"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Study in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans – “On the Road of Righteousness” Chapter Five:

~~ By James Fire

Chapter Five: The FAITH, HOPE and LOVE in the REIGN of Grace as found in Romans Five

It’s long been said that when you encounter a “therefore” (or even a “wherefore”) in the Scriptures, you have to find out what it’s ‘there for’; in other words, these two words are transitive. They relate a previous thought with the one that follows and that is the case here in Romans chapter Five. Let’s back up a bit and review the last couple of verses in chapter Four:

Rom 4:22-25
And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;

But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification
.

Because Abraham “staggered not at the promise of God” (vs. 20) it was “imputed to him for righteousness” (vs. 22). This imputed righteousness means that the LORD God, by propitiation by the blood of Christ Jesus (Rom. 3:25) and His resurrection (Rom. 4:25) has justified us, and because of this justification “therefore… we have peace with God through our LORD Jesus Christ”.
~*Since God is our Maker, He has created us (His “creatures”) for a relationship with Himself, and if we can’t have such relationship (and due to sin, we cannot, because God is holy and cannot partake of sin) then we can never know any lasting fulfillment in life, or any lasting peace. Any such feelings of fulfillment or peace or joy for that matter will always be temporary (John 4:13) as they are based on physical, intellectual and, or emotional things rather than spiritual things in accordance to God’s Word of Truth.

Sin has left an emptiness (a “vanity”) in our hearts that nothing but God Himself can fill and from which we derive that which we were created for: a relationship with God as our Father:

Rom 8:20
For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope
.

So then, let us proceed into chapter Five of Romans:

Rom 5:1-2
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God
.


In these two verses beginning chapter Five, faith and hope (not ‘hope’ as in an uncertain desire, but of a confident assurance) are already mentioned and love will be mentioned in vs. 5.
We see this trio also in 1 Cor. 13: 13 (“charity” is the old English word for love) in connection with and our ability to see the LORD, not in a glass darkly, but face to Face. As we grow in faith, hope and love by the grace of God, the ‘dark mirror’ gradually becomes clearer, until finally at heaven’s portal when we see our LORD personally (either at our death, or at the rapture of the church) we will see Him as He is, in the fullness of His glory (1 John 3:2-3; note that love and hope are also mentioned here)!

We cannot stand in our own merit, that is, we cannot base our relationship with God upon our own goodness or deeds as has already been shown in these previous chapters of Romans; we cannot stand on the Law in order to be justified with God.

Our stand or basis must be predicated upon the grace (unmerited favor) of God and nothing else; because if it ever does, then this will lead to self-righteousness and legalism that will staunch the power of God’s grace in our lives. Any additives are not only superfluous, but spiritually detrimental as they will detract from the blessing of the grace of God and diminish God’s ability to bestow any such blessings of a spiritual nature (though He “causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust” Matthew 5:45).

By our faith in God (and this faith isn’t even of our own manufacture, but given by God, according to Eph. 2: 8; Rom. 12:3*) we have access to this grace and are able to stand before God (not groveling in the dust before Him as hopeless sinners) “and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God”. This glory of God, I believe speaks of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. The Father said that He had glorified the Son (pre-cross) and would glorify it again (John 12:28) and shortly thereafter Christ Jesus was crucified, was buried and on the third day, He rose again (skeptics, atheists and what not have yet to find His bones, because they are now seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, along with the rest of His glorified body!).

* 2 Thess. 3:2 states that “not all men have faith” and this would seem to be a contradiction; yet if we do not use this faith in believing God, just as with muscle that is not used, it will atrophy and become weak and dying. In other words, Use it or lose it!

The glory of God surrounding the Cross also enables us to glory in troubles, burdens, and “tribulations” –

Rom 5:3
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience
;

It’s as we die to self, and our self-will by the Cross, and surrender to the will of God in all things, even in dire situations and trials that leave us in dismay or anxiety, that we find that there is hope in the One we love, and Who loves us. Yet there is a path we must tread:

Tribulation works patience – that is endurance to “hang in there, stick to it, don’t give up or give in to ANYONE or ANYTHING except God and His perfect will for our lives, which He Himself will reveal in His own time. “Wait on the LORD, be of good courage and He will strengthen you. Wait, I say on the LORD (Ps. 27:14)”.

