SERMON TITLE: Justified Peace
TEXT: Romans 5:1-5 (ESV)
SPEAKER: Josh Hanson
It’s great to be with all of you this weekend at Gateway Church. And one thing I want you to know is that God loves you and I love you too.
If you’re new to Gateway — here’s what you need to know about how we generally do things around here when it comes to preaching and sermons. Most of the time, you’ll find us going through a book of the Bible because we want the Bible to drive our focus, we want God’s Word to be our guide, and we want it to speak to our lives — because it has much to say to us. So instead of going to the Bible with our own agenda — or my own agenda as the pastor — we go to the Bible to discover its agenda for us.
So you may find us going through a few verses at a time — which is what today will be like. Or you may find us going through a few chapters of a book. Or — if you were here in our Finding Jesus series — there are even times when you’ll hear a sermon on an entire book of the Bible. But my goal — is for you to be a Bible person — where God’s Word shapes who you are and influences how you live — and my role — is to help you understand the Bible better.
And something else you also should know is that we’re jumping back into a book of the Bible that we’ve taken a break from. In the past few years, we’ve journeyed through the first four chapters of the book of Romans. And — this year — we’re going to get through a few more chapters.
ANNOUNCE THE TEXT
So if you have your Bible please turn with me to Romans chapter 5. We’ll be looking at verses 1-5 together today.
And, if you’re a guest with us, something we like to do at Gateway is let you ask questions that we answer on our weekly podcast. So if you have a question, you can text it in to the number printed on the bottom of the sermon notes sheet or you can submit it on the Gateway app.
Here are the words found in Romans chapter 5. Beginning in verse 1.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5 ESV)
What comes to your mind when I say the word “peace”? On a daily basis, we’re bombarded with offers that promise to give us some sense of peace.
“Ladies are you unsettled by those wrinkles? Well our lotion will rejuvenate your skin and make you look 10 years younger. And if that doesn’t work, our makeup products will cover those wrinkles.”
“Men, are you frustrated by those gray hairs or that receding hairline? No problem. Try our hair color product — for men — and if you want to have that full head of hair from your youth once again — well our hair transplant team would love to talk to you.”
We can chuckle at these illustrations — hopefully — but haven’t we all fallen for something that promised us peace — only to have gotten the item — or achieved the goal — or received the promotion — only to wind up lacking peace all over again?
You see that’s the dirty little lie most of us try to ignore. We’ve fallen for the lie that somehow we’ll discover peace — or earn peace — or find it in something we achieve — we fall for the lie that someday we’ll get our hands on peace by our own effort. The lie might come from a product or thinking a certain amount of money will give us peace or that finally reaching retirement will smooth out life’s rough waters. And though it’s true — that there is a kind of peace we can experience through our own accomplishment — like making the last payment on your school loan — but — and you know this — any kind of situation we can control can only provide temporary peace — you go from paying off the school loan to having a mortgage. The kind of peace that we can produce is always fleeting.
But what we find in our text in Romans — in fact — what we find in the whole Bible — is that there is peace available that doesn’t have a shelf life to it. That the reason why you and I long for lasting peace is because there is peace that isn’t temporary. Eternal peace isn’t just a figment of our imagination — it’s not just a longing of our heart — it’s real. But it’s not something we can earn — it’s not something we can achieve — it’s not something we can purchase — this peace is something given to us by God. It’s a peace given to those who are justified.
But before we go any further, I need to explain two things. What I mean by the word peace and what I mean by the word justified — the theological term is justification. So what do I mean when I use the words peace and justification?
First, let’s talk about peace. The biblical word we translate in English as peace is much deeper — it has more breadth to it — than what most of us think of when we hear the word peace. One person has said this, “In the Bible shalom [one of the words we translate as peace] means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight — a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights.” (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 10. )
So when I use the word peace today, I’m not just meaning “the absence of conflict” — you know where peace is the opposite of war — when we use the word peace today — I want you to think of being in the full presence and reality of God. Because being in God’s presence allows us to live the shalom life — the full life — the life of peace. So that’s what we mean by the word peace. Living in the reality of God’s presence which empowers us to live the full life — the whole life — the complete life — the life we were created to live. That’s the word peace.
