on the day itself we would have a party. So it was a lot of fun because I always had the sense at the beginning of the week, and during the middle of the week, that the celebration had already begun, but there was still more to look forward to. In part, I think this is similar to the idea that Paul is expressing in Romans chapter 5, verses 1_11.
The essence of Romans 5:1_11 is that because of what Christ did for us in the past, we have joy in the midst of present sufferings and we rejoice in the hope of God's future glory. He tells us to rejoice, or exult, in three things: we exult in hope of the glory of God; we exult in our tribulations; and we exult in God.
Before we get into the passage itself I want to give you a brief outline of the book of Romans just so we can see how chapter 5 fits into the larger context of the book. The book of Romans is divided into five sections:
I. The Need For Salvation (1:1_3:18)
II. The Means of Salvation (3:19_4:25)
III. The Results of Salvation (5:1_8:39)
IV. Israel's Salvation (9:1_11:36)
V. Practical Instructions for Christian Living (12:1_16:27)
So today we will be focusing on the first part of the third section, which tells us about some of the results of our salvation.
Verses 1_2 say: "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God."
I. We Exult in Hope of God's Glory (vs. 1_2)
The first of the benefits that we receive as a result of our salvation is that we now enjoy peace with God. Initially, our relationship with God was not peaceful. As we shall see in later verses, God considered us to be His enemies. The natural human condition is that we are born sinners deserving judgment. However, according to chapter 3, Jesus Christ took our judgment upon Himself, He was the "propitiation" or "atoning sacrifice" for our sins. He took the judgment that we deserved, and so when we place our faith in Him, we are justified. To be justified means to be declared righteous. It is a legal term that speaks of our position in God's eyes. He sees us as righteous because of what Jesus did for us, and that is the basis of our peace with Him.
Now, for the sake of this study I've divided the passage up into three sections, as you see on your outline. As we progress through these sections there are a number of common elements that you will notice. The first of these is a repetition of things that we receive through Christ _ these are usually in the past tense but not always. The second is an emphasis on hope that we have for the future, and the third thing in every section, is that Paul tells us that in the present, we rejoice about something. So we have all three tenses in each section, past, present, and future. They don't always appear in the same order, but they do always appear.
This structure is quite obvious in the two verses we've already read; our justification by faith is past tense, our peace with God is in the present tense, and the third thing is a combination of present and future tense. And that is that we exult in hope of the glory of God. Our exultation is in the present, but it is an exultation that looks forward to the future.
The interesting thing about verses 1 and 2 is that they parallel each other very closely. Both verses begin by telling us something about our position in Christ, and both verses end by telling us something about with God as a result of our position. These two verses actually provide us with a summary capsule of much of what he says in the rest of chapters 5_8.
In verse 1, our position is that we have been justified, in verse 2 our position is that we "stand" in grace. So these concepts are parallel to each other because as you can see they both come to us through faith in Christ. Now the other two parallels have to do with how our position affects our relationship with God. The first way is that we have peace with God. It can be said that I have peace with the Houston Police Department because I haven't broken any laws today _ that's legal peace _ but I don't have a relationship with HPD. But with God it's different. He is not only a judge who forgives, He is a Father who forgives. He deals with us as children, and we'll see this in more detail later on, but for now, we see that our relationship with Him is both peaceful and joyful. It says we exult in hope of the glory of God. We hope to see His glory because we have a relationship with Him.
In verse 2, the New American Standard translation that I have says "through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand." Other translations say "access" instead of "introduction". Either way, the idea here is that this is only the beginning. Even when it's translated access instead of introduction, the context of these two verses conveys the idea that we are looking forward to something more. And that something more is the glory of God. It says "and we exult in hope of the glory of God." You see, that's really the whole point of our salvation in the first place. God doesn't owe us anything. He doesn't have to save us _ we deserve death. No He chooses to save us because He wants to demonstrate His love and His mercy and He wants to be glorified in doing that. A proper understanding of our salvation is God_centered rather than man_centered. He didn't save us just so we could be saved, He saved us so He could be glorified. And this glorification of God is what we look forward to.
Now it may seem strange at first, to say that we have joy in His glory. After all, our human instincts tell us that we can only be happy if we look out for ourselves, but our human instincts are wrong. The greatest joy in life comes from taking our focus off of ourselves and placing it on God so that our every action, every thought, every word, is designed to magnify His name.
II. We Exult in our Tribulations
This gets really practical in the next section. Verses 3_8: "And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
He says that we also exult in our tribulations. I find it interesting that he does not even raise the question of whether or not we will have tribulations, he assumes it. Life in a fallen world will invariably require that we experience difficulties.
There are some who teach that the Christian life should not include tribulations. The proponents of this view would say that God always wants you to be healthy and wealthy, and if you're not, then it's because of your own lack of faith or it is because Satan is attacking you. If you just have enough faith, they say, your life will be nothing but prosperity and happiness. This kind of theology, or lack of theology I should say, would be laughable were it not for the countless numbers of people who are deceived so easily by it. This is the kind of thing that results from a man_centered view of salvation, the kind of thinking that says "it's all about me!" Not only is this position unbiblical, it's also unrealistic. God doesn't promise a care free existence in this life. No, but He does promise that within the midst of our tribulations, there exists the possibility for us to have joy in spite of those tribulations.
Rejoicing in tribulations does not mean that there is no appropriate place for grief and sadness in certain situations. This does not mean that we have to walk around grinning from ear to ear 24 hours a day. No, this means that we can rejoice in our tribulations because we have a sure and certain hope for the future, and because we know that the very tribulations through which we struggle are a part of the process that God intends to use, to help us realize that hope. Hope is faith that looks forward.
What is our hope? Our hope is to see the glory of God. Our hope is that one day we will finally be free from everything that now hinders us from experiencing perfect fellowship with God. In a word, that which hinders us is sin. And we know that sin dwells within us, within these mortal bodies. But as we experience the sufferings of this life, the potential exists for those sufferings to purge us from sinful patterns of behavior.
1 Peter 4:1_2 says, "Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God."
Suffering can purge us from sin by increasing our awareness of our need to trust in God every moment. Suffering can purge us from sin by exposing our sinful attitudes and thereby helping us to change. Suffering, like nothing else I know of, disciplines the spirit for prayer and reliance upon God. (Just think of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane.) Suffering works humility in us.
Now I say that the potential exists, for suffering to purge us from sin. It is also possible for us to react wrongly to our tribulations and become resentful, as though God owed us a free ride or something. The difference between those who develop character as a result of suffering, and those who merely grow more miserable is determined by the individual's relationship with God. It all goes back to that first thing, hoping in the glory of God. Those who seek God's glory and hope for God's glory above all else will be refined like gold in the fire, when the dross rises to the surface and is skimmed away. Those who hope in God's glory are able also to hope in their tribulations.
Romans 8, the chapter that concludes this section in the book of Romans, has many parallels to chapter 5. It has much to say about our hope for the future. It talks about our sufferings in verse 18, it says "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us " A little later on he says "And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first_fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope, for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it."
We hope for the redemption of our body, when we will finally be set free, not only from the penalty of sin, but also from it's power in our lives and even from it's very presence.
Perseverance. He says that tribulations bring about perseverance. Why is it that perseverance is located right here in between tribulations and proven character? Because everybody has tribulations, but not everybody has character. It is only those who persevere in the midst of their tribulations who develop character. What does it mean to persevere? I would like to suggest that perseverance is more than just survival. It's more than just "coping", or living through something awful. It's maintaining an attitude of joy. It's continuing, against all odds, to hope in the glory of God. You may be stuck in the middle of something so dark, you are tempted every moment to give up. You may think, "How can God be glorified through this!" Keep hoping in God's glory.
Charles Spurgeon said, "Through perseverance, the snail reached the Ark". And that's the way we need to be. You see the little snail was told by God that the flood was coming, but he had a long way to go before he got to the ark. Not to mention the fact that there were hordes of other animals stampeding along the path, he may have been afraid of getting trampled. But the fact that I have snails in my garden today, proves that he persevered. Sometimes you may feel like you're about to get trampled. You may even feel like you're leaving a trail of slime everywhere you go. But press on. Persevere! You'll make it! You're on the way to proven character.
He says in verse 6 that hope does not disappoint. Why? Because "the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man, though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." God's love is the fulfillment of our hope.
There are a number of things that we can observe here about God's love. First of all notice that God's love is demonstrated to us through the death of Christ, but it is appropriated to us, on an individual basis through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We see how much He loves us because of Christ, we experience that love in our own hearts because of the Holy Spirit.
The relationship between the love of God, and exulting in tribulations is that if, while we were helpless, ungodly sinners, Christ died for us, how much more will He faithfully see us through the trials which we, as His children, must endure. God's love fulfills our hope because we can look back at what He already has done for us and be assured that, although we may not always understand why we have to go through what we're going through, we know that He has a purpose for it. Just as He had a purpose in allowing Christ to suffer and die, so He has a purpose for allowing us to suffer. And in this case, the ends justify the means. Remember Romans 8 _ "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us." Not worthy to be compared!
