Just Because - Part 2

Tom Pennington • Romans 5:1-11

  • 2003-06-22 PM
  • Sermons


Well I want us to go back to Romans 5 tonight. We began this morning there was some concern raised by the elders that I only made it through 4 verses and I have 5 through 11 left for tonight. I can assure you we will complete the study tonight. I say that tongue in cheek, they weren't genuinely concerned, but they did raise the issue. We're going to make it and I think you're going to be encouraged by what we find.

This morning I told you about the mink coat, the adventure of my mother-in-law. By the way in case some of you are wondering she did return the mink coat, she didn't keep it. But it doesn't always work out so well. Most of the time when you get more than you bargain for, it's negative. Last Christmas, that is a year ago, Christmas; my father-in-law decided that he wanted to get my family a DVD player for Christmas. Well, at the time it sounded like an attractive idea. So he asked me to research it, pick it out and then he would get it for us. So I spent, dutifully several hours on the internet learning more than I ever wanted to know about DVD players, and we finally decided, bought it, brought it home and that's when the trouble began. Now, I don't know if you've ever tried to hook up a DVD player to a ten year old amplifier/receiver or not, but there are no slots on the back of the receiver for a DVD player. So I finally got that little bug worked out and then I pulled our 15 year old TV out of its little cavity in which it sits and searched in vain for a DVD plug on the back of it, or some plug that might receive this new DVD player and well, after I had made several calls and a trip to the neighborhood electronic specialty store I discovered that my new DVD player was incompatible with my 15 year old TV and so I ended up, going to the same store and spending several hundred dollars on a new TV. By far that was the most expensive Christmas gift I have ever received. I definitely got more than I bargained for.

This morning we began our look at chapter 5 of Romans where Paul explains the results of our justification. And as I mentioned this morning he essentially tells us as believers, when you receive justification, you've got more than you bargained for, but not in a negative sense, very much in a positive sense. Paul begins chapter 5, "Therefore, having been justified by faith," as a result of all that has happened and all that he's described in the first part of the book, he's now coming to a point of conclusion. He's saying therefore as a result of all that you've learned about justification, about the fact that God declares believing sinners to be righteous, I want you to understand the benefits, the blessings that flow from our justification. This morning we began our look at these verses and we discovered that there are seven amazing benefits of justification locked within these verses. If you're in Christ these benefits, these blessings are for you and they're for your security, for your comfort, for your confidence. God intends them to be something that soothes your soul and grants you great peace and calm. Let's look again together tonight at these seven amazing benefits that are ours because God has declared us righteous.

This morning we examined the first four verses and the first four blessing of justification. Let me just remind you of these first four. In verse 1, Paul says, "Therefore, having been justified by faith," as a result of that "we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." God is at war with every unbeliever, but for us who know Him, who have been justified the war is over and we can enjoy not only objective peace with God but peace of heart and conscience as well. He goes on in verse two, the second benefit we stand in God's grace, he says, "through whom" that is through Christ "also we have obtained" or we have had "our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand;" Grace is the new spiritual atmosphere in which we live, it's the air we breathe. God constantly overwhelms us with kindness we don't deserve. We stand in His grace. The third blessing we saw is at the end of verse two, "and we exalt in hope of the glory of God." We hope in God's glory. We rejoice or we glory in the absolute certainty that we will see God's glory and that we will share God's glory. There's coming a day when we will once again reflect the glory of God for which we were created.

The fourth blessing or benefit we saw this morning is found in verse's 3 and 4, we rejoice in our tribulations. We rejoice in life's hardships because we know that God is in control and He's using those hardships to build our endurance, to prove our faith, and to strengthen our confidence in the future. I won't go into any details but I had opportunity even this afternoon to experience and put this to practice in my own life. We rejoice in our tribulation. Those are the blessings we enjoy. Let's move now to verse 5 and examine the fifth blessing that's ours because we are in Christ, because we're justified, and it's this. We are confident of God's love, notice verse 5. "And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Paul has now finished his discussion about life's trials and troubles with the concept of hope. And that word hope, you remember, doesn't mean desire plus some degree of doubt, but rather the Greek word speaks of eagerly waiting for what is absolutely certain, there's no question about it. We eagerly wait for what we know will happen. And in verse 5 the word hope serves as a kind of hinge to take us from the issue of our tribulations to Paul's next point, the centrality of God's love. Paul says that the reason that we know that our hope cannot and will not ever make us ashamed, our hope will never let us down is because of, he says in verse 5, the love of God. In this context it isn't describing our love for God, it does in some contexts but in this context it obviously is describing God's love for us. If you look at the next three verses' Paul goes on to outline God's love for us and so that's the issue here.

