Sunday, April 23, 2017: God s Reconciling Love Commentary

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1 Sunday, April 23, 2017: God s Reconciling Love Commentary April 23, 2017 Sunday, Lesson: Romans 5:6-11; 8:31-39; Time of Action: 56 A.D.; Place of Action: Paul writes from Corinth Golden Text: For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39). I. INTRODUCTION. Whenever there is division between family and or friends, a heavy pain weighs on the soul and often covers us with clouds of unhappiness. Sometimes it s very hard to ask for forgiveness and offer to do whatever it takes to restore the relationship that was once full of vitality. Likewise, but in a more glorious fashion, the Lord did what it took to restore our relationship with Him. Jesus died and paid the price that was incurred

2 by our own sin, the very sin that broke the relationship. However, we need to emphasize that we were reconciled to God, not that He was reconciled to us, for He had done nothing wrong to need reconciliation. This kind of love can only be demonstrated by God, and this week s lesson text examines what God s reconciling love looks like. II. LESSON BACKGROUND. In Romans chapters 3 and 4, the Apostle Paul presented the great doctrine of justification, that we are declared righteous before God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. This amazing truth frees the believer from the utterly hopelessness of trying to make ourselves acceptable to God through works that can only condemn us as sinners. Paul explained justification by faith in the latter part of chapter 3; in chapter 4 he illustrated justification through the experiences of Abraham and David. Having made his point, and fully proved justification by faith, in chapter 5 verses 1-5, Paul shows the fruits of justification. Our printed text begins with verse 6 with Paul showing that the human race is estranged from God because of sin and that He wants to be reconciled with us. III. GOD PROVIDED SALVATION (Romans 5:6-11) A. Jesus Christ died for the ungodly

3 to provide salvation (Romans 5:6-7). 1. (vs. 6). After expounding on the love of God in verse 5, in this verse, Paul continued to say For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. The word we includes the entire human race. God loved us even when we were yet without strength. The words without strength mean weak or powerless. Elsewhere in Scripture, the same Greek word is translated sick (see Matthew 25:39) and impotent (see Acts 4:9). The idea here is that God loved us when we were powerless to justify or save ourselves. We had no power to change our sinful condition. But God had a plan to redeem fallen humanity. The plan of salvation is not just what we must do to be saved; it s God s entire plan from the beginning to the end of time (see Ephesians 1:4-14). A major part of the plan was to send Jesus Christ in due time which means the right time (see Galatians 4:4). Note: It is true that in any situation, God s time to help and deliver is when those that are to be delivered are without strength or power. He does it at that time so that His own power and grace may be all the more magnified (see Deuteronomy 32:36). At the right time Christ died for the ungodly or sinners. If people were able to redeem themselves, Jesus death would have been unnecessary. God focused His love on the ungodly, the fallen and sinful race of humanity. God s work in sacrificing His Son for sinful mankind who were ungodly is clearly a demonstration of His love for us. Note: Mankind was weak and helpless because

4 we couldn t do anything on our own to save ourselves. Someone had to come and rescue us from sin. Not only did Jesus Christ come at a good time in history, He came at exactly the right time according to God s own schedule. God controls all history. He controlled the timing, methods, and results of Jesus death. 2. (vs. 7). Paul now made a statement designed to show that divine love is far more superior to human love. He said in this verse For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. A clearer way to state this verse would be: For it is rare for anyone to die for a righteous person, but somebody might be brave enough to die for a good person. The terms righteous man and good man both refer to men who are upright and benevolent, not men who are sinless. A righteous man is one who is just or upright in character. But Paul stated that scarcely, meaning it is unlikely that someone would willingly die to save an upright person. A good man is also just, but is also kind and giving. But Paul says about this person that one might even dare meaning it s possible that someone might die for a good man. The thrust of Paul s statement is that very few people are willing to die for others, even though they might be righteous or good individuals. Jesus Himself said Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (see John 15:13). This is the greatest expression of human love. But suppose that the word friends in John 15:13 was changed to enemies. Could we still find