Now the word justified — or justification. A basic definition of justification is “our declared righteousness before God.” If you listen to our podcast, you’ve heard me talk about catechisms — short questions and answers that teach us about our faith — they’re great for kids and adults. Well the Hanson kids know the definition of justification — in fact — they know the definition I just gave you. How? Well it’s one of the questions in the catechism we use as a family. Justification means “our declared righteousness before God.” That God has made a legal verdict — “you are no longer guilty.”
As someone has said, “Justification is accomplished through Jesus’ blood...Jesus died as the representative of and substitute for his people. Those who put their faith in him are spared from the punishment they deserve.” (Thomas R. Schreiner, “Paul: A Reformed Reading,” in Four Views on The Apostle Paul, ed. Michael F. Bird (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 33.) Now — often — when someone talks about justification — that’s as far as they go — and that’s beautiful — but there’s much more to justification — there are deeper waters to swim in — because justification is a resurrection kind of event.
Justification is about God giving us life. It’s about us moving from slavery to freedom — like the Israelites in the Exodus story. And justification is what Paul has been talking about in Romans up until this point in the letter.
In fact, let me give you a quick recap of what you may have missed if you weren’t with us when we went through the first four chapters of Romans. And you may find it helpful to go to our website — gatewayepc.org — where you can find all of the sermons from Romans that you’ve missed — if you’re just joining us on this journey.
But here’s a quick recap.
In the first chapter of Romans — Paul tells us that all of humanity — it doesn’t matter your race, your socio-economic status, your education, the language you speak, your gender — all of humanity is trapped in sin and needs to be rescued.
In chapter 2 he tells us that the rescue won’t come by people obeying God’s law. In this church in Rome, there are Christians coming from a Jewish background and others who don’t have a Jewish upbringing. And part of the confusion and division in the church is the role of God’s law. And Paul wants to make sure that everyone knows that rescue from sin doesn’t come by obeying God’s law because…
In chapter 3, Paul says that no one obeys God’s law. We’ve all fallen short. We’ve all missed the mark. We’ve all rebelled against God and his law. So — and this is amazing — God — in his love — and because he always does what is right — God sent Jesus into our world to rescue us. And Jesus perfectly obeyed God’s law doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
And Jesus did all of this — we see in chapter 4 — so that the promise God made to Abraham — way back in the book of Genesis — that Abraham would be the father of a huge multi-ethnic family — Jesus came to rescue the people who are the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. People who are justified because of what Jesus accomplished in his life, death, and resurrection. People who are justified by faith in Christ. People who God has given peace.
OK so with that quick recap — let’s go back to our text and see the life of peace — the full life — that’s being offered to us because of God’s gracious act of justifying his people.
BOASTING IN THE HOPE OF THE GLORY OF GOD
And this gracious act by God is why Paul begins chapter 5 with the word “therefore.”
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Because our justification is by faith in what Jesus has accomplished. Because our righteousness — our being made right with God — is not based on anything we’ve done — but is based solely on what Christ alone has done. Because of these truths — we have shalom — we have fullness of life — we have peace with God.
But don’t ever forget that your peace with God comes through Jesus Christ. So if you don’t want Jesus — you don’t want peace — you don’t want a full life. To not want Jesus goes against everything you say you do want. For to not want Jesus — is to want a life of chaos. To not want Jesus — is to desire a life of restlessness. To reject Jesus — is to invite into your life hopelessness and despair
That’s why there’s an assurance in being justified by faith. You see there’s great comfort in being justified because you’re given peace — peace with God — and this peace isn’t fleeting like the wind. And I hope you’ll understand this — and receive this gift — and believe it in the depth of your soul — because something quite common is for someone to believe in Jesus — and yet be anxious — and overly concerned about whether or not they’re really saved. And what I want you to know is that you can have confidence — not cockiness — not arrogance — but you can have confidence in knowing that you have peace with God — you can know that you are saved. And it’s sad to see a Christian who’s anxious about whether or not they’re saved. Work out your faith with fear and trembling — don’t assume it — for sure — but don’t be anxious about it either.
