Know the Whole Story
Many people know some stories from the Bible, but not how the narrative fits together. The Bible is one story that begins in a garden, ends in a city, and all the way through points to Jesus Christ. Open is your guided journey through this powerful, life-transforming story.
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Peace with God Through Faith

5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we1 have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith2 into this grace in which we stand, and we3 rejoice4 in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 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.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 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.

Death in Adam, Life in Christ

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men5 because all sinned—13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as one trespass6 led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness7 leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Footnotes

[1] 5:1 Some manuscripts let us
[2] 5:2 Some manuscripts omit by faith
[3] 5:2 Or let us; also verse 3
[4] 5:2 Or boast; also verses 3, 11
[5] 5:12 The Greek word anthropoi refers here to both men and women; also twice in verse 18
[6] 5:18 Or the trespass of one
[7] 5:18 Or the act of righteousness of one

(ESV)

Overview

Since your life is in the hand of God, you can be confident that God is working out His purpose even in the darkest days of your life. Your suffering is not accidental, meaningless, or out of control. In fact, it is the place where God will form the image of Christ in you.

God has demonstrated His love for you in the death of Jesus on the cross, and His love is poured out into your heart by the Holy Spirit. God’s love will never leave you, and you can look to the future with confidence because the Christ who died to save you lives to keep you. Your final salvation does not rest on your performance in the Christian life; it has been sealed by the blood of Jesus, and knowing this, you can “rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Imagine a business partnership in which you constantly had to call your partner and ask if he or she still wanted to work with you. Or imagine a marriage in which you didn’t know for sure that your spouse loved you. Either relationship may be endured; neither could be enjoyed.

God wants you to enjoy your relationship with Him, and that means that He wants you to be secure in it. But there are some “joy-killing” questions that often arise in the mind of a Christian, and if you are to enjoy your relationship with God, you need to know how to answer them.

Romans 5 leads us to the place where we can say that we “rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:11).

Where Do I Stand Before God?
If you are unsure about your relationship with God, it will be very difficult for you to rejoice in Him. But the Bible says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

Peace with God is not the same as feeling peaceful. There may be times in the Christian life when you are very troubled. Peace with God means that God holds nothing against you, because He has charged all your sin to Jesus who bore it on the cross.

When you are justified, the charges that stood against you are dropped, the court is dismissed, and you have peace with God. That is your standing, and it is secure. It doesn’t vary from day to day or swing with your moods, and it isn’t canceled when you let God down.

Why Is This Happening to Me?
When you face a health issue, a family problem, or some other disappointment in life, you may wonder why God would allow such a thing to happen to you. But God wants you to know that your suffering is not meaningless. It will produce perseverance, character, and hope.

God will use the hardest things in your life to achieve something of great value: “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3–4). God can use the greatest pain in your life to create a reflection of Jesus Christ in you.

The whole of your life in this world is a preparation for eternity, and God’s purpose is not only that you will be in glory, but that glory will be in you. Knowing this will enable you to persevere even through the hardest days of your life. You may look up to God through your tears, but you will be able to do so with hope, and your hope will not be disappointed.

Does God Really Care?
Paul tells us that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8); but how does the death of Jesus show the love of God?

There are many things that God could give us that might seem like a more relevant expression of His love. If the Bible said, “God shows His love for us in this, that He gave us a cure for cancer,” we would have no doubt about the relevance of the message. But how is Jesus dying on a cross a demonstration of God’s love?

Imagine a couple sitting in a car on a moonlit night near Niagara Falls. He puts his arm around her shoulder and whispers in her ear, “I love you.”

She looks at him suspiciously. “Do you really? I sometimes wonder.”

“All right,” he says, “I’ll prove it.” And with that, he gets out of the car, walks to the edge, and with one huge leap, throws himself over the side. As he falls into the abyss, he screams out, “I love you . . .” This may be an unforgettable experience, but it is not a demonstration of love. The man’s death achieves nothing for the woman.

The death of Jesus is an expression of love because it achieves something of infinite value for us: Through the death of Jesus the debt of our sin was paid and the wrath of God was propitiated.

God has demonstrated His love for us in giving the greatest gift at the point of our greatest need. So when you are tempted to wonder if God really loves you, look at the cross and take in what He has accomplished for you.

