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Romans 5
     In the opening chapters of his letter to the Roman believers of his day, Paul has been laying the foundation for his teachings about the faith. He has compared and contrasted the old and new covenants and the law and faith. He has even presented some new concepts, or at least new terms, such as the "law of faith" (see chapter 3, verse 27) and what I have recently come to call the New Jew (see chapter 2, verses 28-29). It is a tremendous preamble. It is all wonderful and challenging. And it is leading us somewhere. Paul is leading the Romans (and us, today) to Jesus Christ. This is how he begins:

Verse 1- "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
     Many with military experience have made the statement, "War is Hell!" Well, to be at war with God means hell, too. Hell while here on earth and another hell beyond the grave. Faith in Jesus delivers from both these hells.

Verse 2- "By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."
     So what is our hope of glory? Yes, it's Jesus Christ. You may say, what is glory anyway? Do I really need that? Well, the glory of God is something a believer does become sensitive to and should seek. Hope is a little easier to appreciate for everyone needs to have hope. Paul's about to show us that when we believe in Christ, the glory of Almighty God spills over into our troubles down here and gives us hope! That is, by the way, the big difference between the believer and the non-believer in our world today. Jesus in your heart makes hope available in your living from day to day. Listen to Paul:
Verses 3-5- "And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience experience; and experience hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."

    Wherever you are and whoever you are, the Word of God says, you are loved today. SomeOne did and does care very deeply for each one of us. He is greater than all others, and His love is greater than all other loves. Just listen:
Verses 6-8- "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet preadventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
No one else is ever going to offer you this kind of love. No one can ever repeat what Jesus Christ has accomplished for us, and you can't do it for yourself. Even God the Father would not offer any other way for He is TOTALLY satisfied with Christ (see II Peter 1:17-18).
     As Paul continues, we see that Jesus didn't just die for us:
Verses 9-10- "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."
Christ was raised by God from the dead! This means his love stretches to us and before us through our future here on earth and beyond into eternity. For we, as He was, will one day be resurrected from death by God. Now this kind of hope can bring the joy (and the glory) of God into a person's life:
Verse 11- "And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement."

    In the remainder of the chapter, Paul is going to focus, in detail, on Christ's atoning death and resurrection to eternal life. I want to say something here without being taken as irreverent or controversial. For every image, necklace, picture or statue we have around us today of the cross, we should have another one of the empty tomb. Have you ever noticed that the world, in general, believes that there was a cross. It's been my experience that few are offended by it. Now it is true that until you see yourself as a sinner in need of Christ you'll never really appreciate the cross or begin to understand what actually took place that day. But, what I'm saying is that it doesn't take faith to acknowledge how Jesus died.
     The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a totally different story. Here there is a sharp divide between the the believers and the world at large. You can mention or display the cross in a lot of public places, but you jump up there and say that He's alive today and they may want to send you off to the psychiatrist! I believe we are currently being tempted in the Church to forget about the empty tomb and all that it means to us. Why, without the resurrection of Jesus, the cross cannot bring us hope and joy. Nor could the resurrection be applied to the life of a poor lost soul like mine if it were not for the cross and what my Lord chose to do for me there that horrible day. We need a more balanced approach in the churches today. I need that in my life and ministry, too. The Cross is our liberation, the Resurrection our hope and joy!
     Well, Paul is not going to let us go without taking an even closer look at the living Christ. Read verses 12-21. Grace and faith have conquered sin and the law. Life has conquered death, and all this through Jesus.

Verse 14- "Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him (Jesus) that was to come."

Verses 19-21- "For as by one man's (Adam's) disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one (Jesus) shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But were sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord."

                                                             May Jesus Christ richly bless you-JKD 6/30/02
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