Third Sunday in Lent (March 19, 2017)
Romans 5:1-11 | New Living Translation
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good.But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.
Last week we looked at Romans 4 and we learned that Abraham was counted righteous because of faith in God. People are not counted righteous because of the things we do. We are counted because of our faith in God. The promise is received by faith and is a free gift and not because of the things we have done.
How does all of this happen? That brings us to chapter 5. Remember again that Paul wrote this as a letter and did not write it with chapter and verse. Paul writes, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand.”
Paul really begins to make the case that we are made righteous by faith through Jesus Christ. We are reminded in verse 6 that Christ came when we were utterly helpless – when we couldn’t help ourselves – he came as a baby, born under a woman – so that he could be God with us. Jesus, the Son of God became helpless to save us helpless people. That really strikes me as a paradox.
We are utterly helpless to live a life of righteousness on our own. At just the right time, Jesus Christ came to save us – and he died for us sinners. Paul makes his argument that very few people would be willing to die for an upright person, but Christ made the ultimate sacrifice – to die for unrighteous people. “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8) Christ didn’t come because we were good people. But his love for us was so great that he came and died for us. Christ came to make us righteous – he came to make us at one with God – Christ made us one with God through his blood. Because we are made right with God, Paul tells us, that we will be saved from God’s condemnation.
Christ’s death on the cross saved us from God’s condemnation and made us friends with God. That’s a little hard to comprehend. No wonder Paul called it a mystery. While we were enemies of God, Christ died for us to reconcile us to God and now…we can rejoice because we have been reconciled and we are now friends of God.
What an amazing love that is! Let’s go out rejoicing this morning as we remember Christ’s sufferings and the price that he paid for us when we didn’t deserve it and now we are friends with God.