Reason To Rejoice
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we rejoice in tribulation, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us.
For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love towards us, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Father, we ask for wisdom in understanding the things that You have promised to us, especially as we look at Your word. Lord, we know that You are the One who gives wisdom, You are the One who sheds light, so God speak to us by Your word today, and reveal to us understanding. Continue to transform us by the renewing of our minds, that we would be able to reflect Your glory in the world in which we live. We ask this in Jesus’ name. And all God’s people agreed, saying, “Amen.”
You can be seated.
In Romans 1:17, we read the bedrock words of reformation, of revival, of renewal – “The just shall live by faith.”
Paul there is quoting the inspired words of the prophet Habakkuk; and he reiterates an essential truth to Christianity, that those who will be right before God, those who will be just before a just and holy God, will be so by God’s grace. And that grace is accessed through our faith. There is no other way; there’s no other way. That is what we have been looking at, quite in depth, over the last several weeks, as we’ve been going through the scriptures here in the book of Romans. There is no mantra that you can chant; there is no mountain to climb; there is no mission to complete; no monument to construct that can make it possible for you or I to apprehend a right standing with God. It is purely by His grace, and we have access to that grace by faith in Him.
Well, of course, we know that humanity, man in his fallen state, doesn’t accept that. We just don’t accept that. We cannot be all that bad. Right? I mean that’s where the mind of man goes. We can’t possibly be all that bad. So, as we’ve seen in these opening chapters of the book of Romans, Paul continues, he makes very clear in Romans 3:23: “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
In chapter 3, verse 10: “There is none righteous, no, not one.”
In chapter 3, verse 20: “By the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified before God.”
These are the concluding remarks of Paul, as he, in chapters 1, 2, and 3, addresses the three groups of humanity: the hedonist, the moralist, and the religionist. And so humanity is totally and completely lost. Completely out of the way, as the prophet Isaiah spoke, in Isaiah 53, that “all we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way.”
We are in a desperate condition; standing upon the deck of a sinking ship with no lifeboat; it’s a bad situation. And there’s no one who’s not in that situation. Sometimes when you share or speak with someone who is not a believer in Christ, and you’re speaking of sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of coming judgment, they’ll say, “Well you’re a sinner too.”
And you say, “Absolutely right. I’m standing on the same deck of the same boat. …we got a problem.”
All of us are in the same position. But, God, who justifies the ungodly; we are introduced to Him in that way, in Romans, chapter 4, verse 5: He is the God “who justifies the ungodly.” And He does so freely, by His grace, through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. He does so apart from the works of the law, by grace through faith.
And as we have seen in our studies previous to this, Paul illustrates the reality of this, this redemptive work of God by grace through faith, in Romans, chapter 4, and he illustrates it in the life of Abraham. And he shows that Abraham, he laid hold of a righteous position with God, he was accounted righteous before God, by faith. Genesis 15, verse 6 says this: “And Abraham believed God, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness.”
So Abraham is accounted by God as being just before a just and holy God, there because of his faith. But even beyond just a positional righteousness, Abraham also is promised an eternal inheritance by grace through the same faith, there in the second half of Romans, chapter 4, which is what we looked at last week. Therefore, Abraham becomes, Romans chapter 4, verse 16, he becomes “the father of us all,” of all who believe.
So with this as the backdrop, we come now to chapter 5, which, quite honestly, is a beautiful passage of scripture that we have before us today. But we come to chapter 5, which begins with the word therefore. And any time you see the word therefore in the scriptures, you have to consider what it’s there for; and it always points back. It always points back to what was previously said. And so we’ve just looked at all that was previously said:
“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
“There is none righteous, no, not one.”
“By the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified before God.”
The hedonist, the moralist, the religionist are all in the same position. And yet God justifies ungodly sinners who put their faith in Him. And beyond just making them righteous, He gives them an eternal inheritance by the same grace through faith.
