Read: Romans 5:1 – 21
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Romans 5:1
When people who are new to following Jesus ask me for advice about where to start reading the Bible, I always point them to the Gospels (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) – when someone decides they want to follow Jesus, I think they should hear directly from Jesus about what following Him means. After someone has read the Gospels and starts having some of the deeper questions of what the Christian faith is all about, I point them to the book of Romans. The Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Christians and Jews living in Rome is often thought of as his masterpiece work on Christian Theology.
In it, Paul very clearly lays out the entire message of the Gospel – we, as humans, have a natural inclination to sin. God provided man with His law, but try as hard as we might, we cannot meet the requirements of the law. In essence, the law serves as a reminder to us of our sin and inability to ever be good enough. Since we cannot meet the requirements of the law, we cannot make ourselves right or earn salvation on our own. In His loving kindness, God provided a way to redeem us through his Son Jesus Christ, who paid our sin-debt through his sacrificial death. By accepting Jesus as our savior and accepting His atoning death on the cross, we are saved because Jesus’ righteousness is credited to us. Once we are saved, God’s Holy Spirit comes to live in us and works in us to help us stand strong against the temptation of sin and grow in holiness. It’s God’s grace that makes us acceptable to Him and capable of being in a right relationship with Him, not our works. God opened salvation through Christ to both Jews and Gentiles, and His plan is fair and just. We as believers choose to serve God as an appropriate way to express gratitude for His salvation, not because it’s a way to earn salvation. Working together as the Church of Jesus Christ builds each other up and gives glory and honor to God. Paul provides us this message in detail in the book of Romans.
Today’s reading contains several of these critical elements of Christianity, starting with the focus verse. Todays reading tells us many things that we need to know about our relationship with God and our walk in life as Christians. We are told that through faith in Jesus, we are made right with God and have peace. When we have problems and face trials, we should rejoice, not because of the problems themselves but because the suffering builds endurance, which in turn builds strength of character. It assures us that even when we were still enemies of God’s, He loves us so much that He still sent His Son to die in our place. In Romans 5:16 and 17, we are told that “God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins” and “even greater is God’s wonderful grace and His gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.” Paul closes Romans 5 with these verses 20 and 21: “God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
God wants each of us to know and believe as surely as we know and believe that our hearts beat and we draw breath how very much He loves us. He spells it out for us again and again through His Word. Regardless of our sin, regardless of our failures, God loves us. He gave His Son, Jesus, to cover our sins because He knows our weaknesses and He knows we are incapable of ever being good enough on our own. As our faith becomes stronger, we can have peace and rest assuredly in the truth that we are in a right relationship with our Creator and Lord through the sacrifice of Jesus.
Lord, thank You that You go to such efforts to assure me of who You are and strengthen my faith in You. I love You, Lord. Please continue to grow my faith. Please continue to strengthen my character and build my confidence in You as the only hope of salvation. Please help me to have peace in You. In Jesus name… Amen.