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The Immeasurable Love of God

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The love of God demonstrated through the benefits and depth of justification.

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Introduction

A few months back, in a Bible study gathering, I struck a conversation with an individual that I have been trying to witness for a few years. I got to know him through our group, and as a matter of fact, he has been part of the Bible study for several years. The interesting thing is that he doesn’t attend church, but he still comes to the gatherings. In these past years, I have seen many things happen in his life, divorce, struggles with family members, and a whole bunch of other stuff.
He grew up in a very religious family, and they were exceptionally strict, according to him, to the point that the parents shoved religion up his throat. He wanted to vomit at times, as he says. Moreover, things happened in his childhood that further eschewed him away from Christianity. I do not know the details, but apparently, it left him with a bitter taste towards evangelical Christianity. Moreover, to this day, his past childhood experiences represent a significant barrier to accepting Christ as savior.
He has had lots of ups and downs, as you can imagine. But what is confusing is that even though he has misgivings towards Christianity, he still comes to the Bible group meetings. Here is where I will make a confession. After several years I became a little cynical as to why he continues to attend the study. Knowing that he rejects the faith, part of me wanted to tell him that for the health of the group this is probably not the best place for him and for the rest of us. In our conversations, he at times argued and questioned certain biblical notions, and the repeated pattern became a nuisance. For obvious reasons, in a group setting, we want to encourage each other and build our faith, not have to defend as if we are on a continuous debate.
I wrestled as to what is the best course of action in dealing with this situation and how to approach him. Despite the annoyance I grew towards him, part of me still wanted to see God reach him and change his life. Towards the end of the meeting, I felt compelled to challenge him. I asked him if he would put his trust in Christ. Is not that he does not know the gospel, for he heard it plenty of times. In the end, he could not accept Jesus. The argument goes that he cannot believe that a “good” God can send people to hell just because they do not believe in Him. The whole idea of God’s wrath leaves a sour taste in his mouth. It tells him that the Christian God isn’t loving after all.
Why do I bring this up you may ask? Because I want to tell you in the midst of the fog, he just cannot see God’s, immeasurable love. He just cannot recognize the surety of God’s love. After repeatedly telling him that Christ death on a cross, as a substitute who suffered in our stead and endured the punishment we deserved, was the greatest act of love, he still will not accept Jesus. Despite telling him repeatedly that if we repent and put our faith in Christ, we are saved, he still will not accept Jesus. Even after telling him that believers are justified by grace through faith, he still will not accept Jesus. After plainly telling him that God loves him, he still cannot accept Jesus. speaks to those who have been justified. It talks about eternal salvation. I teach us concerning the security of salvation. It reveals our security in Christ. Ultimately, justification by faith and the resulting benefits directly displays the assurance and the immeasurable love that God has for you and me.
I framed today’s sermon in two parts to explain how God’s love is revealed through justification. The first part explains God’s love revealed in the results or the benefits as some say of justification, and the second part I will uncover God’s love understood through the depth of justification.

Context

As we begin, let me give you some context concerning the epistle to the Romans. Written by Paul around AD 56-57, it is said that Romans was Paul’s most important letter. He wrote it to the Romans while in Corinth during his third missionary journey. At the time of the writing, he had not been to Rome, but he knew the importance and influence of the church. He needed to strengthen the work already existent in Rome, so he systematically outlined the foundations of the Christian faith. He carefully explained the meaning of salvation in Christ. In fact, the letter to the Romans has helped millions of people to come to faith in Jesus.
Romans is so instrumental that it stirred many giants of the faith to Christianity. Augustine after reading , gave his whole life to Christ. Luther, after pondering on , said that Romans was his gateway into heaven. Samuel Coleridge, called Romans, “The most profound work in existence.” And John Calvin insisted that “when anyone understands this epistle, he has a passage opened to him to the understanding of the whole Scripture.” So let us begin with the first point.

God’s Immeasurable Love Revealed in the Results of Justification

God justifies us (1).

