Daily Archives: April 3, 2020

April 3d The D. L. Moody Year Book

Thou shalt not make unto Thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.—Exodus 20:4.

I WOULD a great deal sooner have five minutes’ communion with Christ than spend years before pictures and images of Him. Whatever comes between my soul and my Maker is not a help to me, but a hindrance. God has given different means of grace by which we can approach Him. Let us use these, and not seek for other things that He has distinctly forbidden.[1]

 

[1] Moody, D. L. (1900). The D. L. Moody Year Book: A Living Daily Message from the Words of D. L. Moody. (E. M. Fitt, Ed.) (p. 68). East Northfield, MA: The Bookstore.

April—3 The Poor Man’s Evening Portion

For him hath God the Father sealed.—John 6:27.

My soul! hast thou ever remarked the peculiar glory of those scriptures which take within a small compass the whole persons of the Godhead, as concurring and co-operating in the grand business of salvation? No doubt, all scripture is blessed, being given by inspiration of God; but there is a peculiar blessedness in these sweet portions, which, at one view, represent the Holy Three in One unitedly engaged in the sinner’s redemption. My soul! ponder over this divine passage in thy Saviour’s discourse, as thus: Who is the him, here spoken of, but the Lord Jesus? And whom but God the Father could seal Christ? And with whom was Christ sealed and anointed, but by God the Holy Ghost? Would any one have thought, at first view, that in seven words, such a blessed testimony should be given to the glorious foundation-truth of the whole Bible? “For him hath God the Father sealed.” Precious Jesus! enable me to behold thy divine authority as the warrant for faith, in this gracious act of thy Father. And while I view thee as infinitely suited for my poor soul, in every state, and under every circumstance, let my soul find confidence in the conviction that the validity of all thy gracious acts of salvation is founded in the seal of the Spirit. Yes! thou dear Lord, it was indeed Jehovah the Spirit that was upon thee, when thou wast anointed “to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the broken in heart, to give deliverance to the captive, and the restoring of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” And art thou, dearest Lord, thus held forth, and thus recommended, by the grand seal of heaven, to every poor sinner who feels a conscious want of salvation? Oh, then, help, Lord, by thy blessed Spirit, all and every one of this description, so to receive a sealed Saviour, as to rest in nothing short of being sealed by him; and while every act of love, and every tendency of grace, proclaims thee, blessed Jesus, as “him whom God the Father hath sealed,” so let every act of faith, and every tendency of the soul, in the goings forth after thee, be expressive of the same earnest longings as the Church, of being sealed and owned by thee, when she cried out: “Set me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death: jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.”[1]

 

[1] Hawker, R. (1845). The Poor Man’s Evening Portion (A New Edition, p. 98). Philadelphia: Thomas Wardle.

April 3, 2020 Evening Verse Of The Day

The Believer’s Certainty of Deliverance

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (5:9–10)

As if the first four were not enough to completely overwhelm us with assurance, there is a fifth link in the unbreakable chain that eternally binds believers to Christ, which is their certainty of deliverance from God’s judgment.

The phrase much more then indicates that what follows is even more overwhelming and significant than what has preceded, astounding and wonderful as that is. Having been justified by His blood refers to the initial aspect of salvation, which for believers is past. In light of the fact that we already have been justified, Paul is saying, we are assured of being saved from the wrath of God through Him, that is, through Christ. Because we are now identified with Christ and are adopted as God’s children through Him, we are no longer “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3). As part of His atoning work, Jesus delivered us “from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10; cf. 5:9), because on the cross He took upon Himself the penalty and suffered the wrath that we deserve.

Paul’s next thought is closely related to the previous one (v. 9) and is the central message of this passage: For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. If God had the power and the will to redeem us in the first place, how much more, does He have the power and the will to keep us redeemed? In other words, if God brought us to Himself through the death of His Son when we were His enemies, how much more, now that we are His reconciled children, will He keep us saved by the life of His Son? If the dying Savior reconciled us to God, surely the living Savior can and will keep us reconciled.

The thrust of this truth for believers is that our Savior not only delivered us from sin and its judgment, but also delivers us from uncertainty and doubt about that deliverance. If God has already made sure our rescue from sin, death, and future judgment, how could our present spiritual life possibly be in jeopardy? How can a Christian, whose past and future salvation are secured by God, be insecure during the time between? If sin was no barrier to the beginning of our redemption, how can it become a barrier to its completion? If sin in the greatest degree could not prevent our becoming reconciled, how can sin in lesser degree prevent our staying reconciled? If God’s grace covers the sins even of His enemies, how much more does it cover the sins of His children?

Paul here reasons from the greater to the lesser. It is a greater work of God to bring sinners to grace than to bring saints to glory, because sin is further from grace than grace is from glory.

Every blessing a Christian has comes from Christ. Through Him we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1), grace and the hope of glory (v. 2), perseverance, proven character, and hope (vv. 3–4), God’s love poured into our hearts by His Spirit, who is Himself the Savior’s gift to us (v. 5), deliverance from sin by His atoning death (vv. 6–8), deliverance from God’s wrath (v. 9), reconciliation with God the Father (v. 10a), and preservation during this present life (v. 10b).[1]


Full Salvation

Romans 5:9–11

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved by his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

I have been expounding Romans 5:1–11 for five studies now—this is the sixth—and in every one of these studies I have said that the point of these verses is to assure Christians of their salvation. They are to know that they are eternally secure in Christ so that they might be able to rejoice in God fully. In this study we find the same idea. I might be inclined to apologize for this repetition were it not for the fact that this is clearly the emphasis of the chapter—and that it is going to continue in one form or another until the end of chapter 8.

This has not been mere repetition, however, since the thesis (which is repeated) has been supported by a variety of arguments:

  1. We can be assured of salvation because God has made peace with us through the atoning work of Jesus Christ.
  2. We can be assured of salvation because, through that same work of Christ, we have been brought into a new relationship with God in which we continue to stand.
  3. We can be assured of salvation because of the sure and certain hope that we shall see God.
  4. We can be assured of salvation because of the way we are able to react to sufferings in this life. We see God’s purposes in them and therefore rejoice in them, which unbelievers cannot do.
  5. We can be assured of salvation because God sent Jesus Christ to die for us, not when we were saved people, as we are now, but when we were God’s sworn enemies.

In this last section, Paul provides yet another argument or, what is probably more accurate to say, draws his previous arguments together: “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved by his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Sound Logic

In the sayings that have come down to us from the great Rabbi Hillel there are some principles for Bible interpretation that Paul, as a Jewish thinker, frequently used in his writings. One is called qal wʾchomer, from the Hebrew words for “light” and “heavy.” It refers to a form of arguing in which, if a lesser thing is true, a greater thing must clearly be true also. Here is an example from the teaching of Jesus: “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7:11). Obviously, if we who are evil know how to do good to those who are close to us (this is the “light” part of the comparison), God, who is utterly good (this is the “heavy” part), will do good to his children.

A second principle related to the light/heavy argument is the opposite, an argument from the “heavy” to the “light.” It argues that if something great is true, then something lesser in the same category will obviously be true also. Paul uses this principle twice in these verses:

  1. “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (v. 9), and
  2. “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved by his life!” (v. 10).

Each of these arguments is based upon things God has already done for us through the death of Christ. They are great works: justification on the one hand, and reconciliation on the other. They are so great that they are used by God to commend his love to us, as Paul stated earlier. But if God has already done such great works on our behalf, justifying us in Christ when we were ungodly and reconciling us to himself when we were his enemies, God will obviously continue his work in the lesser task of seeing us through life and through the final judgment.

Saved from God’s Wrath

When we look at verse 9, we have a tendency to think that we have already heard everything this verse has to teach. After all, “wrath” is the term we began with back in Romans 1:18, and the doctrine of “justification” was developed fully and compellingly in Romans 3. Besides, Romans 5:9 seems to be almost an identical repeat of verse 1 of this chapter. It is true, of course, that this is the first time we have encountered the word saved in the letter. But what have we been talking about all this time if it has not been salvation?

To understand what is happening we have to realize that “saved” is used in at least three different ways in the Bible, in three different tenses. Sometimes it refers to something past, at other times to something present, sometimes to things yet to come.

Let me illustrate. Suppose you are a Christian and that someone asks you, “Are you saved?”

How do you respond? I suppose you would most likely just say, “Yes, I am.” But it would be possible for you to answer in three different ways, the answer you gave (“Yes, I am”) being only one of them. If you are thinking of what Jesus accomplished on your behalf by dying for you on the cross, it would be correct to have answered as you did, for Jesus did save you by his substitutionary death.

But if you are thinking of the present and of what God is accomplishing in you day by day, it would also be correct to say, “I am being saved.” Paul himself uses the word this second way in 1 Corinthians 1:18: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” This verse means that God works through the power of the cross to save us from sin now.

Third, you could think in future terms and answer the question by saying, “No, I am not saved yet, but I will be when Jesus returns.” In this case you would be looking forward to your future glorification when the work begun in the past by Jesus and continued into the present by the power of the Holy Spirit, who works in us, will be perfected. In that day we will be delivered even from the presence of sin and made like Jesus forever.

I mention these three tenses of the word, because it is important to see that it is in the third sense, the future sense of salvation, that Paul speaks here. He is not denying the other tenses, particularly not the first. But he is thinking of the judgment to come and is saying that because we have already been justified by God on the basis of the death of Christ, we can be certain of being saved from the outpouring of God’s wrath in the final day. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says, “The apostle’s argument is that this method, this way of salvation that God has planned, is a complete whole, and therefore, if we have been justified by Christ’s blood we are joined to Christ, we are in Christ, and we shall therefore be saved by him completely and perfectly.”

Or we could put it like this: If God has already justified us on the basis of Jesus’ atoning death, if he has already pronounced his verdict, any verdict rendered at the final judgment will be only a confirming formality.

Reconciled

Arguing from the “heavy” to the “light” is, if anything, even more apparent in verse 10, where Paul speaks of reconciliation. I begin with the “heavy” part. What is this “heavy” thing God has done for us?

It is the very work we were looking at in detail in the last study. There we were dealing with the love of God, and we saw that the basis upon which God commends his love to us is that it caused him to send his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die for us while we were yet sinners. Our sinfulness was spelled out in three powerful terms, and these (as we saw) are followed by a fourth term in verse 10. Paul describes us as powerless, ungodly, sinners, and enemies. Let us review those terms:

  1. Powerless” means that we are unable to help ourselves. It is what theologians mean by total depravity, not that we are all as bad as we could possibly be, but that we are all equally and totally incapable of doing anything to save ourselves. We are not able to seek out and eventually come even to understand the way of salvation.
  2. Ungodly” means that we are opposed to God in his godly nature. We do not like him for being who he is.
  3. Sinners” means that we are violators of God’s moral law, particularly that second table of the law meant to govern our conduct toward other persons.
  4. Enemies,” the word used in the verses we are studying now, is the worst term of all. It means not only that we dislike God in his godly nature, but that we are so opposed to God in that nature that we would destroy him if we could. Like a soldier approaching his counterpart in an enemy army in wartime, we consider it a matter of “kill or be killed.” We think of God’s law as suffocatingly oppressive and destructive of who we want to be. So we are set on destroying God or at least destroying his influence so far as the living of our lives is concerned.

But, says Paul, it is while we were like this that God reconciled us to himself through Jesus’ death. “Reconcile” means to remove the grounds of hostility and transform the relationship, changing it from one of enmity to one of friendship. In our case, as Paul has shown earlier, it meant taking us out of the category of enemies and bringing us into God’s family as privileged sons and daughters. If God did that for us while we were enemies, Paul reasons, he is certainly going to save us from the final outpouring of his wrath on the day of judgment, now that we are family members.

If God has done the greater thing, he will do the lesser. If he has saved us while we were enemies, he will certainly save us as friends.

Rejoice in God

The last verse of our text, which also marks the end of the first half of Romans 5, says that now, having been reconciled to God, “we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.…”

There is a sense in which this idea returns us to where we started out, since the first sentence of Romans 5 speaks of just such a rejoicing: “we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” But careful reading will show that the object of our rejoicing is not the same in both cases. In verse 2, our rejoicing is in “hope of the glory of God.” That is, it is in our glorification. Knowing that we are going to be glorified is a cause of great joy for us. However, in verse 11, the object of our rejoicing is not our glorification, important as that is, but God himself who will accomplish it. And, of course, of the two ideas the second is obviously the greater. To rejoice in God is the greatest of all human activities.

We affirm this in the response to the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Question: “What is the chief end of man?”

Answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

Up to this point I have not marked the number of ways and times Paul has referred to God in the first half of Romans 5, but this is the place to do it. In the first paragraph, he has referred to each person of the Trinity: “… we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.… And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.… And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit …” (vv. 1–2, 5, emphasis added). In the passage as a whole, the Holy Spirit is referred to once, God the Father seven times, and the Lord Jesus Christ five times, plus four more times in which Jesus is referred to by a personal pronoun.

What exactly shall we rejoice in, if we are to “rejoice in God”? We can rejoice in any one or all of his attributes. Our passage suggests these:

  1. God’s wisdom. Several chapters further on in Romans, after Paul has traced the marvels of God’s great and gradually unfolding salvation work in history, he will cry out: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Rom. 11:33). But even at this point in our study we can marvel at a wisdom so great as to be able to save powerless, ungodly, sinful enemies.

The question is: How can God save sinners without ignoring or otherwise condoning their sin? How can he save those who are filthy without dirtying himself? How can he be both just and the justifier of the ungodly? The answer is: through Christ, through his death for us. But we would not have known this or even have been able to suggest it by ourselves. It took the wisdom of the all-wise God to devise such a plan of salvation.

There is also a special display of God’s wisdom in the way suffering works for our good, as Paul has shown in verses 3 and 4.

  1. God’s grace. Grace is usually defined as God’s favor to the undeserving. But we rejoice in God’s grace because, in our case, grace is favor not merely to the undeserving but to those who actually deserve the opposite. What do “enemies” deserve, after all? They deserve defeat and destruction. God did not treat us that way, however. Rather, he saved us through the work of Christ.
  2. God’s power. We often forget God’s power when we think about salvation, reserving this theme for when we contemplate creation. But the Scripture speaks of God’s power being displayed preeminently at the cross. In fact, the earliest reference to the cross in the Bible does this: Genesis 3:15. In this verse God is speaking to Satan, describing what will happen when the Mediator comes: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” In this verse the cross is portrayed as a battlefield on which Satan and his hosts will be defeated. And so it was! The power of God was revealed at the cross when Satan’s power over us was broken. We rejoice in God’s power when we think of the cross, as well as in his other attributes.
  3. God’s love. There are a number of attributes of God that may be learned from nature, chiefly his power and wisdom, and perhaps his grace. But the only place we can learn of God’s love is at the cross. Perhaps that is why this attribute is the only one explicitly developed in our passage: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (v. 8). It is when we look to the cross that we begin to understand what love is and how much God has loved us.
  4. God’s immutability. Several times in these studies I have referred to immutability as something for which unregenerate men and women hate God, because he does not change in any of his other attributes. But it is important to say that, although in our unregenerate state we may hate God for his unchanging nature, in our regenerate state we find this something to rejoice in, since it means that God will not waver in his love and favor toward us. Having loved us and having sent the Lord Jesus Christ to save us from our sin, God will not now somehow suddenly change his mind and cast us off. His love, grace, wisdom, and other attributes will always remain as they have been, because he is immutable.

