Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. (10) 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. (11) And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
Our focus this morning is on Romans 5:9-10. I see four great realities in these two verses. Three of them you could call Christmas gifts. One is the reason you need the gifts. One of them is the main point of the passage and repeats the theme of this whole section: namely, strong assurance. Paul's main aim in this section is to increase the assurance of Christians that God is for us and will be for us through all our tribulations and through the last great outpouring of wrath on the world. We will see it in the words "much more" in both verses 9 and 10. But that is point four. Let's start with point one.
1. We were all enemies of God, we toward him and he toward us, and needed to be reconciled.
This is explicit in verse 10a: "For if while we were enemies .. ." Some have tried to make this mean that we are enemies of God, but he is not our enemy. We are opposing him, but he is not opposing us. We have enmity toward him, but he has no enmity toward us. Their argument goes like this: It says here in verse 10 that we were enemies, not that God was our enemy. And, secondly, it says in verse 10 that "we were reconciled to God," not that he was reconciled to us.
But there are two major problems with this interpretation that you can see for yourselves. One is that our way of speaking about being reconciled is different from the way the New Testament writers spoke about it. We think that if we are reconciled to someone, we were the ones who had the enmity, not the other person. But look at Matthew 5:23-24. Jesus says, "If you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you [Note well: your brother has the enmity], leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering."
So here you have a brother who has a grievance against you. How does Jesus talk about reconciliation? He says, "You go be reconciled to him." Now keep that in mind as you read Romans 5:10, "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God. . ." So if "being reconciled to our brother" in Matthew 5:24 means that our brother had something against us, then being reconciled to God in Romans 5:10 would mean that God had something against us. So we were not merely his enemies because we were rebels, he was our enemy because we were rebels.
But you don't have to go to Matthew to see this. It is plain in verse 9. The verse ends with the promise that because of what Christ has done, "we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him." There it is. God has wrath, or anger, toward the world of sinners. He is an enemy of sinners. The greatest obstacle to our everlasting happiness is the wrath of God. Because if God is against us, it doesn't matter who is for us, we are ruined.
So I conclude on this first observation that we were all enemies of God, we toward him in rebellion, and he toward us in wrath, and therefore we all needed to be reconciled to God. There would be no hope without the removal of his wrath and our rebellion.
2. God the Father himself has worked in the past decisively and will work in the future infallibly to rescue us from his wrath.
Now, don't miss this remarkable part of the good news. The Bible makes it plain that God will one day pour out the full measure of his wrath on the sinful unbelieving world, and the unrepentant will be cast into what John calls the "lake of fire." Revelation 20:15, "And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." And Revelation 14:10 describes it like this: They will "be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever." It is like fire. It is torment. It is forever and ever with no end.
This is terrifying. If enmity ever had meaning, this is it. If this is not having an enemy, then there is no such thing as having an enemy. God will one day pour out his enmity - his wrath - on the whole world of humankind who have ever lived and not trusted him.
The question is: Who can rescue us from this wrath of God? The clear answer of this text - and the whole New Testament - is this: Only God can rescue us from the wrath of God.
Where can we see this? Notice these five passive verbs. Verse 9: "having now been justified, [number 1] shall we be saved [number 2]." Verse 10: "If while we were enemies we were reconciled [number 3] to God through the death of his Son, much more having been reconciled [number 4], we shall be saved [number 5] by his life." In all those actions we are being acted upon. Who is acting? Who is doing this justifying, reconciling, saving? The answer is God the Father. How do we know that? Because in verse 10 it says, "we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son." But if the Son was doing the reconciling, it wouldn't say he did it "through the Son." You wouldn't say. "The Son of God reconciled us to God through his Son."
No. The Father, himself, loves us. That was the clear point of verse 8, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Here's the good news: the love of God rescues us from the wrath of God. Don't try to defend the love of God for us by denying the wrath of God against sinners. If you do, you will undermine the love of God. Because the greatest demonstration of the love of God is the way it rescues us from the wrath of God. If you deny wrath to defend love, you lose love.
So this second point, so far, is that God the Father himself works to rescue us from his wrath. And the other part of this second point is that he has done this in the past, and he will do it in the future. This is the way both verse 9 and 10 are built. Verse 9: "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood [that's the past work of God - "blood" referring to the death of his Son whom he sent], we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him [that's the future work of God]." Then verse 10: "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son [the past work of God in history], much more, having been reconciled [in the past], we shall be saved by His life [the work of God in the future]."
