Rejoice in all things

Romans 5:1-11

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 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.

Good evening all, welcome to Rock Sydney international. My name is Ellis and I will be preaching tonight, not with Edrick or Timmy. Just myself. My prayer is that God may help us to grasp what we’re going to learn tonight and go home rejoicing knowing what we truly have in Him.

Anybody ever had an injury before that they can no longer play the sports they love? I used to love volleyball so much. I played for 5 years throughout my school years and it has always be a part of me. I love it and all my best friends played. I was so into it until my final year of high school. I remember 2007 I had a very sharp and constant pain on my right shoulder. We were about to hace competitions, so we were practicing a lot. I always have problem with my shoulder but this time was worst. I couldn’t stand it and Mum took me the doctor. And I was sitting down in his clinic and he told me that I couldn’t play for at least 6 months because I torn my muscle badly. If I kept playing, I may have torn it apart completely and need a surgery to insert metal clip into it. SO 15 years old me, with my love of volleyball, I cried instantly when I heard the news because I know by the time I recover, I would not have the chance to compete again and finish my final year. It broke my heart. I cried as if I could not play any more volleyball for the rest of my life. How many of you can relate to it? Do you know why I cried? Because deep down, in some ways I have put my hope in volleyball.

You know, when Ps Yosia dislocated his knees 2 years ago during camping (We would never forget that), the doctor can tell him Yosi you can still walk, good! You can still run, good, but I’m so sorry Yosi, you can no longer do two things for the rest of your life, figure skating and tap dancing. I’m so sorry Yosi. What do you think Yosi would say? Praise God, that’s great!! He would not be in silence and sob like 15 years old me. Because it is not his hope, totally not his. I can never pictured the slightest imagination of Ps Yosia figure skating and I’m pretty sure he will be thankful too for not being able to do that.

Suffering is not suffering until it touches your hope. It depends on where your hope is. When you look at your heart, you have lots of loyalty on so many things. They are your hope. You don’t have just one, you have a lot of them, your brain, your talent, how much money you make, your health, your look, your marriage, your children, your boyfriend. And when you go through this life long enough with all its trouble, you will find there is only one hope that can handle the suffering of life, only one hope that can stay put til the end, that can never be shaken, and that is what we are going to learn tonight.

Before we go into Romans 5, let’s recap the summary of Romans 1-4. The book of roman was written by Paul to the churches in Rome. Back in that day, there was an intense division between the Christian Jews and the Christian Gentiles. They were arguing about which rules or tradition is better between them. Paul wanted these people to be unified, that’s why he wrote a full explanation of the gospel through this letter. The whole book of Romans talks about the good news about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. All humanity is trapped hopelessly in sin, both Jews and non Jews (gentiles), everybody has the same problem and they desperately need to be rescued. That rescue is not going to happen by people trying to obey the law and be good, rather God Himself made a way for us.  Last week we were blessed to have Jonno preaching Romans 4, which was justification by faith alone through Christ alone. Jonno has explained it very clear, we are counted as righteous by God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. It is not something that you do, it is something that you believe. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. In the end, God’s creating a new kind of people, His kind of people that are not gentiles or Jews, but one new kind of people who put their faith in Jesus Christ. That’s Romans 1-4.

Martin Luther once said that when you believe in Christ and put your faith in Him, you are made right instantly. This is what we called justification. At that moment, you are simultaneously a sinner yet completely just and righteous in God’s sight. We’re not just forgiven, we become acceptable in His eyes. Before, because of our sinfulness, God’s only response to us was His wrath, but now He gives us the things that he would give to someone who is righteous, because in Christ we are.  Now in chapter 5 Paul is talking about the implication after you are being justified by faith through Christ. One act of justification leads us to a life-changing reality. I am going to separate this into few points.

  1. The ground of our joy (v1-4)
  2. The certainty of our hope (5-8)
  3. The promise of our future (v9-11)

1. The ground of our joy

I am a permanent resident of Australia. I applied my permanent residency after I got married with Edrick, because back then he was already a PR and a man needs his wife by his side, right? (All the husbands here say Amen), so he has the right to sponsor his wife, which is me. After waiting for a good three years or so, then at the end of June 2018 I got a phone call from my agent telling me that my PR was finally granted! Praise God. Honestly speaking, it does not feel so much different. I even forgot that my PR had not been granted before that because I waited quite long. But even if I do not feel anything extravagant at that very moment, but I know that from that day, 23rd of June 2018 onwards, I have full access to enjoy the privileges and benefits of being Australian permanent resident, such as access to medicare and social security benefits, lower premium on my insurances, the right of our future children to be Australian citizens, and so on – and that’s because I am no longer seen as a foreigner in the eyes of Australian Government. Those privileges became mine immediately when that visa granted. Here, Paul is trying to say that the same way with our justification by faith through Christ. Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, – have been. It’s a present perfect tense. According to google, this tense refers to an action that already occurred in the past, and it’s affect still continue to the present time. One act of justification – that has been done in the past – now leads us to a life-changing reality of our present life. Right on that moment you are being justified, you have all these blessings and access. To what? I’m glad u ask.

