"God's Peace" Bible Study on Romans 5:1-8
June 10, 2020, 8:16 PM

Dear Members & Friends:

I invite you to read the following passage from Romans 5:1-8 (Common English Bible).

1Therefore, since we have been made righteous through his faithfulness, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.2 We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand through him, and we boast in the hope of God’s glory. 3 But not only that! We even take pride in our problems, because we know that trouble produces endurance, 4 endurance produces character, and character produces hope. 5 This hope doesn’t put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

6 While we were still weak, at the right moment, Christ died for ungodly people. 7 It isn’t often that someone will die for a righteous person, though maybe someone might dare to die for a good person. 8 But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

Since the horrific murder of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer, we have heard many political and religious leaders say, "There can be no peace without justice."  And we have witnessed the ungodliness of racism.  We live in a world in need of a just and merciful God who will give us a righteous peace with justice.  How does God deliver ungodly, sinful people?

The Apostle Paul addresses Christians in the church at Rome, assuming that they are people who have spent their lives attempting to get close to God.  We are down here on earth, at the present time a place filled with strife (although I think it has always been such a place throughout human history).  God is up there in heaven.  A vast gulf -- our sin, our mortality, our finitude -- stands between us and God.  Some in that early congregation surely thought that the key to bridging the gap was the law of Moses, the commandments, the Torah.  Perhaps there were others who thought that being good citizens of the empire would please the gods who would give them something from the store of their bounty.  Because it was the classical world, I expect that still others thought that they could reach divine knowledge through philosophical investigation and speculation: Think your way toward the gods.

Paul's great affirmation which he makes in these few verses from his Letter to the Romans is that the gap has been decisively bridged, not by us but by Jesus Christ.  In the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, somehow the God we thought we were attempting to reach has reached out to us.

"Therefore, since we have been made righteous through his [Jesus'] faithfulness, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand through him, and we boast in the hope of God's glory" (Romans 5:1-2).  God, the just, righteous, and merciful God, is the only Judge who can set things right between us and God.  And Jesus' faithful obedience even unto death on a cross is how God set things right for every human being.

"We have been made righteous," says Paul.  By an amazing act of God's graciousness, things have been set right between us and God, the great chasm separating us from God has been bridged, and "we have access" to God.  Our standing with God is this: we now "stand" in God's grace (Romans 5:2), God's love and goodness right now and for the rest of eternity.

The grace of God in Jesus Christ that includes both Jew and Gentile (and I want to add people of all ages, languages, and races) is also the "grace in which we stand."  And if God let's us stand in God's grace, we should stand with all those for whom Christ died, regardless of the color of their skins because we all have been made righteous by Christ's death on the cross.  Because God has enfolded us in grace, we are able to "stand," holding firm even in times of distress and difficulty.  We can't achieve this standing with God.  It's a free gift; we can only receive it.

Aside from relating us to God, what does this divine grace get us?  Curiously, Paul says that the reception of grace leads not to prosperity but often to suffering.  Yet even in our suffering, there is gracious fruit.  Our times of suffering are given meaning for those who stand in the grace of God.  Suffering, which before grace produced only anguish, produces endurance that gives the fruit of character, and character produces hope.  This "character" is not the result of our earnest striving but rather of our standing with God in grace.

It's love that produces these fruits.  And what a love!  Paul's contrast between dying for a righteous person and dying for a good person in verse 7 is striking.  Paul says bluntly that Christ has died for the ungodly rather than for the godly.  Surely this is one of the most difficult of claims for those of us who worship on Sunday, we the presumed godly.  How striking for Paul to tell the godly in Rome -- many of whom were probably suffering in some way or another for the gospel -- that Christ died for the ungodly.

Paul really drives home his point that the God to whom we have attempted to gain access has, in Jesus Christ, gained access to us by saying that God's desire is to love, not only the "godly" but the determinedly "ungodly."  Heaven has stooped to us who tried, in so many ways, to climb up to God.  The One who was most godly has died for whom?  The ungodly.

Much of human history is the sad story of struggle against God.  Now, in Jesus Christ, God has declared a unilateral peace with those who could not make peace with God on our own.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor Greg Rupright



Comments

06-13-2020 at 6:23 PM
Pat May
Can’t wait to hear your sermon! AND see you again at “Fellowship Time” in ZOOM!
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