Paul begins chapter five with the benefits of justification. What is justification? It is essentially the act of God in which He establishes believers as righteous, in a true and right relationship to Himself.
Therefore, since we have been justified, says Paul, we have peace with God. But why justification is necessary and why God justifies a man? It was necessary because of sin and man’s rebellion against God. It was necessary because sin aroused God’s anger. And God justifies man because of His Son Jesus. Because of God’s love for you and for me that He sent His only Son into the world to die for us (). How does God justify a man? Whenever we put our faith in Jesus. As a result, God looks upon us as righteous. Brothers and sisters, we are counted, judged, and treated as righteous. Michael Horton highlights that “when we are justified, we are set apart, marked off, in a public and legal announcement. The Spirit publicly vindicated – justified – the risen Christ, and now he unites us with Christ to receive the same justification.”

God gives us Peace (1).

Justification has benefits, and it is because of justification, we have peace with God through Christ. I want to stress the preposition πρόςwith.” Believers are justified and have peace with God, not the peace “of” God. Certain passages speak about the peace of God that gives comfort in times of trouble. A peace that soothes, when we are hurting. But this is not how it is used in this context.
We must understand that those who are NOT in right standing with God are in a state of war with Him. Man rebelled against God and decided to take life into his own hands. Ever since the fall, men have determined to rule themselves and have ignored the Creator. In men’s own rebellion, and without God, men made a mess of the world. The confusion and chaos was a result of men’s sinful cravings. Men became ungodly, and an enemy of God. When men decide to go into battle with God, God’s justice must be exercised. There is no doubt that we deserve our punishment.
Understand that unrest and warring appears to permeate our lives. Everyone talks about peace, but from my vantage point, if it up to men alone, peace is garbage talk. Just so you have an idea, the Global Peace Index Report of 2018, highlights 92 countries deteriorating from 2016-17. Battle deaths have risen steadily over the last 10 years, increasing by 264%. The report states that both Europe and North America became less peaceful with 23 out 36 countries in Europe worsening. Even in our own personal lives, we have trouble with people (friends, family, classmates, and co-workers)? Sometimes the closest people to us are the ones we have the most difficulty dealing. They make us so uncomfortable that sometimes we murder them in our minds. We are at constant war, we are restless, but ultimately we want peace.
But, through Christ, God justifies man. God shows His immeasurable love for us that, God Himself, initiates the peace process. And all that is required is that we believe in His one and only Son, Jesus. For those who believe are clothed with Christ’s righteousness. We are counted as having died in Christ and paid the penalty for sin, and ultimately counted as having resurrected in Christ. What an amazing God! We start the war, and yet God is the one who initiates the peace process with us.

God gives us access into the Grace and Hope for the Glory of God (2).

In verse 2, Paul tells us that we have access into this grace, in which we stand. Most of us understand grace as a favor or unmerited favor, but that is not how Paul uses grace in this passage. Grace is a place/position in which we stand. Friends, we are placed in God’s presence, and in a position of salvation. We stand in favor of God, in the privileges of God, and in the promises of God. Christ opens the door and throws us into God’s presence. Finally, we stand in the perfect righteousness of our savior Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, as we stand in perfect righteousness before God, we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. A hope that is not a mere desire or a want. In this world, we hope for a lot of things. We hope for a beautiful house, a lovely wife, an excellent job, a degree from a good school, obedient children, all sorts of crap, but we know those things aren’t sure. But remember when Paul says that “we rejoice in the hope,” such hope is a surety, a perfect assurance. It is the assurance that exceeds the most beautiful thing we can ask or imagine. It is the assurance that one day we will be in the presence of God.
In the Bible, there is this idea of the Shekinah. A manifestation of God’s personal presence, a display of God’s glory that is so brilliant as to be unapproachable. This glory that was transferred to the face of Moses after spending time with God at Mount Sinai. It was this glory which took the form of a cloud and descended to the Israelites and filled the tabernacle and the Temple of Jerusalem. And Moses dared to ask God, “Show me your glory.” Paul tells us that the boon for which Moses asked, seeing the glory of God, is to be ours because of our justification. Theologians call this the Beatific Vision, which is the goal and climax of our faith. Our surety is that we will shine like the sun in the kingdom of the Father () and in the presence of God.

