Summary: This is the tenth message in a series over the first five chapters of the book of Romans. This message examines the reasons that the Gospel gives us for being optimistic.
By definition an optimist is one that expects the best possible outcome of any given situation. Most of us would have to admit that we have a lot of difficulty remaining optimistic. Paul presented an argument that on the surface seems to leave us very little room for being optimistic. In fact, Paul has made it abundantly clear that every one of us has blown it in God’s eyes. He did not leave us with no hope whatsoever, he showed that through faith there is a way to receive God’s grace and to be declared righteous. Despite knowing this we still find it hard to be optimistic because from where we sit we are not worthy of being forgiven. The problem is that we do not have a true grasp of exactly what faith is. The Chamula culture of southern Mexico has no single word in their language for “faith.” In fact, when translators discovered a phrase to accurately convey the meaning, they crossed a major hurdle in translating the New Testament for that people group. For the Chamulas, “faith” is taking-seriously-what-God-has-obligated-himself-to-do. Bringing their insight back into English can deepen our understanding of faith. Paul wants his readers to realize that faith is accepting that God will do exactly what He said that He would do. Today as we come to the first half of Romans 5 our goal is to rediscover exactly what faith is and how we have every reason in the world to be optimistic.
I. Making sense of a passage that is very broad in scope.
A. Paul begins by once again reminding us of our true condition before God.
1. We are by nature unrighteous and rebellious creatures that have been justified through faith.
2. When you read this in the Greek, we see that because of faith we are continually being justified.
3. The faith that enabled us to accept this gift of God’s grace enables us to remain a justified and forgiven person.
4. We need to realize that justification is so much more than simply a guarantee of Heaven, it is so much more and it brings with it so many blessings.
B. The results of our justification through Jesus Christ.
1. The obvious benefit of our justification is that the wrath of God is no longer hanging over our heads.
2. Basically when we accepted God’s gift through faith we entered into a peace treaty with God.
3. The peace Paul is talking about is more than simply an end to hostilities. It refers to the fact that our broken relationship with God has been restored.
4. The Greek verb translated “to have” is in perfect tense which means that we are in possession of this peace right now and we will enjoy its blessings from here on out.
5. The problem is because of our confusion about faith, works and justification often causes us not to realize our new position before God.
6. Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1—NIV 2011)
C. Our new position before God gives us every reason to be joyful.
1. Paul shows that through Jesus Christ we now exist in a state of grace. The grace we now live in is an ongoing reality.
2. Sin had taken our access to God away but grace has restored it through Christ. So we can freely approach Him whenever we want to.
3. Since we have a new standing with God and the hope of spending eternity with Him, we have every reason to be joyful.
4. This new hope should enable us to be able to overcome our frustrations in this life. Especially those that result from the times that we fail to live the way we should.
II. Understanding what a person who has been justified looks like.
A. Perseverance in the face of trials and other difficulties.
1. We live in a world that sin has utterly destroyed, as a result we see evil running rampant and have to deal with sickness and death.
2. Although these sufferings can crush us both physically and mentally, they are only temporary.
3. The world offers constant hostility toward those who belong to Christ but like the sufferings they are only temporary.
4. We can be optimistic and joyful because none of these things we endure in this world can take away the great salvation we enjoy.
5. The suffering we endure helps God shape our character and causes our faith and dependence upon Him to grow.
B. Joy because we have been spared from God’s future wrath.
1. God intervened in our circumstances because we were totally powerless to do anything to get us out of the mess we had made.
2. Paul’s illustration about what Christ did is quite humbling. Paul shows someone might dare to die for a good person but the problem is that we are anything but good; we were God’s enemies.