“Therefore,” Paul says, because of all of these graces that are mentioned, we, like righteous Abraham, stand by faith. And the word rejoice then becomes the central focus of this passage here in the first verses, Romans, chapter 5, verses 1 through 11, the first half of Romans 5 focuses on that word rejoice. It is seen three times: once in verse 2, again in verse 3, and then again in verse 11. And so each section of these opening verses of Romans 5, they end with that word – rejoice. We rejoice in the Lord. And any time you see a word like that repeated in scripture, then you can logically conclude that the passage has something to do with that word. And so, rejoice. We find here, in the opening chapters of the book of Romans, in Paul’s concluding remarks that we saw in the illustration of Abraham in chapter 4, that we have a reason to rejoice; we have a reason to glory, to boast, to have great and exceeding great joy.
And so Paul says, “Therefore,” verse 1 of Romans, chapter 5, “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Because of everything that has come before, we have a reason to rejoice. A reason to rejoice because, Paul says, “we have been justified by faith.”
The last verse of chapter 4, the last two verses of chapter 4 show us there that Jesus was delivered up for our offenses and raised up for our justification, and Jesus Himself has declared that the work is finished. The work for redemption, the work for salvation, it is done! Jesus on the cross, His last words, “Tetelestai,” in the Greek, it means, “It is finished,” it is done, the payment is made in full!!
And so then, as a result of that, notice Paul says, “we have been justified.” We’re not sitting in a position hoping that we might be one day justified. We have been justified. And the words have been, in the original language, they’re very, very clear in their meaning. It is a word that is showing something that has been done upon us; the idea is like akin to the statement, “The boy was hit by the ball.” You know, we have been made righteous. It’s not anything we did, it’s just, the Lord, by His working, has made us righteous by grace through faith we have been made righteous. And that is a reason to rejoice. That’s a reason that we should have exceedingly great joy.
Well Paul gives us another reason to rejoice as he continues here, as a result of our justification by grace through faith, we now have “peace with God.” We have peace with God. So we know that man, through sin, was brought into enmity with God. Prior to the regenerative work that God has done in us, we were at enmity with God. In Romans, chapter 8, we’re going to see that, that the carnal mind is at enmity with God. We’re at war with Him, and we’re going to see where that came from in the next section of Romans, chapter 5, next week, because Paul’s going to say that “through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and death spread to all humanity” for all sin. And we have already considered that sin is lawlessness against God’s established order, and God’s Law is a reflection of His character. So sin is us coming against the character of God. So we’re picking a fight with God every time we sin. Not a good idea, to pick a fight with almighty God.
So humanity, because of sin, is at enmity with God. But “through our Lord Jesus Christ,” Paul says. And note that he says, “through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We’ve got to recognize the importance of the theology behind that statement – through our Lord Jesus Christ – because He, Jesus, must become, by faith, both Lord and Christ for you and I to have peace with God, for the enmity to cease, and that we are brought into a harmonious relationship once again with God. Remember, at creation, in Genesis, chapters 1 and 2, man was in harmony with God. We see that there was a communion with God that was uninterrupted until sin came in. And so all sin is an affront to the character of God; it’s picking a fight with Him. And from that point, from Genesis, chapter 3, the entirety of scripture shows the reality that humanity stands at enmity with God, and God is seeking to work the work of redemption. Remember a couple of weeks ago we talked about the metanarrative of the Bible, and that is that we have creation, we have the fall, and then we have redemption. Almost everything in the Bible, from Genesis, chapter 4 to Revelation, chapter 21, is showing us God’s redemptive plan, to the point that we will one day be with Him; every tribe, tongue, nation, kindred standing before the King, those whom God has redeemed, worshipping Him. And so the closing words of the scripture are: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’” We’re looking forward to that day, when we stand fully redeemed in the presence of almighty God.
Now, the cessation of our hostility toward God, in Christ, the removal of this hostility, in Christ, ultimately results in security, and safety, and prosperity, other things that are involved in the word peace, because we need to understand that the biblical concept of peace encompasses a whole lot more than just the cessation of violence. The biblical concept of peace, it speaks of far greater things than just removing hostility. And one of the aspects of peace, when a person who’s been at enmity, war, with God, when they come into a right relationship with God through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, through the gospel; when they step into that relationship with God, and the hostility is over, one of the aspects of this peace with God is that we are at peace, in the sense that we no longer have a need to try and make ourselves better with Him. We’re at peace with God, in the sense that we recognize our position with Him is purely based on His grace, and not based on anything that we do. Now, in our culture today, you’ll hear sometimes people say things like, “I’m at peace with myself.”
