|Romans: The Clearest Gospel of All
by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira
To me, Romans 5 is the most important chapter of Romans. Having defined and defended Justification by Faith, in chapter 5 Paul begins the first five verses with the fruits of Justification by Faith. That is what I want to look at now.
What are the fruits? Does Justification by faith bear fruits? The answer is YES: not one, not two, but three. That is how Paul defines it: three fruits. But I want you to be very clear about the sequence of these fruits. You cant exchange them, they follow in the exact sequence that Paul gives them. Because the first fruit is immediate, the second fruit is continuous, and the third fruit is ultimate. This is the order in which we must go. Otherwise, if you try to reach the last fruit without having the first, you are wasting your time. And you will see why I am saying this.
What are the three fruits? Let me mention first all of the three fruits, and then we will expound on them. The three fruits are found in the first two verses of chapter 5:
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.
Okay, lets look at them in detail. Now remember that, at the foundation of all these three, is faith, Justification by Faith. Remember that Hebrews 11:6 says:
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
None of these fruits can come through works, or the keeping of the law. NONE. Only by faith. Lets look at the first fruit, the immediate fruit:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace....
But Paul doesnt stop there. He doesnt say that Justification by Faith brings you peace. Because I have no peace with many people. And you may have no peace. We may have no peace with ourselves, we may have no peace with our neighbors, we may have no peace with the government. I have no peace with the IRS at this time of the year. But Paul is not talking of peace in a general sense. We have no peace in the world today. He is talking about peace with God, and folks, if I have peace with God, everything else doesnt matter. I can take everything in the world as long as I have peace with God. Because if I have peace with God I have a future that nobody can take away from me. My suffering in this world will be only temporary.
What does it mean, I have peace with God? First of all, lets look at every phrase here. The first phrase here is having been justified or being justified, as the King James Version puts it. The phrase there, the verb there, is in the first aorist passive; its an historical tense, something that has already happened.
So Justification is the work of a moment. We are familiar with that phrase. The moment you believe, the moment you believe, a change takes place in your status, in your standing between you and God. This status change is called Justification. A very good text is John 5:24, the words of Jesus Christ, where He says:
I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
If you really believe in My Father Who sent Me, if you really believe in Me as your Saviour, then you will not come any more under condemnation. Why? Because you have passed from death to life, you have passed from condemnation to justification.
So the word being justified is in the aorist, its a historical tense, its a past tense. But the second phrase, We have peace with God, is not in the past tense. It is not even inthe future tense. It is the present continuous tense. The moment you come under the umbrella of Justification by Faith, the moment you come, you have peace from beginning to end; it is a continuous thing, and that is the wonderful thing about Justification by Faith. That is the first fruit, Peace with God.
Let me put it this way, before you and I accepted the gospel, what was our situation with God? Do you remember what Adam and Eve did when they sinned and God was coming? They ran and hid. Why did they hide? Paul tells us why in Romans. In chapter 1, verse 18, Paul says:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness....
Then again in chapter 2, verses 8 and 9:
But for those who are self-seeking [the opposite of faith] and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile....
This world is full of people who are in anguish. We are told that nine-tenths of our sickness is the result of guilt and anguish. This world has no peace. That is because they have not discovered the good news of the gospel. But the moment you have believed the gospel and you are now justified, you have peace. Your experience may be up and down, but your relationship to God is peace.
I want to emphasize this for one reason: it is a tragedy when you meet Christians, when you meet Adventists who have accepted the gospel and still have no peace. This is a tragedy. There are too many of us who are trying to reach the ultimate fruit of justification, which is the hope of glory, in order that we may have the first fruit, which is peace. That is not the way of the gospel.
You can never reach the ultimate goal of Justification by Faith unless you first have peace. And if you dont have that peace, you will never reach the ultimate goal, because it is the right sequence that we must follow.
I want to add one more fact about this first fruit. Look at Romans 5, verse one again:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ....
Once you are justified by faith (historical or past tense), you have peace continually. But now I want you to notice what is the source of that peace. It doesnt say through our good works or through keeping the Law, but through our Lord Jesus Christ.
What does it mean, through our Lord Jesus Christ? It means through the redemption that is in our Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, it is the doing and dying of Christ that brings me that peace, not my performance. My performance is up and down; sometimes I have tremendous success and sometimes I fail. Is yours the same? If it isnt, youre kidding yourself. Even when God gives you total victory, you will not know it.
There are times when the devil will come and touch your feelings, and say you are not good enough to be saved. And you say, Youre right, I might as well not go to church. And you stop coming to church, because you have believed the devil. Well, I have news for you: the devil has two qualities:
You join him and youll get both. If you want a text, its John 8:44:
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your fathers desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Hes a murderer and a liar. This, Romans 5:1, is the truth: that being justified by faith you have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, not through what He is doing in you, but through what He has done 2,000 years ago. That is why no one can rob you of that peace. The only person who can rob you of that peace is yourself when you say good-bye to Christ. That is your privilege. But as long as you are walking by faith under the umbrella of Justification, you have peace with God, continually. And that is the first fruit. Paul goes on in verse 2:
...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.