Arthur W. Pink wrote of God’s immutability: “Herein is solid comfort. Human nature cannot be relied upon; but God can! However unstable I may be, however fickle my friends may prove, God changes not. If he varied as we do, if he willed one thing today and another tomorrow, if he were controlled by caprice, who could confide in him? But, all praise to his glorious name, he is ever the same.”

Do We Rejoice?

The last verse of this section says, “Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.…” This is a positive statement: “We rejoice!” It has led one commentator to say, “The one clear mark of a true Christian is that he always rejoices.” But do we rejoice? Have we actually come as far as Paul assumes we have in verse 11?

Honesty compels us to admit that often we do not rejoice in God.

Why is that? D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones gives a number of reasons, which I list for the sake of our self-examination:

  1. A failure to grasp the truth of justification by faith only.
  2. A failure to meditate as we ought, that is, a failure to think about what we do know.
  3. A failure to draw the necessary conclusions from the Scriptures.

I do not know if these are your failures (if you have failed to rejoice in God) or whether there is some other hindrance in your case, as there may be. But whatever the cause, anything that keeps us from rejoicing in God is inappropriate and should be overcome by us. I challenge you to overcome it. I challenge you to think about these great truths, meditate upon them, learn how great the love, power, wisdom, and grace of God toward you are. Then glory in God, as those who have known God throughout the long ages of human history have done before you. It will make a profound difference in your life, and you will be a blessing to others.[2]


10  The parallelism between this verse and v. 9 renders the differences between them all the more significant. Perhaps the most interesting is the substitution of “reconciled” for “justified.” Justification language is legal, law-court language, picturing the believer being declared innocent by the judge. Reconciliation language, on the other hand, comes from the world of personal relationships. “To reconcile” means to bring together, or make peace between, two estranged or hostile parties (cf. 1 Cor. 7:11). The language of reconciliation is seldom used in other religions because the relationship between human beings and the deity is not conceived there in the personal categories for which the language is appropriate.94 Reconciliation in Paul has two aspects, or “moments”: the accomplishment of reconciliation through Christ on the cross (cf. 2 Cor. 5:19: “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself”) and the acceptance of that completed work by the believer (cf. 2 Cor. 5:20b: “We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God”). Naturally, while the focus can be on one of these moments or the other, the reconciling activity of God is ultimately one act; and in the present verse the complete process is in view. Paul makes explicit the hostile relationship implicit in the language of reconciliation: it was “while we were enemies” that we were reconciled to God. Paul may mean by this simply that we, rebellious sinners, are hostile toward God—violating his laws, putting other gods in his place. But, as Paul has repeatedly affirmed in this letter (cf. 1:18; 3:25), God is also “hostile” toward us—our sins have justly incurred his wrath, which stands as a sentence over us (1:19–32), to be climactically carried out on the day of judgment (2:5). Probably, then, the “enmity” to which Paul refers here includes God’s hostility toward human beings as well as human beings’ hostility toward God. Outside of Christ, people are in a situation of “enmity” with God; and in reconciliation, it is that status, or relationship, that changes: we go from being God’s “enemies” to being his “children” (cf. Rom. 8:14–17).

As in v. 9 justification is accomplished “through” Christ’s blood, so here reconciliation takes place “through the death of [God’s] Son.” Similarly, “we will be saved,” though not further defined, must have the same referent as the same verb in v. 9: salvation from the wrath of God on the day of judgment. The meaning of the phrase “through his life” is not so clear. In light of Paul’s frequent, and theologically significant, use of “in Christ” language in Rom. 5–8, he could intend to depict our salvation as occurring “in the sphere of” Christ, or his life. On the other hand, it is unusual for Paul to use “in Christ” language with another noun intervening between the preposition and “Christ”; and the phrase seems to be parallel to “through him” in v. 9, where an instrumental meaning is certain. Probably, then, the phrase indicates that the new life won by Christ and in which believers share is the means by which they will be saved in the judgment.[3]


9, 10 Verses 9 and 10 are a fortiori arguments, to the effect that if one thing is true how much more must something else be true. In verse 9 the premise posited is that we have now “been justified in his [Jesus’] blood” and the inference drawn is that we shall therefore with all the greater certainty be saved through him from the wrath. The premise in verse 10 is that we have been reconciled to God through the death of Christ, while we were still enemies, and the inference drawn is, with how much greater certainty shall we be saved by the life of Christ. The two verses are parallel in construction and they both enunciate the same substantial truth. But this parallelism and substantial identity as regards the truth unfolded must not obscure the distinctive features of the thought in each verse.

In verses 6 and 8 the apostle had not defined specifically the nature of the death of Christ on our behalf. He stated simply that it was death on behalf of the ungodly (vs. 6) and on our behalf (vs. 8). There is an intimation of the intent and the kind of benefit contemplated in the consideration that it was for the ungodly and for sinners, but there is no further amplification of the specific character of the work accomplished in Jesus’ death or of the kind of benefit accruing to the ungodly from that accomplishment. The apostle had done that earlier in 3:21–26; 4:25. And that delineation was to be assumed in verses 6 and 8. But now in verses 9 and 10 we are provided with additional definition of the specific character of the death of Christ and of the benefits secured by it. It is not to be overlooked, of course, that he introduces these specifications of the character and intent of Jesus’ death in the premises of a fortiori arguments and they are in that respect assumptions on which he bases other conclusions as his main interest. But as premises they are eloquent of what the death of Christ is conceived of as being and accomplishing.

In verse 9 the death of Christ, spoken of in this instance as his blood, is viewed from the aspect of what it accomplished in reference to justification—“having now been justified in his blood”. We have been frequently confronted with the subject of justification in the earlier parts of the epistle. And it had been used uniformly of that forensic act of God by which we are declared to be righteous and accepted as such with God, the justification inseparable from faith on the part of the subject. It is possible, however, that in this instance the term is used in a sense coordinate with the reconciliation of verses 10 and 11 and in that event applies not to actual justification by faith but to the objective ground established by the death of Christ. Paul uses the substantive derived from this same term in that sense in verse 18 of this chapter, as will be shown at that point. In Isaiah 53:11 it is distinctly possible that the word “justify” is used in this sense (cf. the appendix on Isa. 53:11, pp. 375 ff.). And the parallelism in verses 9 and 10 would create some presumption in favour of regarding justification in verse 9 as similar to reconciliation in verse 10. On this interpretation the blood of Christ would be construed as having in itself, objectively, a justifying effect and the justification in view would consist in the obedience and righteousness of Christ which is the ground of actual justification through faith. If, on the other hand, justification in this instance is interpreted in the sense which is all but uniform in Paul, then what the apostle has in mind is our actual justification viewed as taking place through the blood of Christ; it comes to us in Jesus’ blood, and the latter is the ground of our justification. It is Jesus’ blood that secures our justification and it comes to us in the sprinkling of his blood. On either alternative the blood of Christ is stated to have efficacy and virtue in reference to that which is the cardinal doctrine of this epistle. Justification is strictly forensic in its nature and therefore the blood of Christ, whether viewed as constituting justification or as laying the ground for our justification, must be interpreted as having forensic efficacy. Thus it is impossible not to define the efficacy and virtue of Jesus’ blood in forensic categories. For here it is directly related to what is specifically and only forensic. This is not a category suddenly thrust forward by the apostle; it was already implicit in 3:25, 26.