From Email Edifications by pastor Jim Suttel of Calvary Chapel, Roswell, New Mexico we have the following edifying exhortation on patience:

DON'T QUIT HALFWAY THROUGH

As we patiently endure the trial we are burdened with, we gain experience in ministry from the Spirit to us during such times in our lives, providing us with His comfort (“strength” 2 Cor. 1: 3-5); we learn the ways of God in such times as we could never learn otherwise. The bitterness of the Cross in our lives when once endured, and has finished its work, becomes a sweetness in the fellowship of His sufferings (Phil. 3:10).

Rom 5:4-5
And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us
.

Once the trial has finished its work, and the character of Christ is more deeply etched into our lives, we have these treasured experiences that will encourage us in trials and tribulations further on down this road of righteousness, and we have hope that the LORD will be faithful in these, just as He has proven Himself in the past.

Isa 41:10
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness
.


Likewise we are able to bring “…comfort to others with the same comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted…” (2 Cor. 1: 4).
What begins with shaking knees and timorous steps will eventually turn to strides of confidence in the grace and power of God Who “always causes us to triumph in Christ” Jesus (2 Cor. 2:14). As we are strengthened in the faith, we are (sometimes) silent witnesses that speak volumes to others who are in need of such faith.

Such hope as we have will never ever disappoint (“ashamed”) us as this hope rests upon the immutable, faithful, everlasting Almighty and gracious God that loves us dearly and by Whom we have the privilege to call ‘Father’. This perfect love from our Abba Father casts out all fear, anxiety, worry, turmoil, anguish, etc. (1 Jn. 4:18).

Rom 5:6
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly
.

That Christ Jesus, the perfect and holy Lamb of God should even consider dying for us ungodly sinners is marvel enough; that He actually determined and fulfilled such an act is beyond our ability to fully appreciate. This sinless Lamb of God “became sin who knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21) so that “we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” Truly astounding!

On a side note: “… in due time …” expresses the fact that Christ died on the day appointed Him in accordance with prophecy (as proclaimed in Daniel Ch. 9:26) and further demonstrates that Jesus (Y’shua) is indeed the Messiah-King of Israel.

Rom 5:7-9
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him
.

People have been known to give their lives for others; this is a common story of noble and honorable soldiers who have jumped on a grenade, not sparing their own lives so that their brother soldiers would be saved. Others have tackled pedestrians, pushing them out of the way of a speeding vehicle, receiving the fatal impact themselves.

This was the primary theme of Charles Dicken’s story, A Tale of Two Cities, where the anti-hero (Sydney Carton). who loves a woman (Lucie Manette), gives up a life with her, so that she might have her own life with the man that she loves (Charles Darnay; and for whom the anti-hero gives his life, so that he might be spared):
As Carton (who bears a striking resemblance to Darnay) stands in the place of the accused, the executioners not knowing that this isn’t Darnay, says at the end of the story:

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”

Carton obviously didn’t read the book of Romans and the means to righteousness and of heaven (that “better rest”). Yet just as he gave his life for another, the Supreme Sacrificial Lamb died for all the ungodly and all sinners, demonstrating God’s love for us!

As mentioned before, the holiness of God must express judicious wrath and punishment upon all sinners: obstinate, rebellious and unrepentant; yet for those who are justified by His blood, we are saved from wrath through Him. Here is a proof text that supports the belief that the church will not be here on the Earth to endure the wrath of God in judgment. Others may mention that the church will endure the wrath of Satan, but such is already the case, and has been for these two thousands years. The time of Jacob’s Trouble is not primarily about the wrath of the devil, for his wrath involves knowledge that “his time is short”, and when he persecutes “the woman” this is a picture of Israel, NOT the church (Gen. 37: 9-10; Rev. 12: 1, 6, 12-17).

The church will not see the wrath of God (1 Thess. 5:9), nor even be kept through it (but kept from) while on this Earth, because she will be in heaven at this time; those kept through the wrath of God is that remnant of Israel that has faith in the coming Messiah as Scripture in the Old Testament reveals (as does Rev. 12): Isaiah 10:20-22; 11:11; Jer. 23:3; Joel 2:32; Micah 2:12; 5:7-8, Zech. 13:6 and others.

Rom 5:10-12
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned
:


Sin is the wages of death, and as sinners we who are enemies of God (unrepentant sinners) are destined to die. Yet as Christ Jesus, God’s Son died on the Cross for our sin, our sins were washed away clean by His blood. We were then reconciled to God in the sense that we are no longer guilty of ‘spiritual treason’ against the King of creation. There is no longer any animosity between the Holy God and us sinners because Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins by enduring God’s holy judgment and wrath in our place.

Yet even more so now are we reconciled because of His life, His resurrected life, which we partake of through the Holy Spirit who not only raised Him from the dead, but also by His very indwelling, imparts spiritual life to us as well (Rom. 8:11; 2 Cor. 3: 6; 4:11)! By His life in us, we are able to walk righteously before God our Father, and in practicing holiness be approved by Him Who will one day say to the obedient-from-the-heart saint, “Well done, good and faithful . . .”

From Dr. Scofield:

“The "wherefore" relates back to Romans 3:19-23 and may be regarded as a continuation of the discussion of the universality of sin, interrupted; Romans 3:24-5:11; by the passage on justification and its results.

…have sinned.

“The first sin wrought the moral ruin of the race. The demonstration is simple.

(1) Death is universal (Romans 4:12; Romans 4:14), all die: sinless infants, moral people, religious people, equally with the depraved. For a universal effect there must be a universal cause; that cause is a state of universal sin (Romans 5:12).

(2) But this universal state must have had a cause. It did. The consequence of Adam's sin was that "the many were made sinners" (Romans 5:19)--"By the offence of one judgment came upon all men unto condemnation" (Romans 5:18).

(3) Personal sins are not meant here. From Adam to Moses death reigned (Romans 5:14), although, there being no law, personal guilt was not imputed (Romans 5:13).

“Accordingly, from Genesis 4:7 to Exodus 29:14 the sin-offering is not once mentioned. Then, since physical death from Adam to Moses was not due to the sinful acts of those who die (Romans 5:13), it follows that it was due to a universal sinful state, or nature, and that state is declared to be out inheritance from Adam.

(4) the moral state of fallen man is described in Scripture Genesis 6:5; 1 Kings 8:46; Psalms 14:1-3; 39:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 18:11; Mark 7:20, 23; Romans 1:21; 2:1-29; 3:9-19; 7:24; 8:7; John 3:6; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 3:14 ; 4:4; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 2:1-3,11,12; 4:18-22; Colossians 1:21; Hebrews 3:13; James 4:14; 1 Corinthians 15:22.


Rom 5:13-14
(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come
.

Prior to the revelation of God’s Law, man was convicted by their conscience whenever they sinned; obviously any and all were sinners because of sin (that is, sin nature), regardless of the fact that the Law didn’t come until Moses. Sin brought death, and every one dies (only one resurrected to eternal life, Jesus Christ) so then every one is a sinner.

A pastor friend of mine was on a flight to Israel and had the opportunity to talk with a rabbi that was sitting next to him. He asked the rabbi, “What is the purpose of the Law?” and in typical rabbinical fashion, he repeated the question back to my pastor friend.
He responded by saying, “The Law is to reveal the sinfulness of man!”

"THAT is a very good answer!" exclaimed the rabbi.
“The Law of God also reveals the holiness of God!” my friend added.
“And THAT is also a very good answer!” said the rabbi with passion.

Now Paul goes through a short series of comparisons between “the offense of one” that is Adam; and “the gift of grace which is by one” that is, Jesus Christ.

Rom 5:15
But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many
.