But I know not everyone listening to me is a Christian — at least not yet. And you may be listening and you haven’t really bought in to everything I’ve said about peace. Maybe you’re still confident — that the peace you’re looking for — can be found in this world. So here’s my question — and I ask this because I love you and am concerned for you: If peace is possible, why’s it taking you so long to find it? Or for Israelis and Palestinians to stop fighting? Or for Democrats and Republicans to get along? Maybe the reason why there are so many examples of the absence of peace in our world — even peace at a very superficial level — is because true peace isn’t found here, but is found somewhere — or even better — peace is found in Someone — else?
But here’s what I want all of you to know — if you ever find yourself needing assurance — if you ever find yourself needing to be comforted in knowing that you believe and are saved — turn to Romans chapters 5 through 8. Paul wrote these chapters with the purpose of assuring anxious Christians. And he tells us here’s where assurance is found — here’s where hope is found — here’s where lasting peace is found in our anxiety producing world: Lasting — unwavering — forever stable — assurance, hope, and peace — are found solely in what Christ has done for you. You won’t find this kind of stability in anything you’ve done or will ever do — the kind of sure foundation you’re looking for — is only found in what Christ has done for you.
And here’s one other thing that trips many Christians up. Your assurance doesn’t even come from you doing something that’s called “having faith.” That’s often misunderstood. Many believe that faith is the one thing we have to do on our own. But even faith is a gift that’s first given to us — it’s not something we generate or make happen on our own — it’s a gift we receive from God. And faith is a gift that — when given and received — it’s ready to do its work.
All that to say — have assurance! All that’s needed for salvation — for hope — for peace — all that’s needed has been given to you in Christ. And for those who’ve been given the gift of salvation — for those who’ve been justified by faith — as we’ll read later in Romans — nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus. And that’s a solid foundation to build your life on.
But let’s keep reading in verse 2.
2 Through him (Jesus) we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2 ESV)
OK. So I’ve got to explain something about the translation of a word — here — but I don’t want to get us bogged down in the weeds and I definitely don’t want this to cause you to doubt or be concerned about your English Bible translation.
The word I’m talking about is “rejoice” — there at the end of verse 2 — “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” The word comes up again in verse 3 — and in the verses Pastor Robert will be preaching from next week.
“Rejoice” is an OK translation. A few English translations use it — I think — mainly because “rejoice” is a positive sounding word in our English language — and the Greek word — Paul uses — is meant to have a positive meaning. But the English word — that more closely fits Paul’s Greek word — is often viewed negatively today. So what’s the word? The word Paul uses is more like our English word “boasting.” Think of the two words. Isn’t “rejoicing” a more positive kind of word and “boasting” kind of negative?
If you rejoice in your kid’s accomplishments — well that’s good. But if you boast about their accomplishments — well — no one wants to talk to you in the office.
But what Paul wants us to see is that — with as great as shalom is for this life — peace in this life — the life that’s coming — for those who believe in Jesus — for those who are justified by faith — the eternal life of peace that’s coming — well — that’s something to boast about. So Paul is future focused here — and most of us would live much differently if we lived this future-oriented life that he’s describing. Yes we’re to enjoy God’s grace today — but we have an eternal assurance — that gives us much more reason to boast about God’s future grace. A future grace — a future hope — not based on anything we will ever do — a future hope not built on anything we’ll accomplish — because — once again — Paul reminds us that our future hope is based on the grace of God that causes us to boast in the glory of God. The grace of God that Jesus revealed to us when he came to rescue and justify us — making us right with God and giving us this undeserved — hope-filled — peace-full — living in the presence of God for all eternity — let’s boast about it — future.
BOASTING IN OUR SUFFERINGS
But this next part is a bit of a shock. For in verse 3 Paul says...
“Not only that, but we rejoice (or boast...) in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,” (Romans 5:3-4 ESV)
So how about that? Paul tells us that present sufferings are a reason for us to boast — our suffering is a reason to rejoice. Now that’s about as foreign of a concept for us living in the US of A as anything I can think of. So what is Paul talking about — we’re to boast in our suffering?