When you think of love you don't usually think of Paul. The Apostle John is usually thought of as the apostle of love, and Paul is often conceived of as a kind of cold calculating attorney. In reality this word for love is used 116 times in the New Testament. 75 if those times it's Paul that's using it. And Paul explains that we are confident of God's love because God has revealed it to us directly. Notice what he says, it "has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." The verb 'has been poured out' speaks of extravagance, it speaks of God's love flooding and permeating our souls until it overflows. Paul is making the point that in the past the knowledge of God's love for us flooded our hearts and that knowledge continues even now. This knowledge came from the Holy Spirit, you see at the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit poured out in our hearts the knowledge of God's love for us until it overflowed our souls, He intended to act directly on our souls to convince us of God's love. This is a direct and immediate, immediate in the sense that without a mediator, immediate assurance given by the Holy Spirit to every Christian. He poured this confidence of God's love into our hearts. This is in essence what Paul says in chapter 8, turn for a moment to chapter 8 verse 14, he writes, "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God." If you don't have the Spirit you're not a son of God. Verse 15, "For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" Abba is a familial term, it speaks of intimacy, in fact some would translate like our Dad or Daddy. Abba, Father. He continues in verse 16, how do we know that? How can we cry out to God as our Father? What enables us to do that? "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God," That's the same thing he's saying in chapter 5. He's saying God, at the moment of salvation poured out in our hearts through the Spirit a confidence of God's love, a confidence that we belong to Him, and that we are His children.

Now why is it important for the Spirit to assure us of God's love? Because nothing will give us greater assurance of the certainty of our salvation than understanding the nature of God's love for us. The next three verses describe the nature of divine love. Follow along beginning in verse 6,

"For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

This paragraph is probably the greatest statement about the love of God in the entire Bible. There are times when as a teacher or preacher that you feel completely inadequate to explain a text, not because you can't understand the words that are there, not because you can't communicate, but because the concept is so beyond our grasp, it's so rich, it's so deep that you feel woefully inadequate to explain it. But I'm going to seek to do that tonight, because God intends for us to understand the depth of His love for us. And it's as we grasp that that we gain the assurance that we belong to Him. And the Holy Spirit has already given us the beginning of that love, the knowledge of that love as He poured it out in our hearts and he makes us cry out Abba, Father, He testifies with our spirit that we're the sons of God, but here it's laid out for us in clear terms in Romans chapter 5.

As we work our way through these next three verses, I want you to see the character of God's love for us. First God's love is unconditional. Paul's main argument in this section is clear. Christ died for us when we were the worst of men. In other words, salvation was entirely of God's grace and it was motivated solely by His unconditional love. Just look at the character of the people for whom Christ died. Described in three words in these three verses, notice verse 6, the word, helpless. Now this word doesn't refer to physical weakness, but to moral helplessness. It's what theologians call moral inability, or total inability. It means that we were utterly incapable of doing anything that would please God or of changing our character in any way. We were absolutely helpless. The best way to summarize our moral inability is to say that we were unable to respond to God in any way. That's what Paul says in Ephesians chapter 2 and verse 1, he says listen, before Christ you were dead in trespasses and sins.

When I was in seminary I had a most unusual job. I lived for a while in a funeral home. Now that may seem a bit odd, but honestly it's a great job for a seminary student because they pay you to live there, I had an apartment, I had a maid who cleaned my room every day and it was really quiet. In my experience there I saw many dead bodies and those bodies shared one thing in common, they were defined by utter and complete inability to do anything. That's why Paul uses that image in Ephesians 2, we were dead, utterly unable to do anything, spiritually and morally we were as helpless as those dead bodies. We were helpless.

