After using case-law to establish precedence in defense of
God's righteousness when He declares a sinner justified, Paul now makes the
link to the present discussion. We have a man who is in a position of total
depravity in that specific sense which we have previously established. The man
is ruined before God and although God enjoys good works the idea that a person
can use works to make their state righteous before God is completely useless.
This man's solution was illustrated in case-law but how is faith a conduit to
righteousness in actuality? How can faith make the believer secure?
An oft-used and pale illustration to direct our thinking: A
man is at home, bankrupt and up to his eyebrow in debt. Call him Rey. Any
similarities to my own present financial condition are purely coincidental.
At Rey's door there's an official who was sent to tell him
that his debt is paid. In fact, there is new place of grandeur and riches for
Rey. This has all been accomplished, explains the messenger, by the Master of
the house and his single heir. The beauty of it all is that the Master has
figured out a way to make Po'Man Rey a fellow co-heir with the heir.
Rey looks at the messenger and asks "what do I have to do?"
expecting some serious hurdles to pass over and perhaps some rigorous training.
"That's the best part," explains the messenger "All this is
available to you if you believe the message I have sent with by signing right
"Ridiculous." Rey answers, knowing his debt and bankruptcy
"That makes no sense. I don't believe you." With that he closes the door
leaving the messenger outside to repeatedly knock. "Leave me be!" he calls out
Now if Rey had instead believed the man and thrown his lot
with him he would have gained all that the messenger promised. It's not that
Rey was blind to the call or that he didn't understand the message, or that he
couldn't answer because he was so bankrupt he couldn't even move?he had to
believe the messenger's words!
This is why Paul starts off with a "Therefore" as a
conclusion from all of the previous evidence. Man is sinful; Man knows it; God
judges sinners; God has figured out a way to save sinners apart from law; He
has done similarly in the past; "Therefore we have been declared righteous by
Immediately the riches of God's righteousness are available
to the believer. The [unrighteous sinner who believes] has peace with the [God
who judges] through our Lord Jesus Christ (5:2). End of hostilities…the sinner
has now been translated (Col 1:13) to a position behind the Lord Jesus Christ.
This faith has granted access into this grace, which a
believer is grounded in and can rejoice in the hope of God's glory (5:2). The
idea is not of rejoicing in the sense of a great party, but in the deep-rooted
sense, which is that firm confidence in the Lord. It makes more sense in the
next verse where such a person can rejoice (be confident) in sufferings. No one
rejoices in that "this-is-a-party" sense during tribulation, but the saved
person is rooted in God and they can know that although tribulation comes it
will not sift them out of the Lord's hands but will instead produce endurance.
This endurance results in character and this character produces hope because
the very love of God has been poured out in the hearts of the believer through
the Holy Spirit that was given. (5:3-5)
This is tremendous in that God's imputed righteousness
doesn't end at the end of hostilities. His righteousness is so complete that it
will go beyond the peace treaty and mold believers into homes for the very
Spirit of God.
"Wait, wait, wait," someone may clamor, "This doesn't make
sense. Simple belief from a sinner resulting in all this? What about a baptism?
What about understanding the words of Jesus? How is it possible for someone to
start into this thing and get all of this?it makes no sense! And what of
afterwards? If it's all that easy, there surely must be some hard action on our
parts to live up to the role. Perhaps memorizing some catechisms or baptisms or
"That's the whole point," Paul might answer. It's not that
sinners must build themselves up to a level where God can declare sinners
righteous…not at all. In fact, it was while people were still sinners (5:6),
still guilty and against Him, that Christ died right in the nick of time, in
their place! Such an act done not for righteous people, and not even for nice
people which some people might dare to die for (5:7). God demonstrated His love
in that while all people were still sinners, Christ died for them (5:8)! Forgive
my personal application, but it was while we were enemies that Christ performed
the action of the reconciliation via his subsitution…where we sinful people can
be at peace before God (5:10).
As such, an unrighteous sinner who now believes can be
confident that he will be saved from God's wrath (5:9). He can bank on this
because in his position behind the death of the Son he is also in his position
behind the life of the resurrected Son. A believer can be confident in God
through the Lord Jesus (the man) Christ (the Son of God), through whom the
believer and any believer has been reconciled (5:10,11)!
"Look," Paul points out "Sin entered the world through one
man and everyone was ruined. What the Son of God did was so much greater!" Paul
amplifies on the entire justification process by showing that by this one gift
of Christ Jesus many will be saved because what it accomplished. He focuses on
the magnitude of what Christ has done for unrighteous sinners affording for all
people the righteousness which leads to life (5:18)!
It was for all people that this action was done, rippling backwards and
forwards through time, making those historical sacrifices effective and opening
the vista of possibility to all (5:12-21)!
Believing, therefore, winds up being that signature which opens
up the vistas of possibilities which God has available by means of Jesus
Christ's work and gift for all of mankind. That belief firstly makes available
the payment of God's wrath which has already been poured out on the Son. That
belief subsequently is the access by which the Holy Spirit is poured out and
the reconciliation made sure. That believer doesn't have to worry that this
will not be completed, but can be confident in the Lord.