His Grace Reigns
Romans 5 is the end of a great section of Romans that begins in chapter 3, which is all about our justification through faith in Christ’s payment for our sins on the cross.
Of course, you cannot have chapters 3-5 without chapters 1-2. They are essential set-ups to the payoff verses about how we may be saved. So going all the way back to chapter 1, we have the introduction of peace, the declaration of “the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name.” And we also have the declaration of the gospel of Christ, which “is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” And then Paul gets into the state of affairs of mankind, how every man knows that God exists, how mankind rejected God, and in return, God gave them up and gave them over to their sins and reprobate thinking. Mankind plunged headlong down a path of darkness and self-destruction knowing full well “the judgment of God.”
In chapter 2, Paul dives into judgment, the righteous judgment of God who will always do right, who will render to every man according to his works, and then Paul speaks directly to those who rejected God, and tells them that “after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” Then he explains how mankind was guilty before God before and after His law was given.
At the beginning of chapter 3, he asks the question, “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?” And the answer is “Much every way… unto them were committed the oracles of God.” And then Paul levels the playing field between Jews and Gentiles by bringing to light the equality of mankind’s sinful condition and unrighteousness before God. In vs. 10, he writes, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
He talks about the law in vs. 19 – “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
Then in vs. 21, Paul begins this magnificent 3-chapter section on justification with the phrase “but now.” There are 21 “But now’s” in Paul’s letters and I’d argue that this is the most significant of all marking the most dynamic change in God’s dealings with man which will now be on the basis of our faith and His grace. He says, Rom 3:21-26
“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
William R. Newell said that by the law sin became trespass but His grace transcended all.
In chapter 4, he continues with this theme of justification with the illustration of the God-glorifying path of faith exemplified by Abraham. Vs. 3 – “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
He explains that Abraham “staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;” “And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness,” and that this was “not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.”
We, like Abraham, have righteousness imputed to us for exhibiting faith in His Son’s sacrifice and resurrection, and it’s amazing that the story of Abraham in Genesis was “written for our sake,” which brings to mind 2 Tim 3:16, that all of Scripture was written for our learning. God had us in mind when he inspired Moses to pen Abraham’s story.
Then Paul ends the chapter by pointing out that Christ was delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification. Ever since, the Lord has been received up in glory, and the Holy Spirit now witnesses to the amazing fact that the one who hung on a Roman cross, who was numbered with transgressors, and forsaken of God in the just judgment of our sins, that same Jesus was raised and glorified by the same God who forsook Him on Calvary.
And as a result of our faith in His blood, we are set in a new place of acceptance with the Risen Christ, which has nothing to do with our old place with a fallen Adam. God will go on to “create us in Christ Jesus.”
Then we get to chapter 5 opening with the phrase, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” You see – in Chapter Three, Christ was set forth as a propitiation for our sins; in Chapter Four, Christ was raised again for our justification; and in Chapter Five, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, with a sure standing in grace, and the hope of a coming glory.
In vs. 12-21, we’re given a historical perspective of 3 time periods going all the way back to Adam. Vs. 12, by Adam we have the entrance of sin. Vs. 20, by Moses, we have the knowledge of sin. Vs. 20-21, by Christ, we have the forgiveness of sins. From Adam to Moses (the time in which” we were yet without strength”) we have the reign of death through Adam. From Moses to Christ (the time in which “we were yet sinners”) we have the reign of sin through the Law. From Christ to the Present (the time in which “we were enemies”) we have the reign of grace, through Christ.