Salvation: Past, Present, Future
Reading: Rom 5:1-11,17
In the first five verses of this chapter the author makes three foundational statements. Verse one makes it clear that these foundational statements relate to our past salvation, our present blessing and our future hope. The first statement, in verse one, proclaims our justification. Jesus Christ died for the sins of humanity. Anyone who receives His sacrifice personally appropriates it, and so is entitled to its benefits. This is the meaning of the phrase “justified by faith”. Justification is a judicial concept. Sin is a transgression of the laws of God and therefore is deserving of a judicial penalty (Rom 6:23). To be justified is to be declared guiltless before the law and so undeserving of any penalty. Since it is God who judges and God who justifies, when He has declared us righteous, we have peace with Him. This statement makes it clear that anyone believing in the work of Christ is forever freed from judgment. We have peace with God.
The second statement of the passage in verses 3-4 relates to the unique value system of the believer. Paul says here that we “glory (rejoice) in tribulations”. This statement is foreign to human nature, but central to the gospel. Paul does not say that we seek to be depressed. He says that in experiences of suffering we find joy. This is because the most important thing to the Christian is character; the only thing that cannot be taken from us and will remain for eternity. As character is developed in us, through tribulations, our hope is increased.
This hope relates to the third statement of the passage: we “rejoice in hope of the glory of God”. This hope is that God’s glory (everything of God that is worthy of inspiration and praise) will be shared with us. And we will not be disappointed in this hope, because of the Holy Spirit. Paul goes on to explain why and how the Holy Spirit is able to grant such hope to us. The passage gives three descriptions of what we naturally are: without strength, sinners and enemies. The wording of the passage points out that while we were these things naturally we now have peace with God. Despite our views of ourselves, or what our actions say of us, as Christians we are no longer without strength, sinners or enemies of God. We can never return to these categories because we have been justified by faith. If, rather than being without strength we have the power of God, rather than being sinners we are righteous, rather than being enemies we are children of God, then God will certainly much more offer His blessings to us than when we were separated from Him. Our new position is based not on our own works but on the work of Christ. Therefore, we are much more entitled to His grace than before our salvation. We are now enabled to accept “this grace in which we stand” in every moment by the same faith with which we first accepted salvation.