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Friday, October 12, 2012

Romans 5 - Our Justification, Explained

My second time teaching at "The Group" was very fruitful. I got to teach on Romans 5, which is one of the greatest chapters in the entire Bible. I believe there is no greater exposition on the doctrine of justification than in Romans 5. Paul explains how the gospel justifies sinners from a personal and scriptural polemic. He defends his gospel by flowing over the application of his previous arguments from the OT examples of Abraham and David who believed in God by faith and were justified. Those who believe in Jesus Christ receive the same means of justification, but based on the work of Christ on the cross. Paul a how God personally assures us of our justification in 5:1-11, and then scripturally assures us of our justification in 5:12-21. Here are some of my notes from my sermon. May they encourage you as they encouraged me to marvel at the work of Jesus and share his message with others!

What is justification? Maybe you have heard these sayings to help make sense of the doctrine of justification:

1. “Just-as-if-you-have-never-sinned”

2. “Just-as-you-have-always-obeyed”

3. “Just-as-the-Father-sees-his-Son”

Moody Handbook of Theology defines justification:
“Justification comes from a Greek concept meaning ‘to declare righteous.” It is a legal act wherein God pronounces that the believing sinner has been credited with all the virtues of Jesus Christ. Whereas forgiveness is the negative aspect of salvation, meaning the subtraction of human sin, justification is the positive aspect, meaning the addition of divine righteousness [to their spiritual life] (p. 715).

In Romans 5:1-21, Paul explains how all Christians have a secure and final hope in the justification of God in Christ.

Considerate questions relatable to the context of chapter 5:
Have you ever experience a moment in your life where you had no assurance if something was legitimate? (business transaction; relationship status; promises)

Have you ever experienced a moment in your life where you had no confidence in someone?
(a co-worker; family member; neighbor) 

These two questions suggest the lack of security and finality with things and people in the world. It is true that hope in the world will never give us total assurance. We may not have total control over different circumstances in our lives, but we do know the one who is in control of our spiritual lives. Paul explains the security of our justification was established by the work on the cross, and the finality of our justification was solidified through the person of Jesus Christ.

“Perhaps no portion of Romans states more clearly the legal nature of our acceptance in Christ outside of chapter 5.”

Warren Wiersbe correctly explains Romans 5 describes the blessings of our justification (5:1-11) and the basis for our justification (Rom. 5:12-21). If there is no basis for our justification (Jesus), then there are surely no blessings (eternal life).

Theology in the text – Justification is a God-centered work (which is all for him, by him, and through him):
1. We were justified for his glory [“hope of the glory of God”] (5:2)

2. We were justified by his grace [“have the grace of God”] (5:15)

3. We were justified through his gospel [“leading to eternal life though Jesus Christ”] (5:21)

Theology in the text - Justification is a Trinitarian-centered work:
Rom. 5:1a - "We have peace with God [the Father]" because the Father sent his son.
Rom. 5:1b - "Through our Lord Jesus Christ [the Son]" because the Son died for us.
Rom. 5:5b - "Through the Holy Spirit [the Spirit]" because the Spirit seals our faith.

The Message.
The scope of our message will revolve around two main points:
I. The security of our justification in Christ (5:1-11)
II. The finality of our justification to Christ (5:12-21)

I. The security of our justification in Christ (5:1-11).
Chapter 5 begins a lengthy discourse on Christian hope that comes to a close at the end of Romans 8. Paul describes how in the mist of suffering, Christians have a “greater hope” because of what Christ did on the cross (5:21), and the fulfillment of God’s promises whereas saints will be glorified (8:30), and never be separated from God because of his everlasting love (8:39).

Therefore, Paul beings chapter 5 with sequential "we" statements that reveal the benefits believers receive based on the justification of God in Christ.

Romans 5:1-11, notice the text and how Paul includes his audience:
"We have" been justified; "We were" sinners & enemies; "We shall be" delivered and saved. Yet, the basis is grounded ONLY by the righteous work of Jesus Christ.

Being justified means:
5:1a - We have peace from God in Christ
5:2a - We have access to God in Christ
5:3a - We have confidence and joy in God in Christ
5:3b - We have assurance of our salvation by knowing the love of God in Christ

Being justified implies:
5:6a - We were without [our own moral] strength to please God
5:6b - We were still sinners towards God
5:8b - We were enemies against God

Being justified declares:
5:9b - We shall be saved from wrath [judgment]
5:10b - We shall be saved by His life [redemption]
5:11b - We shall be reconciled to God forever [eternal life]

All of these verses indicate Christians have eternal security based on seven blessings of our justification that the righteousness of God provides through Jesus Christ!