5 an unselfish person who was willing to make the supreme sacrifice? In a time of war would we volunteer to die in order to save an enemy? Hmmmmmm! Think about it. B. God loved the ungodly and provided salvation (Romans 5:8-9). 1. (vs. 8). Now, to show the superiority of God s love when compared to human love, Paul said in this verse But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. The conjunction But introduces the difference between divine love and human love. The phrase But God commendeth his love toward us means that God demonstrated or showed His love for us. The amazing thing about God s love when compared to human love is that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus didn t die for righteous people or even for good people as humans might do. He died for sinners, those who were His enemies. God didn t wait until we had straightened up our own lives (as if we could) before acting to bring about our salvation. Instead, He took the initiative and sent His only begotten Son into the world to rescue us from the power and penalty of sin (see John 3:14-18). Because of our faith in Christ s completed work, His life, death and resurrection, we have an inner assurance of God s love for us. 2. (vs. 9). In this verse Paul went on to say Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from

6 wrath through him. The words Much more then can also mean therefore. In other words, Paul was saying therefore since we are now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. The phrase justified by his blood is simply another way of describing Jesus sacrificial death. The word justified was a legal term referring to the acquittal of someone who had broken the law. We have broken God s Law but have been declared not guilty on the basis of Christ s shed blood. Jesus blood had to be shed because Scripture says the life of the flesh is in the blood (see Leviticus 17:11) and almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission (see Hebrews 9:22). God s work in justification led Paul to a logical conclusion. He confidently declared we shall be saved from wrath through him. Paul s point was that we who have believed in Jesus saving work are justified or found not guilty, and are therefore saved from wrath or God s intense anger and final judgment. When we were sinners, the wrath of God fell upon us (see John 3:36), but has been removed so that we now have peace with God (see Romans 5:1). God s wrath will fall on non- Christians or unbelievers in the future, but believers shall be saved from wrath through Jesus Christ (see I Thessalonians 5:3, 9). Note: In the New Testament, salvation is pictured as past, present, and future. We have been saved from past sins. We are also being saved, meaning that sanctification or cleansing is ongoing. Ultimately, we will be saved from the penalty of sin, which is the wrath of God revealed at the Second Coming of Christ (see II

7 Thessalonians 1:7-10). In essence, the Christian has been saved (past tense) from the guilt and penalty of sin (see Luke 7:50; II Timothy 1:9) and is safe. The Christian is being saved (present tense) from the power and dominion of sin (see Romans 6:14; 8:2), and at the return of Christ, the Christian will be saved (future tense) from the presence of sin and all its bodily infirmities that are the result of sin and God s curse upon the sinful world (see Romans 8:18-23; I Corinthians 15:42-44). A simpler way of saying this is that our justification is the past work of salvation; our sanctification is the present work of salvation; and our glorification (when we become like Christ) is the future work of salvation. 5:10-11). C. We were reconciled to God (Romans 1. (vs. 10). In this verse Paul continued to say For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. The word if here is better read as since because it is a fact, not supposition that in our sinful state we were enemies of God. The word enemies emphasizes the rebellious attitude that characterizes the unsaved. However, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son. The word reconciled means made peace with someone therefore, being made right with that person. In this case, we were made right with God by the death of his Son. Our

