Summary: We can be happy (joyful) because our hope comes through peace with God... and that’s a good thing because life is full of character building adversity.
Title: Grace, Glory and Guts Part I
Text: Romans 5:1-5
Thesis: We can be happy because our hope comes through peace with God and that’s good because life is full of character building adversity.
There is a story about a farmer whose donkey fell into an old dry well. The donkey brayed and brayed in despair and so much so that the farmer was beside himself as to what to do. The donkey was old and the pit was dangerous so the risk of rescuing an old donkey did not seem worth doing so he called his neighbors to come help him fill in the well which would silence the donkey and remove a danger of anything or anyone else falling into the well.
When the donkey felt that first shovel full of dirt splatter onto his back he knew this was not in his best interests and became even more agitated, braying all the more. But then the donkey grew silent. The farmer peered over the edge wondering what had happened. That’s when he saw that with each shovel full of dirt the donkey shook the dirt from its back and trampled the dirt underfoot.
Many hours and many shovel fulls later the donkey stepped over the edge of the well and trotted off.
The story of the donkey is a story of salvation, adversity, perseverance, and hope… as is our text today.
In my bible there are headings that introduce what is to follow in the text. The heading above Romans 5 is “Faith Brings Joy.” It’s a two-fold joy:
I. The Joy of Peace and Privilege
I understand that, though similar, joy and happiness are different.
Happiness has to do with our circumstances. The root of happiness is “hap” which suggests good fortune or luck. When things are good we are happy and when they are not so good, we are sad.
Joy on the other hand has less to do with externals and more to do with internals. Joy has more to do with inner well-being. That’s why you can feel sadness and joy at the same time.
When a loved one dies we generally do not jump up and get all giddy with happiness. To the contrary, we are sad. We have a sense of loss. But despite our sadness, we can also experience inner well-being. We grieve at our loss but we rejoice in our hope.
Most of you know me as a happy person… I do not so easily separate happiness and joy. My experience has been that when I am experiencing inner well-being, i.e., joy, I am also expressing outer happiness.
Some time ago I read something to the effect, “Adversity and sorrow color life but you determine the color.”
We may determine the color based on two very important facts that in turn affect everything else including adversity.
No matter what is happening around us, we are still good with God so we have inner well-being or joy and this is why:
A. We have peace with God.
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith (justified by faith), we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.
The obvious observation is that peace with God is not the norm. I don’t mean to be remedial but the book of Romans states just how peace with God, apart from Christ, is not the norm. “Everyone has sinned and falls short of God’s glory or glorious standard.” 3:23 However, on the flip-side, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” 6:23
Here in Colorado we’ve been following the Dunlap case… in 1993 Nathan Dunlap returned to the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant where he had previously worked, shot five people and took $1,500 from the safe. He was given the death sentence by a jury and has been on death row since 1996.
In that the August date for his execution is approaching his attorneys asked Governor Hickenlooper for clemency. Clemency is the moderation of the severity of a sentence. They were asking that the Governor reduce his death sentence to life in prison without parole.
Governor Hickenlooper was faced with the decision to either let the decision of the jury stand and allows the state to carry out the death sentence or grant him clemency. The Governor dodged the issue by granting a temporary reprieve, i.e., a temporary suspension of the sentence. The Governor decided the easiest thing for him to do was let the next Governor decide.
We understand what a death sentence means. We understand what clemency means. But what is spoken of in our text is neither. Because of what Jesus Christ has done in taking upon himself the death penalty for us all, God has granted us pardons. God has pardoned us. A pardon is the release from legal penalty. Pardon is forgiveness. Pardon is Just as if it never happened in the eyes of God.