“For while we were still weak,
at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”
There was a time when I would have scoffed had someone suggested that I was ungodly. Now, I can’t imagine living any way else. Actually, the idea terrifies me.
Our lesson today is the second paragraph of Romans 5. Again, Paul starts right off with his main point and follows with benefits from what God has done for us. It’s an extension of the point made in the first paragraph, that by faith we have peace and grace with God. The second tells us a little about how all this came to be.
Main Point: v.1, 3 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly….but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Probably the most difficult thing about understanding out salvation is getting a grip on our true nature. Paul spends the first three chapters demonstrating that nobody seeks God. Yet somehow, we think that we choose Him. Here we see, again, that we are beneficiaries of God’s initiative. We were ungodly when Christ died. We were still sinners. We didn’t change our mind and decide to have faith in Jesus. Jesus did that for us first.
Secondary Point: v. 2 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die –
Paul expands upon the main idea by pointing out the obvious – there are few people, if any, that you and I would be willing to die for. That list is very, very short. Now, consider how EVERYONE that Jesus died for hated him. Everyone. He didn’t die for good people. He died for fools – who know better – who deliberately worship idols instead of God. That’s you and me, folks, prior to our conversion.
Concluding Point: v. 9-11 Since, therefore, we have now been JUSTIFIED by his blood, much more shall we be SAVED by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were still 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. More that that, we REJOICE in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
This, again, tells us what God has done for us, which I have emphasized. See how Paul uses the term “reconcile” three times? In fact, he expands upon this idea in 2 Corinthians 5 in which he describes how God has made us his ambassadors with the ministry of reconciliation. This is big stuff, folks, all at the initiative of God. Finally, all this gives us reason to rejoice. Three times in the first two paragraphs of Romans 5, we see we have reason to rejoice!
When I stop and sit back to reflect on these things, I am simply at a loss to understand why God would bestow such favor on me. Why would Jesus go through all that – just for me? Why would God send Jesus to do this – just for me? Would I send my child to the gallows for your sorry hind-end? Nope. Would I volunteer myself? Slim chance on that. Yet God did that for me.
Perhaps it’s a little easier for me to see this than it is for some. I despised the idea of God and religion. I went out of my way to insult people who believed in Jesus. I thought they were fools. It turns out the fool was me. Looking back, even at the time of my conversion, I can’t understand why God had mercy on me. Sure, I was a good guy as far as the world measures good, but I was definitely his enemy.
What’s more is that he not only saved me from the lake of fire, he is changing me to be like his Son, Jesus. That was his intention all along. He didn’t intend to pardon me so that I might continue my war against him. No, he meant to change me completely, to rid me entirely of sin. Entirely. To my complete benefit, and in this I rejoice.
Perhaps you think your story is different than mine. You may think that you have free will to choose God in the first place and free will to even walk away once saved. I’m not seeing this at all in scripture. Yes, scripture says we must declare with our mouth and believe in our heats to be saved (Romans 10:9), but that sure seems to me to be a result of God’s divine intervention – because he has changed me – rather than me changing my own mind. Yes, we say these things, but we say these things because we are saved, not to be saved.
One could say this is a moot point, a chicken or the egg argument. It is true that all who are saved will one day have a glorified body and joy to be in the presence of God no matter their position on this matter. However, there is a big difference in how I view God whether I believe my salvation was a result of my decision and actions or whether I understand it was God who granted mercy to his enemy.
Now, it’s true that I am beginning to understand forgiveness and how to forgive those who have sinned against me. To a degree, I understood that before my conversion. Since, however, I have experienced a radical shift in my ability (and willingness) to forgive. I’ve also seen incredible transformation in other Christians who have incredible stories of forgiveness. Matthew 18 is a great place to begin a study on this topic.
God is also perfectly just. All sin will someday be paid in full by those who sin. However, God is also merciful, but not to all. How could he be just if nobody pays for their sin? No, he is merciful to some, to those whom he chooses. See Romans 9 on that. How does he choose? That, my friend, is one thing that God chooses not to reveal to us. I’m sure his reasons are rock solid.
Father, I bumble around not even considering the magnitude of your forgiveness of me. I thank you for days like today when I simply am overwhelmed by your mercy. Thank you. I will tell others of your kindness. Amen.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers