God shows his love in this…

Chatswood Baptist Church https://www.chatswoodbaptist.com.au

Romans 5:1-11

I was feeling lots of love recently. It was my birthday 2 Friday’s ago, and my work colleagues very kindly brought me 2 birthday cakes, some gifts, and a birthday card. They even decorated the workplace for me! 

For those of you who don’t know, I’m from Malaysia, and my tradition on my birthday is to have a meal at a Malaysian restaurant. I alwaysgo to the same restaurant, Pappa Rich, and so my wife, Seiko, said you really should try a different restaurant this year! And so she kindly bought me lunch at a different place and we had a really good meal.

The funniest part of my birthday was that my almost 3 year old son, Kenji, learned to sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song, and so he was singing it to me many times from Friday to Sunday. I think it’s because he thinks that every time he sings it, he gets some cake to eat!

We all have our own ways of showing love to someone else. We might give them gifts, take them out for meals, do something for them, spend time with them, or give them a hug. When we receive those things, it’s usually a good sign someone loves us. We might get a warm, nice feeling that someone loves us, but sometimes we might want more than just a feeling. We might want something more obvious like a hug, or words, or a gift. 

And when we’re loved, it brings us certain things, like feeling secure, safe, happiness, and feeling appreciated. I know that’s how I felt during my birthday celebration!

How about God’s love? How does God show that he loves us? What does it look like? And what does God’s love bring to us? What are the benefits? Our passage today will help answer some of those questions. Let me pray for us as we begin.

So how does God show he loves us? We come to the first point today: God loves us sinners in Jesus. God loves us sinners in Jesus. We see this in verse 6-8.

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

In the first 3 chapters of this letter to the Romans, Paul, the author, wants to make one thing clear: all of us are sinners. We’re people who reject and rebel against God, the one who created us. We don’t give him the honour and respect that he deserves as the one who created us. 

In the verses we’ve just read, Paul describes us as ‘powerless’ or weak, and ‘ungodly’. We struggle to do what’s right in God’s eyes all the time.

Paul’s giving us a terrible picture of our situation, of who we are. We’re people who reject and disobey God over and over again. We are sinners. Can you imagine how God must feel towards us?

I’ve always thought of myself as a patient person, that is, until 2016, the year Kenji was born. And now, I have a boy who can disobey me over & over again.

“Kenji, stop screaming”. He continues to scream. “Kenji, stop screaming”. Continues screaming anyway. “Kenji, put on your jacket”. “No”. “Put on your jacket now”. “No!”. Gah!

The more someone sins against you, the harder it becomes to do something good for them. If someone appears righteous and good, we might still do something good for them, even possibly die for them, as Paul says in verse 7. 

Now dying for someone is not easy at all. It’s an extreme sacrifice. If you really had to die for someone, you’d think you’d do it for a friend, a family member, a good person. You wouldn’t do it for someone who’s hurt you over and over again. 

But look at what Paul says in verse 8: But God demonstrates, God shows, his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

How does God show he loves us? By sending Jesus, his only Son, to die for us. And God did this while we were still sinners, when we were still continually rejecting and disobeying him. 

God didn’t send Jesus to die for us because he thought we were good, righteous people. If we were, he wouldn’t have to do that. But God did because we are sinners. 

Dying for someone is an extreme sacrifice; dying for people who continually reject and disobey you? That’s how much we mean to God, and how much he loves us.

Think for a moment about someone in your workplace, at your school, in your family, who’s hurt you many times. Think about how hard it is to love them and do something good to them rather than to hurt them in return. That’s what God did for us. He loved us and sent Jesus to die for us while we were still sinners.

What does this mean for us? When you feel like God doesn’t love you, when you think that you’re too sinful for God to love you, when you think that all the bad things happening in your life must mean that God hates you, remember this objective fact, God showing his love for you in Jesus dying for you. It’s a deep, amazing love that we can also share with others.

It’s like the lyrics in this song: “How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure? That he should give his only Son, to make a wretch his treasure”. God loves us sinners in Jesus.

But what does God’s love bring us? What are the benefits that his love bring to us? This brings us to the 2ndpoint. God’s love brings us peace. God’s love brings us peace. We see this in verses 1-2.

1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And werejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

We also see this in verse 11: 11Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

The beginning of verse 1, where it says “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith”, is a summary of the last chapter and a half. It’s through faith, through trusting in the death & sacrifice of Jesus, that we are justified. To be justified means we’re declared to be innocent, not guilty, right with God. 

Now that we’ve been justified through faith, what does Paul say we have now? We have peace with God. And Paul says that it’s through Jesus, through his death on the cross, that we have peace with God. We have it right now. 

Paul explains it in a slightly different way by saying in verse 11 that we’ve now received reconciliation with God. You see, being sinners means we’re actually God’s enemies. It’s not a neutral relationship. There’s a real divide, like a war, between us sinners and God. And so we need reconciliation, we need a fixing of our broken relationship with God. And reconciliation can be difficult and requires sacrifice.