Paul’s confronting something that so often can rob us of our assurance and hope — suffering. Suffering is a time — for most — not for all — but suffering’s a time when many people question everything they believe. And — for some — suffering’s a time when they give up on God.
I’m currently reading a book by Paul Tripp titled “Suffering.” The book is much more personal than others I’ve read by him because the book is birthed out of his own suffering. If you don’t know his story, Paul Tripp went from feeling fine and doing a 10 mile bike sprint — having lost 40 pounds by eating healthy and exercising — to “feeling a little off” — and going to the hospital for what he thought was going to be a “you’re fine — go back home” kind of visit that led to two years and six surgeries — it led to suffering that caused him many times to plead with God to kill him. Listen to some of his words.
“Physical suffering exposes the delusion of personal autonomy and self-sufficiency. If you and I had the kind of control that we fall into thinking we have, none of us would ever go through anything difficult. None of us would choose to be sick. None of us would choose to experience physical pain. None of us likes the prospect of being physically weak and disabled. None of us like our lives being put on hold. Physical suffering forces you to face the reality that your life is in the hands of another.” (Paul David Tripp, Suffering, 20.)
He writes, “perhaps we curse physical weakness because we are uncomfortable with placing our trust in God…[because] weakness simply demonstrates what has been true all along: we are completely dependent on God for life and breath and everything else. Weakness was not the end for me, but a new beginning, because weakness provides the context in which true strength is found.” (Paul David Tripp, Suffering, 29.)
Later he writes, “independence is a delusion that is quickly exposed by suffering.” (Paul David Tripp, Suffering, 21.) For “Suffering has the power to expose what you have been trusting all along. If you lose your hope when your physical body fails, maybe your hope wasn’t really in your Savior after all.” Because “when the thing you have been trusting (whether you knew it or not) is laid to waste, you don’t suffer just the loss of that thing; you also suffer the loss of the identity and security that it provided.” (Paul David Tripp, Suffering, 28.) And he writes, “It was humbling to confess that what I thought was faith was actually self-reliance.” (Paul David Tripp, Suffering, 21.)
Finally, he writes, “Weakness is not what you and I should be afraid of. We should fear our delusion of strength. Strong people tend not to reach out for help, because they think they don’t need it. [But] When you have been proven weak, you tap into the endless resources of divine power that are yours in Christ.” (Paul David Tripp, Suffering, 29.)
Now both Pauls — Paul Tripp and the apostle Paul — have just shown us a need for refocus in our lives. The apostle has been telling us to look ahead — that’s where our hope is found — in the future promises guaranteed to us. But the apostle also knows that — right now — while we live in this overlap — this time of brokenness that’s moving towards all things being made new — instability moving towards shalom — Paul knows that in this time of overlap — things like suffering and death intrude on God’s people.
But he doesn’t want us to give up on hope because of this intrusion. So he shows us how this intrusion of suffering can actually lead us to even greater — more assured — hope. For suffering can produce endurance. And endurance character. And character hope. (Douglas J. Moo, Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, ed. Gordon D. Fee (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 303-4. )
It’s been said that “Hope, like a muscle, will not be strong if it goes unused. It is in suffering that we must exercise with deliberation and fortitude our hope, and the constant reaffirmation of hope in the midst of apparently ‘hopeless’ circumstances will bring ever-deeper conviction of the reality and certainty of that for which we hope.”
And I know this goes against everything that we’re taught to believe about suffering — “suffering doesn’t lead to hope — it leads to despair — so avoid suffering at all costs.” But the reason for our hope as we suffer — the reason why suffering does lead the Christian to have hope — is because of Christ.
If you’re a Christian, your existence and destiny are bound up in Christ. Paul uses that phrase often — “in Christ” — to describe the Christian. And part of what that means is that just like Jesus’ suffering — because God is sovereign and has used the most horrific act in all of history — the crucifixion of his Son for his glory and for our eternal hope and good — that you — if you believe — being “in Christ” — have been promised that your suffering is headed towards the same destination as Christ’s suffering on your behalf — towards God’s glory and your eternal hope and good.
