Summary: In this sermon we see a fourth blessing of justification, which is rejoicing in suffering.
"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)
Paul wrote the fifth chapter of Romans to teach those who have been justified by God through faith in Jesus Christ that they also have the blessings of justification.
We have already examined three blessings. They are peace with God, standing in grace, and rejoicing in hope. Today, we examine a fourth blessing, which is rejoicing in suffering.
Lake Okeechobee in south central Florida is this country’s second largest lake. You may know that following last summer’s drought, the lake hit its lowest level on record. In some areas the shoreline receded more than a mile, creating areas of dry lakebed. This allowed scientists and archaeologists to look into the state’s past and uncover hidden treasures. Many historical artifacts have been recovered, with some dating back more than 500 years.
Pottery shards, arrowheads, weaving tools, and pendants now lay on top of the dry ground, providing clues about the Native Americans that lived in the area hundreds of years ago.
Evidence of the Florida tourism and fishing industries were also uncovered, including a fishing trawler from 1904 that probably sank during a hurricane in 1928, and evidence of paddleboats that once ferried tourists around the area.
All these items have rested just beneath the surface of the water for many years. It took a drought to bring them out into the light of day again.
Personal droughts and difficulties and trials are never easy. But God often uses those times to reveal many new truths to us. And, if we respond properly, we shall learn to rejoice in suffering.
As I mentioned, in Romans 5 the apostle Paul explains the blessings of justification by faith. There are a number of blessings, and before we begin today’s lesson, let’s quickly review what we have learned so far.