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(Romans 5:6-11)
SUBJECT: Joy in Christ.
F.C.F: Why should I be joyful in a painful world?
PROPOSITION: Since God has and will save us in Christ, we must rejoice.
A. In his recent book, God in the Whirlwind,
my favorite living theologian, David F. Wells
explains some important aspects of communication.
For example, there are the words themselves which
the speaker or writer uses. The words convey
information. But the words also often reveal the
character of the speaker. And then there is the effect
which the speaker desires to have upon those who
hear. Wells then applies these aspects to Scripture as
the Word of God.
“The words of Scripture, which are
simultaneously God’s, are not simply conveying
information. Information may be conveyed, but with
the conveyance of this information, and through it,
God spoke and he continues to speak. The words, in
fact, arise from within his character. God speaks out
of the greatness of his character. The Bible is not like
an impersonal computer that is mechanically spitting
out sentences. God’s character is encountered in his
words even as ours is in our words….
“But here we need to go a little beyond mere
human discourse. When we read Scripture, God the
Holy Spirit who first inspired this Word is also by
our side to enable us to receive its truth. This goes
beyond what happens in person-to-person dialogue.
With respect to the Holy Spirit, this is a twofold
work. He must open our hearts to receive the truth
and, at the same time, he must ensure that we
understand enough of it to move forward in our
Christian lives….
“In Scripture, no less than in human speech,
the three aspects to communication are at work. First,
there is factual information. Second, in that
information we are also encountering the person who
is giving it to us. We encounter God’s character
through the promises made, the warnings given, and
assurance offered. Finally, there are the intended
outcomes to that speech that he wills in the lives of
all believers. He wants us to heed the warnings, trust
him in his promises, receive encouragement through
his assurances, and learn obedience through the truth
he has given us.” (212-213)
B. This is especially true of our text for this
morning. Here in the words of Scripture we find not
only important information, but also the character of
God, and the response he necessarily requires of 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
A. God’s love is not like ours—love for the
lovely or love that expects some kind of return. But
God’s love is astonishing. God’s loves the unlovely,
indeed, the unlovable. And what an astonishing
measure of God’s love!
We could spend our whole time on a single
phrase from verse 6: “Christ died for the ungodly.”
Every word is astonishing. “Christ,” the long-awaited
Messiah, God’s promised Deliverer has come in the
person of Jesus. Everything has changed because
God has entered our world and assumed a human
nature. “Died!” Died?! What? God’s Deliverer has
come—and he died? That shouldn’t have happened.
What folly! What a shameful disgrace! What kind of
a deliverer is that, that he could allow himself to die?
“For the ungodly.” Oh, this is over the top. Who in
their right mind would die for a bunch of rebellious
dirtbags? Who would go to the gallows for
reprehensible criminals, lawbreakers, villains?
B. But when you hear the heart of God in this
text and digest its shocking message, it all weighs
heavily upon us with unbearable force. “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.” Who were the
ungodly for whom Christ died? Well, Paul explains,
“Christ died for us…while we were yet sinners.”
Christ died for the ungodly sinner named Paul. Christ
died for the ungodly sinners in Rome, to whom he
wrote. Christ died for ungodly sinners like us today
who will repent and turn from their sin and turn to
Here we see the heart and character of God,
his seeking, saving, sacrificial love for weak,
ungodly, sinners like us. Here we see great cause for
hope, for celebration, for inexhaustible joy. “God
shows his love for us in that while we were still
sinners, Christ died for us.” Are you rejoicing in this
astounding and unchangeable truth? Are you so
beside yourself with joy right now that you can
scarcely contain yourself and just cannot wait to sing
and shout praises to God?
C. There are two reasons why you may not
feel this deeply. One is because you do not really see
yourself as God sees you apart from Christ—
unlovely and unlovable. We’ve all had the selfesteem message jammed down our throats so often
that we could scarcely ever apply these words to
ourselves: “unlovely and unlovable.” But God’s
Word is direct and honest and revealing: we are
“weak,” “ungodly,” and “sinners.” Think of it: Christ
would never have had to die for good people. The
awful cost reveals the awful plight of our sin and
But the other reason why we may not feel this
deeply is because we attach little weight to the key
word in this whole passage: “Christ!” We have little
love for him, most likely because we have so much
love for self. We are big and so Christ is small. As
one person told me, our job is to sin and Christ’s job
is to forgive. That’s all he is? The forgiver?
Ye who think of sin but lightly Nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly, Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed, See who bears the awful load;
'Tis the Word, the Lord's anointed, Son of Man and Son of God.
We must rejoice because we are loved with
God, and what great love!
walking in a park. The young man exclaims to the
woman, “I love you with all my heart, and let me
prove it.” Then he jumps in the river and drowns
himself. He did not prove his love by his death; he
only proved that he was an idiot. Dying itself proves
nothing. But dying for another—that’s a very
different matter.
“Christ died for the ungodly.” “While we
were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He died with a
purpose in mind, and that was to reconcile us to God.
