Romans 5:1-17 God’s Wrath: Jesus is Risen

 

Let us pray

 

Let me tell you a story.  We’ll call it Journey into the unknown

 

It’s a story about a man, and his wife, and their two children.  And they are in a car, on a journey.  They’ve got a full tank of petrol, and it’s a sunny day.

 

The man, as is the way of these things, is driving.  The motorway is almost empty, and they are sailing merrily along, without a care in the world.  They pass the sign for junction 7.

 

The wife speaks – ‘was that junction 7?’

 

‘Yes’

 

‘Oh’

 

‘Why do you ask?’

 

‘No reason.’

 

The husband relaxes into a perplexed silence.  This is not, he feels a good time to say anything.  Some minutes pass.  They pass the sign for junction 8.

 

The wife speaks.  ‘Was that junction 8.’

 

‘Yes’

 

‘Oh’

 

‘Why do you ask?’

 

‘No reason’

 

A few minutes pass.  It starts to rain

 

The wife speaks.  ‘What road is this?’

 

The husband replies – ‘the M40 I think.  I wasn’t really paying attention – I thought you were navigating’

 

‘But I thought you knew where we were going’.

 

A few moments pass. The road is definitely getting busier.

 

The husband speaks – ‘does that mean you don’t know where we are?’

 

‘I know we are on the motorway.  Pass me the instructions to get to Bob and Phyllis’ house, and I’ll check where we should be.’

 

‘I don’t have the directions’

 

‘But I told you to bring the directions’

 

‘No, you said we needed to remember the directions, and I agreed that remembering the directions would be a good idea.  And then you asked me if I had the directions before we got into the car and I said I didn’t.’

 

‘So you didn’t go back and get them?’

 

‘You didn’t tell me to go back and get them.’

 

A few long, silent minutes pass.  The traffic now is almost at a standstill.  It is raining hard, and the engine light has come on.

 

A voice pipes up from the back of the car.  ‘Are we nearly there yet?  I need the toilet.’

 

A few tense moments pass.

 

The wife smiles through gritted teeth. ‘Yes dear, I’m sure we’ll be there soon.’

 

***

 

Now, that story is not an advert for a satellite navigation system – but I’m sure that at that moment all the husband and wife wanted was someone to tell them where they were – and where they were supposed to be going – and of course, how to get there.

 

You see they knew they had a problem – and they knew they needed some help.   It may have taken them some time to get there – but they’re there.

 

But what about all those people you and I meet every day – at home, at work, at the gym, on the golf course, on the street and at the shops – what about all those people we meet every day who don’t find themselves stuck on the wrong motorway going nowhere in the rain?

 

You see, over the past few weeks we’ve been talking in the mornings about having Good News to Share.  But perhaps, as we talk to people that we know well who don’t follow Christ as saviour and Lord – perhaps sometimes we  aren’t sure what the good news is for them.

 

We meet people who are doing very well thank you – do they need our good news?  Turn with me if you would to Romans 5, on page 1132 of the bibles in the chairs, as we see what it is that we have to share. We’ll start at the first verse – the first thing that Paul tells us here is that We know where we are

 

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

 

Let’s look at this verse and a half together for a moment.

 

Notice that first word – therefore.  This isn’t the first verse of Romans – Paul has already been telling his first readers, and us, about how God sent his son Jesus Christ to die for us so that we might be reconciled to God, so that we might be justified, through faith in him.  That’s what Paul has been talking about so far in Romans.

 

So here, he summarises that teaching since we have been justified through faith

 

The foundation for what Paul is going to say is what Christ has already done.  We are justified, we are made right, by trusting in what Christ did on the cross.  And, Paul tells us, what Christ did on the cross brings us into a new situation - we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

 

Now that’s nice isn’t it?  Doesn’t that have a nice ring to it – having peace with God.  Lovely.

 

But stop.  Think about this for a moment.  If we have peace with God now – what did we have before?

 

Over the last few months we’ve been marking in this country the 60th anniversary of VE day and VJ day.  And as part of that we’ve seen again some of the old footage of London and other cities at the time.  Now, not only are those people wearing old style hats and coats – they are also celebrating.  Celebrating what – celebrating victory – yes – but also celebrating peace.  No more husbands and sons sent to the battlefield, not more V2 rockets, no more nights in the air raid shelter.  They are celebrating peace – because they know what it is to not have peace.

 

We will only fully appreciate and understand the peace we have with God, if we understand what we had before – verse 10 of Romans 5:

 

Romans 5:10 For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son…

 

The first bit of good news we have as Christians, the first bit of good news we have to share as followers of Christ, is that we know where we are.  We have peace with God – we are no longer enemies – because of what God has done.  Through Christ - we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

 

We stand in grace – enjoying all the blessings of relationship and fellowship with God.  We have peace with God.  We are no longer God’s enemies.

 

We are no longer God’s enemies.  But we all know people who are.  By the grace of God, we know where we are – but we know people who have not yet realized that they are on the wrong motorway.  Who have not yet realized that they have headed of in the wrong direction.  Who have not yet realized that they are living lives in opposition to God. 

