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Romans 5:1-11 - Homilies By R.m. Edgar

The state of the justified.

We saw in last chapter how Abraham was justified by faith alone, and how his case really covers ours. The promise of blessing through a seed, which Abraham believed so implicitly, has been fulfilled in Christ. We accordingly behove in the faithful Promiser who raised up Jesus from the dead, and we regard his death and resurrection as being a deliverance to death for our offences, and a deliverance from death for our justification. Faith enables us to draw the assurance of our justification from the resurrection of our Saviour. But now we pass under the guidance of the apostle to the consideration of the delightful state into which the justified come. And here we notice—

I. THE ASSURANCE THAT WE ARE THE OBJECTS OF THE DIVINE LOVE . ( Romans 5:1-5 .) By nature and by reason of our sin we are the objects of God's righteous wrath; but when we are enabled to believe in a Saviour who died for us and rose again, we find ourselves passing out of the condemned condition into an assurance of God's love. And the apostle here gives us the stages in the blessed process.

1. We pass into a state of peace with God. We prefer the indicative ( ἔχομεν ) adopted in the Authorized Version to the subjunctive ( ἔχωμεν ) adopted by the Revised Version after Westcott and Hort. For the state of peace is not some uncertainty into which we may come, but it is a state which results from justification if it has really taken place. We cease from war, we are no longer enemies, we have entered into a state of peace. The believer, as he calmly meditates on the atoning work of Jesus Christ, sees that he has been led thereby out of the storm into the calm, out of war into peace. Enmity is over and peace is proclaimed.

2. We realize that Christ conducts us into a standing in grace. By his gracious mediation we pass into a new relation to God; we realize that we are justified, as believers, from all things from which we could not be justified by the Law of Moses. We can now stand before God, and realize our pardon and acceptance in the Beloved.

3. We are enabled to rejoice in hope of God's heavenly glory. For the justified condition into which we have come through Christ is intended to reach through the present life and issue in the glory of the life to come. It is no mere temporary frame of mind, but a permanent state, into which our Saviour has brought us.

4. We are enabled to profit by life's tribulations. So much is this the case that we are enabled to congratulate ourselves upon ( καυχώμεθα ) our tribulations; for through these we reach the power of patient endurance ( ὐπομονὴ ), and through the power of patient endurance we reach experience ( δοκιμὴ , which means the result of the probation, as well as the "probation" itself, and the former gives here, notwithstanding the Revisers, the better sense); £ and through experience we reach hope—the hope of heavenly glory, since as its earnest there is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost a consciousness that we are the objects of the Divine love. The hope can never be disappointed. We have a "present heaven" in our happy assurance of God's love. We have passed out of the gloom into the gladness, and beyond us and awaiting us there lies the glory. Thus our tribulations conduct us to assurances of Divine love such as we could not otherwise enjoy.

II. THE NATURAL HISTORY OF THE DIVINE LOVE . ( Romans 5:6-10 .) The apostle, to confirm believers in the assurance of God's love, proceeds to exhibit its history.

1. And he shows its sovereign character. That is to say, it was when we were without strength, when we were helpless and hopeless in our guilt, that God gave love's greatest proof in Christ dying for the ungodly. It was, therefore, no reason in us, but solely the exercise of God's sovereign love, which led to the death of Jesus for the ungodly.

2. The death of Jesus is the great demonstration of God's love. Men have occasionally sacrificed their lives for good men, never for a merely just one; but God in Christ sacrificed his life for those who are yet sinners. No mightier demonstration of Divine love can he imagined than this dying of God's Son for sinners. And it is well here to notice that as a "trinitarian transaction," as Shedd has happily put it, God in Christ's death exhibits "his own love" (Revised Version). Through the unity of Father and Son in the Divine essence, the death of Jesus is really the self-sacrifice of God. It is, therefore, the most marvellous of all exhibitions of love.

3. The resurrection-life of Jesus is the great guarantee of our salvation from Divine wrath. Jesus died to secure our justification. We are justified by his blood. In this God has reconciled us to himself. The resurrection of Jesus is accordingly the proof that God is satisfied with his own self-sacrifice in Jesus Christ, and so his wrath is turned away from us through the spectacle of a risen Saviour. "The highest form of love," says Shedd, "that, namely, of self-sacrifice, prompts the triune God to satisfy his own justice, in the room and place of the sinner who has incurred the penalty of justice. In the work of vicarious atonement, God himself is both the offended and the propitiating party. This is taught in 2 Corinthians 5:18 , 'God hath reconciled us to himself;' Colossians 1:20 , 'To reconcile all things to himself.' God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, is Judge, Priest, and Sacrifice, all in one Being. The common objections to the doctrine of the propitiation of the Divine anger rest upon the unitarian idea of the Deity. According to this view, which denies personal distinctions in the essence, God, if propitiated, must be propitiated by another being than God. Christ is merely a creature. The influence of the atonement upon God is, therefore, a foreign influence from the sphere of the finite. But, according to the trinitarian idea of the Supreme Being, it is God who propitiates God. Both the origin and the influence of the atonement are personal, and not foreign, to the Deity. The transaction is wholly in the Divine Essence. The satisfaction of justice, or the propitiation of anger (whichever terms be employed, and both are employed in Scripture) is required by God, and made by God." It is a risen Saviour, living and reigning, who saves us from fear of Divine wrath and assures us of acceptance.

III. JOY THROUGH RECEIVING THE RECONCILIATION . ( Colossians 1:11 .) Now, when we appreciate God's wondrous love in providing a reconciliation, then we receive it by faith, and find ourselves constrained to rejoice in God who could so provide for us. Moreover, it is clear from the term "received" ( ἐλάβομεν ) that the "reconciliation" ( καταλλαγὴ ) is not something paid by the sinner, but something divinely provided which has to be accepted. It is an additional obligation imposed, not a price paid. God is so regal as to "reconcile himself," and then ask us to receive the benefit thereof. We ought to rejoice in such a God. Verily his thoughts are not our thoughts, nor his ways our ways. The justified have every reason to be joyful in their King.—R.M.E.

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