“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” (Romans 5:1)
What tremendously beautiful words these are! If we read this simple verse apart from the rest of the Book of Romans, we will see this as a nice little sentiment, a brief reminder of what has been accomplished in our Salvation. But if we read this in context, after having traversed the first four chapters, the portion of the book that reveals the heart of man in its true light and unabashedly paints a vivid portrait of our desperate condition, then we come to this statement as one would emerge from a dark and dreary chasm, a cave from which no hope of escape had seemed possible.
Expressions such as “being justified by faith” may have become trite clichés to most modern Christians, but we can be certain that this was not the case with the Apostle Paul. Keenly aware of what his condition apart from Christ had been, knowing with a great surety of how lost he would have remained had God not showered His boundless mercy on him, recognizing what unfathomable cost Christ had paid so that we could be justified by faith, Paul must have savored every syllable of such a profound declaration, grateful to his Savior for making such a status with God even possible.
The initial chapters of Romans were written, not as an exercise in self-loathing and condemnation, but as an honest examination of sinful man’s condition before a holy God. A sick man will not seek medical treatment if he is unaware of his illness, neither will a guilty man seek a pardon if he is unaware of his offenses. Which is the greater unkindness: to allow a dying man to remain blissfully ignorant of that which is killing him, or to bluntly reveal the cause, that he might seek rescue from it? Martin Luther was once overheard telling little children about the horrors and sufferings of Hell, much to the dismay of some of the adult members of his congregation.
“Why do you frighten these little children with such images, is it not cruel to speak to them of such things?”, he was asked.
“No”, he responded, “a far greater cruelty would be to leave them unaware of such things.”
If we have believed all that has preceded Chapter 5, Verse 1 in the Book of Romans, then these words are a precious salve to a hurting heart. Far from being a lofty, pious bromide, a cliché robbed of any substance by its oft repetition, we see these words as harbingers of new life, heralds of the mercy that God has shown toward us. If we have let the opening chapters of the Book of Romans serve their purpose, then we find this verse to be a most welcome relief to an otherwise hopeless predicament.
Serving as a great turning point in the epistle, we will notice that the tone of Romans changes hereafter. Romans chapters 1 through 4 had a sort of universal application, addressed to both sinner and saint alike, the remainder of the book, however, is primarily directed toward believers. The words of conviction are ended, the pleas for repentance discontinued, the demonstration of man’s depravity concluded. If the reader has failed to turn to Christ based on the testimony given thus far, they will fail to find much relevance or meaning in what follows. With the words, “being justified by faith“, it is presumed that those continuing to read have already become so.
In light of this, not only do we emerge from a dark cavern into the light, we emerge into the noonday sun! We are immediately hit “with both barrels” as one mighty gift of God to the believer after another is revealed in rapid succession. What a profound contrast between the lost and hopeless condition of those who continue to reject Christ and those who have put their trust in Him. What joyous relief the Apostle Paul must have felt, having withheld any ray of hope through the previous chapters, to now “throw open the curtains”, letting the “Son shine in” in all His glory!
The benefits of justification with God through faith in Christ are enumerated one by one, as we see that Salvation is not just a blessed hope that commences at the conclusion of this life, but something that carries many blessings for us in the here and now. As we read through the first 11 verses of Romans 5, we see all of the beautiful terms related to God’s blessings listed together: peace (v. 1), grace (v. 2), glory (v. 3), patience (v. 3), hope (v. 4), love (v. 5), the Holy Spirit given to us (v. 5), justified (v. 9), saved (v. 9), reconciled (v. 10), joy (v. 11), and atonement (v. 11).
These are the benefits and blessings we have in Christ. What exceeding great and precious promises, indeed! Finally, if we were to sum up the theme that characterizes Romans 5 more than any other, it would have to be two simple words: much more. If we were dead apart from Christ, then we are much more alive in Him. If we were lost and condemned before we knew Him, then we are much more justified in Him. If sin abounded in our lives before, then grace abounds much more now. Consider how many times these two words appear in this chapter.
The power that sin held over us before we came to Christ led to death, but the power of God in Christ leads to life much more. Our condemnation described in the first chapters has been vanquished by the much more justification by faith that we have in Christ. Jesus is not enough to meet our needs, He is much more!
To God goes all glory. In service to the Lord Jesus Christ, our “Much More“,