There's more to this love of God. Not only does it give us hope in troubled times, it is also far greater and better than any other love. He contrasts it in verse 7 with human love. He says "For one will hardly die for a righteous man, though perhaps for the good man someone would even dare to die, but God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
The movie Saving Private Ryan, although it is a fictional story is set in the real events of the invasion of Normandy in June of 1944. Now I want to warn you, if you haven't seen it, that his movie is very graphic, very intense, very bloody. It's not for everyone. But, I think it is a good movie, not only because it honors the men who gave their lives to win freedom for all of Europe and America, but also because it does an excellent job of portraying the values that they stood for, the reasons why they gave their lives, and why it was the right thing to do.
In the story, 8 Army rangers, under the command of Captain John H. Miller, are deployed on a special mission to find one man, a Private James Francis Ryan. Ryan had three brothers, all of whom were killed in action in various locations in the war. Because Ryan is the sole surviving heir in his family, the Generals in charge of the operation determine that they must find and remove Private Ryan from combat, and send him home to his mother.
This proves to be a difficult task, since Ryan was a paratrooper who landed well behind enemy lines, and his whereabouts are unknown. In the end, Ryan is found and rescued. But his rescue comes at the cost of the lives of six of the eight men who set out to find him. At the end of the movie, Captain John Miller, played by Tom Hanks, lies on the ground, mortally wounded. With his dying breath he whispers into Ryan's ear and says in a desperate, rasping voice, "Earn this! Earn it!"
It cuts to another scene. Ryan is now an old man, standing at the grave of Captain Miller, with his wife beside him. With tears in his eyes, and those terrible words ringing in his ears, he turns to his wife and says, "Tell me I'm a good man. Tell me I've lived a good life!" She tries to comfort him "You are."
But still the tears flow. Still his heart is heavy because deep down inside he knows that he can't earn it. He knows that six good men gave their lives so that he could have a chance. Six mothers wept bitterly for their sons, so that his could be comforted. And he carries that burden. "Earn this! Earn it!"
Jesus Christ will never tell you to earn this! Because you can't. No, instead He only says "Believe this! Believe it!" These are not the desperate gasps of a dying man! No! This is the triumphant call of a risen Lord, coming to claim His own, because He knows that His death was not in vain! When He breathed His last, there were no doubts in His mind "was it worth it?" _ no, He said "It is finished!" because He knew that the work was done. We do not visit His grave and weep like Private Ryan, no we visit the empty tomb, and we rejoice! We rejoice because His love, conquered even the depths of our unworthiness and sin! And we rejoice!
Human love, apart from the grace of God, always comes with a price tag. The men who died for Private Ryan did so because they were ordered to, it was their duty. And it was an honorable thing to do, humanly speaking. But still he said earn this! He still attached a price tag.
The men who died for Private Ryan died for him because he was their comrade in arms, he was one of their countrymen, he was on their side. "But God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!"
Notice his description of us, it goes from bad to worse. In verse 6 we are helpless and ungodly, in verse 8, sinners, and later on in verse 10, enemies. We were His enemies and still He died for us! This would be the same as if, instead of dying for Private Ryan, the brave men died for Adolf Hitler, their enemy. Unthinkable! Nobody would do that! I certainly wouldn't have if I had been there. But that's the love of God.
You see it's only when we fully understand the depth of our depravity, and the hopelessness of our situation apart from Christ that His love for us really means something. It's no big deal for God to love me if I'm a good person. I mean after all why shouldn't He love me? I'm a nice guy! But I'm not a nice guy. And neither are you. No, Isaiah says "All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him." And later on he says, "But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you." Paul says "There is none righteous, no not one " But God demonstrates His own love, a love that is uniquely His, in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf. And that's something worth rejoicing about!
Even in the middle of our darkest tribulations, we can have a hope that does not fade away. We can have a hope that only increases as we face greater and greater trials because we know that the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 8, again echoes these same thoughts. Read the end of the chapter and you will see that it says nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. In fact there are 13 times that love is mentioned in the book of Romans. Only four of those times refer to God's love for us, the others all refer to our love for each other. All of those four times are found in chapters 5 and 8, and all are found in close connection with the idea of future hope.
Notice the close relationship between faith, hope and love in this passage. God's love for us is the basis of both our faith, and our hope.
So we exult in hope of the glory of God, we exult in our tribulations, and thirdly we exult in God himself.
III. Exult in God vs. 9_11
Verses 9_11 read: "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through him. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His son, much more having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation."