Through Whom or By Whom refers to Christ. This same Christ, Who is the source of your peace, this same Christ also makes available to you and also through faith not by works this same faith that brought the peace of God to you (and remember what He said to His disciples, Peace I leave with you, peace that the world cannot give, peace that passes understanding...), this same peace that comes to you through Christ and is made effective by faith. In the same way, through faith, through Christ we have access to Gods grace.
What does he mean by the expression, this grace? He is pointing to a specific thing this grace. Well, we know that when Jesus was in this world He lived a perfect life in His humanity. But, if you read the gospel, if you read the New Testament, if you read Paul very carefully, you will discover that Christ did not do it in His own strength, as a human being, as a man. He did it by the grace of God. Let me give you an example.
The greatest thing that Christ ever did is that He tasted death not the first death, but the second death for all people. I say this because even believers die the first death. But the believers will not die the second death, because Christ tasted of it. But I want you to notice how He tasted that death. What gave Him the power? Hebrews 2:9:
But we see Jesus, who was made a littler lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
This grace that made it possible for Christ to fulfill the will of God is now accessible to the believer who is justified by faith. That is what Paul is talking about. In other words, the word grace has more than one meaning in the New Testament. The primary meaning of grace, of course, is the loving disposition that God has towards us, through which He sent His Son, so that, through His Son, He could save us. You will find that for example, in Ephesians 1:7:
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of Gods grace....
But the word grace also means the power of God. That is available to the believer who is justified by faith. And I want to give you a whole list of texts, but I would like to warn you, I would like to say something here that is extremely important. We are discussing here the fruits of Justification by Faith. The gospel, which is the righteousness of God, is the good news for every person. Every human being should listen to the gospel, be told the gospel, because the gospel is the good news for all. But the fruits of Justification by Faith are not for all people. It is only for those who believe.
Please, there is no peace with God unless you are first justified by faith. I would plead with anyone who has not accepted Christ, Dont wait, because without faith it is impossible to experience peace.
So please remember, these fruits that we are discussing here are for those who have entered into the wonderful sunlight of Gods saving grace. And if you have not accepted Christ, I would like you to read Mark 16:15,16 where Christ said:
He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved....
Those are the ones who will receive these fruits.
Now I want to give you the texts regarding grace as the power of God. Lets start with 1 Corinthians 15. Im using the word grace now as the power of God available to the believer. And Im going to use all of Pauls writings, because he is the one who uses the word and I want to show you how Paul uses the word grace in terms of power. In 1 Corinthians 15:9 Paul says:
For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
In other words, Paul feels that he has no right to be an apostle because of his history. But, theres a but there in verse 10:
But by the grace of God I am what I am....
I am an apostle, not because I deserve it, but because of the grace of God, but he adds on:
...and his grace to me was not without effect [he did not squander that grace]. No, I worked harder than all of them....
What is another word for labored? Worked. So Paul is not against works. I worked harder than all of them. Who are all of them? The context tells us that it refers to the other apostles. I worked more than any other apostle or even all of them put together! Doesnt it sound like hes bragging? Well, it does, so he corrects himself in case you misunderstand him:
...yet not I [dont give me the credit], but the grace of God that was with me.
Can you see that? It was the grace of God that produced those works. Because Im standing in access to that grace. I did not waste that grace, I used it. God wants you and me to do the same thing. For Jesus said in Matthew 5:16:
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
In other words, Let your light shine. Let this grace that you have received shine in you and let people see your good works and glorify the Father.
Okay, turn a few pages to 2 Corinthians, let me give you another one. Chapter 12 and there in verse 7 there is a problem. Paul doesnt tell us what the problem is. Scholars speculate some say it was his poor eyes, some say that he had defective speech, because he had a cleft lip but Paul doesnt tell us what the problem is. Paul tells us that he had a problem and why God did not remove it. 2 Corinthians 12:7:
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
You see, Paul was a human being, and he was victim to pride just like you and I are. So God, in order to keep him humble because of the many revelations that had been given him, to stop him from being proud, was given a thorn in the flesh. It came from Satan, allowed by God for the purpose to keep him humble, and he felt that this was affecting his mission. So he prays concerning this; Paul pleaded with God, 2 Corinthians 12:8:
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
Lord, if you could simply remove this problem I will be a greater worker for you. And the Lord said, No way, youd be a greater worker for yourself. Therefore my answer is this: [verse 9]
But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness....
I dont need your support, Paul. All I need is you. I dont care how weak you are; my grace is sufficient. Now lets go on, because youll notice something Paul says:
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christs power may rest on me.
Ill glory in my infirmities, in my inabilities, in my problems. Why? So that Christs power may rest on me. Here the word power is synonymous with the word grace. So here the word grace is used in terms of power. Dont come and tell me, Im not able to speak to people. Im a shy person.
Folks, Im an introvert, you ask my wife. Maybe I dont sound it from here, but Ill tell you, it took me six months fighting against the call to the ministry, because Im an introvert. But, by the grace of God, I am what I am. And that grace is available to you, because everyone who is justified by faith is standing in grace, he has access to this grace of God. So there is no excuse why any of us is not witnessing for Christ. Not one excuse. The only excuse is that you are not yet justified by faith. Let me give you two other texts; they are saying the same thing. Ephesians 3:7:
I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of Gods grace given me through the working of his power.
1 Timothy 1:14:
The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Now, because we are standing under grace, what is our goal? Because Paul says we are standing in grace we have a hope, we can rejoice that we can arrive at the glory of God. And what is the glory of God?
We think of the glory of God in terms of glorification. Now that is true, Paul includes this here. But Paul is not primarily talking here about glorification which will take place at the second coming of Christ, when this corruption shall put on incorruption. He is talking of another glory, the glory of the character of God. The context is clear.
What is the glory of the character of God? Do you remember John 1:14 where John says:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We haave seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
It is this glory that Paul is saying we have a hope of arriving at. What was the glory the disciples saw? They saw the self-sacrificing love of God in Him, the agape the love that seeketh not her own. It is this glory that Paul is talking about here. He is talking about the same glory that he mentions in Colossians 1:27:
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
What is this glory? It is the love of God, shed abroad in our hearts. Can God produce a people who can love as Christ loved? Jesus said so, He even commanded His disciples, John 13:34,35:
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
I have much to say about this in the next study, because verses 6 to 10 deal with this. But I want to give you a text that makes this clear. This is the hope that we must keep in mind, this is the goal that God has for every one who is justified by faith. And, of course, this grace comes to us through the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:17, 18:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom [that is, freedom from the flesh, liberty from this slavery to sin]. And we, who with unveiled faces [i.e., no barrier, because we have peace with God] all reflect the Lords glory [not our glory but the glory of the Lord], are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Let me put it this way. If you remember Romans 3:23, where Paul is talking of both Jews and Gentiles before justification by faith, hes saying two things in Romans 3:23:
...For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
He is using the present continuous tense here: All are continually coming short of the glory of the Lord.
Sin is a terrible thing; it not only deprives you of heaven, it robs you of the glory of God. God created man that he may be His sanctuary. We are ultimately the temple of God, and God wants to dwell in us, and He wants His glory to shine through us. This was His plan for Adam and Eve and for us. But the fall robbed us of the glory of God.
But the wonderful thing is: Justification by Faith doesnt only give us a ticket to heaven, it doesnt only give us peace between us and God, so that there is no barrier when I come and pray to Him. And the devil says, Youre not good enough to pray.
I say, You get behind me, because I have a text for you. And that text I will not give you I want you to find it. Because in Christ, we stand righteous. There is no barrier. But more than this, Justification by Faith restores the glory of God in us.
Then in Romans 5:3 he tells us the steps, and, unfortunately, the steps are painful. Because, you see, when Christ lives in me and reveals His glory, I have to say no to the flesh, and that is painful. I will say more on in the next study, but lets look at it. Romans 5:3-4:
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
You see, although the grace of God produces righteousness in you, your natures will always remain sinful. Therefore, there is always this conflict and, when the Holy Spirit conquers and subdues the flesh, you are suffering in the flesh.
These are the steps:
So, because you have Christ in you, your flesh will suffer, because it will be denied its desires. You will endure the temptations of Satan, the doubts, just like Abraham endured. He did not give up His faith even though he had passed the age of childbearing (or, at least, his wife had).
But the ultimate fruit is character. And when the character of God is reproduced, you will not be disappointed. That is the Greek word in verse 5. (The King James Version says ashamed.) Hope does not disappoint because the love of God is shed abroad. That is the wonderful, absolute character of Justification by Faith.
God has a plan where His work is not half-way. Do you realize that Gods purpose in you and me through Justification by Faith is ultimate salvation? And when you have entered into that umbrella of Justification by Faith, your ultimate salvation is guaranteed. As Paul says in Romans 8:30:
...Those he justified, he also glorified.
Our part, from beginning to end, is faith. Never say good-bye to faith, for as long as we are walking by faith, all these three fruits are guaranteed:
There are too many people in our church, especially the independent ministries, who are concerned about the ultimate fruit, revealing the glory of God, without giving their people peace. We begin with peace. If you dont have that peace, you will never be able to experience the glory of God.
Ill tell you why. Because it is impossible for you to be liberated from the fear, fear of death, fear of judgment, unless you have understood Justification by Faith. And if you have not been liberated from fear, you cannot love. In 1 John 4:17-18, John tells us that:
In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Perfect love will cast out fear. Fear of what? The judgment, and torment. If you havent been liberated from the fear of the judgment, I have bad news for you, you can never experience the love of God in your heart. You are always a victim of anguish: Will I make it? So it is my prayer that we understand this, the love of God. First of all, the gospel must liberate me from the fear of death, the fear of judgment. I must have peace. Then and then only can I have the second and third fruit. So may God bless us, that you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. May God bless you.