The Blessings of Justification
Justification—the act of God declaring men free from guilt and acceptable to him, notice Romans 4:25.
Since Romans is a book of logic, it is a book of “therefores.”
Preachers have always said when you find the word “therefore” in the Bible, you should always look and see what it is “there for.”
We have the “therefore” of condemnation in Romans 3:20.
We have the “therefore” of justification in Romans 5:1.
We have the “therefore” of no condemnation in Romans 8:1.
We have the “therefore” of dedication in Romans 12:1.
In presenting his case, Paul has proved that the whole world is guilty before God, and that no one can be saved by religious deeds, such as keeping the Law.
To this point in the Book of Romans, Paul has convinced us all that the only way of salvation is to be justified by grace, through faith. Now he will tell us what the practical benefits of this are, explaining that it is more than an interesting idea.
He explained two basic truths: the blessings of our justification (Rom. 5:1–11), and the basis for our justification (Rom. 5:12–21).
What is justification? It is the declared purpose of God to regard and treat those sinners who believe in Jesus Christ as if they had not sinned, on the ground of the merits of the Savior. It is not mere pardon. Pardon is a free forgiveness of past offenses. It has reference to those sins as forgiven and blotted out. Justification has respect to the law, and to God's future dealings with the sinner. It is an act by which God determines to treat him hereafter as righteous—as if he had not sinned. The basis for this is the merit of the Lord Jesus Christ, merit that we can plead as if it were our own. He has taken our place and died in our stead; He has met the descending stroke of justice, which would have fallen on our own heads if He had not interposed.—Albert Barnes
Dr. Roy Gustafson has the finest illustration of justification I have ever heard. It seems that there was a man in England who put his Rolls-Royce on a boat and went across to the continent to go on a holiday. While he was driving around Europe, something happened to the motor of his car. He called the Rolls-Royce people back in England and asked, "I'm having trouble with my car; what do you suggest I do?" Well, the Rolls-Royce people flew a mechanic over! The mechanic repaired the car and flew back to England and left the man to continue his holiday. As you can imagine, the fellow was wondering, "How much is this going to cost me?" So when he got back to England, he wrote the people a letter and asked how much he owed them. He received a letter from the office that read: "Dear Sir: There is no record anywhere in our files that anything ever went wrong with a Rolls-Royce." That is justification.—John Flavel
I. Blessing # 1: Peace with God (v. 1)
A. The unsaved person is at “enmity with God” (Rom. 5:10; 8:7) because he cannot obey God’s Law or fulfill God’s will.
This is not the peace of God spoken of in other places (such as Philippians 4:7). This is peace with God; the battle between God and us is finished - and He won, winning us.
Two verses from Isaiah make the matter clear:
There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.—Isaiah 48:22
And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.—Isaiah 32:17
Condemnation means that God declares us sinners, which is a declaration of war. Justification means that God declares us righteous, which is a declaration of peace, made possible by Christ’s death on the cross.
Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.—Psalm 85:10
“Because the Law worketh wrath” (Rom. 4:15), nobody condemned by the Law can enjoy peace with God. But when you are justified by faith, you are declared righteous, and the Law cannot condemn you or declare war!
The Personnel Journal reported this incredible statistic: since the beginning of recorded history, the entire world has been at peace less than eight percent of the time! In its study, the periodical discovered that of 3530 years of recorded history, only 286 years saw peace. Moreover, in excess of 8000 peace treaties were made—and broken.—Moody Bible Institute, Today In The Word, June, 1988, p.33
Peace is such a precious jewel, that I would give anything for it but truth.—Matthew Henry
II. Blessing # 2: Access to God (v. 2)
A. The believer can now approach God because of his new standing.
In the Bible there is a distinction between our standing and our state:
Our standing refers to our position and never changes (1 Corinthians 15:1; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Our state refers to our condition on earth and may change (for better or for worse) daily (Philippians 2:19, Colossians 4:7).
Illustrate: My children have total access to me because I’m their dad.
Our new standing now gives us that blessed privilege not experienced by either Jew or Gentile in the Old Testament.
We now have access to God’s throne itself. In the Old Testament there was very little of this. Consider:
1. A Gentile was barred at the gates of the Temple.
2. A Jewish woman was stopped at the woman’s court.
3. A non-Levite Hebrew could not enter the inner court.
4. The High Priest himself could only enter into the Holy of holies once a year.—BUT on Calvary this veil separating God’s glory from sinful man was rent in two by Christ (Matthew 27:51; Hebrews 10:19).
III. Blessing # 3: Hope in God (v. 2b)
“Peace with God” takes care of the past: He will no longer hold our sins against us. “Access to God” takes care of the present: we can come to Him at any time for the help we need. “Hope of the glory of God” takes care of the future: one day we shall share in His glory!
The word “rejoice” can be translated “boast,” not only in Romans 5:2, but also in Romans 5:3 and 11 (“joy”). When we were sinners, there was nothing to boast about (Rom. 3:27), because we fell short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). But in Christ, we will amplify this in Romans 8:18–30.
IV. Blessing # 4: Assurance from God (vs. 3-4)
“Knowing that tribulation worketh”:
Patience—means perseverance or endurance.
Hope—expectation of good, joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation.
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations: Paul replies, “I know we have many tribulations now but we glory in those also.”
Paul isn’t simply spinning out spiritual platitudes. First, he uses strong words. “Tribulations” is a strong term. It does not refer to minor inconveniences, but to real hardships" (Morris). Second, Paul lived a life full of tribulation. If this is true Paul knew it better than anyone.
