Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on December 31, 2017
As always, let us begin with our monthly memory verse, Romans 3:23-24, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Next Sunday is a new month, and therefore we will have a new verse, so for one more week, keep working on Romans 3 as well as our previous memory verses of Romans 1:16-17 and Romans 3:10-12.
Today we are examining Romans 5:1-5, and the title of today’s message is the Fruit of Justification. And let me begin by saying, that I am not sure that fruit is the right word. I debated titling my sermon as the “Realities of Justification” or the “Attributes of Justification”, but I settled on fruit. Which I do not believe fits perfectly, but it is where I landed. Let us stand in honor of God’s Word. Please follow along with me as I read our text for this morning.
Justified by Faith
I am sure you have heard the phrase, or perhaps even used it yourself, “How many times do I have to repeat myself?” I wonder how many times the apostle Paul thought this in regards to teaching the doctrine that we are saved by grace through faith. So far we have seen it in the following verses:
And just so that we are clear. Faith is not the power for justification. It is the means. The power of justification lies in Jesus Christ. It is Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection that secures our forgiveness and eternal life. Faith does not save. Jesus saves. Faith did not die upon the cross in our place, Jesus did. Faith is the instrument and Christ is the object.
Also, let us remind ourselves what we mean by justification. Justification is a forensic term, a legal term. It is equivalent to an acquittal in court, a complete finding of the defendant of not guilty. And this declaration by God of sinners being not guilty occurs at the moment of conversion. We do not wait for justification, for justification comes by way of faith. As Paul says in Romans 4, at the time of faith in Christ we are counted as righteous. Therefore, at the first moment of true repentance and faith in Jesus Christ you are as saved as you will ever be. You cannot do one thing to add or take away from your justification. The verdict is sealed.
This is why the apostle Paul says in verse 1 of our text, “since we have been justified by faith.” This is a statement of past tense, not future. Our salvation in the sense of justification is as good as done at the moment of true saving faith. Paul had been justfied. Those in Rome had been justified. And you have been justified if you have faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
This knowledge of our justification through faith should be considered the greatest news to ever touch our ears. And it should radically change every aspect of our lives. In fact, as we embark upon a new year, if you want to be a “better” Christian the key to Christ-likeness is to be anchored in this truth. The more we understand our justification the more we will be victorious in our lives.
So this morning, let us examine some of the fruits of justification that Paul outlines for us in our text. There are basically four fruits that we will look at today: 1) Through Justification we have peace with God, 2) Through Justification we stand in Grace, 3) Through Justification we have Hope in Glory, and 4) Through justification we can have joy in our suffering.
Through Justification We Have Peace with God
Let’s look at the first one, through justification we now have peace with God. Look at verse 1 again, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” What does Paul mean when he says that because of our justification we have peace with God through Christ?
First, we must recognize that peace with God only happens after justification. Therefore, to state the obvious, before we were justified by faith, we do not have peace with God. The relationship with God cannot be defined as one of peace. It must be defined as not peace. So what is the opposite of peace? War. War is the opposite of peace. Therefore, if you do not have faith in Jesus Christ, then you are at war with God and God is at war with you.
Perhaps another way to describe the tension in this relationship between the unsaved and God is hostility. Colossians 1:21 says, “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds.” Likewise, later in Romans it says the same thing, Romans 8:7, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Therefore, all humanity that has not repented and placed their trust in Jesus Christ is hostile towards God. This hostility can be both conscious and subconscious. Many times people do not feel they are hostile towards God, but they are, for the are not doing all for his glory by the power he provides. This is why it says in Isaiah 64:6, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” You can build all the hospitals and schools you want, but if you are not doing it for the glory of God by the power of the Spirit, then it is against the ordained purpose of God creating all things for His Glory.
So what is God's response to this hostility towards him? Apathy? Acquiescence? Tolerance? Mild displeasure?
Many people struggle with this idea that God is at war against sinners, in fact, many of you are probably aware of the phrase that “God loves the sinner and hates the sin.” As I have already quoted from the Bible, that is not necessarily true. God hates evildoers. God hates the wicked. God created Hell, not for sin to be eternally tortured, but for sinners to be eternally tortured.
Each individual will be held accountable for what side of the war you fight on. As Jesus says in Matthew 12:30, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” We have read the book, God has warned us, God wins, and those who oppose him will be on the ultimate loosing side.
But justification changes all of this. You go from war to peace. You go from God's hatred to God's love. You stop scattering and start gathering. This is the greatest news you will ever receive. The war is over!
Through Justification We Stand in Grace
The second fruit of justification is that we stand in grace. Look at verse 2, “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand.” Many people would be familiar with the concept of being saved by grace. As we have said many times, it is a cardinal principle of the Gospel, but far fewer people would be familiar with the doctrine of standing in God's grace. What does it mean to stand in grace?
Continuing with a war analogy will help us in understanding what God means by standing. In battles, a common term to describe the strength of a particular army is through its ability to stand. Many of us have heard the description of Custer's Last Stand, or the Battle of Little Bighorn. Where Lieutenant Colonel George Custer took 700 men to fight the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes. The reason that this is called Custer's Last Stand is because this is when he was killed, along with his two brothers, a nephew, a brother-in-law and 268 other men. It was a crushing defeat for the US Army. After this battle, Custer was no longer standing. He was defeated in battle and was laid to rest.