Notice another word that Paul adds to describe our condition in verse 6, ungodly. We were ungodly. This strong term doesn't so much describe wicked behavior as much as an attitude toward God, a state of complete defiance and rebellion. It presents man as completely destitute of any fear of God, opposing God's rule and resenting God's holiness. The ungodly man is one of two things; he is in either open rebellion against God or he just doesn't care about God at all, he disregards God, he ignores God as unimportant. That's the ungodly man and that's what we were. We were helpless, we were ungodly. The third word is found in verse 8, we were sinners. This familiar New Testament word pictures man as having missed the mark, as failing to keep God's laws, failing to measure up to God's glory, failing to arrive at God's standard of perfection or conform to His image. That's how God saw each of us, helpless ungodly sinners. It's not a very flattering picture so it's obvious that God's love for us was unconditional, that is it was not conditioned on our being worthy of His love.

The second characteristic of God's love for us is that it is eternal. In spite of what we were, in spite of the reality that we were these helpless, morally helpless dead ungodly sinners, in spite of that Paul says in verse 6, that at just the right time, Christ died. You see the death of Christ was not an afterthought, it was the divine plan. Christ's death was pre-meditated by God Himself. Galatians chapter 4 verse 4 says that when the fullness of time came, when just the right time came, God sent forth His Son born of a woman. In God's mind Christ is called the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. God had a plan. He didn't decide to love us sometime late in time, instead His love for us is eternal, He created a plan and He worked that plan, and He sent His Son at just the right time to die for us. We can't think of God's love like our love, ours is fickle and impulsive. It changes on a whim. But God's love is unchangeable and it is eternal. Lloyd-Jones points out that even in this brief phrase 'at the right time' there is a powerful lesson about the love of God. Listen to what he writes. "Even before the world was made, God knew about us and was interested in us and our names were entered in His book of life. He has loved us with an everlasting love. There is no greater proof of the love of God towards us than the fact that He was aware of us and had chosen us before the foundation of the world. It was planned that Christ should die for us before we ever lived." God's love for us is eternal.

But he says, thirdly, the third characteristic of God's love is it's sacrificial. In verse 6, Paul adds, "Christ died for us." The word 'for' points out that Christ died both for our benefit and in our place. Christ died as our substitute. Paul puts this in profound terms in chapter 8 verse 32. He describes God as "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all." What an amazing demonstration of divine love. What an amazing exchange. God gave His Son for you. It was sacrificial love. Scripture everywhere identifies the death of God's Son on the cross as the apex of God's love. John 3:16, that familiar verse says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." First John 4 verse's 9 and 10 says, that "by this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son," His unique Son, "into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation" the satisfaction of God's wrath "for our sins." God's love for us is sacrificial. It was for us that Christ died.

The fourth characteristic of God's love recorded in these verses is that it is unique. In verse 7 Paul asks us to contrast God's love with the best of human love. He writes, "For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die." He says listen it's unlikely that any of us would willingly give up our lives for someone we thought of as righteous, that is someone who commands our respect. But it is conceivable we would lay down our lives for someone we considered as good, that is, someone who calls forth our love and affection. Occasionally you hear of human expressions of love like that. A story is told of the last century in England there was a small boy whose sister desperately needed a blood transfusion and it turned out that he was the right match and he agreed to do it. On the appointed day they laid the two of them on the cots next to each other and they began to take the blood from his little body and pump it into hers. About half way through the procedure the little boy looked up at the doctor with the saddest of eyes and he said, so doctor when will I die? You see he thought that he was giving up his life so that his sister could live. There are expressions of human love like that where for someone whom we love, someone whom we see as calling out our affection, someone is good, we're willing to lay down our lives. Christ put it that way; He said that the pinnacle of human love is that a man should lay down his life for his friend. Someone close someone like a sibling, a spouse, a child or even a fellow soldier. But God's love is much greater. God sent His Son to die not for good people but for those who are completely evil. Not for His friends, but for those who hated Him, who were His enemies, and not for the righteous, but for sinners. And by doing that, according to verse 8, "God demonstrates his own love toward for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." That's the fifth characteristic of God's love, it's proven. The word demonstrates means that God proved or He presented in its true and unmistakable character His own love toward us. You see even though Christ's death happened in the past it keeps on showing or proving the love of God to anyone who examines it. Anyone who looks at the cross sees in living and vivid color, the expression of the love of God.