Knowing that tribulation produces patience or perseverance: We can glory in tribulations (literally, stresses) because they are the occasion to produce perseverance (endurance).
A runner must be stressed to gain endurance. Sailors must go to sea. Soldiers go to battle. For the Christian, tribulation is just part of our Christian life. We should not desire or hope for a tribulation-free Christian life, especially because:
God uses tribulation wonderfully in our life, God knows how much tribulation we can take, and He carefully measures the tribulation we face. Those who are not Christians face tribulation also.
A Christian man should be willing to be tried; he should be pleased to let his religion be put to the test. ‘There,’ says he, ‘hammer away if you like.’ Do you want to be carried to heaven on a feather bed?—Spurgeon
Whatever virtues tribulation finds us in, it develops more fully. If anyone is carnal, weak, blind, wicked, irascible, haughty, and so forth, tribulation will make him more carnal, weak, blind, wicked and irritable. On the other hand, if one is spiritual, strong, wise, pious, gentle and humble, he will become more spiritual, powerful, wise, pious, gentle and humble.—Martin Luther
Patience; experience and experience, hope: This is a golden chain of Christian growth and maturity. One virtue builds upon another as we grow in the pattern of Jesus.
Most every Christian wants to develop character and have more hope. These qualities spring out of perseverance, which comes through tribulation. We may wish to have better character and more hope without starting with tribulation, but that isn’t God’s pattern and plan.
I would rather have God just sprinkle perseverance and character and hope on me as I sleep. I could wake up a much better Christian! But that isn’t God’s plan for me or for any Christian.
This assurance from God once prompted Andrew Murray to write:
“First, He brought me here, it is by His will I am in this strait place; in that fact I will rejoice. Next, He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace as His child. Then, He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends for me to learn, and working in me the grace He meant to bestow. Last, in His good time He can bring me out again—how and when He knows. Thus: I am (1) here by God’s appointment, (2) in His keeping, (3) under His training, and (4) for His time.”
V. Blessing # 5: Indwelt by God (v. 5)
A believer’s hope, since it is centered in God and His promises, does not disappoint him. “Disappoint” means “put to shame because of disappointment” in unfulfilled promises.
This affirmation concerning hope in God is a reflection of Psalm 25:3, 20-21. The reason this hope (resulting finally from affliction) does not disappoint is that God has poured out His love into our hearts. God’s love, so abundant in believer’s hearts, encourages them on in their hope. And this love is poured out by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. The Holy Spirit is the divine Agent who expresses to a believer the love of God, that is, God’s love for him. The reality of God’s love in a believer’s heart gives the assurance that the believer’s hope in God and His promise of glory is not misplaced and will not fail. This ministry of the Holy Spirit is related to His presence in believers as the seal of God (Ephesians 4:30) and as the earnest or down payment of their inheritance in glory.
VI. Blessing # 6: Preserved in God (vs. 6-10)
Paul argued from the lesser to the greater. If God saved us when we were enemies, surely He will keep on saving us now that we are His children. There is a “wrath to come,” but no true believer will experience it (1 Thessalonians 1:9–10; 5:8–10). Paul further argued that if Christ’s death accomplished so much for us, how much more will He do for us in His life as He intercedes for us in heaven!
A group of botanists went on an expedition into a hard-to-reach location in the Alps, searching for new varieties of flowers. One day as a scientist looked through his binoculars, he saw a beautiful, rare species growing at the bottom of a deep ravine. To reach it, someone would have to be lowered into that gorge. Noticing a local youngster standing nearby, the man asked him if he would help them get the flower. The boy was told that a rope would be tied around his waist and the men would then lower him to the floor of the canyon. Excited yet apprehensive about the adventure, the youngster peered thoughtfully into the chasm. "Wait," he said, "I'll be back," and off he dashed. When he returned, he was accompanied by an older man. Approaching the head botanist, the boy said, "I'll go over the cliff now and get the flower for you, but this man must hold onto the rope. He's my dad!"
VII. Blessing # 7: Reconciliation with God (v. 11)
The word atonement means “reconciliation, brought back into fellowship with God.” The term is mentioned also in Romans 5:10. In Romans 1:18–32, Paul explained how men declared war on God and, because of this, deserved to be condemned eternally. But God did not declare war on man. Instead, He sent His Son as the Peacemaker (Ephesians 2:11–18) that men might be reconciled to God.
A review of these seven blessings of justification shows how certain our salvation is in Christ. Totally apart from Law, and purely by grace, we have a salvation that takes care of the past, the present, and the future. Christ died for us; Christ lives for us; Christ is coming for us! Hallelujah, what a Saviour!
Reconciliation, Through Christ: Reconciled By Death
Years ago in a Western city, a husband and wife became estranged and finally separated. They left the city and resided in different parts of the country. The husband, one day, chanced to return to this city on a matter of business. He went out to the cemetery to the grave of their only son. He was standing by the grave in fond reminiscence, when he heard a step behind him. Turning, he saw his estranged wife. The first inclination of both was to turn away. But they had a common binding interest in that grave; and instead of turning away they clasped hands over that grave of their son and were reconciled one to another. It took nothing less than death to reconcile them!
It takes nothing less than death, the precious blood of Christ, to reconcile man to God. The pronouncement, the proclamation of that, is the gospel message.–McCartney