Look at all the blessings we receive as unworthy sinners:
“We have peace with God; We have access to God; We have a glorious hope; We have perseverance; We have God’s love within us; We are saved from wrath; We are reconciled to God eternally.”

Because of these biblical realities, our lives should rejoice at all times for the incredible love God has shown to us through the work of Jesus Christ. Those who believe in Christ were “saved to live, now live to serve.”

Take away thoughts:
When facing uncertainty, rest in the work of Christ (which is certain!)
When facing trials, trust your faith in Christ (which will get you through trials!)
When facing insecurity, focus on your glorious hope in Christ (which is secure!)

II. The Finality of our Justification to Christ (5:12-21)
Chapter 5 ends with an analogy to show how much greater Jesus is than Adam. Paul uses OT typology to showcase a drastic theological contrast between the first man (Adam), and the second man (Jesus). His argument brings finality to our justification to Christ.

Romans 5:12-17 explain how all people are guilty of their sins because of the sin that was brought into the world through the transgression of Adam in the Garden of Eden (cf. Gen. 3:17-19). Everyone is guilty of sin before the law was given to Moses because sin was present at the beginning of redemptive history (i.e. Cain & Abel; Noah & the flood; Abraham & Lot; Joseph).

Therefore, as sin has abundantly spread to all men, the grace of God has more abundantly been shared to all men, specifically through Jesus Christ, who is the grace that has come into the world.

Jesus the “Free Gift” – The Righteousness of God (which conquers sin and leads to eternal life)
Romans 5:15, “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.” -The free gift has the opposite effects of the trespass Adam’s sin.

-The free gift has more abundance than the trespass Adam’s sin.
Romans 5:16, “And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.” -The free gift has the opposite results of Adam’s sin.

-The free gift has brought justification, not condemnation.
Romans 5:17, “For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.” -The free gift of righteousness is the life of Jesus Christ.

-The free gift leads to eternal life (cf. Rom. 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.)

Romans 5:18-21, Paul concludes his argument through a biblical contrast of the historical Adam and historical Jesus. His argument resides in the superiority of the work of Christ compared to Adam and his disobedience. 

Paul’s Old Adam vs. New Adam Typology (Adam vs. Christ)
Adam committed sin Christ did not commit sin
Adam disobeyed God Christ obeyed God [the Father]
Adam’s act led to condemnation Christ’s act led to justification
Adam’s disobedience made men sinners Christ’s obedience made men righteous

As the first Adam brought sin into the world which made men sinners, the second Adam brought righteousness into the world which made men righteous. Paul explains the reversal of the effects of Adam’s disobedience is far greater in Jesus Christ than all who are in Adam.

Throughout Romans 5, Paul establishes the security of our justification in Christ and concludes with the finality of our justification to Christ. He ends this chapter using military language of Christ ruling and reigning over sin and death (5:20). It is only through the redemptive work of Christ can you receive eternal life!

Romans 5:21 - Eternal Life In the NT
John is the most unique because eternal life is mentioned the most in his gospel (ESV 17 times).

Matthew, Mark, Luke all mention the term in three ways:

1) It is asked by the rich young ruler, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Matt. 19:16 [first occurrence] ; Mark 10:17; Luke 10:25; 18:18).

2) It is given to those who make their faith in Jesus more superior than all other human relationships (Matt. 19:29; Mark 10:30).

3. It is mentioned as a destination place for righteous compared to the destination place of the unrighteous in eternal punishment (Matt. 25:46)
John 3:14-16, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

John 5:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”

John 6:40, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

John 6:47, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.”

John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
Paul expresses the term in direct relationship to Christ and his righteousness four times. As the righteousness of God, Jesus provides eternal life as the free gift of grace to all men who believe in him and his work on the cross.

Pauline Letters
Paul expresses this term elsewhere in his writings, which are linked to faith, repentance, and obedience to the gospel (Gal. 6:8; 1 Tim. 1:16, 6:12; Titus 1:2, 3:7).
Romans 2:6-8, “He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.”

Romans 5:21, “so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Romans 6:22-23, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Paul taught us our salvation is secure and final. There is no other work that could bring eternal security outside of what Jesus did on the cross. Also, there is no other person who could live perfectly to bring finality to the reign of sin in the world outside of Jesus.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the work of Christ will forgive the unrighteous because the person of Christ was righteous.

Wrapping Up.
1. We are justified
We are justified because of what Jesus did for us on the cross.

2. We are loved
We are loved because of what Jesus demonstrated for us by going to the cross.

3. We are saved
We are saved because of what Jesus defeated for us through the cross.

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