Anybody ever heard some…? Anybody ever said that? You don’t have to raise your hand. “I’m at peace with myself.” Now I’m not entirely sure what it means to be at peace with oneself; but it at least means this: a person who says, “I’m at peace with myself,” has comes to a point where they say, “You know what, I’m not striving any longer to be something more. I’m at peace with myself.”
Now, whether or not that’s a good thing, I’ll leave that for you to decide. But what I do know is that to be at peace with God is utterly important. And to be at peace with God is to know that your position with God changes not based on how much better you do the “Christian thing;” how much better you give, or go to church, or serve, or memorize Bible verses, whatever it may be. Although all those things are good, don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that those things are bad and should be put aside. I’m just saying that those things don’t make you better with God. They might make you a better witness of Christ, they might make you a better reflection of His glory, but they’re not going to make God in heaven go, “Oh, yea, finally!!”
You know He’s not up there, just like, “Oh yeah, right on.”
You know, the reality is, God sees us through the lens of His Son who was crucified for our sake. So He sees us as righteous because of what Jesus did, not anything that you and I have done. Because we’ve done a lot of things that in no way make God go…[clap, clap, clap]. Right? Yeah. So peace always results in rejoicing.
Now, it’s unfortunate that we haven’t experienced the kind of joy and rejoicing in recent times, like maybe some of you may remember, but most of us have probably seen in newsreels or in pictures, of the joy and rejoicing at the end of World War II. So, for most of us, we’ve just seen that in kind of a newsreel, or in pictures, or, you know, kind of shown to us in a movie. But we understand the concept of that great joy, that ecstatic joy. Isaiah the prophet kind of speaks about this in Isaiah, chapter 9, verse 3; and he’s speaking about it in reference to the coming of Jesus; that Jesus would usher in great joy and rejoicing because He would establish peace. He is the Prince of Peace. In Isaiah 9:3, the prophet Isaiah foresees this, 700 years before Jesus comes, and he says, God, “You have enlarged the nation.” And this enlarging of the nation, this is the enlarging of Abraham. Remember all those who are children of Abraham by faith, that’s the enlarging of the nation. So, he says, “God, You have enlarged the nation,” and as a result, “You’ve increased their joy; they rejoice before You as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder.”
So, he’s trying to speak to a group of people who would completely understand this. He’s trying to speak in word pictures, and say: “This is the kind of joy that’s going to come through the coming of the Messiah. When the Messiah comes, He brings this kind of joy.”
Now, he’s speaking to largely a nation of farmers. So it’s like rejoicing when the harvest comes in. So for us it would be like rejoicing when the bonus check comes. Hopefully there is some rejoicing there. But, the idea of, “Wow, I’ve worked so hard, I’ve labored so hard, and now here is the result of this. I’m rejoicing in this.”
Or the rejoicing that comes, he says, “when you’re dividing the plunder.” Now, to the victor goes the…what? So, if you’re dividing the spoil…you won! You’re not dead, and you’ve reaped a whole great benefit in winning the battle.
And so he’s trying to speak in words that the people that he was speaking to would understand the kind of joy. He said, “It’s like this, but it’s even bigger than that!.”
So, if we were to speak in 21st Century terms, we would say, “It’s like the kind of joy and rejoicing that the 49ers will be experiencing tonight.” [laughter] Maybe. We’ll see. [laughter] I’m a West Coast boy. I don’t know… So, it’s that kind of joy that whoever wins the Super Bowl is experiencing. But amplify it…greater joy and rejoicing, that is experienced in Christ.
So Paul continues, not only have we been justified, not only do we have peace with God, he gives us more of a reason to rejoice here, because we have been brought into peace “through our Lord Jesus Christ,” but we also, in and through Him, have now access into exceedingly great grace in which we stand. By whom, he says, we also have access into this grace wherein we stand.