Again we see the pattern of past, present and future. In these verses, we learn that our salvation is only partially fulfilled at this time. Although it is as secure and absolute as anything can be, the process is not over yet. This is a continuation of the thought that began in verses 1_2, that up to this point it is as if we have only been introduced to God's grace, and there is more to come. Having been justified by His blood is a past tense fact. But then he says "we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him." Obviously this is in the future tense. What wrath is he talking about? This is the wrath of God that has yet to be poured out on sinful mankind in the lake of fire and in the 7 years of tribulation prior to the return of Christ to earth.
The point that we need to take hold of is that we need no longer live in fear of this wrath. We have peace with God, we have been justified by faith, and so our salvation is eternally secure. There is no ambiguity here. It is abundantly clear that what God has begun, He will complete. He has not saved us only to let us go in the end. No, we have assurance that if we have been justified by His blood we SHALL be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
Reconciliation is the bringing together of two parties which were separate. Remember Isaiah said that our sins had made a separation between us and God. Now, in Christ that separation has been abolished. We have been reconciled to God, we have been brought back to Him since we were the ones who initially left Him. 2 Corinthians 5:19 says that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself".
Notice also that just as our salvation is sort of a two stage process, so the work of Christ also parallels each stage. By His death we were initially justified, and by His life our eternal security is guaranteed. This is very important. A gospel with no resurrection is only half a gospel. And we celebrated this fact just last week. But He didn't just rise again so that he could prove a point, or so that He could comfort the grieving disciples. No, he rose again so that He could continually intercede for us.
Again, we find this concept in Romans chapter 8 in verse 34: "Christ Jesus is He who died, yes rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who intercedes for us." This verse comes right in the middle of the same section where he talks about God's love and the certainty of our hope. Those who teach that a born again Christian can lose his salvation have yet to explain how a risen savior who intercedes for us on the basis of His own shed blood can fail to save those for whom He intercedes. Indeed, the book of Hebrews, which is often used by those who teach eternal insecurity, says in 7:25 "Therefore he is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since he always lives to make intercession for them."
If Christ can intercede for us on the basis of His own blood, and still lose us in the end, then His blood was not an acceptable sacrifice and we are still in our sins. But this is not the teaching of Scripture. No, it says we shall be saved by His life, not our life. Those who teach that a believer can lose his salvation invariably place the responsibility for keeping that salvation on the individuals ability to live a good life, although the definite standard to which we must attain is never clearly defined. Just how bad do you have to be in order to lose it? I ask them, and they don't know. But it says we shall be saved by His life, not our life. What kind of hope would it be if it said, we might be saved by His life? No it says we shall be saved.
"And not only this, but we also exult in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation." Remember what reconciliation is and you will have an easy time understanding what it means to exult in God in this context. Reconciliation means that we have been reunited with Him. We have been brought back to Him like wandering sheep rescued by the good shepherd. And now that we are with Him, we experience the wonder of who He is, and we rejoice in Him. Not only do we rejoice in what He has done, we rejoice in His very person. We exult in God. That's what it's all about. That we should know God and that we should love Him and praise Him. It's all about God. And it all comes through Jesus Christ.
Notice all the things that it says we receive through Christ. In verse 1, peace and justification. In verse 2, our introduction or access by faith into grace, in verse 9; salvation from God's wrath, and in verse 10 and 11; our reconciliation. These are all things that come to us from God through Christ. But the last thing is not something God gives us, it's something we give back to God. Our exultation, our joy, our rejoicing! Every aspect of our relationship with God is mediated by Christ. Not only the things that He gives us, but also the things that we give back to Him. He is our High Priest. Through Him and only through Him do we have access to God. And so we rejoice. We rejoice in hope of His glory, we rejoice in our tribulations, and we rejoice in God Himself.
But the fact that all these things come through Christ also alerts us to another fact. And that is that if you do not know Christ, quite frankly you have nothing to rejoice about. You have not received the peace, the justification, the reconciliation that comes only through Him. You have no hope for the future. You have no reason to rejoice in tribulations. You are lost and you are going to hell. You shall not be saved by His life. He does not tell you "earn this". No He only says, "believe this". Believe that His death reconciled you to God, believe that you can be saved by His life, and you will have peace with Him. You will be justified, you will be reconciled, and then you will be able to rejoice.
To you who do believe, fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God. Rejoice in hope of God's glory, knowing that the realization of His glory is the purpose for which you were created. Rejoice in your tribulations, persevere, knowing that they are working in you to develop your character, to make you into what God intended you to be. Rejoice in the hope that they produce within your soul as you experience greater and greater dissatisfaction with the miseries of this life and look forward in joyful expectation to the glory that is to come! And finally, rejoice in God! Exult in God! As you read your Bible, don't just take in information, don't just learn religion, no _ study God! Seek Him with all your heart! No one who comes face to face with the glory and majesty and love and wonder of God will be able to live without rejoicing.