[Aug 05]—Fringe Benefits

Romans 5:1-5

            Remember what I said about soteriolgy (the theological study of our salvation): It’s simple enough that a child of six can understand it and receive Christ, and it’s deep enough that the wisest among us will never plumb its depths. Paul’s spent the last two chapters explaining and proving that we’re saved by grace through faith in Christ alone, not by anything that we do. Now in the fifth chapter he delves even deeper into this great salvation.
            If someone is a “baby” Christian who just received Jesus, it’s entirely understandable that they mainly see the main benefit of salvation as escape from Hell and entrance into Heaven someday. There’s nothing wrong with that—for a baby Christian. But if you’ve been saved for a while and that’s the extent of your thinking on the matter, it’s woefully inadequate.
            First we need to take a close look at the phrase “Since we have been justified. . .” let me quote John MacArthur:  “The Greek construction—and its Eng. translation—underscores that justification is a one-time legal declaration with continuing results. . .not an ongoing process.” That deserves repetition and emphasis: Justification before God is a one-time legal declaration, not an ongoing process which you can fail at later on down the road.
            So what are these “continuing results”? I count at least six in these five verses:

  • Peace with God. Again, quoting MacArthur: “Not a subjective, internal sense of calm and serenity, but an external, objective reality.” Due to the fact that God is holy and we’re sinners, we’re in a state of war with him. And in a war between God and, well, anyone, the outcome’s not really in doubt. Thankfully, his preferred method of destroying his enemies is by turning them into his children and heirs. The term he uses later in vs. 10 and elsewhere is “reconciled.” The picture the Bible presents is two warring parties, and through Christ the two sides are reconciled to each other, specifically through his blood.

  • Access. The whole priesthood/sacrificial system in the Old Testament was to provide access back to him, and it provided only limited success. Our sin—to use another image—effected an unbridgeable gulf between God and man. Unbridgeable to us, not to him. By his blood we have full and direct and constant access to the Throne, and because of our Great High Priest, this Throne is not one of judgment or a source of fear, but the “Throne of grace,” where we find “mercy and. . .grace to help us in our time of need.”

  • Hope in glory. We need to be clear here, because the word “hope” in English connotes uncertainty: “I really hope I get that raise.” That’s not the idea here. “Hope” in Scripture refers to something certain but not fulfilled yet. Because of our salvation, our hope is not in a politician or a government nor anything done by men, but our (sure) hope is to share in God’s glory when our Lord returns to openly claim what’s rightfully his.

  • Glory in sufferings. What?! Why is this a benefit? Well, you’re going to suffer in this life. It’s a given, although some suffer more than others. But if you’re a beloved child of God, redeemed by the blood of Christ, you can turn your sufferings into an opportunity. An opportunity for what? Well, he has a very meaningful progression here:  Sufferings>perseverance>character>hope. We suffer, and the Lord uses that to produce perseverance, which leads to greater character (another term for being like Christ), and this leads to being certain that God’s word will be proven true.

  • Love. This is talking not just about the objective love God has for us, but the subjective sense in our souls that he loves us (“poured into our hearts”), which—again—is effected by what Christ has done for us. And what’s the means of this “pouring”?

  • The Holy Spirit. This is the benefit through which all the others come. Just as Christ mediates for us in Heaven, the Holy Spirit is the conduit from God down to us. All of his blessings—listed here and every one not listed—is brought to us in and through and by means of the Third Person of the Trinity.
            These are some of the benefits of our great salvation. A little bit more than just escape from Hell and a ticket to Heaven, wouldn’t you say?

Father God, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit. Wow. Thank you. I’m yours. 

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