Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 3: Sunday
Today’s Bible reading is Romans 5–6, and the “Therefore” of Romans 5:1 is earthshattering. Paul’s Therefore is a hinge that looks back to the first four chapters, as he builds upon those truths to explain in the next four how the righteousness of God is realized in our new life in Christ.1
Romans is the letter of the Gospel. John Stott writes:
“The Epistle to the Romans is the fullest and most coherent manifesto of the Christian gospel in the New Testament. In it the apostle Paul unfolds ‘the whole counsel of God’—man’s sin and lostness, Christ’s death to save him, faith in Christ as the sole condition of his acceptance, the work of the Holy Spirit for his growth in holiness, the place of Israel in the purpose of God, and the ethical implications of the gospel. There is a grandeur, a comprehensiveness, a logic about his exposition which has commanded the admiration and compelled the study of all succeeding generations.”2
In Romans 1-4, Paul cuts the ground out from under any who think their works will justify themselves to God. Then, having established that none of us are righteous and we are all are accountable to God, he offers words of hope in 3:21, “But now…” and we hear the righteousness of God is revealed through faith in the Lord Jesus for all those who believe in Him. In Romans 4, he talked about Abraham as he further explained justification by faith and the relationships between the Law, faith, and righteousness, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
In Romans 5:1–11, the joy of the Gospel breaks forth “this grace in which we stand.” Paul exults in what Stott calls, “the fruits or results of our justification.”3 We read of peace with God, grace, hope, God’s love for us, reconciliation, and life.
In 5:12–21, Christ is contrasted to Adam as Paul explains how this gift of righteousness is ours:
After writing of God’s abundant grace, in chapter 6, Paul answers the charge, “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?” He vehemently cries, “May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” and explains that Christians have been united with Christ in His death and resurrection and what that means to us in terms of living in obedience to God. The last part of chapter 6 leads into chapter 7, but that’s for next week.
I want to go back to Romans 5, because this is the chapter through which I became a Christian. I already believed that God existed, and I knew I was a sinner, but I remember my big question was, why did Jesus have to die on the cross—a question that is answered so many times here—in verse 6, verses 7–8, verse 9, verses 10–11, and on through to the end of the chapter: Jesus died on the cross to reconcile sinners to God.
I understood. I believed. I was reconciled.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.”
Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications. (Site has been deleted since posting).
1My pastor, Mike Braun, when preaching through Romans, titled Romans 5–8, “God’s Righteousness Realized.”
2,3John Stott, Men Made New (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1966) 9, 11.
Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter