A Grace Filled Life (Rom 5:1-11)

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Pastor Mark Mikels – January 17, 2010
“A GRACE-FILLED LIFE”
(Romans 5:1-11)

Intro … Today we come to another most significant passage of Scripture – it’s the passage that begins our transition into the heart of the Book of Romans – a passage that begins the revelation of the fullness of the Christian Life. We could say that the passage that we focus on today is Paul’s exposition of these well-known and most cherished words of Jesus Himself (John 10:9-10) …

“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in
and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Abundant Life … that’s what Jesus came to provide; Abundant Life … that’s what God would have every Son and Daughter of His experience; Abundant Life is the real Christian Life – the authentic or (as a great Christian writer of a generation ago put it) the “Normal Christian Life”.

This Abundant Life is what Paul begins to address in our passage of the
morning – Romans 5:1-11 – I’m calling it “A Grace-Filled Life”.

Here’s how our passage reads:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Out of that passage arises …

Today’s Key Concept …
FAITH in Christ grants ACCESS To a GRACE-FILLED Life.”
(Romans 5:1-2)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access
by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

You see the image … Christ is the door (the gate) Faith (the Faith that Works that we look at last week in Romans chapter four) is the key and on the other side of the door is the Grace-Filled Life – a vast expansive repository of all kinds of Life-Transforming Goodness.

Grace transforms all those who possess it … John Calvin the great Reform Theologian attributed to grace an “irresistible” element – it tends to overwhelm and captivate. Grace not only communicates God’s undeserved favor but it also conveys God’s enabling power. Grace is active, not passive. Grace is given for a purpose – Grace is provided in response to challenge and in conjunction with calling. Standing knee-deep in Grace is exactly where our Heavenly Father would have us be. Grace is what enables our “Faith to Work” in God-Pleasing ways!

In this passage, I find five distinctive examples of Grace in Action – five distinctive actions of “A Grace-Filled Life” …

1. GRACE LOOKING ONWARD (verse 2b)
“We rejoice in the HOPE of the GLORY of God.”

Grace causes us to look forward EXPECTANTLY.

How many people can “rejoice” in something that is not yet here? However that’s what “Grace” enables us to do. Grace focuses us on a incredible future reality – our encounter with the “Glory of God”.

Someday we will “be where He is” and we will “see Him as He is” and we will worship Him “for whom He is” forever. Grace enables us to take that expectant onward look and Grace says to us “That’s your future – put your Hope in that” and Grace would tell us (as Paul does later on in this passage) that this Hope
will not disappoint us.
So we can truly and unguardedly “get our hopes up” – we can rejoice and celebrate the fact that such an experience will one day be ours.

Now here’s the deal … though the “experience of the Glory of God” is a “future” reality, the hope and joy are “current” realities.

Grace Looking Onward brings Hope and Joy to the here and now – we know that whatever is going on at the moment, we have read the final chapter and the story ends incredibly well!

Secondly in this passage we see …
2. GRACE LOOKING OUTWARD (verses 3-5)
“We also rejoice in our SUFFERINGS …”

Grace causes us to look at suffering DIFFERENTLY.

“… we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering
produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love
into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

You just can’t escape suffering if you live for any time at all in this fallen, sin-cursed world. Suffering is part and parcel of “things as they are”. Those who identify themselves with Jesus Christ might even experience the kind of suffering known as persecution. But whatever the type or the cause, the
“Grace-Filled Believer” looks at suffering differently.

Suffering for such a one produces Perseverance (the ability to hang in there
and hold on; the ability to maintain focus and remember purpose) and that kind
of Experienced Perseverance develops Character (specifically an inner never-say-die attitude and perspective) and that kind of Established Character produces Hope (an expectation of better things).

Now it’s no easy thing to look at suffering in this way – especially if you are buried under a pile of life’s rubble but once we do, our life and our response to suffering are forever transformed.

But how can we do it – how does Grace produce such a response? Let’s reverse the sequence and see if we don’t gain some insight into the dynamics of process.

Let’s start with Hope since Grace Looking Onward has already provided that.

