“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 hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the Holy Spirit who was given to us has poured out the love of God in our hearts. 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 even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now 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 the reconciliation.” Romans 5:1-11
In Romans 5, Paul brings us face-to-face with the great doctrine of justification. Being justified means that we are declared righteous and acquitted before God. Paul wants us to know that salvation in the Lord can’t be procured by keeping God’s commands perfectly or being the best we can be. When a person is justified in the sight of God, it is only because of pure grace. This spiritual blessing can only be had through faith.
In Romans 5:1, Paul brings to our notice another great blessing as a result of our justification: “peace with God.” This “justification” and “peace with God” is brought to us through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. The peace with God that is mentioned here does not mean “the peace of God,” which is a subjective feeling of peacefulness that as a believer we might experience in our walk with the Lord. Rather, peace with God connotes an actual reality believers have in their legal and right standing with God, a positive blessing from God expressing that all is well between Him and us.
In Romans 5:2, Paul continues on to say, “By whom we also have access into this grace.” For this right standing before God, as believers, we owe everything to our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by Him only that we are given grace and spiritual blessings. What a glorious thing to have acceptance with God - to know that the war is over and that peace prevails! It is far better to have access into God’s presence, and to be taken there in the pierced hand of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul has established our justification, our peace with God, and our free access into the presence of God here at the beginning of Romans 5.
In Romans 5:3-5 Paul claims, “we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.” Here Paul is urging the believer on to spiritual maturity. He shows us how maturity is developed in us through a process of melting, then mellowing, followed by molding, and then a maturing process. When believers have been given tribulation, they are forced to grow in patience, and this experience helps to show us the hope we have eternally through these experiences of trials.
One example we might look at is the maturing pain of tribulation well illustrated in the case of Job. First, we see him suffering in the hands of Satan, then in the hands of men, and finally, redeemed in the hands of God. At the hands of Satan, Job received tribulation that wrought in him “patience.” At the hand of man his patience was sorely tried, but through it all he gained “experience.” Ultimately, in the hands of God, Job came triumphantly through at last to that “hope which maketh not ashamed.” (Romans 5:5) The Job that we meet at the end of the book is far more righteous than the one we meet at the beginning as a result of his tribulation.
In Romans 5:5, Paul declares, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” We see here that the Holy Spirit who is given unto us makes this maturity good to us. It is the Holy Spirit who assures us of our justification, peace with God, and access to God. It is He who brings us to complete maturity and makes us more like Christ.
This first chapter of Romans also contains some of the most comprehensive statements in the Bible about the love and grace of God. In Romans 5:6-9, Paul proclaims, “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 even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”
Paul wants to convince us that God’s love guarantees our eternal security because we are indeed “saved from wrath.” God’s love also planned our redemption in an eternity past, when “we were still without strength.” Then God’s love yielded up Christ to the death of the Cross “when we were still sinners.” Lastly, we see here that we will be saved from God’s wrath through God’s love, which ultimately opens wide the gates of heaven to welcome sinners.
Let us examine in other scriptures where we see proof of God’s love in this gift of His Son: First, in John 3:16, we see that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” Secondly, in Ephesians 5:25 Paul says, “Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body…Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” Lastly, in Galatians 2:20, Paul declares, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Let us consider the nature of God’s love for us in the absolute exceeding sinfulness in our nature. In Mark 7 we see that this depravity of man is inherent. Jesus says, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” In our human nature, because of the Fall from the beginning in the Garden of Eden, humanity is from within and from the heart fallen. In our fallen humanity, therefore, proceed these evil things. Despite such vile wickedness God loved mankind! He “so” loved them that He “gave His only begotten Son” to save them from a lost eternity.
Once we recognize how deep this love of Christ is for us, we must also never separate the love of Christ from that of the Father, for “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.” The nails that were hammered into the Savior’s hands were driven into the Father’s heart too. The spear that pierced the Savior’s side plunged into the Father’s bosom too. Our Father God also suffered with the Son; in the breadth, length, depth, and height of the love of Christ we see the infinite, measureless dimension of the Father’s love for us. God’s love is perfect, not wrought with human fallenness as are our own attempts at love.
Paul’s view of God’s love was that it was unsurpassed by human thought. His love is also unconditional, meaning there are no conditions to or limitations of His love for His people. For example, In Romans 5:6, Paul says, “For when we were without strength, Christ died for the ungodly.” Despite the fact that we were unable to obey him, without the ability to help ourselves, God unconditionally loves us through His son Christ dying for us! The Lord’s love was indeed for the ungodly. While Jesus’ death on the cross could have become an Armageddon, where the twelve legions of shining angels with flaming swords were called and the last days were initiated, instead, when demons and men were doing their worst, Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” and died there for us on the cross. (Luke 23:34) God’s love truly is unconditional and knows no bounds!
We also see that God’s love is incomparable. As sinners and ungodly we deserved the undiluted and unmitigated wrath of God. Instead, “while we were sinners, Christ died for us.” The comparison in Romans 5:7-8 is between divine love and human love. Paul brings to our attention two types of men. First, there are righteous men and then there are good men; these are both definitions and pictures of human love. A righteous man is a just man, and is approved by others. A good man is a kind, benevolent man and is loved by others. As Paul says, “scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.”
When Jesus is telling his disciples to love one another, He also tells them, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) In contrast to this, Paul says that when we were ungodly, without strength, sinners, and enemies, “Christ died for us.” God did not love us because there was reciprocal love in us. He sent forth His Son regardless, and kept on loving men even though they spat in His face, plowed His back with a scourge, nailed Him naked and thorn-crowned to a cross, sneered and mocked Him in His anguish, until the sun hid His blushing face, the earth quaked in terror and the rocks split open in protest. As Paul claims in Colossians 1:20, God has “made peace through the blood of His Cross.”
Paul finally goes on in Romans 5:10-11 to describe some of the benefits or products of God’s love. He says, “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 the reconciliation.” First, we are “reconciled to God.” Secondly, we are “saved from wrath” through Christ. Lastly, Christ gives His life to us and we are “saved by His life.” (Romans 5:9-10) Christ giving His life for us saves us from the penalty of sin, and Christ giving His life to us saves us from the power of sin. Finally, Christ giving His life will save us from the presence of sin. God still loves the unlovable, the ungodly, sinners, and enemies—He loves you. In the beautiful words of the hymn, The Wonder of It All, let us ponder the wonder of God’s love for us: “But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul, is the wonder that God loves me. O, the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all! Just to think that God loves me.”