Now, one of the misconceptions that Christians often have is that we are merely saved by grace, or that we enter into a right relationship with God by grace. That is true, for by grace are you saved; past tense, justified, it’s done. But the scriptures also reveal that the Christian, Peter says this, that the Christian is to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not only so, Paul tells us, in Ephesians, chapter 2, verse 7, that God is going to be revealing the exceeding greatness of His riches in grace towards us for eternity. So the Christian is not merely justified by grace, and then they go, “Well, I have no more need of grace.” The Christian is in continual need of grace; and the flow of God’s grace, if you will, is unending. There’s no ceasing to it.
And so he says, through the justifying work of Jesus Christ, Jesus died for our sins, according to the scriptures, so through the work that He did for us, we now have the opportunity to be justified, that is, made right with a holy God, those who were once at enmity with Him. Now, as a result, we have peace with God, there’s no more hostility there; and now we have access into the abundance of His grace that never ceases. This is why the author of the book of Hebrews would say we have access to come “boldly before the throne of grace, to obtain mercy and grace in our time of need,” which is constant. We’re in constant need of the grace of God. So grace is not just given to make us righteous, grace is bestowed continually upon us, to enable us to stand in righteousness.
So, as a result of all of this – justification, peace, increasing grace – Paul says this: we “rejoice in hope of the glory of God;” “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Another way to say it would be: “We rejoice in expectation of the revelation of God’s glory.”
Justification brings peace through abundant grace, and it enables us to have absolute certainty, that’s what hope, in a biblical sense is, it’s not wishful thinking hope. “I really hope that this happens.”
No, it’s absolute certainty. “This, because God has promised it, I have the sure word of promise. I am absolutely certain that God will bring about His revelation of glory.” God’s glory being bestowed upon us through the ultimate end of our salvation; the ultimate end of our salvation is glorification…it’s glorification.
Now, what exactly is glorification? Well, just this, Paul describes it a little bit in the book of Philippians chapter 3. You can turn there if you want. It’s to the right of the book of Romans. Philippians, chapter 3, verse 20; Paul there says, “For our citizenship, it is in heaven, from which,” knowing this, because we know that our citizenship is sure in heaven, from that position “we also eager wait for the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So, we are assured a position with Him; Jesus said, John 14: “I go to prepare a place for you.” So, we’re assured a position with Him in heaven, we’re citizens of heaven. And so from that assured position, “we eagerly wait for the Savior.” Jesus also said in John, chapter 14: “If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
So, Paul, knowing those words of Jesus, he says, listen, we have a sure citizenship, with the Lord. And so we’re eagerly waiting, eagerly waiting. What is eagerly waiting? Well, how many of you remember being a kid, and seeing the Christmas tree put up? And what did that immediately begin to build in your mind? I know it did in my mind – that Christmas is coming!! And this meant many things. It meant I’m gonna get time off of school, which is always great…and presents!! And so there was an eager expectation; and then when Christmas vacation would start; and then there was an even heightened eager expectation. And it just grew, and grew, and grew, to the point where you could not sleep on Christmas Eve. Right? Now, as a kid that was great; as a parent, you hate it.
“Go to sleep!”
“Can’t I just, please, open a present?”
So, eager expectation. So, we are waiting with eager expectation of the Lord, verse 21: “who will transform our lowly body that it might be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” This is glorification, church.
So, we have been justified; that is, we’re made right with God, and given citizenship in heaven. And we are eagerly waiting for the time when we have our departure, our flight, with our passport in hand, if you will, to get into that place. When we see our Lord, we’re going to be gloriously transformed by Him, in an instant. 1 Corinthians 15 says, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, we will be changed. We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed.” It’s a great verse for nurseries. [laughter] So, Paul speaks, in Romans, chapter 8, as the redemption of our bodies, he speaks of it in that way. This body will be redeemed, and he says that we’re groaning for this; and some more than others. Right? So, this is the eager expectation…absolute certainty.
And so he says, we “rejoice in hope.” And that enables us to step to the next level of rejoicing. Now, look at this; this gets a little crazy. Verse 3: Well, “not only that, we also rejoice,” maybe the word glory in some translations, but it’s the same Greek word that was translated rejoice in the last verse. “Not only,” so, we rejoice…okay, I’m tracking with you, Paul. “…in tribulation.”
Whoa, wait…wait a minute. Tribulation?! No, no, no, no. I don’t like tribulation. I don’t like any sort of trouble. Amen?! We don’t like that.