Today in our age of tolerance and acceptance it is
almost inconceivable that God would be upset with
anyone or would disapprove of anything. Yet the
Bible is clear from cover to cover. The whole world
is under the curse of sin. God’s fierce judgment and
wrath are looming on the horizon. Actually, God is
presently pouring out his wrath upon all ungodliness,
and that includes everyone.
B. And Christ came to reverse the curse of
sin, first and foremost, to reconcile us to God. He did
so by achieving righteousness for us, the
righteousness we owed unto God. And secondly, he
endured the wrath of God for us in our place, taking
the death sentence we deserve for our sins as the
ungodly sinners we are. That’s what Paul declares in
verse 9: “Since, therefore, we have now been justified
by his blood….” We are just, righteous, right with
God through Christ’s blood, through his offering his
perfect life as a sacrifice for us. And again in verse
10: “For if while we were enemies we were
reconciled to God by the death of his Son….” We
were enemies to God, but God took the initiative and
paid the awful cost, the death of his Son, that we
might be reconciled to him.
Our sins and the punishment we justly
deserved became an insurmountable barrier between
God and us. The only thing that could remove it was
for the innocent Son of God in human flesh willingly
enduring our punishment for us, effectively
neutralizing or erasing the penalty from the books.
The only thing that could save us from death and hell
has been done, by Christ, by the Son of God.
C. Again, the important information in these
words reveals God’s heart and character. God sought
us out because he wanted to be reconciled to us. He
did not want us to suffer the horror of his wrath, so he
poured out his holy wrath on his Son instead, for us.
And this then calls for a response. And that response
is joy! How could we not rejoice continually, all the
time, nonstop, 24/7 in view of this, the greatest of all
A. The point of Christ coming and dying was
not simply to reveal the heart of God’s love for us,
but to have a practical effect: namely, that through his
death we have been reconciled to God. Dying, giving
your life, is no act of love unless the sacrifice has
some practical result. Imagine two young lovers
announcements? In Christ we have escaped the worst
possible end and have received the best possible
reward. And this is not merely some hope for the
future, but is our present reality. Notice the tenses of
the verbs in view: “we have now been justified by his
blood….” “we were reconciled to God by the death
of his Son….” Beloved, we do not wait to rejoice
until sometime in the future when all this comes to
pass: it has come to pass! It is our present reality in
Christ, now! And so we must rejoice because we are
reconciled to God.
A. There is something yet awaiting in the
future, though. The love of God for sinners in the
past and our reconciliation with God in the present
portend great things in the future. To demonstrate
this, Paul uses a common form of reasoning known
as the a fortiori argument, or reasoning from the
greater to the lesser. It’s signaled by the comparison
words, “much more.” Listen to Paul’s airtight
reasoning. “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.”
Here’s a summary of Paul’s powerful point.
How did God treat us while we were still his
enemies, condemned criminals under his terrible
wrath? God loved us so much that he gave his Son to
reconcile us to himself. So now, if we have trusted
Christ, we are no longer his enemies, but we are his
friends. Now if God loved us to this astonishing
degree while we were yet his enemies, how “much
more” will he love us now that we are his friends!
B. Why is this important? It’s important
because we have three aspects of time to be
concerned about, past, present, and future. The past
has been covered: Christ died for our sins. And the
present is all good, we are presently justified by
Christ’s blood and reconciled to God through Christ’s
death. But what about the future? What’s to say that
things will remain good?
You know yourself, I think. And if you are
honest with yourself, well, your track record is not all
that great. You tend to struggle with the same old
problems. It may be jealousy, unforgiveness, greed,
covetousness, lust, or selfishness. Who’s to say that
you will make it to the end? Who’s to say that you
won’t be overcome by your sins, stumble and fall,
and give it up?
And here’s where this a fortiori, “from the
greater to the lesser” argument is of great help,
because it is so decisive. When was it that Christ
came and gave his life demonstrating the great love
of God? It was while we were weak, ungodly,
sinners, God’s enemies. If you have come to trust
Christ, does that then mean that you are now strong,
that you cannot slip back into sin temporarily? No,
we are still weak. But if it was while we were the
sworn enemies of God that he loved us and gave his
Son for us, do you think that after we have become
his friends God will stop loving us and forgiving us
when we slip up and stumble? Of course not. In his
great love he has brought us this far, even giving his
Son to redeem us. Now that we are reconciled to him,
his love will bring us all the way home.
And the result is a pure, unqualified,
undiluted, unfettered joy. God’s words to us reveal
his character to us. And the love of God calls for a
response from us.
We no longer wonder and question God’s
love for us. We no longer linger under a shadow of a
cloud of suspicion and doubt: 1) because he loved us
while we were still weak, ungodly, sinners, and
enemies; 2) because we now are reconciled to him,
justified, not a single mark against us; 3) because his
love that sought us and bought us will certainly carry
us all the way safely to the very end—we fully
rejoice in God himself.
In fact, that’s how Paul concludes: “More
than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord
Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received