So the second point is that God the Father himself has worked in the past decisively and will work in the future infallibly to rescue us from his wrath.
3. Now the third observation is this: Both God's past work and God's future work to rescue us are through the work of Christ his Son.
God does not justify us in the past, or save us in the future, except through Jesus Christ his Son. O how we should meditate on the work of Christ. Because here we meet the work of God. If you want to know the love of God, know the work of Christ.
Where do we see this? It is made explicit in both verse 9 and verse 10. Verse 9: "Much more then, having now been justified [that God's work] by His blood [that's Christ's work in dying], we shall be saved from the wrath of God [that God's work] through Him [that's the work of his Son, Jesus Christ]." The Son bought our justification in the past when he died for us, and he mediates our salvation in the future because he lives for us. God saved in the past through Christ. He will save in the future through Christ.
It's even more clear in verse 10: "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God [that's God's work] through the death of His Son [that's the work of his Son in dying for us], much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved [that's God's work] by His life [that's Christ's work]."
So the third observation is this: Both God's past work and God's future work to rescue us are through the work of Christ his Son. Justification and reconciliation in the past and salvation in the future are through Jesus Christ. He is indispensable in the work of salvation. And the Father means for him to have his glory.
The implications of this for our worship and teaching and evangelism are enormous, because Jesus said, "He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him" (John 5:23). If you don't worship Jesus, you don't worship God. And John wrote, "He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life" (1 John 5:12; see also 2:23). Missions brings life to a people not by bringing a vague message about God, but a clear message about the Son of God - Jesus Christ - his death, his life, and the justification, reconciliation, and salvation that come from God through him.
4. The final observation is the main one in this text, namely this: The past work of God in Christ increases for us the certainty of the future work of God to save us from his wrath.
I say this is the main point of the passage because everything else serves this point and because you see it repeated in the words "much more." Let's read verses 9 and 10 one more time, this time focusing on the heart-assuring logic of each verse. If logic was ever set on fire, surely it is in these two verses. Verse 9: "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him."
Now do you see how this phrase "much more" is functioning? Children, consider this illustration. You move with your parents into a new neighborhood. And during the first night a fire breaks out in your house. Your neighbor - let's call him Mr. Peterson - sees the smoke, calls the fire department, breaks a window, wakes everybody up, crawls inside, gets your mom and dad to safety, but they have passed out. He hears you calling from an upstairs bedroom before the fire fighters arrive. He dashes up the stairs, wets a blanket in the bathtub, plunges through flames in the hall, wraps you in the blanket and brings you safely outside with terrible burns on his arms and face.
Over the next months you become very close friends with your Mr. Peterson and visit him in the hospital. One morning after he gets home, you ask him, "Mr. Peterson, will you come over this afternoon and show me a new trick with my yo-yo?" Mr. Peterson says, "Sure, I'd love to." But during the day you start to wonder if he will really come. And you say to your father, "I'm not sure Mr. Peterson will come this afternoon. He might forget, or maybe he really doesn't care about a little kid like me."
And then your father says, "You know what? If Mr. Peterson was willing to run through fire to save you at the risk of his own life and getting terrible burns, then how much more will he be willing to come over and show you a new yo-yo trick this afternoon! If he did the hard thing for you, then all the more surely, he will do the easy thing."
Do you see how the "much more" in verse 9 works? "Much more then, having been justified by his blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through him." The point is to make you all the more confident and assured that God will save you.
It's the same in verse 10: "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 Mr. Peterson risked his life to save you when he didn't even know you yet, how much more, now that you are friends, will he keep his word and come to play with you!
God has done the hardest thing in sacrificing his Son to reconcile his enemies. How shall he not save his friends!? He will! Much more, he will!
A Christmas Gift from God
Receive this as a Christmas gift from God this morning. Everything in Romans 5, from verse 1 on, is meant to give you assurance that God is for you now, and will be for you forever. This is God's Word. God wants you to leave this room more confident, more assured, more hope-filled, more stable and firm with this fiery logic in your mind. If he gave his Son to justify and reconcile his enemies, how shall he not do everything it takes to save his friends?