The fifth chapter of Romans opens with delight. Having built the case the absolute and utter lostness of humanity (Romans 1-3), Paul had been teaching that the dream of righteousness is still alive in (Romans 3). Righteousness is not found in man’s work, but in Christ’s. Belief — faith, trust, leaning, acceptance — in His work gets us His righteousness. After proposing that this righteousness from God through Christ exists, Paul doubled-down on the concept that we receive it by faith. We always have — see Abraham and David — and we always will (Romans 4).
So when Paul moves to the fifth chapter of Romans, he has just finished a masterpiece on justification by faith. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith,” Paul writes. He is now ready to tell us of a few of the gifts God has given us because we’ve received Christ’s righteousness by faith, which makes this passage bit like a good Christmas morning. The gifts are under the tree, ready to be unwrapped. What do we have here?
1 Peace With God
“We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
Believers currently possess peace. He does not say it is inner peace. He says it is peace with God, which is far more important. This peace is the cessation of war with God. This war was not like two kingdoms opposing each other, but like the citizens in a kingdom revolting against the good king, forcing him to deal harshly with them. But now the war is over, the kingdom is unified, and the citizens rejoice. Believers, in a sense like this, are no longer war with God, nor He with us. Peace with God has flooded into us.
But this peace with God does lead to true inner peace. Not a fake peace brought on through ten minutes of inward focused meditation — that peace is a weak imitation. The peace we have with God can lead to a quiet and real resolve based not on mood, but on fact (which can alter the mood). God has ended the war. I am at peace with Him. So I should be at peace. Much of the Christian life is centered on the application of this peace. As Paul would later write, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15).
2 Grace Position
“We have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Romans 5:2).
Believers currently stand in a grace position before God. He does not talk here about the grace we receive, but about the grace we stand in. God’s grace, in the Bible, often refers to God’s free and unmerited favor, His action toward us. But here Paul is speaking less of grace in action, and more of our grace position. Because we are justified by faith, we now stand in a realm, sphere, or state of grace. God’s favor is now His stated position toward us. God’s grace is our position.
This grace position was won for us by Christ. He is the door to it. So now we go in and out by Him, enjoying the pasturelands of the grace of God. My children know a small, yet imperfect, taste of this. They exist in the realm of my favor. As my kids, they are permanently placed there. I will discipline. I will teach. I will nurture. But no matter what they do they will live inside the sphere of my favor. The Christian life is, to a greater degree, like that. We have access to the pasturelands of God’s favor. Let’s explore!
3 Hope Of God’s Glory
“We rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).
Believers currently rejoice in the future glory of God. He does not say we rejoice in the glory of God. I’m sure we do, but that is not what Paul writes about here. He says we rejoice in the hope of that glory. The believer knows glory is coming — that is why we rejoice in the hope of it. Hope is a confident expectation that something is coming — that is why we rejoice about the coming glory. We are sure it will come.
This hope of God’s coming glory causes us to rejoice. We rejoice that peace will come to the nations, that evil will be judged completely, and that governments will be set aright. We rejoice that personal transformation will be completed when Christ comes, that our destructive desires will be overcome, and that our folly will be eradicated. We rejoice that the environment and beauty will be restored, that peace will come to the animal kingdom, and the curse will be lifted when the creation ceases its groaning (Romans 8:21). Knowing this is the certain future of our lives, bodies, and environment brings the Christian joy.
4 Redemption Of Suffering
“We rejoice in our sufferings…” (Romans 5:3).
Believers currently enjoy a new relationship with suffering. He does not say we rejoice because of our sufferings but in our sufferings. The knowledge that the pressures and pains and distresses of life are now — because we are justified in Christ — able to produce something beautiful in us makes us glad. We do not rejoice in the suffering, but what it can now produce in us. I say “now” because before we were in Christ, still in our sins, it couldn’t. When all you have is a sin nature to operate with, suffering does a number on you. But when the new nature of Christ is granted to you, suffering can produce.
This joy over what suffering can produce comes because we know a secret. Suffering is the only path to glory. Ease cannot get us there. As it was for Christ, so it is for Christians. It produces endurance and character and hope — and we love it for those results. We rejoice that our suffering doesn’t do what it used to do to us — nothing. We are now glad that God has redeemed it to shape and mold and change us into the work of art He wants from us.
5 God’s Love
“Because God’s love has been poured into our hearts…” (Romans 5:5).
Believers currently enjoy the love of God. Paul tells us the Holy Spirit has poured it into our hearts. Later in Romans, he will tell us it is the Spirit who drives us to cry out to God like a child cries out to their daddy. This love from God poured out by the Spirit of God is what made Paul confident our hope wouldn’t end in embarrassment. God has loved us; the Spirit has shown us. He is in you if you are a believer, and He has sealed you (2 Corinthians 1:22). You belong to God and are now a target of the love and affection of God. The Holy Spirit will ever work to pour out — continually — the love of God into your heart.
This love of God was secured by the cross of Christ, “in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). This is how the Spirit pours out the love of God, by reminding you of the cross of Christ. It is through the cross we remember the unconditional love of God. He pursued us while we were stuck in our sin and rebellion. If God loved us like that, He will love us to the very end.
6 Future Salvation
“Much more shall we be saved by Him…by His life” (Romans 5:9, 10).
Believers currently enjoy the confidence of a future and growing salvation. We believe in a future salvation. If God has done all of these beautiful works for us in the past and present, we are very secure in our future. The cross has removed us from God’s wrath, so He has turned it away from us. But there remains an actual day of God’s wrath which believers will have no portion in. We rest in this future salvation.
This future salvation stirs us towards our growing salvation. Paul writes, “we shall be saved by His life.” The believer is confident of the future, but not only the distant kind. We believe our tomorrow is filled with an opportunity for Jesus Christ — who already saved us — to continually save us. We carry our these bodies of sin and flesh which war against the new nature given us by God. We no longer need justification, for that is already ours in Christ, but we still need salvation. The believer is confident of the future salvation God provides.
7 God Himself
“We also rejoice in God…” (Romans 5:11).
Finally, believers currently enjoy God Himself. “More than that,” Paul writes, indicating there is something else we rejoice in on top of all we’ve already covered. We rejoice in God. He is our greatest friend, treasure, comforter, Father, and joy. We have been reconciled to Him! The enmity is gone! He is ours, and we are His — forever.
Let us enjoy God. Sit before Him. Hear His Word. Pour out your heart to Him. Allow Him time and space to engage your soul. Let Christ change your inner being. Let Him develop your reason, your conscience, and your will (Ephesians 3:16). “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” Make God the center of your existence, for He is the source of our greatest joy.
“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15)!