The main thought of verse 9 is, however, in the conclusion that is to be drawn from the foregoing—“how much more … shall we be saved through him from the wrath”. This refers to what will be true in the future as compared with what is true now in the present. Now we are justified—accepted with God as righteous and therefore at peace with God. And this guarantees future salvation. What is the salvation in view? “The wrath” spoken of indicates the answer. The wrath is the wrath that will be dispensed to the ungodly at the day of judgment, the eschatological wrath (2:5, 8; 1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; cf. Matt. 3:7; Rev. 6:16, 17; 11:18). And the assurance to be derived from a present justification—whether viewed as the justification which consists in the blood of Christ or as the justification secured by that blood—is that no wrath is reserved for the justified at the judgment seat. Justification is the opposite of condemnation and since justification is complete and irrevocable there is no condemnation reserved for those who are in Christ Jesus (cf. 8:1). It is symptomatic of the confidence expressed in verses 2 and 5 in reference to the hope of the glory of God that the apostle should now explicate another aspect of that hope, namely, the assurance of deliverance from that which epitomizes the displeasure of God and alienation from him. It was not irrelevant for the apostle to speak in terms of negation as well as affirmation. The hope of glory is negative as well as positive. In order to be positive it must be negative of all that sin entails. In order to be salvation to it must be salvation from. And nothing sums up this “from” more significantly than the concept of the wrath of God. It was a virile conception of God that the apostle entertained and, because so, it was one that took account of the terror of God’s wrath. Salvation from the future exhibition of that terror was an ingredient of the hope of glory.

Verse 10 introduces new elements of truth to reinforce this confidence or at least new aspects of the same truth to inform and establish this confidence. “For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” The analysis of this text requires us to take note of the import of the various expressions.

(1) “While we were enemies”—the word “enemies” should be understood passively, not actively. That is to say, it does not refer to our active enmity against God but to God’s holy hostility to and alienation from us. The word is used in this sense in 11:28 to denote the alienation from the favour of God to which Israel had been subjected. It is contrasted in this latter instance with “beloved”, and “beloved” means, obviously, beloved of God, not the love of Israel to God. Hence “enemies” refers to an hostility of which God is the agent and means the alienation to which Israel had been subjected in God’s judgment. Furthermore, in 11:28 the sense of active hostility to God is not appropriate to the context. The context is dealing with the dispensations of God to Israel. Likewise in 5:10 it is this meaning that is appropriate to the context. What is in view is the alienation from God and the fact that the reconciliation took place when we were in a state of alienation.

(2) “We were reconciled to God.” This might suggest to us that what is contemplated in the reconciliation is the removal of our enmity against God. This is not so; it is rather the removal of God’s alienation from us. If we dissociate from the word “enmity” in this case all that is malignant and malicious, it means the removal of God’s holy enmity against us. Only such an interpretation will satisfy the thought. (a) “Reconciled to God through the death of his Son” is parallel to “being justified now in his blood” in verse 9. The latter, as was noted above, is strictly forensic. Hence “reconciled” must also be forensic in character. But the removal of our enmity, whether viewed as an act of God or an act of ours, is not forensic in its nature; it is ethical in contrast with what is forensic. This consideration of itself is sufficient to show that the reconciliation must be interpreted in forensic terms. Otherwise the parallel would break down. (b) Reconciliation is viewed as something accomplished once for all in the death of the Son of God. But the removal of our enmity to God cannot be regarded as something accomplished once for all in the historic past. (c) In verse 11 we are said to receive the reconciliation. This form of statement is not suited to the notion of the removal of our enmity. The removal of our enmity, however it is construed, refers to a subjective transformation, whereas receiving the reconciliation implies, as Sanday and Headlam observe, “that the reconciliation comes to man from the side of God”. It is a gift received and this concept is entirely appropriate to the thought that reconciliation is a status established, a standing secured by gracious bestowment on God’s part. (d) This concept of reconciliation is in agreement with what stands in the forefront at the beginning of this passage, namely, peace with God as the grace into which we have been introduced and in which we stand. Peace with God is the status of favour resultant upon the removal of our alienation from God. The reconciliation, viewed as the removal of God’s alienation from us, is correlative with peace with God; it is the ground upon which the latter rests. (e) The emphasis of the more immediate context upon the love of God and the proof afforded by the death of Christ gives the whole passage an orientation which reconciliation, interpreted as above, carries on and climaxes, whereas a subjective interpretation interferes with this direction of thought and is not in agreement with the governing thought of the passage.

(3) “The death of his Son”—the title “Son”, appearing now for the first time since the introduction (1:3, 9), draws our attention to some highly relevant considerations. (a) The person of the Godhead specifically in view as the one to whom we are reconciled is the Father. This follows from the fact that the title “God” in this verse refers to the person with respect to whom Christ can be called “his Son”, and only of the Father can Christ be called the Son. (b) The title “God” therefore in verse 8 must also have the Father specifically in mind. Hence it is the Father who commends his love towards us. And the same holds true for verse 5—it is specifically the love of the Father that is shed abroad in our hearts. (c) That we are reconciled to the Father and that it is the love of the Father that is commended to us guards against any supposition to the effect that the Father’s love is constrained by the reconciliation, as also against the thought of incompatibility between love as antecedent and reconciliation as consequent. The simple lesson is that the Father loves and is also reconciled. And the reconciliation is one of the ways in which the intent and effect of the death of Christ, as the supreme proof of the Father’s love, are to be interpreted—reconciliation demonstrates the love of the Father. (d) That the death of Christ is the death of God’s own Son shows how the death in question can be the demonstration of God’s love—the intimacy of relation expressed in the title “Son” exhibits the marvel of the Father’s love to sinners. How unspeakable must this love be when it was “the Son” who died to make good its urge and aim! And what exigencies were involved when the Father gave his Son to die!

(4) “Reconciled … through the death of his Son”—it is the death of Christ that is set forth as the reconciling action and therefore as that which removed the alienation and secured instatement in the favour of God. The death of Christ is synonymous with the blood of Christ. Hence the apostle has provided us with a new category in terms of which we are to interpret the significance of Jesus’ shed blood. These various categories have their own distinguishing features because they take into account the multiform aspects of our need and the manifoldness of the divine provision to meet these needs. Reconciliation has as its background our alienation from God and it must be interpreted in the perspective of that exigency.

(5) “We shall be saved by his life.” The life of Christ referred to here is not what we often speak of as the life of Christ, his sojourn in this world in the days of his flesh. It is the resurrection life of Christ. There lies back of the expression an implied contrast between the death of Christ and his resurrection (cf. 4:25). It is not simply the resurrection as an event that is in view, however. Paul does not say, we shall be saved by his resurrection, but “by his life”, and therefore it is the exalted life of the Redeemer that is intended. The resurrection is in the background as conditioning the exaltation life. Since the clause in question is parallel to that in verse 9—“we shall be saved through him from the wrath”—and since the latter has eschatological reference, it is likely that the salvation here envisaged is also eschatological. On that assumption the guarantee of the final and consummated salvation is the exaltation life of Christ. This is a more embracive way of expressing the truth that the guarantee of the believer’s resurrection is the resurrection of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 15:20–24).