8 reconciliation to God was accomplished at the cross, and we experience this reconciliation when we place our faith in Jesus Christ, at the very moment that we are saved. Paul added that much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. In other words, in addition to being reconciled to God by Jesus death, we shall be saved by his (Jesus ) life. This phrase looks specifically at our identification with the resurrected Lord (see Romans 6:1-11). Our new life is Christ s resurrection life (see Galatians 2:20). The resurrection life of Christ is our assurance of sanctification or continued cleansing, and our ultimate glorification when we will be like Jesus (see I John 3:2). 2. (vs. 11). In our final verse in this section of the lesson, Paul says And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. When the apostle said And not only so he was thinking of one of the blessings he had mentioned previously. Some commentators believe the blessing Paul was referring to was reconciliation or peace with God in verse 10. Other commentators think he was referring to the blessing of salvation as he said We shall be saved also in verse 10. Since Paul also mentions atonement here, he was probably referring to reconciliation when he said And not only so. Since we have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, Paul said we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, because of all the blessings we have received from God, including justification and reconciliation, we can

9 rejoice. But let s not be too hasty and focus on the blessings instead of the One who gives the blessings. Paul said we joy (rejoice) in God. In the last phrase of this verse Paul declared that Jesus Christ is the One by whom we have now received the atonement. The word atonement here is the same root word translated reconciled in verse 10. Therefore, the atonement we received confirms that those who were once enemies, God and believers, are now at peace with one another. Note: Atonement is an Old Testament term. The word in the Old Testament means covering. This is because the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament didn t remove the people s sins, they only covered them (see Psalms 32:1; Romans 4:6-7) until Jesus would die and forever remove them. In the New Testament, sin is not merely covered; it is done away with. The more accurate rendering of the Greek word here for atonement is reconciliation which has the basic meaning of the exchange of something bad for something good. In Christ Jesus, our state of enmity or being enemies to God was exchanged for a state of sonship and we have that now (see Galatians 4:7). IV. GOD PROTECTS THE RELATIONSHIP (Romans 8:31-39). In chapter 7 Paul discussed the conflict between our two natures, the spiritual and the carnal which he continued through chapter 8. The statement in Romans 8:18 that our present suffering is not worthy to be

10 compared with our glorious future continues to the statement in verse 28, where we are reminded that everything works for the good of those who belong to God. This leads to the fact that we are now called, justified, and already glorified (see Romans 8:30). This portion of our lesson begins with verse 31. A. God protects our relationship with Him because He is for us (Romans 8:31-32). 1. (vs. 31). In this verse Paul says What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? Paul wrapped up his thoughts by asking and answering a series of questions. In this verse, he asked his readers What shall we then say to these things? This question can also be put this way: What can we ever say to such wonderful things as these? The words these things no doubt refer back to verse 30 and his discussion of predestination. Paul was overwhelmed at the thought of all God has done for the believer: our calling, our justification and finally our glorification. Therefore, his question can be put this way: What can we ever say to such wonderful things as these? The apostle then answered the question by declaring If God be for us, who can be against us? The word If here should be understood as since. Paul meant that since God is on the side of believers, which is proven by predestination, no one can successfully oppose us. Any opposition the believer may face is nothing in light of the fact that God is for us. With such favor bestowed on us, we have nothing to

11 fear because we are completely safe. 2. (vs. 32). The Apostle continued to say in this verse He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? To illustrate that God s grace is more than showing kindness toward us, Paul declared He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all. We see the ultimate evidence of how great God s grace is in His willingness to give the life of His own Son, His only begotten Son (see John 1:18; 3:16; 3:18: I John 4:9) for the sins of the world. Out of love for us, God went to the unspeakable length of sending His beloved Son to live on earth and suffer our punishment for sin. Knowing all of this, Paul then asked his readers how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Since God was willing to give His very best for sinners, Paul s conclusion was that God will also freely give us all things. In other words, since God didn t spare His own Son, Paul asked, is there anything that He would possibly withhold from believers that we might need in living victoriously for Him? The answer is, of course He won t! God will never withhold anything from us that would benefit us (see II Peter 1:3). He graciously gives us everything we need and more. B. God justifies us (Romans 8:33-34). 1. (vs. 33). Paul asks and answers another question in this verse. He

12 said Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God s elect? It is God that justifieth. In other words, Paul was asking, is there anyone who could succeed in bringing any charges against God s elect meaning His chosen ones or believers. The Greek verb that is translated shall lay any thing to the charge was used of someone who brought an accusation before a judge. The same word is translated as accused in Acts 23:29; 26:2, 7. Our adversaries might hurl accusations against us, but they don t carry any weight at all. This is because It is God that justifieth. In other words, the Divine Judge has already decided the case against Christians and their sin, and has justified or found us not guilty (see Isaiah 50:8; Romans 8:1). Therefore, anyone who questioned whether our sin has been pardoned was really bringing charges against God, who had tried our case and rendered a not guilty verdict. No human can undo what God has done. No appeal can be made to a higher Judge because there isn t one 2. (vs. 34). In this verse Paul asked Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Just as there might be some who would try to deny our salvation and accuse us of still being lost sinners, Paul also knew that there would be some that condemneth those whom God has justified or not condemned. But just as no one can bring a charge against God s elect, neither can anyone condemn them (see Romans 8:1). This is because God s work in justifying the

13 believer is based on four facts. First, Paul said It is Christ that died, that is He paid the wages demanded by our transgressions (see Romans 4:25). Second, Jesus is risen again. His resurrection is our assurance that His sacrifice was accepted and our sins have been forgiven. Third, Jesus is even at the right hand of God. This means that Jesus Christ, the Son of God is in the place of authority over the whole creation and therefore works providentially over it (see Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1). Fourth, Jesus also maketh intercession for us. In other words, Jesus is presently interceding for us as our Great High Priest (see Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:23-27). We can be sure that Jesus remembers us at the throne of grace in our most difficult circumstances (see Luke 22:32) just as He did while He was here on earth (see John chapter 17). Since Jesus did all of this for us, what possible effect can any opposition have on us in the end? Absolutely none! 8:35-37). C. God strengthens us (Romans 1. (vs. 35). In this verse Paul went on to say Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Here, the apostle asked his readers another question: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? The pronoun who indicates that no person is able to separate us from the love of Christ. This refers to Christ s love for the believer not the

14 believer s love for Christ. There may be things that will hinder our love for Jesus, but nothing can ever hinder His love for us. Paul continued to list various trials that one might think could separate the believer from Jesus love. First, Paul asked shall tribulation separate us from Christ s love? The word tribulation comes from a Greek word meaning to press or to squeeze. It refers to outward and inward troubles that press against our bodies and minds. Distress comes from a Greek word meaning hemmed in or shut in so that escape is impossible. The result is a sense of anguish. Many people today are shut in by adversity. Persecution is suffering that is put upon us by others. Persecution was the experience of many in the early church. Jesus had predicted it (see Matthew 5:11-12), and Paul himself had often been the object of the Jews persecution for his faith (see Acts 13:46-50). Famine and nakedness refer respectively to a lack of food and clothing. Paul had experienced both of these conditions (see II Corinthians 11:27). Peril refers to all kinds of physical dangers (see II Corinthians 11:26). The word sword was a reference to violent death (see Acts 12:2). None of these things could ever separate us from the love of Christ. Note: Having experienced many of these trials himself, Paul was still assured that Jesus Christ didn t love him any less because of those experiences. The point is that no matter what happens to us, no matter where we are, we will never be abandoned by Christ or be without His love. Suffering shouldn t drive the believer away from God. Instead, it should help us identify with Him

15 more and allow His love for us to reach us and provide for our needs. Suffering in any way is not evidence that Christ does not love us. Instead, it s one of those things that God can turn into good (see Romans 8:28). This is why Paul could rejoice in his sufferings (see Colossians 1:23-24) and encouraged believers to give thanks in everything (see I Thessalonians 5:18), and everything means everything! 2. (vs. 36). Paul goes on to say in this verse As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. The phrase As it is written means that what Paul was about to say came from the Holy Scriptures. As he did on many occasions, Paul now turned to Scripture to confirm that believers in Jesus Christ can expect, and will experience hardships because of our faith. This verse is a direct quote from Psalms 44:22. The apostle compared believers who faced persecutions and suffering as being like sheep for the slaughter. Just as the Israelites suffered in ancient times, Christians can also expect sufferings (see II Timothy 3:12). 2. (vs. 37). Paul continued to say in this verse Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. Just in case any of his readers felt that their hardships meant that Jesus didn t love them, Paul said Nay, or no, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. The words in all these things refer back to those things mentioned in

