Summary: Even in the midst of suffering we can sing: Now thank we all our God. Let's learn why we can rejoice in suffering. Parts: A. His verdict overrules our guilt. B. His training for us in troubles strengthens our hope.

Text: Romans 5:1-5

Theme: Now Thank We All Our God

A. His verdict overrules our guilt

B. His training for us in troubles strengthens our hope

Season: Thanksgiving Eve

Date: November 24, 2010

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit strengthens our faith in Jesus is Romans 5.

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand. And we rejoice based on the hope of God's glory. Not only that, but also we rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering works perseverance; perseverance, tested character; and tested character, hope. And this hope does not bring shame, for God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who was given to us." (Romans 5:1-5)

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

During a forty-year ministry, I would guess that many pastors do seventy or more burials. But this wasn't over the full span of his ministry. In fact, it wasn't even a full year. In one day, Pastor Rinkart did burial rites for up to seventy people and did the same the next day and the next.

The year was 1637. He was the only pastor left in Eilenburg, Germany. This was the height of the Thirty-Years War that had start in 1618. By 1637 one army after another had pillaged the fields of Germany for nearly twenty years. Refugees fled to walled cities such as Eilenburg. Famine and plague ran rampant. In 1637 Pastor Rinkart buried nearly 4,500 people including many of his coworkers and his own dear wife.

Yet during this war that would bring such devastation, this same Pastor, Martin Rinkart, in the year 1630 wrote the words: "Nun danket alle Gott Mit Herzen, Mund und Händen." What an example of the Apostle's words, "[W]e also rejoice in our sufferings" (Romans 5:3 NIV).

Now granted, the worst of the war came after he wrote those words, and I don't now how often he would have sung them during that dreadful year of 1637. And yet his faithful service throughout that year and onward certainly confesses a faith that was able to rejoice in suffering. How can we imitate that faith as we put into practice the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 5?

So often our faith is myopic, nearsighted. We see the trouble in front of us. We feel the suffering we're going through. We taste the agonies of this life and smell the stench of defeat. How can there be any joy or thanksgiving? But the Holy Spirit, through these words given the Apostle Paul, opens our eyes to see into the distance, so that we too can sing, "Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices."

A. His verdict overrules our guilt

Paul writes, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand" (Romans 5:1, 2 NIV).

"Justified." What a word for faith to hold on to no matter how bad this life becomes. "Justified." It takes us into God's court of justice. The judge knows your guilt. He sees your sin, even sins you've hidden in a deep, dark corner of your heart, or sins you don't even realize. No human effort or work, or argument could ever convince him otherwise. Just read Romans 1:18-3:20. No one will be justified in his sight by doing the works of the law, for we have all broken the law.

But the word here isn't, "Convicted." It isn't, "Condemned." That's what you'd expect for lawbreakers like you and me. But what does Paul write? "Justified." "[W]e have been justified" (Romans 5:1 NIV). How can that be? "[T]hrough our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:2 NIV). That's how, dear friends. "He was delivered over to death for our sins, and raised to life for our justification" (Romans 4:25 NIV). That's the verse right before the text.

"Justified." How that changes our perspective! Instead of focusing on your present troubles, look back into the distance almost two thousand years. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see that on the center cross hung not just a man but our God, the eternal Son of the Father. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see that he dies not because of any wrong he had done, for he was innocent. He dies on account of our sin and all the sins of the world. He dies in our place, as your Substitute. He freely credits you with his perfectly right record in God's court room. And he suffers the full punishment and penalty that our crimes justly deserve: Forsaken by God.

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