The a fortiori argument of the apostle is thus apparent. It is to the effect that if, when we were in a state of alienation from God, God showed his love to such an extent that he reconciled us to himself and instated us in his favour through the death of his own Son, how much more, when this alienation is removed and we are instated in his favour, shall the exaltation life of Christ insure our being saved to the uttermost. It would be a violation of the wisdom, goodness, and faithfulness of God to suppose that he would have done the greater and fail in the lesser. This argument also shows the indissoluble connection that there is between the death and resurrection of Christ and that since these may never be dissociated so the benefits accruing from the one may never be severed from those accruing from the other. It is a frequent emphasis of Paul (cf. 6:3–5; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15; Eph. 2:4–7; Col. 3:3, 4). Hence those who are the beneficiaries of Jesus’ death must also be the beneficiaries of all that is entailed in his resurrection life. In this passage this is viewed from the aspect of reconciliation by Jesus’ death and the corresponding guarantee for the future.[4]


10 The parallelism between this verse and v. 9 renders the differences between them all the more significant. Perhaps the most interesting is the substitution of “reconciled” for “justified.” Justification language is legal, law-court language, picturing the believer being declared innocent by the judge. Reconciliation language, on the other hand, comes from the world of personal relationships. “To reconcile” means to bring together, or make peace between, two estranged or hostile parties (see 1 Cor. 7:11). The language of reconciliation is seldom used in other religions because the relationship between human beings and the deity is not conceived there in the personal categories for which the language is appropriate.112 While the language of “reconciliation” is not all that prominent in Paul, it occurs in significant places and is tied conceptually to other words, such as “peace” (v. 1). Reconciliation is therefore an important aspect of Paul’s theology.114 Reconciliation in Paul has two aspects, or “moments”: the accomplishment of reconciliation through Christ on the cross (see 2 Cor. 5:19: “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself”) and the acceptance of that completed work by the believer (see 2 Cor. 5:20b: “We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God”). Naturally, while the focus can be on one of these moments or the other, the reconciling activity of God is ultimately one act; and in the present verse the complete process is in view. Paul makes explicit the hostile relationship implicit in the language of reconciliation: it was “while we were enemies” that we were reconciled to God. Paul may mean by this simply that we, rebellious sinners, are hostile toward God—violating his laws, putting other gods in his place. But, as Paul has repeatedly affirmed in this letter (see 1:18; 3:25), God is also “hostile” toward us—our sins have justly incurred his wrath, which stands as a sentence over us (1:19–32), to be climactically carried out on the day of judgment (2:5). Probably, then, the “enmity” to which Paul refers here includes God’s hostility toward human beings as well as human beings’ hostility toward God. Outside of Christ, people are in a situation of “enmity” with God; and in reconciliation, it is that status, or relationship, that changes: we go from being God’s “enemies” to being his “children” (see Rom. 8:14–17).

As in v. 9 justification is accomplished “through” Christ’s blood, so here reconciliation takes place “through the death of [God’s] Son.” Similarly, “we will be saved,” though not further defined, must have the same referent as the same verb in v. 9: salvation from the wrath of God on the day of judgment. The meaning of the phrase “in [Gk. en] his life” is not so clear. The phrase seems to be parallel to “through him” in v. 9, where an instrumental meaning is certain. Yet we should probably respect Paul’s choice of preposition here, a preposition that, even in extended meanings, has the basic idea of “containment.” Thus, in light of Paul’s frequent, and theologically significant, use of “in Christ” language in Rom. 5–8, we should probably understand Paul to be saying that our salvation occurs “in the sphere of” Christ, or his life. The “life” of Christ probably refers to his resurrected state, a state in which believers participate in their union with Christ (Rom. 6:5, 8–10; see 4:25).[5]


5:9–11 / Paul’s magisterial exposition of the transforming love of God reaches its apogee in verses 9–11. Paul utilizes a rabbinic comparison from lesser to greater, or from light to heavy, known in Hebrew as qal wāḥômer, the object of which is to inspire confidence that God is utterly trustworthy to complete the work of salvation, for if God’s love delivered Christ to death for sinners, how much more will it save them from his wrath! God has already done the really difficult thing in justifying rebellious sinners; how much more may those who are justified take confidence that God will preserve them in the state of reconciliation. If God delivered Jesus from death, the same God will also deliver believers from sin and death to life, a point Paul reemphasizes in 8:11. Chapter 5 began with the present state of righteousness, but it now shifts boldly to the future: the cross not only forgives past sins, it assures the justified of their future hope and glory.

Paul continues his decisive contrast between God’s will and human resistance, describing unjustified sinners as God’s enemies (v. 10). The story is told that as Henry David Thoreau lay dying he was asked by his sister if he had made peace with God. Thoreau reportedly answered, “I did not know we had argued.” It was a witty reply, but wide of the gospel. Thoreau evidently believed that human nature is basically good, and that apart from a fault here and there God finds little objectionable in the human race. Paul disagrees. Humanity cannot reconcile itself to God. If there is to be reconciliation it must be effected from God’s side, not ours. On our own and apart from grace we are entrenched in rebellion. We are not distant relatives of God; we are insurrectionists against a worthy king (Mark 12:1–12). It took nothing short of the death of God’s Son to persuade humanity to lay down its arms and accept the gift of reconciliation.

The verb tenses in verses 9–11 encompass the entire life of the believer in God’s love: we were God’s enemies, we have been justified, we shall be saved. God’s redeeming love is past, present, and future. In theological terminology Paul is speaking of justification, the act whereby we were made right with God; sanctification, the process by which God renews us according to his purpose; and eschatology, the completion of salvation in the future and the fulfillment of hope. For the present, the believer lives between two worlds, a theme which Paul will develop in chapter 6. Paul refers to the renewed life variously as a race (Phil. 3:12; 1 Cor. 9:24), dying and rising (2 Cor. 4:16), a fight (1 Tim. 1:18; 6:12), a struggle (Rom. 5:3–5), and a battle (Eph. 6:10–20). But in one thing the believer takes confidence: the cross stands as an irrevocable demonstration of God’s faithfulness in the past, and hence believers can trust God for all things in the future. His love is our hope. St. Chrysostom put it thus, “If God gave a great gift to enemies, will he give anything less to his friends?”

The passage concludes with a new term in verses 10–11, reconciliation. Reconciliation is the act whereby God makes the sinner right with himself, thus ushering the justified sinner into real participation in the life of the risen Christ, which is characterized by peace (v. 1) and hope (v. 2). The concept of reconciliation builds a bridge into chapters 6 and 7. Katalassein, “to reconcile,” was rare, if not unknown, in Hellenistic usage, and consequently no more familiar to Paul’s first readers than it may be to us. In writing to the Corinthians Paul used the term with reference to being a “new creation,” meaning first to be reconciled to God, and second, the surrendering of self as an “ambassador of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:16–21). Reconciliation thus carries the double significance of God’s doing something for us and with us.

