Paul wrote the fifth chapter of Romans to teach those who have been justified by God through faith in Jesus Christ that they are secure in their salvation. We have already seen several ways he has done this. He has spoken of the “peace” which has been made between God and ourselves by the work of Christ, of our mystical union with Christ, and of the different way you and I are able to regard suffering because of our knowledge of what God is doing with us. The last thing I want to look at is what Paul calls “the hope of the glory of God.”

You have all heard the tired atheistic rebuttal to Christian doctrine based upon the presence of suffering in the world. One form of it goes like this: “If God were good, he would wish to make his creatures happy, and if God were almighty he would be able to do what he wished. But his creatures are not happy. Therefore God lacks either goodness or power or both.” That objection is insulting in its simplicity, for it assumes that absence of suffering is the only ultimate good and that the only possible factors involved in our quandary are the alleged benevolence and alleged omniscience of God. The Christian knows that there is more to suffering than this.

Yesterday we looked at the first benefit of our justification, which is peace with God. We also began to look at the second benefit, which is our union with Christ. We saw that this doctrine, found in the teaching of the apostles, goes back to Jesus himself. Let me list a few analogies the Bible uses to describe this union.

This new state has several important features marked by the other key words in the first half of Romans 5. The first is “peace.” It occurs in verse one in the phrase “peace with God.” This is a military metaphor, of course, and it points to the fact that before our justification we were not at peace with God. You might say, as Henry David Thoreau is quoted as having said, “I am not at war with God.” But you are lying when you say that. Jesus said that your responsibility is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” and that you are also to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37, 39; cf. Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18). But you do not love God in your unsaved state. You actually hate God, hate others, and hate yourself. Someone has said, we would murder God if we could, we murder others when we can, and we commit spiritual suicide every day of our lives. However, having been justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, this state of spiritual warfare has been changed to one of peace. We now have peace with God, make peace with others, and experience a new measure of personal peace within ourselves.

“If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?” Haven't you heard this classic put-down of someone who has been acting arrogantly?

I think of it as we move from Romans 3 to Romans 5, because I know that a person might read what I have written about justification by grace and ask: “If justification is as great as you say it is, why aren't Christians rich?” The answer, of course, is that Christians are rich, spiritually speaking. It is what the fifth chapter of Romans is about. Romans 5 tells us that our standing in grace has swelled our spiritual assets by giving us: 1.) peace with God; 2.) union with Christ; 3.) a transformed response to suffering; and 4.) a confident hope of our ultimate glorification.