At this year's spring concert at Grace Church I heard a song that I've never heard before and it has captivated my mind ever since. And it captures the truth and the depth of God's love in a profound and beautiful way. These are the lyrics. "How deep the Fathers love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He should give His only Son, to make a wretch His treasure. How great the pain of searing loss, the Father turns His face away, as wounds which mar the chosen One bring many sons to glory. Behold the Man upon a cross, my sin upon His shoulders, ashamed I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers. It was my sin that held Him there until it was accomplished. His dying breath has brought me life. I know that it is finished. I will not boast in anything, no gifts, no power, no wisdom, but I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection. Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer, but this I know with all my heart, His wounds have paid my ransom. How deep the Fathers love for us."

Believer try to get your mind around this profound reality, God the almighty infinite being who inhabits eternity, has for no reason in you set His love upon you. He determined to love you and He proved it. If you want proof, just look at what He did when He gave His own Son to die in your place, when you were totally unable to do anything to please Him. You were unable to move toward God, you didn't fear Him and in fact you constantly demeaned His glory. Now this is Paul's point. We can be secure in God's love because we were never the cause of it. The only cause was in God Himself. Boyce writes, "If we think we deserve God's love, we cannot ever really be secure in it, because we will always be afraid that we may do something to lessen or destroy the depth of God's love for us. It is only those who know that God has loved them in spite of their sin who can trust Him to continue to show them favor. You see it's only as you understand that you were helpless, ungodly and a rebellious sinner and that it is entirely in spite of you that Christ died for you that you can have any assurance, because you know that your salvation didn't depend on you at all it was all of God, it was all of His love." That is the ground of your assurance. You know that God will never stop loving you because He loved you when you were morally helpless and dead, when you were ungodly and when you were a sinner. This is really what he says in Romans chapter 8. In Romans chapter 8, those great verse's beginning in verse 29, he's referred at the end of verse 28 to the fact that "all things are working together for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose." And that causes him to move in a direction about all that God has done. In verse 29 he says, "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and those whom He justified, He also glorified." You see salvation is all of God, from beginning to end. This was God's plan and He's working it out. You are along for the ride.

I'll never forget the first time I realized that profound truth, that salvation was from beginning to end the work of God. I remember sitting and reading Ephesians 1 and the reality of that swept my soul and peace flooded my heart because I realized that God, for nothing in me had set His love upon me. He had called me, He had worked in me, He had justified me, and He was sanctifying me and someday He'll glorify me and it's all because of Him and it's not because of me at all. Once you realize that, that becomes the source and the ground of your assurance, your confidence because it's God. Amazing love how can it be that thou my God shouldst die for me. The great benefits of our justification, we have peace with God. We stand in God's grace. We hope in seeing and sharing God's glory. We rejoice in our tribulations, and we are confident of God's love.

That brings us to our sixth benefit or blessing, we will be saved from God's wrath. Verse's 9 and 10,

"Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life."

Verse's 9 and 10 are essentially identical arguments; they are parallel statements of the same point. Notice this line of argument in verse 9, the phrase, 'much more then' introduces an argument, a kind of argument from the greater to the lesser. If the greater is true, the argument goes, then the lesser must be true as well. Let's look at the first greater thing God did. Verse 9, he says, "much more then, having now been justified by His blood." There's the greater thing God did. He declared us righteous by the blood of Christ. That phrase by the blood reminds us that the true ground of our acceptance with God is not our works, it's not our faith, it's not our new obedience, it's not even the work of Christ in us, but it's what Christ has done for us. It's His violent death in our place as our substitute. Because of that God has declared us who are ungodly sinners deserving of His wrath to be righteous.