The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11–32 wonderfully illustrates reconciling love. Willful and defiant, the younger son demanded his share of the father’s blessing, later to be rudely awakened in the outside world. Returning to his father and expecting what he deserved—censure, humiliation, and (if lucky) probation—the boy received what he did not deserve—shoes, ring, robe, banquet, and most of all, his father’s delight in the infinite worth of one who was lost and now found. Reconciliation is being found by—and surrendering to—the love of God.[6]


5:9–11 justified by his blood … saved from God’s wrath. Verses 9–11 highlight the eternal aspect of Christ’s death as it relates to the believer’s assurance on judgment day. As mentioned above, Paul uses the qal wahomer interpretive technique in 5:9–10 to the effect that if God has already accomplished the really difficult task of justifying/reconciling us as sinners to himself, then preserving the Christian spiritually on judgment day (“saved from God’s wrath” / “saved through his life”) is a relatively easy task by comparison. This message assures believers that they are eternally secure in Christ. In 5:11 the reader is returned to 5:1 in rejoicing that believers are reconciled with God, the flip side of justification. The first is relational, while the second is legal, but both convey the truth that Christians are accepted by God in Christ.

Theological Insights

Two important insights can be seen in Romans 5:5–11. First, God is the initiator of justification and reconciliation. It was his love for humanity that motivated him to send his Son to die for our sins. Second, the Christian’s eternal destiny is secure in Christ. Since God saved us as sinners, he will keep us as his children for all eternity.

The Filioque Debate

The filioque (Latin for “and [from] the son”) debate centers on whether the Spirit proceeds only from the Father (so the Greek Orthodox Church) or from both the Father and the Son (so Augustine and the Western Church). The following illustrations depict the two positions:

Greek Orthodox Church

 

Augustine and the Western Church

 

Augustine’s argument better “completes” the Trinity than does the Greek Orthodox view.

 

Teaching the Text

A message on this unit is “Romans 5:5–11: The Love of the Trinity.” This topic could simply use three subpoints from above: the source of love is God the Father; the medium of love is the Holy Spirit; the proof of love is the death of Christ. Augustine mused that love is at the basis of the Trinity’s relationship in that the Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son (much to the vexation of the Greek Orthodox Church, which argues that the Spirit proceeds only from the Father [see the sidebar]). Here in Romans 5:5–11 Paul provides us with perhaps the most explicit mention of the delineation of the loving roles of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit toward humankind. God the Father is the author of love. The love that he shares with the Son and the Spirit he also demonstrated by creating the world as the object of his love. In fact, God loved the world to the point that he was willing to give up his Son—that is, to withhold his love from his Son on the cross. The death of Christ on the cross for humankind obviously revealed his immense love for sinners. That love not only absorbed the sin of a hostile world but also was willing to suffer divine abandonment and hostility, even if only for a time. And the Holy Spirit is the one who transcends time in order to bring to the sinner’s consciousness the depth of love displayed on the cross, making the death of Jesus an existential reality.

Illustrating the Text

The Trinity shows the source (Father), medium (Spirit), and proof (Son) of love

Hymn Text: “The Love of God,” by Frederick M. Lehman. Lehman (1868–1953) wrote this song in 1917 in Pasadena, California. The text is based on a Jewish poem called Haddamut, written in Aramaic in 1050 by Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai, a cantor in Worms, Germany. The cantor’s poem has been translated into at least eighteen languages. The hymn is a beautiful testimony to the love of God, using metaphors to illustrate, and is summed up in the refrain: “O love of God, how rich and pure! / How measureless and strong! / It shall forevermore endure / The saints’ and angels’ song.”

 

Detail of The Trinity, by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553)

Art: The Trinity, by Lucas Cranach the Elder. A German Renaissance painter and printmaker, Cranach (1472–1553) is famous for his woodcut designs of the first edition of the German New Testament and for portraits of Martin Luther, who was a close friend. In The Trinity, a powerful painting in oil on wood, God the Father, crowned and robed as king, stands upright holding the limp, crucified Christ, on whose left knee is perched the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove with unfurled wings. Around the edge of the painting are young angels looking on. It is an intriguing visual illustration (see photo).

Believers are eternally secure in Christ

History: “A Confederate Soldier’s Prayer,” author unknown. This prayer is attributed to a battle-weary Confederate soldier whose body was found near the end of the Civil War. In his poem he expresses the irony that in response to everything he asked from God he was given the opposite, which created in him compassion and growth and blessing.

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve;

I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.

I asked for health, that I might do greater things;

I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.

I asked for riches, that I might be happy;

I was given poverty, that I might be wise.

I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men;

I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;

I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.

Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.

I am among all men most richly blessed.

Love is the basis of the Trinity’s relationship

Book: The Shack, by William P. Young. This best-selling novel (2007) has captured Christians’ imagination in its portrayal of the three persons of the Trinity as in a dynamic, loving relationship with one another. The book has been commended by some prominent biblical scholars such as Eugene Peterson, who calls it The Pilgrim’s Progress for our time, and denounced by others, such as James DeYoung, who sees it as embedded with errors that strike at the heart of the gospel. Thus, the book’s take on the Holy Spirit’s relationship to the believer might be worth pursuing by way of discussion and education.

Moreover, the fellowship of the Trinity portrayed in The Shack taps into Augustine’s view of the filioque debate mentioned above in that the Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son “completes” the Trinity. Furthermore, Augustine said that the Holy Spirit is the love that connects Father and Son. Thus it is that The Shack dramatizes what the Spirit as love linking Father and Son might look like and how the Spirit might be experienced by the believer.[7]


9, 10. Since, then, we have now been justified by his blood, we shall much more be saved through him from (God’s) wrath. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

The relation between verses 9, 10 and the immediately preceding context is as follows:

We will not be disappointed in our hope, for, in Christ, God loves us so deeply that the Savior died for us while we were still sinners. If, then, we were justified by that death—or that blood—of Christ, much more shall we be saved from any future outpouring of God’s wrath.

Now the details:

  1. Verses 9 and 10 run parallel. The first concerns our legal standing with God; the second, our personal relationship to him. Each of the two statements is in the form of an a fortiori argument: if God did the greater, will he not even more readily do the lesser?
  2. “justified by his blood.”

The demands of God’s justice must be satisfied. See Isa. 1:27; 53:5; Rom. 8:4. Here in Rom. 5:9, as in 3:24, the relation between justification and Christ’s death is indicated: our justification required Christ’s eternal (not in time but in quality) death (cf. Luke 24:26, 27). In 4:25, on the other hand, the relation described is that between justification and Christ’s resurrection.

Blood points to sacrifice, offering. For more on Christ’s death as an offering, a voluntary sacrifice, see such passages as Isa. 53:7, 10, 12; John 10:11, 15; 1 Peter 2:21–24.

  • “saved through him from God’s wrath.”

For this divine wrath see on Rom. 1:18. The deliverance from this wrath, by Christ’s mediatorial work, and therefore by Christ himself, refers to our not having to endure the outpouring of the divine vengeance on the day of the final judgment. See 1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; 2 Thess. 1:5–10.

  • “… if, while we were enemies …”

The word enemies must be understood in the passive sense: so regarded by God, because as yet we had not been reconciled to him.

  • “… we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son.”

Believers are those who, by God’s grace, have attained a standing of righteousness in relation to God’s holy law; in other words, they have been justified. God’s law no longer condemns them. But not only is this true. What is now added is that God also loves them. His heart goes out to them. He has made friends of enemies.

It should be emphasized that reconciliation—as well as justification—is a divine act. It is God, not man, who brings about reconciliation, the change from enmity to friendship.

However, just as it is true that justification requires faith on man’s part—God-imparted and God-sustained faith, to be sure, but human faith nevertheless—so also reconciliation requires obedience on man’s part. Here too it is true that such obedience is God’s gift. Nonetheless, it is man who obeys the exhortation, “Be reconciled with God” (2 Cor. 5:10). God’s relation to man is not the same as that of a carpenter to the block of wood to which he is applying his skill, nor does it resemble the ventriloquist’s relation to his dummy.

Preachers are in danger of becoming onesided, unbalanced. There are those who stress divine initiative and action at the expense of human responsibility and action. There are also those who do the very opposite. Scripture avoids both extremes. The right view is found in such passages as Phil. 2:12, 13; 2 Thess. 2:13. See also Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23.

  • “… saved through his life”

It is the resurrected, living, and exalted Son of God who, through his Spirit, carries to completion in our hearts and lives the work of salvation.

  • “much more … much more”

If God justifies and reconciles to himself enemies, he will certainly save friends.[8]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (Vol. 1, pp. 286–287). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (1991–). Romans: The Reign of Grace (Vol. 2, pp. 543–550). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[3] Moo, D. J. (1996). The Epistle to the Romans (pp. 311–312). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[4] Murray, J. (1968). The Epistle to the Romans (Vol. 1, pp. 169–175). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[5] Moo, D. J. (2018). The Letter to the Romans. (N. B. Stonehouse, F. F. Bruce, G. D. Fee, & J. B. Green, Eds.) (Second Edition, pp. 339–341). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[6] Edwards, J. R. (2011). Romans (pp. 141–142). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[7] Pate, C. M. (2013). Romans. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (pp. 119–121). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[8] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Vol. 12–13, pp. 173–175). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

April 3 Streams in the Desert

Glorify ye the Lord in the fires.” (Isa. 24:15)

MARK the little word “in”! We are to honor Him in the trial—in that which is an affliction indeed and though there have been cases where God did not let His saints feel the fire, yet, ordinarily, fire hurts.

But just here we are to glorify Him by our perfect faith in His goodness and love that has permitted all this to come upon us.

And more than that, we are to believe that out of this is coming something more for His praise than could have come but for this fiery trial.

We can only go through some fires with a large faith; little faith will fail. We must have the victory in the furnace.

Margaret Bottome.

A man has as much religion as he can show in times of trouble. The men who were cast into the fiery furnace came out as they went in—except their bonds.

How often in some furnace of affliction God strikes them off! Their bodies were unhurt—their skin not even blistered. Their hair was unsinged, their garments not scorched, and even the smell of fire had not passed upon them. And that is the way Christians should come out of furnace trials—liberated from their bonds, but untouched by the flames.

Triumphing over them in it.” (Col. 2:15.)

That is the real triumph—triumphing over sickness, in it; triumphing over death, dying; triumphing over adverse circumstances, in them. Oh, believe me, there is a power that can make us victors in the strife. There are heights to be reached where we can look down and over the way we have come, and sing our song of triumph on this side of Heaven. We can make others regard us as rich, while we are poor, and make many rich in our poverty. Our triumph is to be in it. Christ’s triumph was in His humiliation. Possibly our triumph, also, is to be made manifest in what seems to others humiliation.

Margaret Bottome.

Is there not something captivating in the sight of a man or a woman burdened with many tribulations and yet carrying a heart as sound as a bell? Is there not something contagiously valorous in the vision of one who is greatly tempted, but is more than conqueror? Is it not heartening to see some pilgrim who is broken in body, but who retains the splendor of an unbroken patience? What a witness all this offers to the enduement of His grace!—J. H. Jowett.

“When each earthly prop gives under,

And life seems a restless sea,

Are you then a God-kept wonder,

Satisfied and calm and free?”[1]

 

[1] Cowman, L. B. (1925). Streams in the Desert (pp. 104–105). Los Angeles, CA: The Oriental Missionary Society.

April 3 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

April 3.—Morning. [Or July 4.]
“The right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.”

LET us now take the remainder of Deborah’s noble song—

Judges 5:19–31

19 The kings came and fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money.

They were ready volunteers. Their hatred of Israel made them eager for the battle. They sought no other reward than that which they found in oppressing the nation they so much abhorred. Satan, has his volunteers—shall any of us need pressing to serve the Lord?

20 They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera. (The heavenly hosts entered the lists. The elements took Israel’s side. The rainy constellations were in the ascendant. The clouds blazed with lightning, and tremendous water-floods poured from them.)

21 The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon. (The torrent-bed being suddenly swollen, washed away whole armies of men.) O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength.

22 Then were the horsehoofs broken by the means of the pransings, the pransings of their mighty ones. (The frighted horses pranced till their unshod hoofs failed them. Sisera’s boasted cavalry became useless, and his chariots of iron an encumbrance to his army.)

23 Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.

The laggards of Meroz are cursed, not for what they did, but for what they failed to do. Fear made them neutral, and neutrals in a patriotic war are detestable. “I would thou wert either cold or hot.” Earnest spirits feel great indignation against good-for-nothing indifferents.

24 Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent.

25 He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish.

Sisera saw the milk, but not the nail, and many tempted ones are in the same case.

26, 27 She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workman’s hammer; and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his head, when she had pierced and stricken through his temples. At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet he bowed, he fell: where he bowed, there he fell down dead. (Lowly was Jael’s sphere, but she did for Israel her very best, therefore was she as much blessed as Barak who led the thousands of Israel to battle.)

28 The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and cried through the lattice, Why is his chariot so long in coming? why tarry the wheels of his chariots? (This is a beautiful picture of the disappointment of the women at home when their warriors returned not in triumph. They reckoned without God, and therefore their expectation failed them. The next epithet is ironical.)

29 Her wise ladies answered her, yea, she returned answer to herself,

30 Have they not sped? have they not divided the prey; to every man a damsel or two; to Sisera a prey of divers colours, a prey of divers colours of needlework, of divers colours of needlework on both sides, meet for the necks of them that take the spoil?

Thus, in imagination, they divided the spoil of a victory which was never gained. How often have the enemies of the church reckoned upon her overthrow, and rejoiced by anticipation; but hitherto the Lord hath helped us.

31 So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord: but let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. (Amen! Amen! Under the gospel we dare say Amen; but our wrestling is with principles, not men; with error, sin, Satan, unbelief. O for brave hands of men and women to smite these foes.)

The foes of Zion quake for fright,

Where no fear was they quail;

For well they know that sword of might

Which cuts through coats of mail.

The Lord of old defiled their shields,

And all their spears he scorn’d;

Their bones lay scatter’d o’er the fields,

Unburied and unmourn’d.

Let Zion’s foes be fill’d with shame;

Her sons are bless’d of God;

Though scoffers now despise his name,

The Lord shall break their rod.

April 3.—Evening. [Or July 5.]
“Arise, O God! Plead thine own cause.”

IN after years, when Israel came into sore trouble, her holy men remembered the Lord’s overthrow of Jabin and Sisera, and made it a plea in prayer. We must never doubt that what the Lord did in the olden times for his people he can and will do again. He may alter his mode of action, but he will achieve the same result.

Psalm 83

A Song or Psalm of Asaph.

Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.

For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head.

O Lord, thine enemies are raging, do not be deaf and dumb to them, but hear thou their furious threats, and rebuke them by thy word. They are very proud, but do thou, O Lord, abase them.

