Summary: God’s love guarantees that since He saved me, He will keep me
I’d like to begin this morning with a question, one that I first came across more than 30 years ago in an evangelism training program called Evangelism Explosion:
“Have you come to the place in your spiritual life where you know for sure that if you were to die today you would go to heaven?”
That question was one of two “diagnostic questions” that we were taught to use in sharing the gospel with unbelievers in order to determine whether or not a person was “saved”. As I’ve matured as a disciple of Jesus, I’ve come to understand that eternal life involves so much more than just going to heaven when I die, as important as that is. Therefore, I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps this question is more useful in evaluating how confident a disciple of Jesus is in his or her salvation than it is in determining whether or not a person is a believer in the first place. Since heaven is the ultimate fulfillment of our salvation, how sure we are that we will arrive there one day is probably pretty good measure of how confident we are in our salvation.
If you can’t answer that question with a confident “yes” this morning, if you’re not 100% sure that if you were to die today, you would go to heaven, I’ve got good news for you. Paul’s words in Romans 5 that we’ll study this morning should give all of us who are Jesus’ disciples great confidence in our salvation. And even if you are already confident in your salvation, it certainly won’t hurt to be reminded once again of why we ought to have that kind of confidence.
Originally my plan was to cover the first five verses of Romans chapter 5 this week and then cover the next six verses next week. But the more I read and studied both passages, the more I became convinced that they need to be considered as a whole unit. So we’ll be looking at verses 1-11 as a whole for the next two weeks. This morning I want to focus on why we can have confidence in our salvation and then next week I want to come back to this passage and see how that truth helps us to persevere through the trials of life.
So go ahead and turn in your Bibles to Romans chapter 5 and follow along as I read beginning in verse 1:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 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. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 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. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
(Romans 5:1-11 ESV)
Here is what I would suggest is the main message of this passage:
God’s love guarantees that
since He saved me, He will keep me
This passage is major turning point in Paul’s letter. After his introduction in the first 17 verses of the letter, Paul spends nearly two chapters describing the hopeless condition of man. Then at the end of chapter 3, he reveals God’s divine solution for our sin made available to all through Jesus. Paul continues that line of thinking in chapter 4, where he illustrates what justification by faith looks like and proves that it is the only possible way to be made right with God using Abraham as his example. But at the beginning of chapter 5 Paul turns from explaining how one is justified to describing the results of being justified.
He begins this section by pointing out that justification by faith is the permanent possession of every disciple of Jesus. Undoubtedly Paul’s Jewish readers would have had a lot of questions after reading what Paul had written in the first four chapters, questions that many of us may still have today that keep us from having complete confidence in our salvation: