Our Great Salvation, 7

 BeFunky_benefits.jpg

Saved By His Life

 Romans 5:10

 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (NIV)

Hold on a second!  Weren’t we saved by His death?  What exactly was Paul saying here?  And to what life was he referring?  The life Jesus lived before the Cross?   The life He poured out on the Cross?  Or the life He is now living since the Cross?

Probably the best commentary on this one verse (also the shortest) comes from J. Vernon McGee, who simply wrote:

You see, He died down here to save us; He lives up yonder to keep us saved.

Who are we to argue with Dr. McGee?   Paul cannot be referring to the life Jesus lived before the Cross.  Nobody is saved by living like Jesus lived.  He left us a good example of how to live, but merely copying His example gets us nowhere.  In fact, if you try to copy how Jesus lived you’ll end up frustrated!   Without the benefit of salvation, nobody can come close to living the kind of life Jesus lived.

If we look at Romans 5, we can see that Paul is simply writing about the benefits of salvation.  We’ve been justified by faith, and we’re on our way to heaven, but there are some wonderful benefits available to believers in the here-and-now.  These benefits, by the way, are things that those who don’t believe spend a fortune trying to attain.  Even some believers are not appropriating these benefits for reasons that may make sense to them, but not to the Lord.  He makes these benefits available; they are free for the taking.  But He won’t force any of His children to enjoy them; it’s up to us to reach out and grab hold.

How we praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every blessing in heaven because we belong to Christ.  (Ephesians 1:3  TLB)

The benefit of PEACE

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… (NIV)

The very first item on Paul’s cornucopia of justification is peace.  Now, in a very real sense, peace is a blessing reserved for our future, as Paul mentioned already:

But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who obey him, whether they are Jews or Gentiles.  (Romans 2:10  TLB)

This future peace is something we as Christians can look forward to.  However, no less real is the possibility of real peace today; right now.  Prior to salvation, we were at odds with God; we were His real enemies.  In fact, all God’s work for us was done while we were His enemies.  He did not love us when we were loveable.  We were completely helpless, ungodly sinners when Jesus Christ died for us.  We were worse than passive sinners, actually.  We were His enemies.

But all that changed on the Cross!

It was through what his Son did that God cleared a path for everything to come to him—all things in heaven and on earth—for Christ’s death on the cross has made peace with God for all by his blood.  (Colossians 1:20  TLB)

There it is, in the past tense!  Christ’s death on the cross has MADE peace with God.  Thanks to His work on the Cross, God is no longer angry at man because man is no longer God’s enemy.

For Christ himself is our way of peace. He has made peace between us Jews and you Gentiles by making us all one family, breaking down the wall of contempt that used to separate us.  (Ephesians 2:14  TLB)

Real peace is available only when a sinner is made right with God.  Real peace doesn’t come from treaties or weapons or spending a fortune trying to find it, make it, preserve it, it or buy it.

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.  (John 14:27  TLB)

The benefit of ACCESS

… through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  (Romans 5:2a  TLB)

The word “access” means that now, unlike before, we are able to approach God in prayer.  Understand what this means:  the unbeliever doesn’t enjoy this privilege at all.  Unless he is praying the prayer of salvation, God doesn’t hear him.   It’s Jesus who has cleared the way for us to approach God; it’s Jesus who has, as it were, taken an unworthy sinner by the hand into the very throne room of God.

Now all of us, whether Jews or Gentiles, may come to God the Father with the Holy Spirit’s help because of what Christ has done for us.   (Ephesians 2:18  TLB)

How unfortunate and sad it is that some Christians don’t take more advantage of this access to God.

The benefit of HOPE

Not long ago, Mark Steyn observed:

Hope is for losers. Hope is passive. Hope is lying on the floor hoping something turns up. Hope is like luck. It might show up. You might be walking down the street and $1 million may drop in your lap, but it’s highly unlikely to. Hope cannot achieve the impossible.

Of course, he’s talking about hope with no basis in fact.  The hope the Bible speaks of is different. Hope in the Bible is always linked to the work of God.  And hope in the Bible is not passive, but it’s active.

It [God’s grace] teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ…  (Titus 2:12, 13  NIV)

So hope in the Bible involves believers living right—living lives that glorify God—but looking ahead to a better future; a future full of the presence of Christ!

The world is looking for hope today.  Politicians run on platforms of “hope,” but, as Steyn remarked, that kind of “hope” is for losers.  This is why so many people are so restless today; the want hope; they need hope, yet they can’t find it.  The Christian, though, possesses a hope that doesn’t rest in any man or movement.  Our hope looks like this:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  (Romans 8:28  NIV)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:38, 39  NIV)

The benefit of TRIUMPH

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  (Romans 5:3, 4  NIV)

What Paul is describing here is perspective.  In Christ, we no longer view “our sufferings” the way we did before.  Now we “glory” or we have “joy” in them because we now know all “our sufferings” have a purpose.  They work to our benefit; they perfect our character in ways we can’t imagine.   Just look at the words associated with “sufferings” in these verses:  glory, perseverance, and hope.  All positive things!

It should be noted that while we may indeed have peace with God, we may not have peace with man.  We are still living in a world that is essentially hostile toward God, the things of God, and the people of God.  Sometimes those negative aspects of this world brush against us.  But we have the benefit of knowing that while the enemy of our soul may be trying to harm us, any trouble or suffering that comes near us actually benefits us.  We grow stronger and closer to God as we triumph over our sufferings.  The strength in us is brought out by trouble.

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.  (Job 23:10  NIV)

The benefit of LOVE

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts…  (Romans 5:5a)

It’s not until the sinner finds Christ as Lord and Savior that he finds this love.  No man, save a Christian, may experience God’s love.  It’s foreign to us; God’s love is not naturally found in us; therefore, it must be poured INTO us!  And God’s love is not the same as human love; human love is often a caricature or parody of God’s love.  Think about it:  human love disappoints; it frustrates; sometimes it angers; occasionally it fails.  But God’s love never does any of those things because it’s perfect.  Shedd comments:

The Holy Spirit produces in the believer an immediate and overflowing consciousness that he is the object of God’s redeeming love, and this is the guarantee that hope will not disappoint him.

The love of God, that is, the reality of God has been poured into our hearts.  Since “God is love,” then, when we became believers He imparted something of His own nature to us!

The benefit of the HOLY SPIRIT

…the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  (Romans 5:5b)

The Holy Spirit is the key; He is the One who makes all the present benefits of salvation real and He guarantees the future blessings will come to pass.  It was through the work of the Holy Spirit that, for example, God’s love was “poured out” into our hearts.  That phrase, “poured out,” refers to an inexhaustible supply.  In other words, God’s love never ends.  But it goes even further because the Holy Spirit mediates ALL the blessings found in Christ, which means all of His blessings never come to an end.  What a marvelous thought that is.  Here on earth, we say:  “All good things must come to an end.”  This is the nature of all aspects of human life:  they’re temporary.  No matter how hard we try to cling to the good things of this life, they disappear.  But the blessings—the benefits—of salvation are eternal.

The benefit of DELIVERANCE from wrath

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!  (Romans 5:9  NIV)

God’s love has been established; it’s been demonstrated in verses 6—8.  Since God has already done so much for us, we may reasonably expect Him to bring our salvation to it’s final consummation, and part of that is the fact that there is NO wrath coming at the believer from God.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…  (Romans 8:1  NIV)

What does it mean to be “saved from God’s wrath?”  It refers to our final deliverance from the last, great Judgment to come.  This is guaranteed, not by our good lives or conduct, but by our justification—by what God has done for us in Christ Jesus!

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!  (Romans 5:10  NIV)

The benefit of JOY

And all the preceding brings us to the final (for the purposes of this piece) benefit of our salvation:

And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.  (Romans 5:11  KJV)

This is much more powerful verse than it appears.  It means, among other things, that wherever you are, whatever you may be going through, you can rejoice in God.  You may not be able to rejoice in your health or in the state of your bank account, but you may rejoice in God.  You may find this hard to believe, depending in what state you may find yourself in today.  You may not feel like rejoicing in the least.   But the fact is, this joy is something that exists outside the sphere of this world, and functions independent of anything in.  This joy was put in you by the Holy Spirit as one of the fruit of the Spirit!  So, it’s there, and all you have to do access it, release it, and enjoy it.  But, like all of the benefits of our great salvation, it’s all up to you.  You choose whether to enjoy them or not.

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