I mentioned last time that Paul begins a new section of his letter in chapter 5. Whereas the previous section was about how we’re justified through faith in Jesus Christ, the emphasis in this new section is on the assurance of glory. So, now that we’ve been justified through faith in Jesus Christ, nothing will be able to prevent the believer from being glorified in the presence of God one day. So, death won’t stop us. That’s Paul’s point in the second half of chapter 5 where he teaches us that death came into the world through Adam’s sin, but the Lord Jesus has brought life to the world.
And sin won’t stop us. That’s in chapter 6 where Paul talks about how we’ve died to sin so that we can live a new life of obedience to God.
And the law won’t stop us. That’s in chapter 7 where Paul talks about how the law condemns us, but how the Lord Jesus saves us.
In fact, nothing at all will separate us from God who is working out his plan to glorify us in his presence one day. That’s in chapter 8 where it says:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
But this new section begins with the passage I read a moment ago and which we began to study last week. In this passage, Paul is outlining for us two of the benefits we receive now that we’ve been justified through faith.
Firstly, we’re reconciled to God so that we have peace with him. Do you remember? Once we were standing under God’s wrath. And if we stayed in the same spot, then one day all of God’s wrath would be poured out on us. But now, God has moved us to a different spot. He’s moved us so that we’re standing somewhere else. We’re no longer standing under his wrath, but we’re standing under his grace and his love and his mercy.
And then secondly, we’re given the hope of glory. All have sinned and we’ve fallen short of God’s glory. But now we know that we will be glorified in the presence of the Lord one day. And so we rejoice in this hope which has been given to us and to everyone who has been justified through faith. And the sorrow and suffering of this troubled life cannot diminish our hope. In fact, all the troubles of this life only make us long more and more for the perfect peace and rest which we’ll find in the presence of God.
We turn now to verses 5 to 11 and Paul is still writing about the believer’s hope of glory. And in verse 5 he tells us that this hope we have will not disappoint us. More literally Paul says it won’t put us to shame.
Think of an everyday example. You know, we were hoping that our team would win the cup. And we went around telling everyone that it’s bound to happen. My team is bound to win because they’re so good. And we boast about it and we go on and on about it and how there can be no doubts about it. But in the end, our team loses. And we’re embarrassed, aren’t we? We’re embarrassed because we were so sure about it and we told everyone is was bound to happen. And now we look foolish because what we were so sure about didn’t happen.
Well, our hope of glory — the sure and certain hope we have of the resurrection from the dead and everlasting life in the presence of God — that hope will never disappoint us. It will never put us to shame. Why not? Because God has poured out his love into our hearts right now. In other words, right now, in this life, we can be assured of God’s love towards us. And if we’re assured of God’s love towards us in this life, then we needn’t worry about what will happen in the life to come.
What does Paul say about this assurance of God’s love? Take a look at verse 5. First of all, Paul says that God has poured out his love into our hearts. The words ‘pour out’ speaks to us of God’s extravagance and liberality and generosity. One commentator used the image of a cloudburst on a parched countryside. You know, our hearts were dry and withered. And then, God poured out his love on us abundantly to refresh us and to revive the sense of his love in our hearts.
And he poured his love into our hearts which tells us that this is an inward experience, an inner knowledge which he gives to his believing people to re-assure them of his love.
And he poured out his love by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. In other words, one of the works of the Holy Spirit — who, of course, is given to every believer — is to impress upon us, deep down in our souls, that God loves us.
And so, as we listen to the reading and preaching of God’s word in church or now over the internet, the Holy Spirit is at work in our hearts to convince us that these things are true. And he uses these things we hear to overwhelm us with a sense of God’s love and grace. Or as we read our Bibles at home, he comes to us to help us to understand and to believe the things we’ve been reading and to impress upon us a sense of God’s kindness towards us. Or as we receive the Lord’s Supper, the Holy Spirit is at work to re-assure us of the greatness of God’s love for us in Christ Jesus who suffered and died for us and for our salvation. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit: to convince us of the truth of the gospel and to impress upon our hearts a sense of the greatness of God’s love.
And that’s what we ought to be praying for: for God our Father to pour out his love into our hearts by his Holy Spirit whom he has given us, so that all our hearts are filled up to the brim with the knowledge of God’s love for sinners like us.
And then, of course, we’ll be able to face anything, won’t we? Whatever we go through during the week, we’ll be able to face it, because we know that no matter what happens to us God our Father loves us.
But how is this related to the hope of glory? Remember that’s what Paul is talking about. So, he says in verse 5 that the believer’s hope of glory will not disappoint, because God has poured out his love into our hearts. What’s the connection? Well, if we know now that God loves us, then we can be sure that what we’re hoping for will happen. We’re hoping that on the Day of Judgment, God will openly acknowledge us and clear us of all charges and bring us into his glory. We hoping for that. And we can be sure of it now, we can be sure that God will clear us of all charges and bring us into his glory because God has already, in this life, assured of his goodwill towards us.
