Friday, 25 January 2013
Romans 5:1-11 - Three big words
At this point, it's worth understanding three big words that will help us navigate our way through a lot of what Paul says in the New Testament...
1. 'Justification' means Christians have been saved from the punishment of sin. This is a one-time event that happens the moment a person starts trusting and following Jesus.
2. 'Sanctification' means Christians are being saved from the practice of sin. This is a lifelong process that starts when a person trusts and follows Jesus.
3. 'Glorification' means Christians will be saved from the presence of sin. This happens at the moment a person who trusts and follows Jesus dies in this world and goes to be with Jesus forever in heaven.
So when Paul talks about being justified through faith, he means that everyone who has put their faith in Jesus has been saved from the punishment of sin. It's done. We ask for forgiveness and because of Jesus, God says yes. It's as simple and as amazing as that! We don't have anything to boast about except for the incredible love and grace and forgiveness of God through Jesus.
This means that even though Christians still suffer the same things others face in this world, they have a hope that others don't. Christians know they have forgiveness and peace with God that starts now and outlasts this world and everything it can do to them. This means Christians can face the worst this world can throw at them and still have peace. They're not left with nothing. Not only that but Paul says they can even benefit from suffering because they develop perseverance and character through it. This doesn't mean suffering is good (sin is still sin) but it means that God is an expert at bringing good out of evil and he does this when Christians suffer. Suffering is still bad and sanctification is tough but God is still good and Christians still have the same certain hope they did when they first trusted Jesus. They even have God himself living in them by his Holy Spirit so they go through nothing alone.
Very rarely will someone choose to die for others and even though it sometimes happens, Paul says Jesus' death for us is completely unique. Jesus didn't die for us because we are good but because we are bad and he is so good that he wants to save us anyway. Jesus on the cross is God's ultimate sign of his love for us. Forgiveness is a free gift for us but it cost God everything.
Anyone who trusts and follows Jesus is justified - saved from the punishment for sin, made right with God. This means God's anger and judgement on their sin goes on Jesus instead of them so they go free. God has nothing but love for the person whose sin is not on them any more. They were God's enemies but through faith in Jesus they are now friends with God.
Paul then does a bit of logic that goes like this... If God loved us so much when we were still his enemies that he died for us in our place, then those who have put their faith in him can absolutely expect only the very best in the end now that they are his friends! To use our three big words... Paul's saying that for Christians, justification is theirs and though sanctification is gruelling, glorification is certain!