Humanity’s ‘head of state’ was Adam, and since he fell into sin and thus the entire ‘corporation’ of the human race likewise fell, and we became the abject subjects of a doomed race. Yet that was the ‘First Adam’ and all in his lineage was bequeathed this heritage; there came however a ‘Last Adam’ which is Christ Jesus. A peculiar title and one might wonder what this means:

1 Cor 15:45-49
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.


As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.

And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly
.


The first Adam had life imparted to him, was a natural creature of the Earth and all of his descendants were and are likewise; the second Adam is the life-giving Spirit and is spiritual as the LORD from heaven and His (spiritual) progeny are likewise, though even now they bear the image of the earthy, one day we shall bear apparently the image of the heavenly.

Essentially we who are Christians are no longer members of the old corporate human race under ‘first Adam’, the fallen head of state; we are members of the new corporation of the new human race under the ‘last Adam’ Jesus Christ that enjoys freely this free gift of salvation through grace.

One day there will be a new Earth, a new Heavens, a New Jerusalem, and we who are of this new race will receive new bodies of a glorified (eternal; 1 Cor. 15: 50-54) state and the old race and all that it entailed will not even be so much as a part of history (history being that which transpires through time, and in eternity, time will be no more).

Rom 5:16-17
And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification
.

For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)


Any that belong to the old corporation of the first Adam is summarily condemned, for if the tree is corrupt, the fruit will be also (Matt. 7:17), and as it states in Genesis, each produce after their own “kind” (Genesis Ch. 1, 2), thus sinners beget sinners, none of which have any hope of attaining to righteousness by their own merit, worthiness and efforts.

Just so, any belonging to the new corporation, by virtue of the new birth (John 3:3, 5) is summarily justified, for if the tree is holy, the fruit will be also, and that seed which is Christ, if He dies and is buried, will bring forth much (holy) fruit (Jhn. 12:24).
Every human being will inevitably come face to Face with God, but the manner of that meeting will be one of two ways: either in judgment or in grace; since the judgment of sin upon fallen man is established already (Jhn. 3: 18-19; Romans 5:18), any that refuse the grace of God will simply continue unimpeded toward the ultimate destination of that condemnation, which is the second death (Rev. 20: 6, 14; 21: 8) and that which those that belong to Jesus Christ are saved from (Rev. 2: 11).

The “reign” of death has been the greatest plague and fear of humanity since the beginning, and this reign is without contestation and without escape (one hundred out of every one hundred people will indisputably die). People strive to look more youthful, exercise, seek cosmetic surgeries, diet, take supplements, even drug therapy so as to avoid the deadly reminder that age is creeping up and taking siege any and all powers of youth and vitality.

This word “reign” (and “reigned”) appears five times in this chapter, and the Greek word used is the same in all instances, and implies an ingressive approach of something, something introduced, or brought in, which certainly is the “reign of death” brought in by sin, as well as the “reign of life” brought in by Jesus Christ crucified, the very crucifix upon which He paid for our ransom is called a “tree” (a living thing rather than an instrument of death) and rose from the dead, having defeated it for eternity and providing us with His own righteousness!

Rom 5:18-20
Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound
:

Sinful man was always prone to sin, never to greater or lesser degrees, but consistently and typically in depths of depravity that are all equally abhorrent to the holy eyes of God, but this sin and sinful acts became all the more heinous when we rebel souls were exposed to the holy Law of God, and thus no longer ignorant of this holy standard, but willfully trespassing, and transgressing that which should have proven to be an impediment to our iniquities.

A rather intriguing methodology of proving this out is by placing a “Keep off the grass” sign in your front yard, and then after some weeks, bear witness of the foot path where people have worn away the grass by walking incessantly upon it!

I heard a story about an Inn on some river bank, and the manager of the place decided to post signs that said “Do Not Fish Off of Balconies” just in case someone thought of it; truth was, no one had ever thought of it, until that sign was posted. Then the manager had constant trouble with fishing lines getting tangled in the Inn’s shrubbery and gardens, and rankled guests that would get their lines enmeshed with each others. Eventually he took down the sign, and the trouble de-escalated!