16 verse 35. No person or circumstances can change Christ s love for us. The Greek verb translated we are more than conquerors means to be super-victorious or to gain a surpassing or overwhelming victory. In other words, when it comes to the many trials we may face we are super-conquerors. Paul declared that this kind of victory is won through him (Jesus Christ) that loved us. The word loved is in the past tense and points back to Christ s supreme expression of love for us that He demonstrated on the cross (see Romans 5:7-9; Galatians 2:20). It is only through Christ that we can be super-victorious even in the midst of opposition and difficult circumstances. D. God keeps us (Romans 8:38-39). Paul s purpose in our remaining two verses was to emphasize in the strongest language that Jesus love clings to the believer regardless of death, life, or anything else in the universe. 1. (vs. 38). In this verse, Paul said For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come. The word persuaded here means convinced and continues to be convinced. Paul began to list many things that he was continuously convinced of that could not separate him from Jesus love. First, he said neither death. The believer would never be cut off from Christ s love by death because Jesus was victorious over death

17 (see I Corinthians 15:55). Second, he said nor life. Nothing in life can interrupt Christ s love, for He is in us and His life is our new life (see Romans 6:4; Galatians 2:20). Third, Paul said nor angels. In speaking of angelic beings, Paul left open the question of whether he meant good or bad spirit beings. The designations nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers probably included all angels, the un-fallen angels (those who remained with God) as well as Satan and his wicked host, the fallen angels. Paul s goal was to show that nothing in the universe can cut off Christ s love from the redeemed. Fourth, Paul said nor things present, nor things to come. These refer to time. Nothing in the course of time, present or future can separate us from Christ s love, for God is the Creator and He is sovereign over time. 2. (vs. 39). In our final verse, Paul continues his list of things that cannot separate us from Christ s love adding Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Paul s final antithesis was Nor height, nor depth. In Psalms 139:7-12, David concluded that there was no place he could go to escape the presence of God. Paul s conclusion here was similar to David s words with respect to Christ s love for His own. Just in case, he left out something, Paul added the words nor any other creature. Therefore, he confirmed the universal truth that every redeemed person is eternally an object of Christ s love. Paul s point is that there s no person or

18 anything anyone can think of, or not think of in the entire universe that can keep the believer in Jesus Christ from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is the Father s love that is secured to everyone who is in Christ Jesus our Lord. In other words, the believer is enclosed by God s love which is Christ s love because we are in Christ Jesus (see Romans 6:3; I Corinthians 1:30; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 1:1; 2:6, 13; I John 5:20; Jude 1:1) who is our Lord. In this relationship with Jesus Christ, the believer can live without fear of condemnation (see Romans 8:1) from anyone or anything. Truly, we have God s reconciling love! V. Conclusion. Since we are reconciled to God, we can be certain that we will be in heaven one day, free from all sin and free from God s just wrath for that sin. This week s lesson, should cause us to rejoice in the fact that it s impossible to think that somehow God would stop loving us. For that to happen, God would have to cease to exist because He is love (see I John 4:8). Heaven and earth might pass away, but God cannot. The only safe place is in His eternal love. The doctrine of predestination reveals that God loved us before the foundation of the world, and even then He planned to send Jesus for our salvation. I can t imagine another place other than the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus or Lord (see Romans 8:39) that would be safer, in this life or in

19 the one to come. Can you? I think not! ***The Bible Expositor and Illuminator, Union Gospel Press***

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