This is not a reality for Christians. For those who have been justified by the blood of Jesus there is no last stand. We have been justified through the blood of Jesus and we are now on the winning side of the all powerful Creator. We stand in God's grace and therefore we are eternally victorious. And no battle can take this away from us. Satan cannot take back what once was his. We are secure by God's grace in Christ.
Listen to what is says three chapters later in Romans 8:31, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?33Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. ”
Those who are justified through Christ are God's elect, God's chosen ones. No power or principality can undue what Christ secured through the cross. God justified and that is the end of it. Listen to what Jesus says in John 6:40, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” If you believe in Jesus, Jesus calls his shot and promises to raise you up on the last day. All who believe will be raised up. No one falls away. Why? Because we stand in grace.
Many people call this doctrine eternal security, or perseverance of the saints. We are eternally secure in Christ. That we cannot lose the victory that Christ has won for us. Why? Because we do not stand in our flesh, we do not stand in our own ability to maintain our salvation. We stand in God's unwavering grace. 1 Peter 1:5 says, “who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” God keeps you by his power through your faith. Meaning that God is the supplier of the faith that endures.
Some of you will say , well I know so and so who was a Christian and they fell away. Not true. They were a Judas. Their faith was not a living faith, it was a dead faith. There faith was the faith of the flesh, not faith of the Spirit. There falling away is proof that they were never really Christians. For if you are saved by grace, you stand in grace and God's power keeps you.
And this fruit of justification, standing in grace, is fundamentally important in your Christian walk. I cannot think of a greater prison than a theology that teaches that a person can lose their salvation. Every morning we would awake wondering if the mercies of God have come to an end and we who were once adopted for glory have now been unadopted to damnation. Fortunately God has given us his word and therefore given us assurance; for we know that it says in Lamentations 3:22-23, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “
Through Justification We Hope in Glory
Which leads us to the third fruit of justification, our hope in Glory. Which is connected to our assurance in the standing of his grace. Look at verse 2 again, “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.” What does Paul mean the “hope of the glory of God”? Hope is later defined by Paul in Romans 8:24, “Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Therefore, hope is a future reality that we are waiting for. It is something that we anticipate obtaining.
Perhaps think of the hope of children on Christmas eve, hoping to receive on Christmas morn the gifts that they wrote down on their Christmas list. However the Christians hope is not for a kingdom made of Legos, but an unshakable and everlasting Kingdom that does not contain sin, death, weeping or tears. It is perfect and satisfying and complete in every way, and I think this is what Paul is referring to when he speaks of the “hope of the glory of God.”
For Paul says in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” He says again in 2 Corinthians 4:16-17, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”
As those who have been justified through faith in Christ, our destiny is beyond our wildest imagination. Kids, listen to this, Heaven, being in the presence of God is infinitely better than Disney world. As Paul says, it is not even comparable.
We Have Joy in Suffering
Which leads us to our last fruit of justification. Joy in the midst of suffering. Look at verse 3, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
To many of us, this seems like pie in the sky to have joy in the midst of suffering, however it is a common command in Scripture
However, for one who has been justified in Christ, it is no paradox. It is the fruit of justification. Because of our peace with God, because of the security we have in Christ, because of the hope of future glory, nothing in this world can steal our joy.
However, notice what Paul says. Look at again at verse 3, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” The key word is knowing. Our joy flows out of knowing that suffering has a God ordained purpose. That God is allowing hard times to change you, to sanctify you. If you are a Christian, God uses suffering, not against you but for you.
We are told in our text that suffering produces endurance. It makes you stronger. Think about weight lifting. The more resistance the stronger your muscles get. If you don't work out, your muscles atrophy. This spiritual muscles of endurance produce a Christian character. A Christian disposition that is unmatched in the world. A character that should cause people to take notice and ask you questions when trials and tribulations come.
Unfortunately, for many Christians we deal with suffering just like the world. We throw pity parties. We complain. We give up. This week I was reading a book titled “Sacred Marriage” that someone who use to go to our church gave Cornerstone. This is what the author said in his chapter on suffering within marriage, “When disagreements arise, the natural tendency is to flee. Rather than work through misunderstandings (or sin), we typically take a much more economical path- we search for another church, another job, another neighborhood, another friend, and other spouse.”
Beloved, this is not how a Christian deals with suffering. We are called to endure so that God can use our circumstances to make us more like Christ. But that is not the end, not only does suffering produce endurance and endurance produce character, it ultimately produces hope. What does Paul mean?
It is quite simple actually. In the book of Revelations, John ends his book with the phrase, “Come Lord Jesus!” Why? Because he spent the vast majority of the book discussing the trials, tribulations, and persecution of the Church. This is what suffering ultimately does, he makes you homesick. You long for heaven. It makes your heart ache for your King.
My guess is that many of you have experienced this, I know I have. When tears come, what do we do? We rightfully set our eyes upon Christ and say, “Come Lord Jesus.” We desire the trials to end, our hope becomes more authentic, it becomes more real. It becomes more holy.
Therefore, the next times suffering comes, recognize that God is refining you, giving your right affections. Affections not for this world, but for him.