What we as saints must take comfort in, is the truth that though the Law (and the Spirit) of God reveals our hearts, and we look with dismay at the abject spiritual poverty and wickedness that has been yet purged away practically, where such sin may abound, God’s grace, according to vs. 20 “MORE ABOUND[S]”!! This will lead the saint to humility, but the pseudo-saint to haughtiness. Such will then proceed in abusing the grace of God by imbibing deeply at sin’s well, knowing that it has a remedy, the blood of Christ; which is readily available to them, but not caring for the agonizing pain that such sin causes the heart of Jesus Who would rather such a one forsake them in favor of the blessedness of a holy life in Him!

Rom 5:21
That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord
.


Autonomy is something that we were never meant to have in the grand creation of God’s work; we were meant to be led, not oppressed; instructed, not brainwashed; engaged, not nullified; infused with life, not enslaved to death.

In all of six thousand years of history, humanity has in the main, proved unworthy of self-government. Any power allocated, no matter how delicately divided, inevitably amasses towards those that lust for it. It’s been said before that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely (Lord Acton).” However, I think Frank Herbert, novelist and creator of the Dune series brought this idea even further: “The corrupt are drawn to power.”

Power in the hands of the corrupt will lead to the oppression of the masses, the abrogation of truth and justice, and the dictates of the few becoming the (unlawful) law of the land to enslave and diminish (physically as well as morally) any population.

Power of rule, under the domination of the damned will bring about the death of all the higher ideals of humanity (left over and hollow shards in our souls as God would have had us before the fall into sin): beauty, justice, mercy, love, peace, compassion, etc. all will wither and die, giving place to the rotten fruit of victimization, cruelty, hatred, violence, predatory predilections, etc.

Sin indeed “hath reigned” and does reign “unto death”. Not just the death of individual lives, nor the death of humanity as a race, but every component part and branch in the ‘tree’ of mankind. There is no way to force an abdication of this reign, no method to revolt against it, no means to nullify it.

In the vast record of literature, one common theme is ‘man vs. himself’ but truly what resources does any one of us possess to fight against the evil within ourselves? Any such resource flows from the same fountain of sin nature. To fight against our ‘baser’ nature is like trying to pump air out of a glass with an air pump.
The grace of God however (remember, this grace is “unmerited favor”) reigns and will reign through righteousness (unto eternal life) through Jesus Christ our LORD.
The reign of righteousness is something that we who possess eternal life will witness when once our journey down this Road of Righteousness is completed. On this road we who are indwelt by the Spirit of Eternal Life, are now experiencing the blessed fruit of the Spirit: the love and faith and hope, along with gentleness, goodness, etc. and these are the characteristics of the KING Himself, and such are worthy qualities in any ruler.

The criteria of ruling in the kingdom are based not on power but on character: the LORD Jesus exhibits the character of holiness, purity, servanthood, incorruptibility, faithfulness, etc. to perfection. This is why we are to be conformed to the image of Christ, because God desires that we should share in ruling in His kingdom, but to do so, we must bring forth after HIS kind – thus the fruit of the Spirit evidenced in our lives proves (and will prove) our worthiness to rule with Christ Jesus, though our very presence in heaven, and the means by which such character is bestowed upon us is purely by the grace of God!

2 Tim 1:9-10
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel
:


So ends Chapter Five of Romans; next time in Chapter Six we will delve even more deeply into the salvation of God by grace, and how this practically flows from our spiritual position in Christ. For the next three chapters (6 – 8) this is the primary subject matter, and in a sense, this section is the most important for the believer to study and apply because its “where the rubber meets the road” of our every day, practical ‘living out’ of Jesus Christ Whose Spirit resides in us who believe.

After this section, Paul will transfer our attention from the practical holiness of the church, to another issue: Israel (Ch. 9 – 11). It just keeps getting more and more exciting, doesn’t it?! Until then saints, may the LORD Jesus Christ bless you all: WAY TOO MUCH!

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