SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP SERVICE, 9 August 2020
Sermon Text: Romans 5:1-21
Watch Sermon Video: Click the link below
I. The fruit of justification (vs. 1-11)
II. The root of justification (vs. 12-21)
Last week, I helped Miyun and pruned two trees in the front yard of the manse. One was mulberry tree and the other was pomegranate tree. Miyun asked me to trim the mulberry tree short but, for the pomegranate, a simple and minor trim. Now they look good and I look forward to seeing them grow and bear much fruit in the coming months. Last year, not only I and Miyun but also some neighbours enjoyed their fruit, especially mulberries.
As you might’ve guessed, I began with the story of gardening, especially trimming fruit trees and enjoying their fruit, to explain what this chapter we’ve just read teaches. It explains us what justification brings to us, Christians, and how valid our justification is. Reading and studying Rom. 5, I think these points on justification match well with the story of fruit tree – I mean, how we enjoy their fruit and how they become solid on their branches. In a word, the message we have in this chapter is about the fruit of our justification and the root of our justification.
I was tempted to begin with the root first and move on to its fruit, but, the apostle went with the fruit first, so, let us follow the apostle and start with the fruit of justification.
I. THE FRUIT OF OUR JUSTIFICATION (vs. 1-11)
And I think the apostle was right by beginning with the fruit of justification because enjoying it first is intuitive and ordinary like the way we pick up a fruit like apple and enjoy its freshness first, then, later, think about where and how it came from. So, he talks first about how we enjoy our justification.
In the first eleven verses, you read about ‘rejoicing’ three times, that is, in vs. 2, 3 and 11. At the end of v. 2, you read, “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” and in v. 3 again you read, “we rejoice in our sufferings.” The word, ‘rejoice,’ here means to express an exceptional joy with a sense of confidence. And all the words and phrases and sentences in the first eleven verses converge or concentrate on this word, ‘rejoice,’ meaning that we rejoice exceedingly, greatly and exceptionally as we appreciate our justification.
I mean, you simply take the phrase, ‘we rejoice,’ from either vs. 2 or 3 and apply it to any phrase or sentence in the first eleven verses and it’ll make a perfect sense. Take, for example, v. 6 and you may say, “we rejoice … while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” – it makes a perfect sense. Because of Christ’s death for us, ‘we rejoice.’ In another word, by Christ’s death, we’re justified, and ‘we rejoice.’ Let’s take one more example and take v. 10 which says, “while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son” and ‘we rejoice’! V. 10 continues and says, “much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His death” and ‘we rejoice’! So, we ‘rejoice,’ delight in, and are satisfied with our justification!
Talking about enjoying fruit, there are so many kinds of fruit in the world. Some are tropical and exotic fruit and others are stone fruit, citrus, berries, melons and so on. Each fruit has a unique taste, different from others. Some are sweet while some others are sweeter. And of course, there are sour ones and even bitter ones. Yet, all of them are true blessings of God granted to all people on earth. When we look at fruit trees full of fruit, they look to us like the glory of the Creator God.
Interestingly, that’s what v. 2 talks about when it says, “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” It means something that is far greater than the glory of God witnessable on rich fruit trees; ‘the glory of God’ v. 2 talks about is ‘His work of justifying sinners like us.’ Declaring that we’re righteous in His eyes is the most outstanding splendour and honour of God that deserves praise and adoration and thanksgiving from all living beings in the world. The Apostle Paul explains time and again in almost every line of these first eleven verses of Rom. 5 why God’s work of justifying us is the most glaring, most amazing honour of God.
First of all, in v. 2, he says that “we have obtained access into [God’s] grace,” meaning that we’re now able to face Him with no fear but full joy which is unthinkable for any sinner. Then, in v. 5, he points out that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit,” meaning that we’re the temples where the Spirit of God indwells which is again too grand for sinful creatures to even dream. In. v. 6, Paul seems to be overwhelmed by the fact that “while we were still weak (or as v. 8 puts, “while we were still sinners” or as v. 10 renders, “while we were [even] enemies [of God]”), at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” By ‘His death,’ by ‘His blood,’ we’re justified, saved and have become God’s children now and for eternity. So, this amazing work of God through Jesus is the ‘glory of God,’ says the apostle. And we who are justified by God through believing in His Son, Jesus our Lord, rejoice in this glory of God! This glory of God is ‘God’s love poured into our hearts,’ says v. 5, and ‘His grace on which we now stand,’ says v. 2. It’s ‘God’s peace’ established with us (as in v. 1) and ‘His reconciliation’ with us through Jesus (as in v. 11). How glorious, how majestic, how grandeur this glory of God is! And we rejoice in it; we’re deeply satisfied with its sweetness!