BOASTING IN GOD’S LOVE
And we know this — we have hope in suffering — because of how Paul ends his thought. He says...
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5 ESV)
Paul says that our hope in eternal — future-oriented — glorious promises isn’t a reason for shame — it’s not a reason for disgrace or dishonor — why? Because God’s love has been poured into our hearts.
So our suffering — your suffering — if you’re a Christian — know this — your suffering is not the result of God punishing you. Yes, there are consequences for our sin, but that’s different than being under the punishing hand of God. And my confidence in telling you this — is because God loves you. And God has poured out his love into you. And proof that he loves you is that God has given his Holy Spirit to you.
We talk about this all the time here at Gateway. Though we all deserve the judgment of God — because of our rebellion and sin against him — God has chosen to extend his love to his people. But — in order to do so — he had to make them holy first. You see, due to our sin — God’s people need to be washed, cleansed, purified — and that’s what the Holy Spirit does. The Holy Spirit makes God’s people ready — he prepares us in this life — for the life that is to come. And God’s Spirit — doing this work to God’s people — is a guaranteed promise. In one of his other letters, Paul writes “when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.” (Ephesians 1:13b-14, NLT)
And this shows us that God’s love being poured into us — and the Holy Spirit being given to us — were made possible because of what Christ has done for us.
Jesus has given us the guarantee of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus has given us the guarantee of an inheritance — eternal life — our future-oriented hope.
Jesus has given us the guarantee that we are his people for he purchased us — he redeemed us — through the shedding of his blood on the cross.
And he did all of this so that we would praise and glorify him. So that we would rejoice in the hope of the glory of God — that we would boast in his glory.
And though we may suffer — we have reason to boast — because we are at peace with God.
And though you may be suffering — right now — if you look to Jesus in faith — and discover the joy he offers that surpasses all worldly sorrows — you will experience suffering while simultaneously experiencing the peace of God.
And though you may be tempted — when suffering shows up on your doorstep — to abandon everything you believe.
And though your suffering may cause you to question platitudes that you’ve held on to — and theology that doesn’t hold up to the “in your face brokenness” this world can slam in our faces — if you keep your eyes on Jesus and all that he’s done for you in love — you will see the one who didn’t abandon you when suffering came his way. For Jesus endured suffering because of his love for you. And if Jesus so loved you — who else could you possibly turn to when you suffer?
And for all of us — the people of God — followers of Jesus — we can’t fall for the lie that so many are caught up in. That though on the outside they’re pretty good at faking peace — we can’t ignore that on the inside there’s a disturbance in the people of our land.
People are unhappy, unfulfilled, searching for purpose and peace in all the wrong places.
They’re choosing to medicate or isolate themselves from dealing with their lack of peace.
They hesitate to admit that things aren’t working because it’s easier to vegetate in front of Netflix than to excavate the deep matters of the soul.
But we — dear Christians — we have a message of peace — given to us from the Prince of peace — and we can not keep this message to ourselves but must share his message of peace with others so they can join us in boasting in the hope of the glory of God. Let’s pray.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your shalom — your peace — which has made the full life possible. Though we’re the ones who invited chaos and brokenness and division and disease and death into your creation — you — God — have had the final word on the matter — peace will prevail — hope will be found — love will reign and rule. And your final word on the matter was your Son — for he is the Word of God — he is the Prince of peace — he is Love and Hope and the King who reigns and rules.
Jesus for those among us who are lacking peace — I ask you to show them the way to peace is found through faith in you. Thank you for justifying those who come to you in faith. Thank you for paying the penalty for our sin that we could not pay. Thank you for receiving the punishment that our rebellion deserved. Doing all of these things in love — so that we could hear the words from your Father — “forgiven — clean — no longer guilty— welcomed into my eternal home.”
Finally, Holy Spirit, empower us to boast in the hope of the glory of God. Help us to tell others the Good News of what Jesus has done so that they join us in praising Jesus in this life and in the life to come. It’s in Jesus’ name that we pray. Amen.
BENEDICTION (PRAY FOR: Suffering and in need of peace.)
May you go in peace — boasting in the glory of God — having been justified by faith. Amen.
God loves you. I love you. You are sent.