Paul says, “Not only so…” You can almost sense Paul’s anticipation of what he’s going to say. I just can’t even imagine what it must have been like to be in that room as Paul is dictating this letter. There’s a guy by the name of Tertius, we’re introduced to him in Romans 16, he’s the scribe; and Paul’s just anticipating… “And not only that, but we rejoice in tribulation.”
And I think, although, of course, this is total speculation, I think that Tertius probably went, “tribulation, are you sure you want to put that word there?”
“Yes…tribulation.” Thlipsis in the Greek. “I want you to write that word. Put that word down there, right now.”
“Wait…but that’s not a great word, Paul. Maybe we could use something like: ‘we rejoice in glory. We rejoice in peace. We rejoice in justification.”
“All those things are true, but no, I’m telling you ‘we rejoice in tribulation.’”
Tribulation… The very same thing that Jesus promised that we would all have. Thank you for that promise, Jesus. John 16:33: “In the world you will have tribulation…” Yeah, that’s a promise. Probably not one you put on a bookmark. But it’s a promise. In the same passage, Jesus, He speaks of tribulation, and He says, “It’s like labor pains.” Something, as a guy, I’m quite happy to never have experienced, or ever will. So, there are many ladies in here who, you remember labor pains…tribulation. Yes!! Yes!! Tribulation. Stress!! Pain!! Pressure!! Affliction!! These are all synonyms with this word – tribulation. Do you rejoice in those things? When you encounter those things?
I mean, we always meet someone, the sadistic type, that says things like, “Yeah, I believe that Jesus is coming before the Tribulation, but I’m really bummed He is, because I’d like to go through it.”
“Wow!! Really?! Okay.”
Tribulation. Does anyone really like tribulation? Does anyone really rejoice in those? Let’s be honest; no we don’t rejoice in tribulation. We don’t glory or boast or rejoice in those things. But Paul is saying that we should; or, maybe he’s saying that we can; that we can. The answer then is – how?
Well, we need to look at the context of what Paul is saying here, to understand how we, followers of Jesus, who’ve been justified by grace through faith, who now have peace with God, who now have access into abundant grace; how can we rejoice in stress?! …in difficulty?! …in pressure?! …in pain?! …in affliction?! …of which, all human being experience. How do we rejoice in those things? Well, we need to notice that we begin with hope. The previous verse, it leads into this with the word hope. And notice that the section is actually bookended by the words hope – there in verse 2, we have hope at the end of verse 2, and then at the end of verse 4, we have hope again. So, the beginning, the start of being able to rejoice in tribulation is hope, and the end, or the result of tribulation, in the life of the Christian, is, ultimately, increased hope. So, if we are, in this life, recognizing that we’ve been justified, that is made right with holy God by grace through faith; now we have peace with God, who we were once at enmity with; now we have access, and we have hope of being glorified with Him in the future; if we have that position in our minds, as our frame of reference when we step into tribulation, and we’re remembering that hope, as the starting point of difficulty and tribulation, then it changes our perspective. It changes the way that we look at it, and it enables us to rejoice in hope, even in the midst of difficulty, to rejoice in tribulation.
We have an absolute certainty that we will, in the end, be glorified in the presence of God; as the apostle John says in 1 John, chapter 3, verse 2; he says, “it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him.” That is, when we see Jesus, we’re going to be transformed. So, that’s our hope of glorification. So, we have this hope that Jesus is glorified, and when we see Him, we too will be glorified, and this is our certain hope in Jesus, it’s not just kinda like:
“Hey, I’m really hopin’ that happens, ‘cause this is really tough.”
No, it’s not a grin-and-bear-it sort of thing, it’s an absolute certainty, we will be glorified in the presence of our God, because of what He did. So, with that hope as the springboard of joyousness in tribulation, look with me, if you would, at Romans, chapter 8. We’re just going to kind of have a preview of coming attractions, because Romans, chapter 8 is the powerhouse of Romans.
Romans 8, look at verse 25. Romans 8:25: “But if we…” What? “…hope for what we do not see…” We don’t see Jesus yet, we don’t see heaven yet. “…if we hope for what is unseen, we eagerly wait for it…” Just like Paul said in Philippians, chapter 3. “…we’re eagerly waiting for it with perseverance. Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weakness.”