If God did that the greater then now that we are righteous in His sight it's logical to expect God to do the lesser. What's the lesser? Look at the end of verse 9, "we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him." We're used to saying that we were saved, in the past tense. Paul says that we will be saved. That's because salvation is used in three different tenses in the New Testament to describe three different realities. It's used to refer to what happened in the past, for example Ephesians 2:5, "by grace you have been saved." That speaks of our deliverance from the guilt and the penalty of sin. It's also used to describe what's happening in the present. First Corinthians 1:18, Paul says, "to us who are being saved." That describes our ongoing deliverance from the power and the practice of sin. But this expression salvation or to be saved is used in a future sense as well. First Peter 1:5, Peter writes, "we are protected by the power of God, through faith, for a salvation ready to be revealed at the last time." It's still in the future. This refers to our deliverance to the future display of God's wrath. It's in this future sense Paul has in mind here. We will be saved as he says, from God's wrath. Most people just want to ignore the concept of God's wrath they hope it will just go away. But the wrath of God is a reality and it's frankly gathering like a looming cloud in the distance. His wrath will be shown in its greatest fury when sinners are ultimately resurrected, stand individually before God and are banished forever from His presence into eternal punishment. This concept occurs throughout the New Testament, this concept of the coming looming wrath of God. Matthew chapter 3 verse 7, John the Baptist says, "who warned you to flee from the wrath to come." First Thessalonians 1:10 warns us about this wrath to come, and here in Romans chapter 2 verse's 4 and 5, look for a moment there. Romans 2 verse's 4 and 5 he says,

"Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up (you're stockpiling) wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God."

That's what awaits all men but believers will not experience that final frightening display of the wrath of God.

Turn for a moment to First Thessalonians chapter 1 and verse 10, I love this verse because it says this, it says that, "we wait for Gods Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, "and listen how he describes Jesus, "who rescues us" who saves us, who delivers," us from the wrath to come." Paul has a similar expression here in Romans chapter 8 and verse 1, he says for those who are in Christ Jesus there is therefore now no condemnation, no judgment, no penalty of sin, no wrath. Believer you and I will never stand before God in judgment for our sins. Many believers have had their joy robbed by wrong and false teaching about this issue. I'll never forget as a young person, picking up a terrible description of what will happen at the judgment seat of Christ. It was a little chick tract, perhaps you've read it. Where there's this movie screen and every believer sees his sins displayed on this screen. Paul says there is therefore now no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus. Your sins were judged alright, but they were judged on Christ on the cross and they're forever gone. There is no wrath to come.

But how can we be sure of this? Many Christians think of God like a Herman cartoon I saw one time, where this woeful looking character was standing before a judge and he had this horrific look on his face and the judge is pounding his gavel on the desk, and he says, 'I find you not guilty, but I'm going to give you two years just to be on the safe side.' A lot of Christians think of God like that. They don't really enjoy what God has done. Paul says if God has already done the really difficult thing and that is declared ungodly helpless sinners to be righteous, then we can be absolutely confident that He will do what is by comparison very easy – save from His wrath those who are already righteous in His sight. If Christ died for His enemies then surely He will save His friends.

Paul makes the same basic argument in verse 10 but deepens and enriches it. He says, "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." Notice again the greater thing God did. While we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son. We saw this morning that we were God's enemies that God was at war with us. But we were reconciled to God. That introduces us to a new term, but it's the same concept we found back in verse 1 this morning. To reconcile means to bring together, to make peace between two estranged or hostile parties. Paul loves this image of reconciliation for what God did at the cross. I want to show you one of the powerful texts in the New Testament about reconciliation. Turn to Second Corinthians chapter 5; he introduces this concept of reconciliation. Verse 18, he says

"Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ (talking about the cross now) reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, (but against Christ implied) and He has committed to us the word (or the message) of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."

What is this message, this word of reconciliation? What is it that we're ambassadors of? What's the word we have to declare? Verse 21, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." It's the message of justification. It's the message that God declares wicked sinners to be righteous because of what Christ accomplished. It's the message in its barest form that God treated Christ on the cross as if He'd lived your sinful life, so that forever He could treat you as if you'd lived Christ's perfect life. That's the word, the message of reconciliation.