Paul begin with Peace with God (v1). Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Before Christ, we were at war with God whether you realise it or not. We were hostile toward God because of our sins, at the same time, God was also hostile towards us because His holiness cannot tolerate our sins. So there was this intense hostility between God and us. As the consequences of our sin, we have God’s wrath upon us and it is like the debt too big we cannot wish away. You have no resources to pay your debt, you’re bankrupt, and you have nowhere to run. We have no hope but doomed to eternal punishment. But because Jesus came and took our place and suffered the punishment of our sins, becoming a perfect payment for our debt. Because of that, our hostility with God is now over! God is no longer angry with us. We have peace with God and this peace becomes ours through Jesus Christ. Paul started with this because he knows, the peace of God is one of the solid foundations and source of Christian’s joy.

Another equally important is grace of God. V2 says through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand. Grace is something we receive that we do not deserve. Kent Hughes says that Grace is God pursuing us (even when we rejected him and ran away from Him) until he has found us and persevering with us ever afterwards. It has nothing to do with us. It has everything to do with Him. Paul says ‘we have obtained access’, that means that access is a gift to us. We receive it, we don’t earn it, in fact we can’t earn it. Before we were Christians, we have no access to God, we were so far from God. But the bible says that Jesus, being our Mediator, He brought us in to God. Before you were His enemies, now you can come near him and even have personal relationship, friendship with Him. Our relationship with God is secure, we don’t fall in or out of grace depending on how we perform, we stand securely in it because of Christ.

So there is its, Paul started chapter 5 with peace and grace – the two words that summarise Christianity as a whole. That’s why, every time Paul write a letter, he always opens with ‘Grace and Peace to you’ because he believes that both always go together, to stand in grace is to stand in peace with God, and they are the ground of Christian joy.

Take a look at v2b we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Everytime the bible uses the word ‘hope’, it is not a wishful thinking, but it speaks of something that certainly will happen. When you become a Christian, because your salvation is not based on your good works and effort, there is certainty you have about your future. All other religion said that live as you should be then God will bless you, which means, if you believe the reason God blesses you, if the reason you have relationship with God is because you are living a good life, you’re praying and doing all these things. That means you have no certainty about your future, spiritually speaking. Because what if you give up? Or don’t keep it up? You can’t be entirely sure because you haven’t got into your future yet. You may fail, you may do something, you never know. Justin Bieber knows it well, he says ‘I would never say never!’. He is right!  

But Christianity says there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus and its absolutely certain that one day you will share in the hope of the glory of God. John Stott says – that hope in the glory of God is a joyful and confident expectation which rest on the promise of God, that one day Jesus will appear in glory and not only we will see His glory but we will be changed into that glory with Him. That day, we will not only behold His glory, but we will be glorified in Him. Understanding of that future is grounding, it enables us to rejoice. we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

So far so good, right? To rejoice in something positive extraordinary seems to make sense. But what comes next in v3 goes against any human’s logic. Not only that – so what he is about to tell us is as great as what was said before, but we rejoice in our sufferings, KNOWING that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. Christians are given a unique ability, we rejoice in our suffering. Why? Because we KNOW – it has something to do with what we know, which means we need to apply our knowledge. Knowledge about what? About the peace we already have with God and the grace in which we stand until today. And when you apply that knowledge, you will see sufferings actually lead you to spiritual maturity and glory of God. Because you know the reason you are in that very suffering is NOT because God is punishing you, but rather because He is loving you through that suffering. He let you experience that bitter cup knowing it will produce something good in and through you. Come what may, He promises to be on your side, He is with you and your ending is certain in Him. Only when you know that reality, then, you will find your hope growing, therefore you rejoice in your suffering.

But here’s also where many people have mistaken Christian approach to suffering. Tim Keller explained that there are 2 kinds of mistakes. First, we thought v3 is saying we rejoice even though we suffer. We thought Christians always have tough mentality – ‘don’t let it get to you’ kinda mentality. Many people have thought that being a Christian means that you have this inner immunity that you just praise God all the time. You’re never cast down, you’re not thrown to the ground. But that’s not Christian approach to suffering. That’s flat denial. You deal with suffering by not admitting how much you’re hurting. No matter what you do, denial always cuts you off from your real self. Sooner or later, your heart will become hard. When people come to you in their own suffering, you will not be compassionate. You cannot weep with those who weep. Rather you would say ‘stop being so emotional, pull yourself together!’ – and that’s not Christianity.

Now, second kind of mistakes. Paul also does not say we rejoice for our suffering. That’s masochism! You may laugh but this is often true for many of us! How many times we ever said (including me) ‘Nobody knows what I am going through, only Jesus and me…. ‘Because I am suffering, of course I can’t be like other people!’. We often get a superior attitude toward people who have an easier life. We feel like you know nothing about this life! Some feel that God owes them huge favor because they have gone thru such a hard life. That’s so wrong. God never owes us anything. If we don’t see our suffering through the gospel, either we will so easily become proud and superior or deeply cynical. And that’s not Christianity either!

Paul chose his words deliberately. He says ‘We rejoice IN our suffering’. To be a Christian, it doesn’t mean that we never experience grieve, we never cast down. In fact, the bible says in 2 Cor 4:8-9 Paul says ‘We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed’. When we become a Christian, God takes our heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh. Tim Keller said that there is a sense that Christian have capacity of sadness they didn’t have before. Like Jesus, you are going to weep more than you used to because you’re able to see the real brokenness of the world. Yet at the same time, we do not have to deny it because you have enough hope to see the reality through the lens of the gospel. You see the sadness but you don’t have to repress it. It enables us to handle real grief. So don’t misunderstand what Paul says here. There is no joy in the actual troubles themselves. But if you look at your suffering through the gospel, we look through to our hope, the certainties we have in Christ. We have something we can rejoice, not only during suffering but double whammy, our hope and joy is actually enhanced by suffering itself. More hope, more joy. Paul knows we rejoice in it better. We understand it better through suffering.

In fact, through suffering, the love of Christ means the most to us. Tim Keller said that it is during suffering when we realise omg this is hurting so bad and yet this is just a pin prick compared to what He suffered for me. If you already believe that Jesus died for you, then the hope that you used to have during suffering only gets stronger and heavier in the end. As we suffer and persevere, you look and you hold on to what He has done on the cross and you go back to your roots – the gospel – not only you’ll find your hope certain, but it also grows bigger, deeper, heavier. Because when you suffer, you finally understand Jesus’ suffering in ways that his suffering become more valuable to you than ever. And this only comes through suffering.

2. The certainty of our hope

BUT, wait, Ellis..How do we know our hope is real? What if one day it crashes and fails us? Paul immediately continues and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. This leads us to second point – the certainties of our hope. Paul assures us that our hope will not fail, because it is grounded not on us, but on God’s unconditional love for us. The cross has taken place, it’s finished.. We have hope because Jesus Christ died for us and HS constantly reminds us and points us to the cross, so that we can sense and experience His love in our heart, even during suffering.

Paul adds For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Paul keep telling us, God’s love is totally unmotivated by anything in us.

Eph 2:5-9 But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead on our trespasses, He made us alive together with Christ – so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in JC. God has given His Greatest gift  when we were least deserving. He gave up his life, not for those who loved him, but for us who hated him and persecuted Him. Yesterday we watched a documentary movie and this is a good analogy of sinning against God. Imagine you’re fooling around and play with your car keys scratching cars. You go to the places where they dump car’s scrap. When you scratch the dumped old car with you keys, there’s not so much consequences, maybe people would say Hey whay are you doing here? Get out of here.

When you scratch the rental car, the consequences would be for you to pay extra for the damage. When you scratch a brand new Ferrari car, then the consequences that you have to deal with is a lot heavier. Why? Because the consequences depends on the value of the things you go against. The bible says that God is of the infinite value, He is the creator of this universe. And for us to sin against him, the consequences we deserve, we will not survive. But instead God saves us. It’s not because you are worthy but because that’s Who He is. What a merciful God! This is the gospel.  It opens your eyes to see the magnitude of the debt and danger you were in. Once you realised what you are delivered from, it inflicts a joy on you that never goes away.

And because His love for us is based on Him, not on us – therefore, it will never change. Unlike us who change our decision every minute, God is always the same and always faithful. Therefore, there is certainty about our hope. And because of that certainty of our hope, we can rejoice even when we are in our suffering. Do you see the dominos effect?

3. The promise of our future

As if this is not enough, Paul does not stop there. He continues in v9-10 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. If you have seen what Christ has done, He gave his life to save us from our sin, how much more he will save us by his life? If Christ was willing to die for you while you were His enemies, how much more now He will save you when you are now called His friend? This is rhetorical question! The answer is clear, 10,000 so much more YES! He will keep us saved, even to the very last day. Like Jonno said, God is able to save us and He is faithful to His promise. He will do what He says. He’ll make sure we make it to the end.

THEREFORE, Paul concludes with v11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Paul is saying, all these things exists for one goal so that we may praise God and glorify Him. In the light of verse 1-10, we have every reason to rejoice in God. We have everything we ever need to rejoice. Yes, we rejoice in the hope of glory, we rejoice in our suffering, but most of all, ultimately we rejoice in God Himself through our Lord Jesus Christ. Why? Because through Jesus, we can enjoy Him freely and forever. That’s the ultimate aim of the gospel. John Piper said it best, “The end of the gospel is “we rejoice in God.” The highest, fullest, deepest, sweetest good of the gospel is God himself, enjoyed by his redeemed people. The gospel is the good news that God bought for us the everlasting enjoyment of God.” That’s the promise of our future.

So in Christ, not only we finally have peace with God and received His grace, but we also have this solid hope that is certain, and lastly, we will have our future secured in Him. We will enjoy Him forever. THEREFORE, now we can rejoice in all things.

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