One important aspect we cannot miss, however, with our enjoyment of God’s glory, that is, ‘in hope.’ What v. 2 says is this: “we rejoice in HOPE of the glory of God.” ‘Hope’ means a longing for something that isn’t yet fully completed or accomplished. Putting it in other words, you’re enjoying a beautiful fruit, but you haven’t finished it; you’re in the process of having it and you long for the moment of full satisfaction with the fruit. The picture is that someone has tasted the glory of God and not yet reached enjoying His glory. The more he delights in it, the greater his longing for its full measure becomes. This eager longing is ‘hope.’ While you’re truly satisfied with the rich taste of your fruit, your justification, you look forward to seeing and tasting it in full measure. That’s what the apostle means by saying in v. 2, “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
V. 3 is an illustration of what ‘hope’ is in the life of a Christian. He means that this fruit you and I enjoy and are satisfied with has a taste that might not always be pleasant in worldly sense. It could be bitter at times as sufferings. But you should never mind that bitterness because this fruit, your justification, will bring to your soul joy and satisfaction to its fullest sense. That’s what he means by “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame.” You and I and all who are justified by faith in Jesus Christ are going through this process of enjoying our justification, the fruit, which is the glory of God. No matter whether you and I are tasting bitterness now in our path in this world, no matter whether you and I are facing the moments that require endurance, we’ll eventually reach the end, our full satisfaction with the glory of God! So, ‘in hope’ of the glory of God, we rejoice exceedingly!
Putting what I’ve just explained to you so far in another word, our justification has changed us so radically. Being justified by faith in Jesus, we now see things of life in a completely different way. Our justification has given us a new vision, new understanding of or new worldview on who we are and why we’re here on earth and where we’re heading. We have stopped living as dayflies, no longer worry or concern for what to eat and what to wear, but look toward the eternity of God and understand our paths in light of God’s glory, that is, justification. We no longer belong to sin, no longer live for our belly, but live for God through the grace of Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit and in the love of God, our Father!
In this way, we enjoy the fruit of justification and it satisfies us wholly. And our satisfaction will only be deeper and sweeter. We indeed look forward to tasting it!
II. THE ROOT OF JUSTIFICATION (vs. 12-21)
Now, it’s time for us to think about where this fruit we enjoy and are satisfied with has come from. One day I accompanied Miyun to a grocery store. There, I found one of my favourite fruit – dates. I picked up a pack of dates. When we returned home, guess what I did first. I picked up that pack of dates and opened it. While I was enjoying fourth or fifth one, I wondered where those dates came from. Surprisingly, they were from Egypt. They travelled quite a long distance to reach me. But they tasted good and their quality was excellent as if I bought them from a store in Egypt near the farm that had produced those dates.
The Apostle Paul now leads us to the root of our justification in the rest of verses of Rom. 5. Telling us about the root or source of our justification, he introduces us two men, that is, Adam and Jesus Christ. What you and I must catch from this introduction is that as much as Adam is not Jesus, and Jesus is not Adam, condemnation and justification come from two different roots. As much as a fruit tree produces different fruit from another kind of fruit tree, condemnation and justification come from completely different source.
Adam produced sin, trespass, disobedience which resulted death and condemnation. But Jesus Christ has brought ‘righteousness’ and ‘justification’ which is referred to as ‘the free gift’ in vs. 15, 16 and 17. All people in Adam’s line, on the one hand, have inherited and participated in his sin, trespass, disobedience, and destined to death and eternal condemnation. On his side, no one is exceptional, and they are labelled as ‘sinners’ as v. 19 describes. On the other hand, everyone who is in Jesus is made ‘righteous’ and led to ‘eternal life.’ On that side of the humanity, sin and death reign, whereas on this side of the humanity, righteousness reigns through which people are justified and led to eternal life.
This introduction of two different fountainheads also points out an important point, that is, there’s only two sides for humanity and there’s no third or fourth side for people to choose. Everyone of this world is, therefore, on either this side or that side, either in sin or in righteousness, and destined to either eternal condemnation or eternal life. This is the point the Apostle Paul has preached in the first three chapters of Romans. As much as there’s no exception of universal sinfulness, there’s no third or fourth side but only two sides – the sides of either sin and death or righteousness and life.