God shows us Glory in Suffering and His Love for us (3-5).

Then it gets hot in verses 3-5, we have the glory in trials and sufferings. As someone who is justified, you are no longer discouraged or defeated by trials of life. For no matter how strong the affliction, its goal is hope. Trials and sufferings become purposeful for believers. Pains may come in forms of oppression, affliction, and distress that you may be experiencing day to day. But friends, you must know by now that God uses the good as well as the bad to work out His good purposes. So, whatever happens, whether good or bad, we recognize that God allows it for a reason and we will face the trials head-on.
Paul tells us the great benefits of being under trial. First, it generates perseverance. With the help of the Spirit of God, we are set out to stand against the adversities, the schemes of the devil, and overcome them. Paul teaches us that perseverance produces character, integrity or strength. If you persevere the trials, with God’s assistance, we become stronger in character and integrity. Finally, character stirs hope. And remember that hope in God is guaranteed. What Paul reminds is that hope does not disappoint. It is not an allusion, more importantly, it is founded on God’s love for us humans. There is a certainty of divine love is a guarantee of Christian hope.
Last year was in part a difficult year for me. My parents were going through bankruptcy, they lost a lot of what they saved throughout their lives. Obvioulsy, they needed money. As their first son, I had to cover for some of their needs. Amid all the stress, my mother was diagnosed with depression, then shortly after a close uncle died from a freak accident. My father was then diagnosed with cancer, and my grandmother passed away not long after that. Again, being the oldest of the family, and with my father and mother incapable of doing certain things, I had to take on some responsibilities. Two months after my grandmother’s death my aunt was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died shortly after. Lastly, my mother was framed by some scumbag and accused of stealing money. A friend reminded me that when it rains, it pours. Mind you that all this happen in a short span of time. Incredibly, it coincided with my ordination as a pastor. The same friend reminded me that Satan is out to get you. But stay firm and persevere, because there is the ultimate hope and God loves you. He gives Himself without restraint. It pointed me to . It was a challenging season, and I will confess that at times I lost my cool. Nonetheless, throughout the ordeal, my assurance was always in God. As it supported me and reminded me of the hope that does not disappoint.
I know that many of you have or are going through difficulties in your life. I hear of illness in our congregation, marriage issues, depression, and even death. There are challenges in life, but let me encourage that as a justified sinner, we have security in Christ. And it is in difficulties that can have a greater awareness of the presence of the Spirit of God, as He is the one who pours out God’s love into our hearts. The same self-giving love that is demonstrated in God’s justifying of man and the same love that continues to grow in our hearts, and in our maturing and understanding of what God has done and continues do for you and me. The question is what do you set your hopes in?

God’s Immeasurable Love Understood through the Depth of Justification

Now, we come to our second point where we examine God’s love through the depth of justification. We witness the depth of God’s love that is hard to fathom. It is a love that is so deep that we cannot fully grasp it. We come to realize that we are justified because of God’s agape love. Not just a brotherly, but a love that is self-giving. It is godly love, a sacrificial love. It is a love for the sinner, the enemy, the ungodly, and the one who is utterly powerless.

God Saved Us in our Ungodliness (6-7).

Let us pay attention to verse 6. For when we were weak, Christ at the right time died for the ungodly. It demonstrates the greatest love of all, the unbelievable act of dying for the worthless.
For we were powerless, weak. It means that we were worthless, hopeless, spiritually useless, and incapable of helping ourselves. Furthermore, we were ungodly, opposite to God. In fact, man is utterly damaged, unlike God, and imperfect in every way. Yet, at the right time, God’s appointed time, He prepared His Son to die for the helpless, ungodly, profane, and miserable man. Paul reminds us in Galatians that, “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” ().
Christ died for us, for our sake as a substitute. He died as our sacrifice, as our ransom, as our atonement. Rarely anyone would die for a just person, a good man, let alone for the one is the very opposite of good. Who would die for the worthless, one without any value? Only Christ, the Son of God died for whom no earthly man could ever do. Such is the incredible love of God; God saved us in our ungodliness. Such is the depth of justification.