Before moving on I should add that our church’s Confession of Faith is helpful here. In its chapter on Assurance of Grace and Salvation, it teaches us that true believers may have their assurance of salvation shaken, diminished or temporarily absent for various reasons. So, we might lose the assurance of God’s love and of their salvation.
For instance, a true believer might fall into serious sin which wounds their conscience and grieves the Holy Spirit. They still possess salvation; they’re still justified. However, they might lose their assurance of God’s love and of their salvation until they confess their sin and repent.
Or a believer might stop listening to the reading and preaching of God’s word. Or when they hear it, they don’t pay attention to the preaching of the gospel. And since God the Holy Spirit uses the preaching of the gospel to reassure us of God’s love, then they might lose their assurance of God’s love and of their salvation because they’re not hearing his word.
Or God might, for his own good reason, withdraw the light of his countenance and allow his children to walk in darkness for a time. And so, for a time, our sense of his love is absent from our lives.
For these, and for others reasons, true believers can lose the assurance of God’s love and of our salvation. So, if you ever doubt God’s love for you, if you ever question your salvation, don’t immediately assume that you’re not a believer or that you can’t be saved, because it’s not uncommon for true believers to lose their assurance of God’s love. In fact, there may be many true believers who feel like this right now while we go through this coronavirus crisis, because we’re unable to come to church to hear God’s word and to receive the Lord’s Supper. And so, what should we do? Well, if there are unconfessed sins in your life, confess them to the Lord. And pay close attention to the preaching of the gospel. And as you listen to his word, pray to your Heavenly Father to pour out his love into your heart once again by his Spirit who has been given to you, so that you will know deep down inside that the Lord loves you. Pray for it and then wait for the Lord to do as you have asked.
Verses 6 to 8
Let’s move on to verses 6 to 8 where Paul goes on to tell us how God demonstrated his love for us in the past in the events of the gospel. And you see, it’s whenever we hear these things preached, that God works in our hearts by his Holy Spirit to comfort us and to re-assure of his love for us. The preacher stands up and addresses our ears; and at the same time, the internal preacher — who is the Holy Spirit — works inwardly in our hearts and minds to convince us that the things we have heard with our ears are true. And he uses the things we have heard to convince us of God’s love.
Paul says in verse 6 that at the right time, when we were still powerless Christ died for the ungodly. So, we were powerless: we weren’t able to save ourselves. And we were ungodly: there was nothing in us to commend us to God; and there was nothing in us which meant we deserved to be saved. There was nothing good in us. Nevertheless, Christ died for us. This shows us the greatness of God’s love for us.
Now, in the next verse, Paul says that very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man, someone might possible dare to die. Now, the commentators discuss the difference between a righteous man and a good man. Why would someone be prepared to give up their life for a good man and not for a righteous man? What’s wrong with the righteous man? However, I don’t think we need to get sidetracked by this and the difference is not important. Paul’s point is that we might, we might be prepared to die for a good person. But none of us, none of us would ever give up our life for a wicked person. However, God demonstrated the extent of his love for us in that while we were still sinners — while we were wicked — Christ died for us. We wouldn’t dream of dying to save a wicked person. But that’s what God has done for us through Jesus Christ his Son.
And notice that the cross of Christ demonstrates God the Father’s love. Sometimes people regard God the Father as the angry one who hates us; and God the Son had to convince his Father to pardon us; and he did, but only reluctantly. That’s what people sometimes think. But no: the cross demonstrates the Father’s love, because it was the Father who sent his Son to die for us. And the Father sent his Son to die for us because he so loved the world that he did not want us to perish but to have everlasting life.
So, the cross demonstrates the Father’s love for us. And the Holy Spirit convinces us that these things are true and he uses these things to re-assure us of God’s love. And whoever is assured of God’s love now, in this life, can know for certain that we will indeed come into the presence of God one day.
Verses 9 to 11
Let me try to deal with verses 9 to 11 briefly. In verse 9, Paul is telling us that since we’ve been justified by his blood — in other words, since we’ve been pardoned and accepted by God for the sake of Christ who died for us — since we’ve been pardoned and accepted by God now, in this life, how much more will we be saved in the future from God’s wrath on the Day of Judgment. We’ve been pardoned now, so we don’t need to worry about the judgment day.
In verse 10, Paul is telling us that since we’ve been reconciled to God now, in this life, through the death of his Son, how much more shall we be saved by his life. So, we’re no longer God’s enemies because we’ve been reconciled to God through Christ who died for us. And the Christ who died for us is alive, having been raised from the dead, and he will ensure that all those for whom he died will finally be saved.
And finally, in verse 11, he’s saying that right now, in this life, we can rejoice because we have been reconciled to God the Father through his Son. So, we don’t need to worry about the judgment day. And we can rejoice now, in this life.
So, those who have been justified through faith in the Saviour receive two benefits. First of all, we’ve been reconciled to God so that we have peace with him. And secondly, we’ve been given the hope of glory. And so, we ought to give thanks to God the Father for his kindness towards us. And we ought to live our lives for his glory.