 

It may be nice to have a low golf handicap, a happy and contented family, a substantial housekeeping budget, an enjoyable career, a good pension and a fast car.

 

But that doesn’t stop you being an enemy of God.  That doesn’t mean that God is going to look down and say – look, he ignores me – even though I created him – and she doesn’t obey my commands and he lives in complete rebellion against me – but they’re nice middle class people – I think I’ll let it pass.

 

No.  God doesn’t ignore sin.  But God did send his son so that, if we trust in him, we would no longer be enemies of God, but would have peace with God.

 

Our first bit of good news is that we know where we are.

 

And our second?  We know where we’re going

 

Now Paul builds up to this argument through the next few verses.

 

First, he reminds us that we do know where we’re going – verse 2:   we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

 

We know where we are – at peace with God through Jesus Christ – and we know where we’re going – we know that God’s glory will be revealed.  We have a certain hope – but how?

 

Well, says Paul, it’s not because we have an easy life.  Anyone who preaches Christianity as a way of life which solves all your problem and makes life easy hasn’t read the bible properly – look at verses 3 and 4:

 

Romans 5:3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.

 

We don’t have hope because we don’t suffer.  No says Paul – our sufferings enable us to grow – producing character – that helps us to hope even more.

 

We have hope because of God’s love for us.

 

Romans 5:5 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.

 

We know that God loves us – we have the Holy Spirit in our hearts and he tells us again and again how much God loves us – and so we trust in God, and we have hope for the future.

 

Romans 5: 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

God loves us so much – so much – that even when we hated God – even when we were enemies of God – Christ died for us.  As Paul says – we can just about imagine someone living a good person enough to die for them.  But bad people? 

 

Christ died for the ungodly.  The people, like us, who ignored God.  The people, like us, who disregarded God.  The people, like us, who would have said to Pilate – crucify, crucify.  We’d have killed him – and yet he died for us.  Knowing this – can we doubt that God loves us?  No.  Look at verses 9 and 10:

 

Romans 5:9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!  10 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!

 

We know where we are going.  We have a certain hope – we will be saved from God’s wrath.  We will be saved through the life of Christ.  That’s good news.

 

But again – it causes us to pause doesn’t it.  We are saved from God’s wrath through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for us.  What about everybody else?

 

We know where we are going by the grace of God.  But many people around us are living as enemies of God – and are facing God’s wrath.  They don’t know where they are going - and we’ve been given the directions.

 

We need to share the good news of Jesus Christ, who came to save us from the wrath of God we deserve.  We need to recognize that apart from Christ, there is no way to avoid God’s wrath.  Romans tells us that:

 

Romans 3:10 As it is written: "There is no-one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no-one who understands, no-one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no-one who does good, not even one."

 

Noone seeks God – but God has sought us out, and send his son to die for us, to save us from the wrath we deserve because we live without worshipping the one who created us.  God has sought us out – and so we can know where we are going.  We can have a strong and certain hope – because God has loved us.  And that is good news to share.

 

We know where we are, we know where we're going, and finally, we know how we get there.

 

Paul begins verse 12 with another therefore – as he reminds us again of our history as a human race:

 

Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned--

 

Yes, Adam sinned first, and so sin entered the world through him – and so death came along.  But everyone since has sinned – we have also sinned – and we all deserve to die.

 

Now that’s a pretty bleak picture – where is the good news? – verse 15:

 

Romans 5:15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!

 

The Good News is Jesus Christ.  The Good News is that Jesus Christ died on the cross to take the punishment for our sins that we all deserve.  In Adam we all die – but in Christ, we have eternal life.

 

We know where we are standing – we are at peace with God, because of what Christ has done.  And we know that we have a certain hope – because God has shown his great love for us.  But we also know how we are going to get there – look at verse 17:

 

Romans 5:17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

 

Now, when I travel from one place to another, when I’m going on a long journey, I generally like to know where I’m going.  And so I fire up autoroute, I put in where I am, and I put in where I’m going, and I get told how to get there.

 

We know where we are as followers of Christ, we know where we are going, and not only that, but we have also been given the route to get there – and that route is Jesus Christ. 

 

We do have good news to share about what is the best way to live now.  We do have news about the life we can have now as followers of Christ, enjoying peace with God, looking forward to the future, and living in the present as the people God wants us to be.

 

So we don’t follow the way of Adam.  We don’t continue to disregard God, and think that our own ways are best.  We come to Christ as our saviour – the one who has given us peace with God, the one who has saved us from the wrath of God – and we come to Christ as Lord – and commit ourselves to following his directions for our lives.

 

We have good news to share.  We have good news of peace with God. We have good news about avoiding God’s anger and wrath, we have good news of a better life to lead now as followers of Christ.

 

We don’t make a journey into the unknown – but we seek to help those who do – to show that, in Christ Jesus, and because of Christ Jesus and his grace:

 

We know where we are, we know where we're going, and we know how we get there.  Now that is good news

 

Let us pray

 

 

James Hughes 18th September 2005