You see, God knows that we are weak. He knows that when we face tribulation, we don’t like it in our weak flesh. We would much rather turn and run the other way. And so, God, knowing our frame, as the psalmist says, He knows that we are merely dust. God, knowing our frame, He gives us His Spirit to help us in our weakness. “For we do not know how we should pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” So, in the midst of tribulation, God works by His Spirit to enable us to pray rightly in the midst of it. And He intercedes for us in the midst of it, because He knows that we’re weak, even as we’re persevering.
We know that we, by the sure word of God, will have an inheritance with God that is incorruptible, and fades not away, and every tear will be blotted away, and there’ll be no more pain forever. That’s what Revelation says. That’s future. We know that’s coming, but what about right now, in the midst of tribulation?! Well look at verse 28, Romans 8: “And we know that all things…” The context is suffering. “…all things work together for good to those who love God, and those who are called according to His purpose.”
Okay, so God is working something good in my tribulation. Whatever it may be; in my suffering. What is it that God is working out for good?
Look at verse 29. “For whom He,” God, “foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed into the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined,” to be conformed into the image of His Son, “He also called; whom He called, He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also…” What? So He’s going to finish the work. So, as we’re persevering through difficulty, which all the world will go through, but the Christian can process it in a different way because they enter into that tribulation having hope, certain hope of coming good; as the Christian goes through tribulation, they have the reminder of God’s word, that “I’m working,” God says, “this for your good.”
“What good, God? Because this doesn’t look good.”
“I’m working this so that you would be transformed more and more into the likeness of Christ.”
“Oh. Okay. Now I’m starting to understand this a little bit differently. You mean that You want to use the tribulation that I’m going through, which is the very same tribulation that maybe a non-believer is going through, maybe it’s cancer, maybe it’s the loss of a job, maybe it’s the loss of a child, whatever it may be; there are people who experience that and they don’t have Jesus, and therefore, they don’t have hope.” But you have hope, we have hope. As we go through those things, we can see:
“God, You’re trying to use this in my life to make me more like You?!”
“Yeah, that’s what I’m wanting to do.”
Starting to maybe put these things together. So our hope is that God, having made good on His work in justification; notice that He says there in verse 30: “Those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He justified.” So God has already finished the work of justification; He’s made good on that. Will He not also make good on the work of sanctification through the process of difficulty and tribulation, and Him working by His Spirit unto eternal glorification? Yeah. He’ll make good on that. And you can be certain and sure of that. And so the trial, the trouble, the tribulation, it is working together in my life, in your life, in our lives, it is working together to make us more like Jesus.
And so look at Romans 8:16, backtracking, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit.” This is God’s indwelling spirit that He’s given to us. “The Spirit bears witness with our spirit;” that is, He confirms to us at the deepest level, “that we are God’s children. And if we are God’s children, then we are heirs.” What do we inherit? We are “heirs of God and we’re joint heirs together with Christ, if indeed we…” What? Oh, there’s that word we don’t like. “…if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be…”
“What? Oh, what a minute. You mean, God, You’re using this suffering, this difficulty to glorify Yourself in me?”
This is what Jesus prayed for you, and for me in the Garden of Gethsemane, there in John, chapter 17. You may remember, He says, “God, glorify Yourself in Me.”
What was Jesus just about to do? He’s about to suffer on the cross. He says, “God, glorify Yourself in Me,” in My suffering. And then He prays this for us: “Glorify Yourself in them.”
“Wait a minute!! If You’re going to be glorified in Jesus through the cross, and now He’s praying for me… That doesn’t sound like a very nice prayer, Jesus!! You just prayed for me to suffer.”
“Yes. Yes I did.” “Father, I do not pray that You’d take them out of the world.” Jesus had just said, “In the world you will have tribulation.”
So, “if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Look at verse 18; this is key; put an exclamation point next to it. “For I consider,” Paul says, “that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.” You see, the moment you come into the presence of God, 1 John 3:2, “when we see Him, we shall be like Him;” the moment that you come into His presence, and you are glorified, any suffering, even if it were the worst possible suffering that anyone could ever face here on the face of this planet, any suffering will be not even a shadow of a memory.
And so Paul says, “we rejoice in tribulation,” Romans, chapter 5, verse 3. How do we do that? Because we have a little bit of knowledge; notice, “we rejoice in tribulation, knowing…” We are given advance info from God here, through the apostle Paul. We encounter tribulation like all humanity does, whether saved or unsaved, every human experiences difficulty, and tribulation, and trial. But we, who are in Christ, we have info that the one who’s not in Christ does not have. We know, we understand that, because God has revealed it to us through His word, that tribulation, it “produces perseverance,” Paul says; which results in character, which produces hope; or we could say, it increases our hope.
So we start with hope, because God has justified us, given us peace with Him, and given us access into grace, and so we have the hope of eternity with God, because what He’s done, and now, as we go through the tribulations of this life, it only works to increase our hope in God. Perseverance is cheerful, or hopeful endurance, or patience. Now, again, we live in a society, a culture, that tries to do away with anything that’s painful, because we don’t like patience. We don’t like to endure hardship. This is why we love diet pills. Billions of dollars a year are spent on diet pills. Why? Because it’s hard work to go to the gym and actually work at it. It is! And we’d just rather not endure that. This is why we love drive-thrus; which actually goes against the diet pills; because we don’t want to actually have to make the food, it’s just easier to spend a buck ninety-nine. There are so many ways, in our culture, in which we’ve tried to keep ourselves from any form of endurance, or trying to deal with any sort of pain or suffering now. We don’t want to have to deal with cancer; it’s not easy. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not trying to make light of these things. But the reality is, we live in a culture that’s trying to do away with every sort of sanctifying thing that God wants to bring into our lives. That’s a check for us.
“You mean God wants to make me more like Him, and I keep trying to be conformed to this world and say, ‘No, I don’t want that.’”
So we know that perseverance is the product of tribulation, and perseverance, it results in character, which could also be the word approvedness, and that results in hope, increased hope, joyful, confident expectation of eternal salvation. So, in Christ, tribulation has its value. Tribulation has value in Jesus. It is productive! It’s hard for us to recognize that, but God allows suffering in my life and in your life because it’s productive. Therefore, knowing that, Paul says we can rejoice in tribulation. In other words, it’s possible; it’s possible. I love the words of Martin Luther, not Martin Luther King, but Martin Luther, the reformer; Luther said this, “Whatever virtues tribulation finds in us, it develops more fully. If anyone is carnal, or weak, or blind, or wicked, or haughty, and so forth, tribulation will make him more carnal, more weak, blind, wicked, and irritable.” Have you ever met any of those people?
Now, “on the other hand,” he says, “if one is spiritual, strong, wise, pious, gentle, and humble, he will become more spiritual, powerful, wise, pious, gentle, and humble.” So it is as if tribulation amplifies our character, and that means it will amplify our character flaws. Now, in Christ, God allows that to be the case, so that… Why? …so that we can repent of those, and ask Him to remove them from our lives. You see, it’s a sanctifying process.
And so Paul says of this hope, at the end of these verses, “Now hope does not disappoint.” This kind of hope, in the midst of tribulation, the non-believer looks at the believer who’s going through difficulty, and who is patiently enduring it, and says, “What is wrong with you?!”
Don’t worry. They’re approaching the day of their death. They’ve lost nearly all of their weight because the cancer has riddled their body. They’re laying in the hospital, at Palomar over here, and you go in there and they’re gleaming and saying, “I’m looking forward to seeing Jesus.”
And their non-believing friend is going, “What is wrong with you?! Why do you have this hope, this is pitiful.”
Well, Paul says, “that hope does not disappoint.” Another way of saying it is: you will not be ashamed of hoping in God. He won’t leave you to be ashamed, if you hope in Him, if your trust is in Him. Because why? “The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Spirit of God.”
Now this is the first time in the book of Romans that the word love is mentioned, and it’s got importance in that. But what is being said here in this passage? What does it mean that we have hope that does not disappoint because “the love of God is shed in our hearts by the Spirit of God?” How does that have any bearing on anything? What’s this big deal, anyway?
