Romans Chapter 5
First Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
Good morning and welcome to the Ministerial Alliance program here on KLMX radio. Iím Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines and once again, weíll be looking at the book of Romans. Iíve been working my way through Romans and this week weíll be looking at Chapter 5. Chapter 5 of Paulís letter to the Romans is one of my favorite parts of the Bible and Iíve quoted from it a lot. Iím looking forward to covering it this week and as always, I pray that this message glorifies God through the light that is Jesus Christ- Amen!
Letís briefly catch up to whatís going on here. In the early part of his letter- what we call Chapters 1-3 today- Paul showed how no man can be justified righteous by their actions. The Jews, who have the law, are not justified because they so often fail to follow the law. Gentiles, who do not have the written law, but have a law in their conscience, violate that. In short, as Paul writes in:
Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
In Chapter 4, Paul expands on this concept by using Abraham as an example and asking the question of how Abraham got his faith. Did Abraham receive faith by something he did- circumcision, for instance? Or was his circumcision a sign of faith already received? Here are Paulís own words:
Romans 4:11-13 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, (12) and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised. (13) For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
We find out more about Abrahams faith here:
Romans 4:20-22 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, (21) and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. (22) And therefore "IT WAS ACCOUNTED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS."
So, Abraham believed God and "it was accounted to him for righteousness." In other words, Abrahamís righteousness was laid to his account or imputed on him. And thatís exactly where Chapter 4 ends:
Romans 4:23-25 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, (24) but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, (25) who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
Itís important to review Chapter 4 because Chapter 5 starts off with the word "therefore", indicating that Paul is building on a previous thought. Before we understand where heís going, I think we need to see where heís been, thus our quick review. And, now, here are our first few verses from Chapter 5:
Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (2) through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
And there sure is a lot here!
Paul says "therefore, having been justified by faith" to reiterate the point he made using Abrahamís example. Justification is by faith and faith is a gift of God. Justification does not come by works that are done and then rewarded with faith. Letís recall what Paul said previously in:
Romans 4:2-5 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. (5) But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,
Here Paul points out that when you work for someone, you expect to be paid. Your wages, therefore, are not by grace, but as debt. You worked and you expect to be paid. Grace on the other hand is bestowed on those who do not deserve it and have done nothing to earn it. Websterís 1828 dictionary defines "grace" as "unmerited favor" and the word "unmerited" means exactly that- youíve done nothing to merit the favor. For, if you had done something, then it would merited or expected.
In my experience as a pastor and preacher, Iíve seen this to be one of the most difficult things for people, even professed Christians, to accept. Faced with this concept of unmerited favor, many people will insist that Abraham had some sort of quality inherent in himself that earned him Godís attention. Well, thatís fine, but then I have to ask the question "And how was Abraham created?" Did not God knit him together in his motherís womb? Did not God act as a master potter and create Abraham for himself? What does Abraham have that is truly and exclusively his? Perhaps it could be said that Abraham was obedient but if God rewards Abrahamís obedience with faith, then doesnít that violate what Paul just said "now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace, but as debt"? Furthermore, if we say that Abraham was obedient and was THEN rewarded with faith, then was he obedient to God without first having faith? Or if we take Jesusí statement from Matthew 17:20 where he says "if you have faith as a mustard seed, then you will say to this mountain ĎMove from here to thereí and it will move; nothing will be impossible for you" and apply this Abraham, saying "See, he must have had faith like a mustard seed", then I think we violate Ephesians 2:8. Recall that Ephesians 2:8 says:
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
According to this passage, faith is "not of yourselves". Faith "is the gift of God." Does one need to accept the gift? Well, certainly, and, of course they do. But they still cannot take any credit for the gift itself.
Nor can it be said that they were seeking God and God therefore rewarded their seeking with faith. Recall:
Romans 3:10-12 As it is written: "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO, NOT ONE; (11) THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS; THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS AFTER GOD. (12) THEY HAVE ALL TURNED ASIDE; THEY HAVE TOGETHER BECOME UNPROFITABLE; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, NO, NOT ONE."
And recall this passage:
1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
"There is none who seeks after God", and even if there were, "the natural man does not receive the things of GodÖnor can he know them." How is it then that man does receive the things of God? Itís really pretty simple.
1 Corinthians 2:10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.
And whatís it called when one receives the spirit of God?
John 3:6-7 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (7) Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'
Itís called being "born again". Hereís what God says about it back in:
Ezekiel 36:25-27 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. (26) I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (27) I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
What we see here is that salvation is a work of God from start to finish. In fact, Hebrews said this exact thing:
Hebrews 12:2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,
Here, Jesus is called the "author and finisher of our faith". An author is someone who conceives an idea, writes it down, and makes the book happen. A book has nothing to with being written. Likewise, a "finisher" means just that- someone finishes the work. The bookís responsibility is to simply be a book.
Letís look back at Abraham. If Abraham had a small measure of faith in and of himself and which God saw and rewarded, then the grace bestowed upon him cannot be said to be "unmerited" nor of "favor", but rather as something that was merited or deserved. If Abraham had a small measure of faith in and of himself, then it cannot be said that faith "is not of yourselves, it is a gift of God." If Abraham had in and of himself faith as small as a mustard seed, then itís up to all of us to come up with that seed ourselves. And if we come up with the seed ourselves, that again violates Ephesians 2:8 which says that faith "is not of yourselves; it is a gift of God." Or, if weíre expected to act and then be rewarded by faith, then weíre acting prior to faith and that violates 1 Corinthians 2:14 which says that "the natural man does not accept the things of God."
On the other hand, if Abraham had no faith or any other quality but God out of His sovereignty gave it to him, then we can say that Abrahamís faith was indeed of grace and therefore "unmerited favor". If this faith enabled Abraham to then and only then see the things of God, then that fits 1 Corinthians 2:14 because Abraham has now passed from being a natural man to one who is born of the Spirit. As one born of the Spirit, he can now discern the things of God. And as one who has received faith as a gift of God, then Paulís statement in Romans 5:1-2- "Therefore, having been justified by faithÖ" is also true.
And yet this is such a difficult thing for people to accept. We want so much to believe that we have something to offer God in return for our salvation or that we have some feature in and of ourselves that redeems us before God. Itís a difficult thing for man to put his pride aside and come to the cross with nothing in his hands but thatís exactly what must be done in order for grace to be grace and for our justification to be through the gift of God which is called "faith".
Well, thatís about where we should stop today. Tune in again tomorrow at 9:45 as we move thru the rest of the 1st verse in Romans 5! May God open your eyes to the truth that is Jesus Christ- Amen.
Forward to Part 2