Many people of this generation insist that all religions should seek and start interacting with each other to work ‘cooperatively and constructively.’ This is often referred to as ‘interfaith dialogue.’ A typical example of that is the meeting took place in 2009 among some religious leaders such as Archbishop of Canterbury (the head of the Anglican Church), Chief Rabbi, UK (the head of the Jewish Religion in the UK) and Grand Mufti of Bosnia (the head of Islam in Bosnia) accompanied by the CEO of Sojourners magazine (an American progressive Christian magazine). In a picture, they were with big smile, holding each other’s hands. Cutting a long story short, their common claim is that there might be a third side. But that’s absolutely and definitively denied by the Apostle Paul here in the second half of Rom. 5. There’s no alternative; if a person is not on this side, he must be on the other side.
Having said, we now follow the core of the apostle’s message for us, that is, our justification is secure and irrevocable. Once you’re carried over to the side of Jesus – that’s justification – neither could anyone take you back to the side you once were, nor do you yourself wish to go back. This is so because Jesus, the Son of God, died and shed His blood and gave you His ‘free gift,’ ‘the grace of God.’
The Apostle Paul will bring his point to the bull’s eye in the following chapters like ch. 11, but let me bring the picture he uses there to explain what I’ve just said. He describes how secure your justification is in a horticultural term, that is, grafting. Grafting is an important horticultural work in case someone wants a fruit tree for rich fruit bearing with adaptability to soil type and weather with strong disease resistance. You create a v-shaped wedge on the root stock, and insert a branch there, and rap it with a grafting tape. That’s how grafting is done.
But, the biblical picture of grafting is slightly different from what happens in the field of horticulture. That’s because the biblical grafting illustrates how souls of men are saved from sin and death. The picture is this; the first root was planted and grew and, out of it, all branches came to existence. That first root was Adam. Because Adam fell in sin, rebelled against God in disobedience, all branches that have sprung from him inherit his sin, thus, destined to death and eternal damnation. In fact, all branches and all shoots sprung from Adam are dead as their spirits are dead in sin.
But when a branch is cut from that root of Adam and brought over to another root, that is, Jesus Christ, the Last Adam, and grafted to Him (that is, justification), then, this grafted branch, justified sinner, no longer dead but alive and becomes one of the living branches of its new Root, Jesus Christ. This grafted branch is now a ‘Christian,’ and receives all nutrition – that is, abundant grace – from his Root, Jesus Christ, and grows and produces fruit in season and out of season, reflecting the glory of God.
So, our justification is solid, secure and irrevocable. That’s because God alone can move a branch from one root to another, that is, from Adam to Jesus Christ; none but God alone is the Gardener who does it as He wishes. Neither any branch, nor its root, the first Adam, can do it. So, removing any branch from the Adam’s race and grafting it to the root stock of Jesus Christ, the Last Adam, is a ‘free gift’ of God for that branch. So, it is His ‘grace’ which no one deserves.
If anyone tries to teach any of you that your salvation, your justification, could be cancelled or become invalid due to whatever reason, do not listen to that person because his claim is that any man or anything other than God could cut you from the Root, Jesus Christ, to whom you were grafted by God’s gracious hand. That’s an invention of man, not God’s law of life. The Apostle Paul refutes such a nonsense in Rom. 8, especially in vs. 31-39.
The root of our justification is, therefore, Jesus Christ, the unmovable and mighty Saviour and Lord of the world. Through our justification, we’re grafted to Him forever and we’re His and He is ours!
So, now, I urge you to rejoice more and more in hope of the glory of God, knowing that the fruit you’re enjoying is the free gift of God that leads you to Jesus’ eternal life. By saying, ‘leading you to Jesus’ eternal life,’ I don’t mean that you’re getting more percent or portion of Jesus’ life to reach its eternal value. No, that’s not what I meant. Instead, His full and eternal life has already been given to you at your justification, at the moment you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Saviour and commit your life to Him, and what follows is its realisation in your life. You grow in your dependence on Jesus more and more, and as you depend on Him more, you know how close He is with you in moments of sufferings and endurance, how much He loves you – even in moments you deny Him and disobey Him, thus, make His Spirit grieve in you – and how much He rewards you as He guides you always, tirelessly. God leads you to know with your heart and confess with your mouth that, for you as was for Paul, living or dying, all is to the Lord and His glory!
So, in all cases and circumstances, you and I rejoice in the Lord because of our justification. ***