Well, God has given to us the abiding presence of His Holy Spirit. One of the evidences of His Spirit being in us is the fruit of the Spirit, which is, first and foremost, love. So, He reveals love in us; that’s evidence that God’s Spirit is in us. And the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, Paul says, in Ephesians, chapter 1, that the Holy Spirit dwelling in us is God’s guarantee that He will ultimately redeem us. Ephesians 1, verse 13: “In Him also” we trusted, “you trusted, after you heard the word of the truth of the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance.” The indwelling presence of God’s Spirit, and the resulting love of God in our lives, is proof to us that God will finish the work that He started. It’s the guarantee to us that we will be with Him in eternity.
Well how is that? Well remember what God has already done. Look at verse 6: “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man,” for a good man, “would one die.” I’m sorry, “scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone may even dare to die. But God demonstrates His love towards us, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
“The love of God is shed abroad in your heart.” And that love reminds us what God has done in demonstrating His love towards us. It would be difficult for us to lay down our life for someone else. Maybe for a good man you might say, “You know what, I’ll stand in this person’s place.”
But that would be pretty hard. That’s the ultimate stand. But God demonstrates His love towards you, towards me, when we were His enemies. “When we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
So, if He has already done that… Look with me over at Romans, chapter 8 again; verse 32: “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”
Now, the “all things” there; what is He speaking about? The context is forgiveness, eternal salvation. If He already laid down His life, the greatest sacrifice, why would He not fulfill what He said He would fulfill?
Verse 9, Romans, chapter 5: “Much more then, having now been justified…” It’s already done. We’ve been justified. “…by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”
There’s coming a day of the revelation of God’s wrath, Romans 1, verse 18; Romans 2, verse 5. There’s coming a day when God’s wrath will be revealed against all unrighteousness, against all ungodliness. Every single one of us are ungodly and unrighteous; and yet in the blood of Christ we’ve been transformed, we’ve been changed. Therefore, “we shall be saved from wrath through Jesus. For if when we were enemies He reconciled us to God through the death of His Son, much more,” second time, “having been reconciled,” now that we are reconciled, He reconciled us, He brought us to Himself when we were enemies, now that we are reconciled, we’re going to be “saved by His life.”
Remember we just saw, in Romans, chapter 4, the last verses, Jesus was delivered up for our transgression, He was raised up, He lives now for our justification. So, we’re going to be saved, that is glorified in the future, by His life. And not only that, but “we,” third time, “rejoice…” “…we rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”
God justifies the ungodly, through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Righteous. He has imparted to us His righteousness, in which we stand, in grace, in hope of the glory of God, which enables us to rejoice in the midst of tribulation, knowing that one day we will rejoice in God, being reconciled to Him, and standing in the presence of God, where there is “fullness of joy, and pleasures forevermore.” This is awesome.
Now trust me, you will this year, we all will this year, in some way, shape, or form, experience some level of difficulty, tribulation, trial, distress. For some it may be great; you maybe will lose a family member, you may lose a job, you may lose your health. For others it may be something that might be considered insignificant; your engine dies… I don’t know. Whatever it may be; we will go through these thing; everybody goes through these things. But God, if we will recognize it, God is wanting to use that – “all things work together for good.” The good that He’s talking about is our transformation more into Christlikeness. You see, I shared with you a few weeks ago, that the word that I believe God has for us, as a church, as we go through this year, is that we would reflect His glory. And one of the ways that God chooses to use in our lives through which He reflects His glory is to allow us to go through suffering, and in the midst of suffering, show Himself faithful on our behalf. It’s a heavy reality, but God has a good plan. And ultimately, it’s His glory. For the chief end of man is the glorification of God.
Let’s stand together
Father, we pray today, as we pray often, that You would glorify Yourself in us. Whatever method You choose. Lord, if You choose to glorify Yourself in us by blessing us in abundance, with some sort of gain here in this life, that we might use it for Your glory, then may that be the case. But if Lord, You choose to bless and glorify Yourself in us through difficulty, God, may it be that ultimately You’re glorified. Whatever You carry us through, help us to rejoice in hope, to rejoice in tribulation, because ultimately we’re rejoicing in You, God. Work this in our lives we pray. We ask it today in Jesus’ name.