Here’s how it works … Hope (the confident expectation of better things specifically that we shall someday experience firsthand the Glorious Presence of God) produces Character (that inner never-say die attitude/perspective) which in turn expresses itself in Perseverance (the maintaining of one’s perspective and position despite all pressures or obstacles – refusing to give in or give up) in the face of Suffering of whatever sort.

Thus Hope does not, in fact, cannot disappoint us – This Hope sustains us and stimulates us and in fact saves us from Disillusionment and Despair. And it’s all made even more secure by the very Spirit of God who brings the reality of
God’s grace-filled love right into our hearts.

Indeed, Grace Looking Outward causes us to view suffering completely differently … Suffering, whether for Christ or just because we live in a fallen sin-filled broken world, is seen as something that can provides a valuable service in our growth in grace.

Now as we push on in this marvelous passage we see …
3. GRACE LOOKING BACKWARD (verses 6-8)
“While we were still SINNERS, Christ DIED for us.”

Grace causes us to look at Christ WONDERINGLY.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for
the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a
good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own
love for us in this: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

When I read those words I think of the lines of the old Gospel Song that says …
“Oh what a wonder that Jesus found me!
Out in the darkness no light could I see.
Oh what a wonder – He put His Great Arms under
And wonder of wonders, He saved even me!”

And he did this “when we were still powerless” … trapped in sin, unable to
free ourselves from it, completely unfit for heaven – stuck without God
and thus without hope in this world or in the one to come.

That’s when Jesus stepped in – He died in our place. He gave himself up for us.
The grace that filled the Apostle Paul’s heart would cause him to write these wonder-laden words in his letter to the Philippian believers:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something
to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled
himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!
(Philippians 2:6-8)

In the great room called Grace that opens up behind the Door that is opened by Faith there will forever be displayed in a prominent place a Picture of Jesus on the Cross – dying for your sins and mine – dying for the sins of all who look upon it. And all who gaze upon it will do so with Wonder for such things go beyond our ability to fully comprehend.

And now as we push further on we discover …
4. GRACE LOOKING INWARD (verses 9-10)
“How much more … shall we be SAVED through his life!”

Grace causes us to look at ourselves DIAGNOSTICALLY.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be
saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies,
we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more,
having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

How much more indeed …
You see, there’s more than just being born-again – there’s more than just opening the door by faith and simply crossing the threshold.

There’s more than just being saved from God’s wrath that will some day be expressed in judgment upon all who refuse to believe in His Son. There’s a life that has begun – an entirely new way of thinking and feeling and behaving.

There’s so much more here than mere “forgiveness” as awesome and needful as that is … there’s full and complete reconciliation – there’s a restoration to fellowship and a re-discovery of harmony.
The room is full of all the “Out-Workings of Grace” – the ultimate expressions of that Abundant Life Jesus talked about. The kinds of things that caused David of old to say … “Taste and see that the Lord is Good” (Psalm 34:8)

Grace would cause us to look at ourselves Diagnostically and ask

“How much of the graciousness of this place have I allowed myself to experience?
How persistently am I “Touching and Tasting and Enjoying”
all that this incredible room contains?

The Grace-Filled Life seeks to exhaust the Treasures of the Place and as it
does so it takes the final action revealed in this passage …

5. GRACE LOOKING UPWARD (verse 11)
“We also rejoice in GOD.”

Grace causes us to look at God PASSIONATELY.

“Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our
Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

And so the Grace-Filled Life ultimately brings us to a place of worship – praising and rejoicing in the God whose love has set the whole process in motion.

Grace keeps us from forgetting the Giver of the Gift even as we rejoice in
the Gift … Grace reminds us that the purpose of the Gift is to bring us back
into Fellowship with the Giver Himself – a personal fellowship that anticipates
all that is yet to come.

Onward, Outward, Backward, Inward, Upward … Grace covers all the bases and casts our gaze in every direction; and everywhere we look we find reasons to rejoice! What a wondrous thing is a Grace-Filled Life!

Final Thot …
The GRACE-FILLED Life is God’s INTENTION
And PROVISION for EVERY believer!

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