In the New Testament this reconciliation between God and the sinner includes both sides, both sides were at war, right? Well notice you see God's side accomplished in verse 19, God was in Christ through His death, reconciling the world to Himself. But notice man's side is accomplished when the sinner accepts by faith that completed work. Verse 20, second half of the verse, "we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." Everyone outside of Christ is God's enemy, but in reconciliation that relationship changes. We go from being God's enemies to being His adopted children. That's the greater thing God has done. So what's the lesser? Notice this second half back in chapter 5 verse 10, if God did that, then "much more" Paul says, "having been reconciled, we will be saved (in or) by His life." If God reconciled us to Himself by the death of His Son when we were His enemies, then God will do the lesser, we will be saved by His life. Again that expression 'we will be saved' refers to a full and complete salvation from the fury of God's wrath on the day of judgement. But it stretches beyond that throughout all eternity, because our salvation is forever.

And Paul says in verse 10, it is secured, literally in His life. You see if the work He accomplished in His death secured our reconciliation, how much more will the work He accomplishes in His living guarantee our ultimate salvation? This is really a description of the reality of what Christ is doing today. Most Christians don't really appreciate the reality of what Christ is about today. We think His work was finished when He was here on the earth and on the cross. And now He's just sort of occupying Himself perhaps with building a place for us when we come, and that may be true and it is true, but that's not all that Christ is doing. He is represented as in the presence of God as our advocate, as a character witness for us before God. As our High Priest, He appears in the presence of God for us.

There's another song that I've come to love that we've just learned recently at Grace. The first verse of it goes this way. 'Before the throne of God above, I have a strong, a perfect plea, a great High Priest whose name is love.' It goes on to say, 'my name is written on His hands, my name is graven on His heart, I know that while in heaven He stands, no tongue can bid me thence depart.' It is inconceivable that God who loved me, who set His love upon me when I was His enemy is suddenly now going to abandon me that I am His child and that I am in His Son. We will be saved from God's wrath. If God did the greater, then He'll do the lesser.

The final benefit that flows from our justification is found in verse 11. We glory in God's person. Verse 11 he says, "And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation." Paul isn't done yet and neither am I. He says not only this but we also exult. There's the same Greek word that we saw in verse's 3 and 4 that means to glory to boast or to rejoice. But this time it's not in our hope of glory or in our tribulations or in our own glorification but it's in God, it's in the person of God. You see it's one thing to look forward to the future and glory in that, but it's another to glory in God Himself here and now. The shorter catechism of the Westminster Confession begins with a question. What is the chief end of man? You've probably heard that question and you've probably heard the answer. Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. That's what it means to glory in God; it means to rejoice in God, to love Him, to praise Him, to delight in Him. It means that we enjoy Him. To glory in God means to revel and delight in His character, His attributes, those things that are true about God.

Did you notice the truth about God that's here in Romans chapter 5 in these 11 verses? That's what should become the source of our rejoicing in God. What did this passage tell us about God? If you were to examine it closely, you would see in these few verses God's holiness, His righteousness, His justice, His mercy, His grace, His glory, His faithfulness, His wisdom, His sovereignty, His goodness, His love, His wrath, His immutability. You see this passage is not about us – it's about God. And when we see God first in any passage, when we praise Him and rejoice in Him for all these things that are true about Him, when God becomes the most important person in our lives, when He becomes the pursuit of our study, the obsession of our hearts and minds, that's what it mean to exult or rejoice or glory in God. And this is really the final step on the path to spiritual maturity. You see many Christians rejoice and glory in the simple reality that they belong to God that the war is over. Other Christians move beyond that and they begin to revel in doctrine and a knowledge of doctrine is crucial because it's important to God and to our own spiritual growth, but the final goal of our faith isn't knowing doctrine, it's knowing God.

John powerfully outlines this progression in his book. Turn for a moment to First John chapter 2 and verse 12. He says,

"I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name's sake." (Verse 13,) "I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one, I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one."

