Summary: In this sermon we observe the blessings of justification by faith, the first of which is peace with God.
During the spring of 57 AD the apostle Paul was living in Corinth at the home of his convert and friend, Gaius. Paul was completing the last leg of his third missionary journey. He was soon to go back to Jerusalem to deliver a financial gift from the Macedonian churches to the Jerusalem Church.
Paul’s long-term desire, however, was to go on a fourth missionary journey to Spain. He planned to visit Rome along the way. So he wrote to the Roman Church about his desire to go to Spain. However, the main purpose for writing his letter to the Roman Church was to clarify the good news of God.
After beginning his letter with the customary greeting, Paul wrote that all people are sinners. As such, God is angry with us, and we are all under his just condemnation. We are guilty, we deserve to be punished, and we are desperately in need of God’s righteousness if we are to come into a right relationship with him.
But God, in love, has made provision for us to receive his righteousness. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to take upon himself the punishment that we so richly deserve. The good news of God is that we can come into a right relationship with God by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
If we will now rely totally on Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, God will remove our guilt from us. He will legally declare us, “Not Guilty!” And that is called justification by faith.
And that is what the apostle Paul explained in the first four chapters of his letter to the Romans.
Now, as he begins chapter 5, Paul writes about the blessings of justification. Having explained how we receive justification, he now explains what justification gives us.
In Romans 5:1-11 we read of several blessings of justification, beginning with peace with God in Romans 5:1. Let’s read Romans 5:1-11, paying special attention to verse 1, which is our text for today:
"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 More than that, 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.
"6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 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. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation." (Romans 5:1-11)
Many years ago, Look magazine ran a personality feature titled “Peace of Mind.” Sixteen prominent Americans were asked how they were able to find peace in our stressful world, and the article consisted of their answers.
James Michener, author of many best-selling books, said that he found peace by taking his two dogs for a “walk along old streams and into fields that have not been plowed for half a century.”
Barry Goldwater, the former Senator from Arizona and Republican presidential candidate, said that he found peace in his hobbies—photography, boating, flying, and camping—but above all by “walking in the Grand Canyon.”
Former CBS news anchorman Walter Cronkite found peace in solitude, usually by “going to the sea by small boat.”
Margaret Mead, the well-known anthropologist and author of Coming of Age in Samoa, sought “a change of pace and scene.”
Sammy Davis, Jr., said he found peace by looking for “good in people.”
Bill Moyers, former television personality and press secretary to Lyndon B. Johnson, tried to find peace in a family “reunion, usually in some remote and quiet retreat.”
As I read these answers I was struck with how subjective and dependent upon favorable circumstances most of the approaches were.
But I noted something else too. Although each of these prominent Americans differed in his or her methods, all were nevertheless seeking peace of mind and recognized that pursuing it was important. No one considered a search for peace to be irrelevant or unimportant.