Yesterday, I had the privilege to preach Romans 5:1-2 in our continuation of our series, “The Gospel According to Paul” — an exposition of Romans. We live in a world filled with violence, oppression, injustice, racial feuds, and war. The reason for all of the issues surrounding human conflict is based on the reality that the world is not at peace with God. We long for the day when Christ will return and there will be eternal peace in the presence of the King of kings and Lord of lords—but until that day, we can expect division that’s founded upon the reality that mankind is at war with God.
Paul has been demonstrating the reality that legalism is a broken road that leads to destruction. Many of the Jews of Paul’s day were caught up in a false religious system that centered upon works and self-righteousness rather than the pure righteousness of God. They had created a false Abraham to promote their works based salvation system and Paul labored for the first four chapters of Romans in order to point out the deficiencies. Martin Luther once said, “The most damnable and pernicious heresy that has ever plagued the mind of man was the idea that somehow he could make himself good enough to deserve to live with an all-holy God.”
The entire focus of chapter four was on justification by faith alone. Paul raised up the biblical example of Abraham and pointed to the reality of how he was justified in the sight of God. It was not based upon works. Therefore, Paul begins the fifth chapter with that clear foundation established and then points out that as a result — Abraham and all of God’s children have peace with God through Jesus Christ.
The reality of peace with God presupposes the fact that multitudes of people on planet earth do not have peace with God. They are under his wrath. Sadly, a large percentage of evangelicals today have a wrong understanding of the wrath of God. There are a couple of main errors that are common among evangelicals. First, there is the view that missions and evangelism is carried out in order to save people from the flames of hell. While that is certainly true, we must never forget that sinners must be saved from God—not flames. Who owns the flames? Who owns hell? Who created hell?
Secondly, there is another common error regarding the wrath of God that’s common. Many people spend much of their lives fearing the torment of the devil only to die and realize that God is far more severe than the devil. Have you stopped to realize that the devil will torment nobody in hell because he too will be under the wrath of God? What Paul wanted the Christians in Rome to understand is that through justification—sinners are justified and brought into a standing of peace with God. All sinners prior to being justified were enemies of God and under his divine wrath.
Paul then pointed out that there is both a present reality and future hope in our justification. We will see our Savior face-to-face and enjoy our God forever. What a wonderful eternity it will be as we not only see our God—but have the opportunity to learn more about him for all of eternity. Consider the reality that 500 trillion years into eternity—we will still be learning new things and discovering unknown realities about our God. Eternity will never be boring because God can never be boring.