You see the progression of spiritual growth here? You have those who are children who are infants simply rejoicing in the forgiveness that they have, they have a simple knowledge of God as their Father as we talked about earlier tonight. And then as you grow, as you mature in the faith, you grow strong and you're able to understand the truth and you're able to combat the evil one and you have a solid knowledge of doctrine, you understand the truth. But that's not where spiritual growth stops, it moves on to becoming a spiritual father, someone who knows God, who glories in God. As you mature in the faith, you will find yourself not only studying and reading and meditating to gain an understanding of the teaching of Scripture, but you will find yourself digging in every text to see what it uncovers about your God and you will begin to glory not in what you know, but in Who you know. Paul says, verse 11, we can only know God through our Lord Jesus Christ and it's through Him we have now received the reconciliation.

Brothers and sisters because we have been justified we have peace with God. We stand in God's grace, we hope in seeing and sharing God's glory. We rejoice in our tribulations here because we know God is using them. We are confident of God's love for us because the Holy Spirit has flooded our souls with the knowledge of it. He causes us to call out, 'Abba Father.' We will be saved from God's wrath and we rejoice in God's person. Those are both the benefits of being justified and the grounds of our assurance that we have been justified.

Now let me ask you as we finish tonight, why don't we rejoice in God because of all of the benefits we enjoy? Why is it that too few of us truly rejoice, and boast in the glory of the person of God? Well Martin Lloyd-Jones, once again a wonderful doctor both by trade before he became a minister and a doctor of the spirits of men's hearts afterwards, identifies three reasons I want you to consider. Why you and I don't glory in God because of all of these wonderful realities. Number one, he said, it's a failure to grasp the truth of justification by faith alone. When I preached this message at Grace a man came up to me after the service and he said that just that week he'd been dealing with some Christians who were floundering in their faith, who were struggling, who were weak, who were anemic and it was all because they didn't understand, they didn't grasp what God had done for them. Let me tell you, you will never begin to grow as a believer the way you should grow until you have a grasp of these great realities. Until you understand justification by faith, not in a cursory sort of way, but in a deep and abiding sort of way. And if you don't understand that then your spiritual growth will be thwarted. It's only as we come to understand the depths of our sinfulness and the depths of God's love that moved Him to act on our behalf and to declare us righteous by gift of His grace through faith alone through Christ alone that we begin to grow up in Him.

Lloyd-Jones described the second reason that we don't rejoice in God because of these things, not only do we fail to grasp the truth of justification by faith alone, but there's a failure to meditate on these things. Oh, you may know them. But you may fail to really think about them deeply and force your mind to think them through. Listen to Lloyd-Jones, but keep in mind that he preached this in the spring of 1958. He said, "We are all too busy and too active. Even rushing around from meeting to meeting is no substitute for meditation and that thorough study of Scripture which leads to a grasping of its doctrines. If you simply desire spiritual entertainment, you will not know the joy of the Lord; you will only be listening to someone else telling you how wonderful it is. We must reflect upon these things ourselves." Sometimes we're just too busy; we're too busy in the things of life. We're even too busy running from spiritual activity to spiritual activity to slow down, to meditate, to think deeply, to force our minds to grasp the reality of what God has done for us in Christ.

Lloyd-Jones identified a third failure, why we don't rejoice in God because of these things. He said, "It's a failure to draw the necessary conclusions and applications from the Scripture about this great doctrine of justification." In other words, a failure to diligently apply these truths to ourselves. You see you can meditate, you can think deeply about the truth, but if you don't apply it to your own life and to your own heart and you don't understand how you're misunderstanding has misdirected your thinking, then you won't rejoice in God. But when you begin to understand this truth, when you begin to meditate on it, and to think about it, and when you begin to think about its application to you and to the inner workings of your own heart and to the deceitfulness of your heart and you begin to realize that God has you standing in grace and it's not your merit or demerit that determines how God treats you that it's only His grace and His love and all those things begin to come home to your heart, then I can promise you, you will begin to glory in God, glory in God's person. May God help us to think on these things, to apply these things, and as a result to glory in God's person.