God Revealed His Love for us while we were Sinners (8-9).

Let us go further into the complexity of God’s love. God “shows” His love, meaning that God demonstrates, and exhibits His constant love for sinners. And pay attention, for the passage says, “while we were still sinners” God proved His love for us. He stooped down to save us. Logically, one would think that God would protect the righteous, not the undeserving worthless men.
Think about the fathers and mothers who send their children to wars, for our country. I’m confident that they are not thinking of sending their own valuable children to risk their lives in wars for a useless cause, ungrateful, and undeserving people. But God, still knowing that while we are undeserving, sends His precious Son to die for us.
Imagine the pain, the hurt, and suffering the Father must have felt. Imagine the Father sending His Son from the spiritual world to a corrupt physical world. Imagine the Father having to see His Son being humiliated and stripped of His glory. Imagine the Father having to cloth His Son with corruptible flesh. Imagine the Father having to watch His Son to carry the heavy cross at Via Dolorosa all the way to His crucifixion. Imagine the Father having to send His one and only Son to die upon the cross for the sins of men, and on top having to turn His back on Him. Imagine the Father having to bear the pain of watching His Son suffer in agony. Yet, God did this while we were still sinners. Friends! That is God’s love. It is an incredible love that we cannot fathom.
Now you know that God proves His love for us by justification through the blood of Christ. God demonstrates His love by saving us from wrath. That is God’s immeasurable love understood through the Depth of Justification

God reconciled us while we were Enemies (10-11).

Finally, God reconciled us and saved us while we were enemies. When we sin, we are considered enemies of God, for we work in contradiction to God and support what is evil. When sinners live for worldly things, he chooses temporal things over eternal life. But the point is that God did not reconcile us when we were righteous, but when we were His enemies.
He reconciled us by doing three things. First, God reconciled us through the death of Christ. Second, God saved us through the life of Christ. It means that by His life, Christ is the great intercessor, mediator, and the sinless, righteous Son of God. And when we believe in Christ, we are counted as righteous. Christ’s righteousness covers us, and we are accepted by God. Therefore, Christ is our great mediator. Ultimately, we rejoice through the reconciliation made possible by Jesus. One who receives the love of God cannot just be still. One who is reconciled is filled with joy for having received so much from God who loves you and me.

Conclusion

Let me finish with this story created by J.A. Clarks which depicts the love of God for us. When God was about to create man, according to a Jewish legend, He took into His counsel the angels that stood about his throne. “Create him not, “said the angel of Justice, “for if you do he will commit all kinds of wickedness against his fellow men; he will be hard and cruel and dishonest and unrighteous.” “Create him not,” said the angel of Truth, for he will be false and deceitful to his brother-man, and even to You.” “Create him not, “said the angel of Holiness, “he will follow that which is impure in your sight and dishonor you in your face.”
Then stepped forward the angel of Mercy (God’s best beloved) and said: “Create him, our Heavenly Father for when he sins and turns from the path of right and truth and holiness I will take him tenderly by the hand, and speak loving words to him, and then lead him back to You.”
God shows love to us, and through His immeasurable grace and His profound mercy, He sent His only Son to die for us. And through the kindness toward us in Christ, we are saved through faith. Jesus spoke loving words to me and led me back to God.
I do hope that one day, the individual from my Bible study will come to accept Christ and grasp the immeasurable love of God. I hope that he realizes that he can also be justified through faith in Christ and know that our God is not a partial God, but One who loves him more than he will ever know. I hope for you as well that if you didn’t realize how much God loves you, this message changes your outlook of Him. I hope that if you haven’t put your trust in Jesus, do it now for He loves you and wants you to put your trust in Jesus.
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