Thursday, August 10, 2006

Death And Life: Romans 5:8-11 Part One

(I wrote this in March 2003--shortly before Easter. I have made some updates, clarifications and other minor changes--but writing shortly before Easter influenced some of it, and I left that in.)

I like Easter-in fact it’s my favourite holiday—mostly because of what we celebrate-The death and Resurrection Of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Although I must also confess I have a sweet tooth, and the abundance of candy at that time is test of my self control. Still this ranks way behind the resurrection.)

I have no problem with setting aside a special time to celebrate and acknowledge His resurrection, but we need to celebrate His death & resurrection every day, and not put it in a box we take out once a year—and I’ve met professing believers who feel that way—they have a problem, for example, with singing what they see as “Easter songs” at other times of the year. I say why can’t we celebrate that He is risen! In fact without the death & resurrection of Jesus Christ, the gospel would be meaningless. In I Cor 15:14-18 Paul says as much—If Christ is not risen our faith is vain, and we are still in our sins. That’s a good reason to celebrate every day that He is indeed risen.

And it’s His death and resurrection that give sharing of the gospel, and of who Christ is, meaning as well. If a sermon or essay or book would be meaningless or worthless without the death & resurrection—It’s an Easter sermon or essay or book in a sense. May all the sermons we hear be in that sense—Easter sermons, their meaning is connected to the death and resurrection Of Jesus Christ.

I’ve titled this “Death and Life”. But saying “Death and Life” sounds a bit awkward to me, and perhaps it sounds awkward to you as well. My tendency would be to put them in the other order -life and death-which we’re more used to hearing. It’s the order we experience them chronologically. But the focus here is on Jesus Christ, not on us, and Romans 5:8-11, especially v.10-speaks of Christ’s death and life in that order-chronologically. In Romans 5:8-11, Paul is addressing believers who are in Rome, and in contrast to his other letters this is a church he did not plant, with leaders he had not ordained or even met. He had very little direct contact with the people there at the time he wrote these words-

8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (ESV)

( Listen to it here. )

In the context here, the “we” Paul addresses are believers. He is not excluding the possibility of unbelievers coming to a saving faith in Christ. He does refer to how it is possible for that to happen, but the beneficiaries of this verse are believers-and the benefactor is Christ.

In verses 9 and 10 there is a parallel. Christ saves us from the wrath of God by His blood in verse 9 and in verse 10 we are reconciled to God through His death. There is also a contrast between them. Vesre 9 is a legal statement about believers’ standing with God because of what Jesus has done-we are justified and saved form wrath. Verse 10 which I’ll be focus on, is the personal side of things, We are reconciled with God.

I want to consider 3 questions –which have some overlap
1. What does it mean that we were enemies?
2. What does it mean that we (believers) were reconciled to God by the death of His Son?
& 3. What does it mean we (believers) shall be saved by His life?

(Next- Part 2: What does it mean that we were enemies?)

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