© Marcelo A. Tolopilo
My mind and heart have been refreshed by residual musings from Easter. They have been sweetly affecting my thoughts and I would like to share them with you.
Five blessings that flow to us from the resurrection
Although there are many texts we could consider when talking about the resurrection, I want to draw your attention to one passage of scripture that has encouraged me in particular these last few months. The paragraph of scripture I’m referring to is Romans 5:1-5 (The broader context includes Romans 3:21-5:21). In the brief section of this epistle, our familiar teacher the apostle Paul outlines five distinct blessings that flow directly from the fount of the Lord’s resurrection. Our look at these verses will be extremely cursory, so I encourage you to thoughtfully meditate on this marvelous passage on your own. That said, here we go.
The gavel falls, and we are declared just! The paragraph starts with, “Therefore, having been justified by faith …” The term “therefore” harkens back to the last verse of chapter four which says, “He (Jesus) who was delivered over because of our transgressions (His substitutionary death on the cross for believers), and was raised because of our justification. Therefore, having been justified by faith …” The first blessing that is ours because of the resurrection of Christ is our “justification.” This refers to our being pronounced righteous by God!
The resurrection is proof that God accepted Christ’s payment for our sins at Calvary, and on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus, God declared to all creation, to the hosts of heaven – including our Adversary – that we are acquitted of all our sin. The divine verdict has been rendered. We are not guilty. He has declared us “just,” ‘just as if we had never committed our transgressions.’
That’s some divine gift, is it not? My friends, the depth, breadth, and generosity of this reality should bring us to our knees in gratitude.
2. Peace with God
The war is over! Because we have been declared righteous we are no longer at enmity with God. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Before the cross, we were “ungodly … sinners,” unholy and profane rebels, the very opposite of everything God is and holds dear (Romans 5:6, 8). As such, we were also “enemies” of God and therefore at war with the most powerful Person in the universe (Romans 5:10). To make matters absolutely worse, we were altogether “helpless” to do anything about our condition (Romans 5:6). In short, we were loathsome rebels, completely defenseless against God’s just, consuming, and sure indignation.
We were at war and the war was lost, but in that bleak condition God broke into our helplessness and brokered peace at His great expense in the death and resurrection of His Son. His great hostility toward our sin satisfied, He established a perfect and eternal peace. We have peace with God!
3. We stand in grace
We are enveloped by God’s favor. “We have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand.” Through faith in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus (5:1), we have received “access” to God and His full, limitless favor and goodwill. That is to say, through Jesus we are saved by grace; we are given exhaustive forgiveness by God our Savior, and thereafter we are sustained by grace. To put it another way, God encompasses us with His favor throughout our lives. It is an abundant grace for every situation and every need.
We are not saved by God’s grace and then preserved by our own effort. Paul says “we stand” in “grace” (Romans 5:2), that is, God’s grace upholds us from beginning to end. My friends, we stand in it; we are surrounded by it; we are covered by it. Listen to how the Holy Spirit describes the grace given by God to believers.
God’s word states that Christians receive “grace upon grace” (John 1:16). We are given an “abundance of grace” (Romans 5:17). God “freely bestowed” His grace upon us, and we enjoy “the riches of His grace” which He “lavished on us” (Ephesians 1:6-8). Grace is ours “in the fullest measure” and our resource is “the manifold grace of God” that flows to us from “the God of all grace” (1 Peter 1:2; 1 Peter 4:10; 1 Peter 5:10). Yes the resurrection of Christ has made us stand in God’s great grace. He has enveloped us in it!
4. We have hope
We enjoy the certainty of heaven! “We exult in hope of the glory of God” (5:2). We often use the word hope to express our desire for an outcome that is generally uncertain, e.g., “Gee, I hope the Rams make the playoffs this year!?” Most would categorize that “hope” under the title of “wishful thinking” because the Rams haven’t made the playoffs since 2004 and over the last six years have lost more games than any team in the history of the NFL.
The biblical term “hope” – unlike our English word – contains no doubt or wavering. “It speaks of something that is certain, but not yet realized.” The focus of our hope is the absolute certainty of the full glory of God. God will be glorified to the fullest measure, and because of the resurrection we – believers – will inherit and share in His glory. That is the certain reality of our “hope.”
5. We have the love of God
What great love we know! One last blessing that accrues to our account because of the resurrection is God’s love. “The love of God has been poured out within our hearts” (5:5). In this context, Paul is speaking of God’s great love for us which has been poured out to overflowing upon our lives. Paul reminds us in verse 8 that God loved us while we were yet sinners and expressed that costly love by sending His Son to suffer an atoning death on our behalf. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Amazingly, in our low moments we still doubt God’s love for us, don’t we? Sometimes I feel like I test, stretch, and break the limits of God’s love for me, but that’s just it,“I feel” when I ought to recon how infinite and perfect His love is towards me on the cross of Christ. What more proof of His love could I possibly wish for? If God loved us so much while we were yet sinners, how great and fervent is His love towards us now that He has purchased us with the blood of Christ (vv 9, 10)!
And so my friends, through the resurrection you and I are justified, we enjoy peace with God, we stand secure in His grace, we have a real hope, and we are awash in the love of God. The resurrection is an historical event that impacts our lives in so many ways. I encourage you to memorize these five reflections and meditate on them during a break in your day, when you arise or go to bed, as you drive in your car, or when you feel frustrated or discouraged. Allow these truths to bless and strengthen your soul. Walk with God!