The Epistle to the Romans: Romans 4:13-5:11

Romans 4:13‑25; Romans 5:1‑11  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 8
The Apostle takes up a third feature of Abraham's case; that is, the connection of the promise with resurrection. Here it is not merely the negation of law and of circumcision, but we have the positive side. Law works wrath because it provokes transgression; grace makes the promise sure to all the seed, not only because faith is open to the Gentile and Jew alike, but because God is looked to as a quickener of the dead. What gives glory to God like this? Abraham believed God when according to nature it was impossible for him or for Sarah to have a child. The quickening power of God therefore was here set forth, of course historically in a way connected with this life and a posterity on earth, but nevertheless a very just and true sign of God's power for the believer-the quickening energy of God after a still more blessed sort. And this leads us to see not only where there was an analogy with those who believe in a promised Savior, but also to a weighty difference. And this lies in the fact that Abraham believed God before he had the son, being fully persuaded that what He had promised He was able to perform; and therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. But we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. It is done already. It is not here believing on Jesus, but on God who has proved what He is to us in raising from among the dead Him who was delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification (vv. 13-25).
This brings out a most emphatic truth and special side of Christianity. Christianity is not a mere system of promise, but rather of promise accomplished in Christ. Hence it is essentially founded on the gift not only of a Savior who would interpose, in the mercy of God, to bear our sins, but of One who is already revealed, and the work done and accepted, and this known in the fact that God Himself has interposed to raise Him from among the dead—a bright and momentous thing to press on souls, as indeed we find the apostles insisting on it throughout the Acts. Were it merely Romans 3, there could not be full peace with God as there is. One might know a most real clinging to Jesus, but this would not set the heart at ease with God. The soul may feel the blood of Jesus to be a yet deeper want, but this alone does not give peace with God. In such a condition what has been found in Jesus is too often misused to make a kind of difference, so to speak, between the Savior on the one hand and God on the other- ruinous always to the enjoyment of the full blessing of the gospel. Now there is no way in which God could lay a basis for peace with Himself more blessed than He has done it. No longer does the question exist of requiring an expiation. That is the first necessity for the sinner with God. But we have it fully in Rom. 3 Now it is the positive power of God in raising up from the dead Him that was delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justifying. The whole work is done.
The soul therefore now is represented for the first time as already justified and in possession of peace with God. This is a state of mind, and not the necessary or immediate fruit of Romans 3, but is based on the truth of Romans 4 as well as 3. There never can be solid peace with God without both. A soul may as truly, no doubt, be put into relationship with God-be made very happy, it may be, but it is not what Scripture calls "peace with God." Therefore it is here for the first time that we find salvation spoken of in the grand results that are now brought before us in chapter 5:1-11. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." There is entrance into favor, and nothing but favor.
The believer is not put under law, you will observe, but under grace, which is the precise reverse of law. The soul is brought into peace with God, as it finds its standing in the grace of God and, more than that, rejoices in hope of the glory of God. Such is the doctrine and the fact. It is not merely a call then; but as we have by our Lord Jesus Christ our access into the favor wherein we stand, so there is positive boasting in the hope of the glory of God. For it may have been noticed from chapter 3 to chapter 5 that nothing but fitness for the glory of God will do now. It is not a question of creature-standing. This passed away with man when he sinned. Now that God has revealed Himself in the gospel, it is not what will suit man on earth, but what is worthy of the presence of the glory of God. Nevertheless, the Apostle does not expressly mention heaven here. This was not suitable to the character of the epistle; but the glory of God he does. We all know where it is and must be for the Christian.
The consequences are thus pursued; first, the general place of the believer now, in all respects, in relation to the past, the present, and the future. His pathway follows; and he shows the very troubles of the road become a distinct matter of boast. This was not a direct and intrinsic effect, of course, but the result of spiritual dealing for the soul. It was the Lord giving us the profit of sorrow, and ourselves bowing to the way and end of God in it, so that the result of tribulation should be rich and fruitful experience.
Then there is another and crowning part of the blessing: "And not only so, but also boasting in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the reconciliation." It is not only a blessing in its own direct character, or in indirect though real effects, but the Giver Himself is our joy, and boast, and glory. The consequences spiritually are blessed to the soul; how much more is it to reach the source from which all flows! This, accordingly, is the essential spring of worship. The fruits of it are not expanded here; but, in point of fact, to joy in God is necessarily that which makes praise and adoration to be the simple and spontaneous exercise of the heart. In heaven it will fill us perfectly; but there is no more perfect joy there, nor anything higher, if so high, in this epistle.