I remember growing up I used to have lots of fights with my middle brother, Joey. We would fight over small and big things, like him biting me or annoying me. And my parents would have to reconcile the both of us so that we’d stop fighting and repair our relationship as brothers. It’d mean one of us having to be humble enough to say sorry.

And we know that countries can sometimes divide and take a long time to reconcile. Korea has been divided into North and South Korea for a long time, and reconciliation and peace has been difficult to achieve.

But here we have the most significant relationship, between us and God, and God has lovingly taken that step to reconcile us to him through Jesus’ death. And that’s why Paul says in verse 2 that in Jesus, we’re standing in God’s grace. We’re experiencing God’s kindness to us as we experience and have peace with God. This is the first thing God’s love brings us. God’s love brings us peace.

The second thing that God’s love brings us is hope. God’s love brings us hope. We see this in verses 3-5.

3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

As we go through life, all of us will face suffering at one point or another. Some of us will experience it more than others, but all of us will go through it. We might experience failure, relationship breakdowns, disappointments, and physical or mental pain.

As we go through suffering, Paul says something amazing yet also difficult to fully understand. Paul says that we also rejoice or boast in our sufferings. Why and how? Because God can somehow, through the difficult and painful moments in our lives, bring about change and transformation in us. Paul says that suffering will produce perseverance in us. It causes us to trust in God more, to keep on going and to persevere as a Christian through the difficult times.

As we persevere through suffering, this will produce godly character in us. And the result of godly character is hope; hope in God’s promises, hope that we can share in God’s glory as it says in verse 2, even though we were sinners who had fallen short of God’s glory.

 And Paul says in verse 5 that as people who have hope, it’ll not disappoint us or put us to shame. It’s not a futile thing that we’re hoping for, and the reason for that is God’s love. The Holy Spirit fills us with a sense of God’s love for us. And God’s love is the reason why we can have hope and rejoice in the face of suffering.

Now Paul is not saying that we’re to be ‘happy’ as we go through suffering. Rejoicing is not the same as being happy. Being a Christian doesn’t mean that we’re meant to put on a happy face and smile and pretend that things are OK as we go through suffering.

No, suffering can be really painful and sad and difficult. But the amazing part about being a Christian, is that we can know for sure that God can make even something as difficult as our suffering serve his purposes and our good. The greatest demonstration of this is of course how God used the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross to justify us, to make us right with him, to bring us peace with him. If God can do that with the death of his own Son, he can also somehow use our suffering for our good.

This doesn’t mean though that as we’re suffering that we can know exactly why it’s happening. Sometimes it’s really only as you reflect back later that you can see how God was using your situation to grow you as a Christian.

Back in 2012, I was going through a difficult time. Things were not going the way I wanted. I was thinking: “Why God? Why’s this happening to me?” Things were not going according to plan. But looking back now, I can see that God was teaching me patience and that his plans for me are not necessarily always the plans I have for myself. And that’s OK, because I can keep on trusting in a God who loves me and gives me hope. God’s love can bring us hope.

That brings us to the final thing that God’s love brings us. God’s love brings us salvation. God’s love brings us salvation. We see this in verses 9-10.

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

Paul has already shown us that we’re justified by Jesus’ death on the cross, and the reason we need that is because we’re God’s enemies who need to be reconciled to God. The other thing we really need is to be saved from God’s wrath and anger. God is rightly angry over our rejection and rebellion against him who created us and has authority over us.

It’s a bit like how a teacher can be rightly angry over a student who continually doesn’t do their homework and causes trouble in class, or a manager being rightly angry over a worker who’s lazy and has a poor work ethic. God is rightly angry over our sinfulness.

Now we often think we know what we really need in life: more time, more money, more holidays, more fun. But what we all really need is to be saved from God’s wrath because of our sin. And God himself has given us a way to be saved from his own wrath, and that’s through his Son Jesus. Jesus not only died but he was raised to life 3 days later, and now he is with God the Father, defending us against all the charges that our sinfulness brings against us.

If you’re someone here today who hasn’t yet trusted in Jesus’ death to save you from God’s wrath, may I urge you to consider what this passage has shown you today? Every single one of us is in desperate need of salvation, of being saved from God’s wrath because of our sinfulness. Would you consider accepting God’s love for you, his deep love for you that he would send Jesus to save you from his anger? Would you consider trusting in this truth?

And if you are already trusting in Jesus, I hope this passage will remind you that you don’t have to be anxious about your standing before God. God’s love in Jesus for you means that you will be saved from God’s wrath. God’s love brings salvation.

To finish up: How does God show he loves us? God shows his love for us sinners in Jesus. And what does God’s love bring to us? It brings us peace with Him. It brings us hope. And it brings us salvation. I hope that all of you will be amazed once again at God’s love for you, and to rejoice in Him.