These are my notes for teaching at the Cornerstone on Sunday, September 15, 2019.
TEXT: ROMANS 5:1-11.
LOVED, WITHOUT A DOUBT
What if I told you that you can know for certain you are loved by God? I mean, what if you could know this objectively and obviously, in a way that cancels every doubt and fear? I'm offering that to you today. There's no doubt in my mind that you are going through something or you're about to go through something that is so intense and painful that you'll ask, does God love me?
Suppose the worst thing you can imagine happening to you actually happens. You lose your job or your home. You lose a loved one. You lose your car keys or your mind. Whatever! Theological thoughts might not be crowding to the front at that moment but, eventually, you start to reflect. Does God still love me? This awful thing happened to me; does that mean God hates me or he's really mad at me? Is he - God - hurting me?
If we're honest, we''ll admit we've asked those questions. And so did these first century Christians in Rome. They were suffering (no specifics are given) and maybe they were wondering, "Hey, did we do something wrong to make God abandon us?" Have you ever thought something like that?
Paul wrote Romans 5 to answer those kinds of sincere questions. After we work our way through Romans 5, we'll have some answers. More than that though, I don't believe we'll ever again question God's love for us.
Here's what we're going to do this morning. First, we'll look at the message of Romans 5:1-11. Then, we'll look at its implications for our lives, especially how it answers our questions about God's love. Then, we'll bring it home with a reason to brag, a principle to live by, and a prayer to offer. Ready?
THE MESSAGE OF ROMANS 5:1-11
The message: We have been justified.
(Romans 5:1) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let's start with a definition: Justification means to be made right with God; to be restored to God; to be cleared of guilt; to be forgiven and cleansed.
Justification is what God does for us. We don't justify ourselves, God declares it over us and we receive it as a gift by faith (verse 1). Justification is "through the Lord Jesus Christ" (verse 1). Jesus is the difference. He gained it for us and he gives it to us. A key explanation is located in Romans 3:
(Romans 3:21-22 - NLT) But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses[i] and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right (justified) with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
The means of justification: Romans 5:6, 8
(Romans 5:6, 8) You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
We are justified by the love of God at work in the cross of Christ. God loved us so he sent his Son to die for us (verse 8). It's what I call Calvary Love.
Romans 3:23-25 NLT) For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight (justified). He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God (justified) when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.
That's amazing, but the context in which it was revealed makes it unbelievably, incredibly, amazing:
Verse 6: We were powerless - we had no claim on God at all.
Verse 6: We were ungodly - we cut God out of the picture.
Verse 8: We were sinners - we broke God's laws.
Verse 10: We were enemies - we were at war with God.
The benefits of justification: Romans 5:1-5; 9-11:
Look at the list of benefits (and implications) that flow from God's gift:
Verse 1: We have peace with God. God is not out to get us.
Verses 10-11: We are reconciled to God. God is your friend.
Verse 9: We will never face God's wrath. If you're in Christ, God's not mad at you.
Verse 2: We stand in grace. God always accepts us and is doing good to us.
Verses 2-4: We have hope. Even in the hard times, we believe God is for us. And has a future for us - we'll share in the glory of God (see Colossians 1:27).
Verse 5: We know we are loved by God. The Holy Spirit assures us (see 8:14-17).
Do you feel like our look at Romans 5 has answered your doubts and fears and questions about God's love for you? Romans 5 is a bedrock passage to build your life on. It brings so much stability to never have to guess if God loves you.
Now, let's put some feet to what we've learned. How can we live in light of Romans 5 and Calvary love?
A reason to brag
Romans 5 speaks about "boasting" in God. Boasting is a form of praise. It's bragging about something really good. Boasting about ourselves isn't a great idea, but bragging about God is a great idea. You can see it in:
Verse 2: "We boast in the hope of the glory of God."
Verse 3: We boast in suffering."
Verse 11: "We also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Because of Calvary Love, which is God's love displayed in Christ and his cross; because he rescued us from his wrath; because he justified us and reconciled us to himself; because we no longer fall short of his glory (Romans 3:23) but will share in his glory one day; for all these reasons and so many more, the very best response is to brag on God, to boast about him, to tell the world what God has done.
(Romans 15:9) “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.”
We want everyone everywhere to share in what we've found in Christ. So we boast about God in Christ to the nations. Evangelism, outreach, global missions are all forms of worship because we are bragging on God and his Calvary Love to those who have never heard:
(Psalms 67:3-4) May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you. 4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy ...
A principle to live by
Based on Romans 5, I believe we should all adopt this principle to live by. I'm talking about a basic idea that will guide our lives, a rule to follow. Here it is:
I am loved by God forever. The cross proves it and the Holy Spirit confirms it.
If God loved me when I cut him out of my life, I know he loves me now.
If God loved me when I was his enemy, I know he loves me now.
If God loved me when I broke his laws, I know he loves me now.
(Romans 5:8) God demonstrates (proves, displays) his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Calvary love settles it for me. I cannot outrun, or out-sin, or out-live God's love for me. His love has captured my heart and his love keeps me close to his heart. This is the greatest thing in all of life: God loves me forever:
(Romans 8:35, 37) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? ... 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
What's that saying? Life is hard (5:3-4), but we are loved. Nothing can overcome God's love so nothing will ever stop him loving us in Christ. We don't do the conquering; his love does. We stay in his love because he loves us. Amazing!
A prayer to pray
It's a prayer for those who, for whatever reason, are not convinced by Romans 5 or my teaching. You're pushing back. There's a block. If that's you, pray this: I pray that I ... will have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May I experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. (Ephesians 3:18-19, NLT)