How Can I Be Sure I Will Make It to Heaven?
Imagine that you have planned the trip of a lifetime. The tickets are booked, your passport is checked, and the reservations have been made. All you need to do is get to the airport, but there are many things that could still go wrong! You could get sick the night before you leave. You could break your leg as you come down the stairs. It doesn’t take much imagination to multiply the scenarios that could occur.

So there is always the possibility that although the bills are paid, the reservations are made, and your bags are packed, you still might not make it because of something that went wrong at your end. Perhaps you know what it’s like to say to yourself: I’m not sure if I can keep this Christian life up! What if the temptations I face are too strong for me? What if something blows my faith out of the water?

When we are justified, we have peace with God, but how can we be sure that this peace will hold good on the last day when the wrath of God is revealed? The answer to that question is that “we have now been justified by his blood” (5:9). God justifies us through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. Peace with God is not based on anything in you at all. It is grounded in something entirely outside of you—the blood of Jesus. This is the basis of our security, and if you can grasp its meaning, it will help you to rejoice in God.

The Confusion of Misplaced Confidence
If you were asked how you know that you will be in heaven on the Last Day, how would you answer? Here are three common but inadequate answers.

Question: How do you know that you will be in heaven on the Last Day?

Answer: I love Jesus.

That’s great. But the test of loving Jesus is that we keep His commandments (John 14:15), and the fact that we don’t obey His commandments fully shows that we don’t fully love Him either. Our love for Christ is real, but it is mixed up with a great deal of love for ourselves. While it is true that we love Christ, our love for Him is hardly a ground for confidence when we stand in His presence on the Last Day!

Answer: I have made a commitment.

That’s wonderful. But what happens if your commitment to serving Christ wavers? What happens if in ten years’ time your enthusiasm wanes? Does that mean that your chances of entering heaven will diminish too?

People who think that their activity or enthusiasm for Christ is the basis for entering heaven soon find themselves under a great burden. Whatever you do, your level of commitment could always be higher, and believers who depend on their own commitment are on a path to spiritual burnout.

Answer: I have faith.

That’s marvelous. But how strong is your faith? Are there not times when you struggle with doubt? Many people have fallen into the error of putting faith in their own faith, rather than faith in Christ. But no one’s faith is free from questions, anxieties, doubts, or fears. So how can you ever be sure that your faith is enough?

Did you notice the one common factor in these three inadequate answers? They all begin with the fatal little word “I.” I love Jesus; I am committed; I have faith. And the problem with anything that begins with “I” is that it is never complete, never what it might be, and never what it could be.

God’s work in us is begun, but it is not yet complete. So while it is wonderfully true that we love Jesus, are committed to serve Jesus, and have faith in Jesus, none of these things is what they might be or what, one day, they will be. Our faith, service, and love for Christ are still a work in progress.

Confidence in Christ Alone
None of us is yet what we will be, and that is why we can never find confidence before God through anything in ourselves. There is only one solid ground of assurance: It is the blood of Jesus. We are “justified by his blood.”

So if you want to cultivate assurance and joy in God, the question you should be asking is not, “How strong is my faith?” or “How warm is my heart?” or “How deep is my commitment?” Instead you should ask, “Is the blood of Jesus Christ rich enough and strong enough to wash away my every sin and to cover my every weakness, failure, and inadequacy from this point until the day I arrive in the presence of God?”

Answer: Yes! Absolutely! Without question.

Jesus Will Never Leave You
Maybe you have the sneaking suspicion that, having reconciled you to Himself, God stands at a distance from you like a coach with a clipboard. He never seems satisfied with your performance and perpetually holds over you the threat of being dropped from the team.

Romans 5:10 tells us something better by far: “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.” Notice the key phrases: “reconciled… by [his] death” and “saved by his life.” The Christ who died to save you lives to keep you. That’s why you don’t need to worry about the future. Jesus lives to bring you to heaven, and His ability to keep you is the basis of your security.

  1. What causes the security of your relationship with God to fluctuate?
  2. Which of the following questions is most difficult for you right now? Why?
    Where do I stand before God?
    Does God really care?
    Why is this happening to me?
  3. On a scale of 1 (none) to 10 (absolutely) how confident are you that when you die you will go to heaven? Where does your confidence or lack of confidence come from?
  4. React to the statement: “There is only one solid ground of assurance: It is the blood of Jesus.”
  5. In your own words, what is God saying to us in Romans 5:10? “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.”
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