Updated: Sep 19
Sometimes it is difficult to see or acknowledge the blessings we have in Christ. What I mean by that is when we are having struggles, when we are going through difficulties, it is hard to see the Lord's blessings. It is easy for us to focus on problems and forget just how blessed we are. I am reminded of Peter. When Jesus invited Peter to step out of the boat and walk on water, Peter quickly focused on the wind and the waves (ref. Matthew 14: 22-36).
Reading through the Scriptures has a way of refocusing our lives. The Scriptures have a way of pulling us back to Jesus and centering our thoughts back on His abundance. In his letter to the church at Colossae, Paul reminds us to keep our minds centered on Christ, on things above.
Colossians 3: 2-3 (NKJV)
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God
Focused on Abundance
In Romans 5, the apostle Paul spends some time focused on the abundance of Christ. The church at Rome was struggling. There was friction between the Jewish Christians and their Gentile brothers and sisters in Christ. They were divided over matters of culture. Some Christian Jews thought it necessary to keep the law of Moses. They were trying to teach and influence others to do the same. Instead of building one another up in the Lord and being unified as one body, there were divisions and friction.
As we read the letter to the church in Rome, one of the purposes of Paul's letter is to build up the church in unity. Paul begins the letter of Romans with a focus on the gospel of Christ. He wrote about the righteous judgment of God. In doing so, he demonstrated how we are each guilty of breaking God's word.
Rom. 3: 23-24 (NKJV)
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus
He explains that the answer for our guilt is not through the law of Moses. We are justified by faith in Christ Jesus. Those justified by faith are one new covenant family. Noticing (Romans 5), Paul is pulling his readers back to the abundance we have in Christ. How in Christ, we are made new. Readers are focused back on the blessings of faith found in Christ Jesus.
Romans 5: 1-5 (NKJV)
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Notice a few of the blessings Paul speaks of:
Peace - Paul says, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:10 (NKJV)
For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Without Christ, our position before God is that we are enemies of God. Earlier, Paul wrote about God's righteous judgment; the wrath of God revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness (ref. Rom. 1:18). Without faith in Christ Jesus, as Paul recorded, our position is that we are enemies of God, and we are the focus of His wrath. However, through faith in Christ Jesus, we are no longer the focus of God's wrath, we are no longer enemies; we are brought to peace with God.
Access - Paul teaches of the access we have by faith in Christ Jesus.
Romans 5: 2 (NKJV)
through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
In Christ, by faith, we receive the incredible privilege to stand before the presence of God. We are no longer enemies, and our sin no longer separates us. In Christ, we are invited to the table, and we are ushered into God's presence.
Hope - Christians share rich hope in Christ.
We do not like to think about trials and suffering. It is not pleasant or desirable to walk through them. However, Paul leads us through a progression. Tribulations produce perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Romans 5: 3-5 (NKJV)
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
As Christians, our lives are not based on the changing climate around us. Our lives are based on the incredible hope we have in Christ. Our lives are based on the promises of God's word and the rich abundance we have in Him. In (Romans 4), Paul reminds us of the example of Abraham. Abraham, who believed the promises of God, was not weak in his faith. As Christians, our hope is grounded in God's promises.
Christ Our Salvation
Romans 5: 6-10 (NKJV)
For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Death came to all men through one man's sin (Adam). Sin brought judgment to all people (ref. Rom. 5:18). However, the gift of Christ is greater than the results of sin.
Romans 5:15-17 (NKJV)
But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
The more extraordinary gift through Christ is new life. Death reigned through Adam (through sin) - resulting in condemnation. The gift of Christ is a new life in Him.
What Does This Mean?
In Christ, you are new! The church at Rome had cultural differences to work through. In doing so, their attitudes toward one another were not reflecting the new life they shared through Christ. Paul seeks to shift their focus to the good news of Christ. In doing so, he desires that the church would live lives that reflect this new life.
This is something we should remember, as well. Sin is common to us all, and as those who have sinned, we were condemned before God. We were enemies of God and the focus of His wrath. However, Christ died in our place. Through faith in Christ Jesus, we are justified, and we are reconciled to God. We are brought to peace with Him, and we are invited to the table where we have access. Because of His goodness, our lives are filled with hope as those who are a new creation.
Living as Christians, we need to allow the Spirit of God to shape and influence our lives. We should be living out the new life we have in Him among our family, our neighbors, and friends. This should be reflected in our actions and our minds' attitudes as we relate to others and share the hope we have in Christ.
Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.