They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones.

God’s people are hidden as his choice treasure, hidden for protection, hidden in their secret nature, and hidden in the sense of being obscure and unvalued. Against such the wicked plot with cunning and cruelty. Though believers sometimes act without consideration, their enemies seldom do so. In this matter the children of this world are wiser than the children of light.

They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.

Only extermination will serve their turn. The powers of evil would not leave a believer on earth if they could help it. Remember the massacre of St. Bartholomew, and be assured that the spirit of Antichrist is unchanged.

For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee:

The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes;

Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre;

Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah.

Thus relatives and near neighbours, old enemies and new foes, were of one mind against the favoured nation. The wicked often put divided Christians to shame by their unanimity.

Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison:

10 Which perished at En-dor: they became as dung for the earth.

11, 12 Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna: Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession. (They meant to take the tabernacle itself as a prey, and to attack the shrine of God himself. Their total destruction was a fit reward for such ferocious sacrilege.)

13 O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind. (Let them have no rest, let them have no power to resist thee.)

14 As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire;

15 So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm.

We must love our own enemies, but when we view men as the enemies of God and his glorious cause, we cannot love them nor ought we to do so. May all those who fight against God, truth, love, and holiness, be utterly defeated.

16 Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O Lord. (A sweet prayer, fit for Christian lips, since it asks for the salvation of those who are now the Lord’s enemies.)

17 Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame and perish:

If wicked men will not bend, then let them break, for it cannot be that all the rights of men and all the laws of God should be set aside to give liberty to unholy minds. If truth and holiness cannot live except bad men be put down, then down let them go.

18 That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth. (This is the grand design of providence, and the end to which all events must tend. Let us as a household and as individuals, be ever found upon the Lord’s side.)

O Jesu Christ, thy Church sustain;

Our hearts are wavering, cold and vain;

Then let thy word be strong and clear,

To silence doubt and banish fear.

O guard us all from Satan’s wiles,

From worldly threats and worldly smiles,

And let thy saints in unity

Know thee in God and God in thee.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 191–192). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Rush Limbaugh suggests coronavirus deaths are being exaggerated to push radical agendas | LifeZette

Legendary conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh spoke out on his radio show on Thursday to suggest that the number of deaths caused by coronavirus are being inflated so that governments could further “the policies they have put in place.”

Limbaugh opened his show by discussing the record-breaking unemployment claims numbers, saying that ten million people being unemployed are not “enough for people like Bill Gates” and others who “want to shut down the entire country,” according to The Daily Beast. He then cited the recent White House modeling projecting between 100,000 and 240,000 U.S. deaths if we continue to follow the social distancing guidelines before he brought up an article written by a pathologist who alleged that governments could be misrepresenting their numbers.

“Now, folks, don’t misunderstand, look, I’m not trying to stir anything up here,” Limbaugh said. “There’s all kinds of people speculating about things out there. I’m just giving you facts.”

He went on to present a theory that has interested him “that with this new arrival of COVID-19, that coronavirus is being listed as a cause of death for many people who are not dying because of it.”

“They’re dying because of other things,” he added. “But it’s speculation. It’s fascinating.”

The radio host declared that going forward, he would use this piece as his “daily briefing” rather than listen to “whatever the modelers are saying here,” applauding the “fascinating points” it brought up.

“It’s admittedly speculation, but his point, what if we are recording a bunch of deaths to coronavirus which really should not be chalked up to coronavirus?” Limbaugh questioned. “People die on this planet every day from a wide variety of things.”

“But because the coronavirus is out there, got everybody paranoid, governments are eager, almost, to chalk up as many deaths to coronavirus as they can because then it furthers the policies they have put in place by virtue of their models,” he concluded.

This comes days after Limbaugh discussed a theory that hospitals aren’t really being overflowed with coronavirus patients, since photos and videos continue to show hospital parking lots virtually empty.

“You have been led to believe that every hospital is overflowing,” he said. “So much of this has been politicized, folks, that it’s just impossible anymore to actually find factual truth.”

Whether Limbaugh is right or wrong, it can’t be denied that it’s difficult to figure out what’s the truth and what’s not right now. All we can do is believe what our own eyes are telling us, and try not to be swayed too much by the words of lawmakers and members of the mainstream media.

Source: Rush Limbaugh suggests coronavirus deaths are being exaggerated to push radical agendas

We Are Living Through a Mass Panic – It Is NOT Justified by the Facts

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https://russia-insider.com, The Z Man

Has the world gone mad? It certainly seems that way to some of us. Even the most cynical never imagined the government shutting down the country for fear of a virus, but it has suddenly become the new normal. The cynical, if they thought of it at all, would have thought the opposite. Instead of a great lock down, the response would have been for the beautiful people to insulate themselves from harm, while abandoning the rest of us to the plague. Instead, we have all gone mad together.

Not everyone has got the fever, that is this panic fever, not the one caused by the Chinese coronavirus.

Our world is now firmly divided into two camps.

There are those fully invested in the great panic over the virus and

there are those who look at the other camp, gobsmacked by what appears to be a general madness.

Those in panic look at the rest of us the same way preppers look at normal people. They just assume the gods will strike us down for doubting the virus.

Of course, the people in the skeptic camp could be the ones suffering from some form of madness that prevents them from seeing the threat. The trouble is, the great plague is not exactly lighting up the scoreboard. America has tested over 600,000 people suspected of having the virus.

Here Comes The Next Crisis: Up To 30% Of All Mortgages Will Default In Biggest Wave Of Delinquencies

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• Zero Hedge – Tyler Durden

Unlike in the 2008 financial crisis when a glut of subprime debt, layered with trillions in CDOs and CDO squareds, sent home prices to stratospheric levels before everything crashed scarring an entire generation of homebuyers, this time the housing sector is facing a far more conventional problem: the sudden and unpredictable inability of mortgage borrowers to make their scheduled monthly payments as the entire economy grinds to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic.

And unfortunately this time the crisis will be far worse, because as Bloomberg reports mortgage lenders are preparing for the biggest wave of delinquencies in history. And unless the plan to buy time works – and as we reported earlier there is a distinct possibility the Treasury’s plan to provide much needed liquidity to America’s small businesses may be on the verge of collapse – an even worse crisis may be coming: mass foreclosures and mortgage market mayhem.

Borrowers who lost income from the coronavirus, which is already a skyrocketing number as the 10 million new jobless claims in the past two weeks attests, can ask to skip payments for as many as 180 days at a time on federally backed mortgages, and avoid penalties and a hit to their credit scores. But as Bloomberg notes, it’s not a payment holiday and eventually homeowners they’ll have to make it all up.

According to estimates by Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi, as many as 30% of Americans with home loans – about 15 million households – could stop paying if the U.S. economy remains closed through the summer or beyond.

“This is an unprecedented event,” said Susan Wachter, professor of real estate and finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She also points out another way the current crisis is different from the 2008 GFC: “The great financial crisis happened over a number of years. This is happening in a matter of months – a matter of weeks.”

It’s a Man-Made Disaster: Fed Economic Bust With Socialized “Public Health” by Ron Paul

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• Ron Paul Liberty Report

100 years ago, American politicians convinced Americans that a new age was here. Individual liberty was yesterday’s news. The principles of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were ideas of a bygone era. Government would now take over. It would micromanage, “regulate” and “run” life in America. After 100 years of never-ending wars and intervention into our lives, the rotten fruit of that massive shift are now in full bloom.