Exultation (Romans 5:1—6:23)
Fourth Bible Class
II. Justification (cont.)
E. Exultation, or, the Certainty of Salvation (5:1-11)
Romans 5:1-11 is often treated as a survey of the results of justification by faith. While it is certainly possible to use the material that way, one must be sure not to ignore the main point of the passage. The theme of these eleven verses is the certainty of salvation that we have in Jesus Christ our Lord.
1. Peace with God
Verse 1 begins the theme: “since we have been justified through faith we have1_ftn1 peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The alienation between God and mankind is gone; the natural hostility of the human heart is gone; the sin which separated us from God has been paid for by Christ. The sinner, once at enmity with God with no hope of recovery, is now united with the Father through the justifying work of the Son. To be at peace with God Almighty, in spite of our sinfulness, is one of the glories of saving faith. This is the peace that our Lord Jesus Christ promised, a peace that passes all understanding. It can only come when the sinner is changed, that is, through genuine forgiveness. “Peace” carries with it more than the idea of the absence of hostility or enmity; it encompasses the ideas of wholeness and well-being. It is what allows for Paul to describe believers as a new creation.
2. Access to God
Verse 2 tells us that because of the grace of our Lord there is now open to us a realm of privileged access. Paul says that we have gained access by faith into his grace in which “we have now taken our stand.” Here is the certainty of access due to the confidence of faith. This faith will not crumble in the face of adversity because it is strong enough to handle afflictions. In fact, Paul says tribulation will strengthen faith. Believers have learned that suffering produces perseverance, because the suffering of Jesus into which they have entered by faith guarantees security.
3. Confident Hope
Paul says that we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. The hope that Christians have is based on two facts: (1) God has given us the Holy Spirit, and by the Spirit he has shed abroad in our hearts the love of Christ (5:5) which engenders and radiates hope; and (2) the Christian experience proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that God, who was willing to send his beloved Son to the cross for our sins, remains faithful forever (5:2-5).
4. God’s Love for us in Christ
Verses 6-8 present the great comforting news of the Gospel, that God demonstrates his love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Paul explains that rarely will someone die for another, even a righteous person—but Christ died for the ungodly, for all of us. Our justification is based on the love of God through the death of Christ on our behalf, and not on any merit we might claim. And since all have sinned, as Paul so eloquently discussed, our only hope is faith in the shed blood of Christ. No good works are possible for salvation; our salvation is accomplished because Christ died for sinners. The security we have in the faith is not in ourselves, but in the love of God manifested in Christ. There will be a necessary and important place for good works—but not for the purpose of achieving salvation.
The climax of this section comes in the message of verses 9-11. Paul begins with a rabbinic argument (called qal wahomer—if this is true, how much more …). Since we have been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him. We are introduced here to the present ministry of the ascended Christ, which by the argument mentioned above is less difficult than the initial act of justifying people. Here are the implications in his argument: (1) it takes more to do something for an enemy than for a friend; since we are now friends, God will do even more for us; (2) it took more to reconcile us to himself than it does to keep us; (3) it took more for God to give his Son in death than for us to share in his life. If God can deliver us from the penalty of sin (justification, the harder work), then will he not also deliver us from the presence and the power of sin—that is, keep us safe and secure. So because we have been justified, we may have confidence that he will deliver/save us from the wrath to come. Or, he who has begun a good work in us will complete it in glory. Verse 10 uses another qal wahomer argument—if we have been reconciled through his death, “how much more” shall we be saved through his life. He now lives to complete our salvation.
In fact, Paul is emphatic about the joy and confidence that we have through Christ: We shall be delivered from the presence of sin, and be brought into God’s holy presence, glorying in God. The attitude of the redeemed is triumphant, joyful, happy, boastful2_ftn2 in God. This will be the attitude of all believers in the future when their salvation is complete. That he is here talking about the future complete stage of salvation is clear from his contrast with the mention of “now” in verse 11—we now have reconciliation, but in the future we are guaranteed complete salvation.
“Reconciliation” is a key idea in the discussion. The term describes the union in peace of individuals who were formerly hostile. It is not only a change of attitude, but a change of position as well. All enmity and antagonism is gone because we have been changed, we have been reconciled to God.3 So we have in verses 1 and 11 the key ideas of peace with God through justification (v. 1) and reconciliation (v. 11). They are inseparable doctrines. Justification touches our sinful nature and changes our position, our standing before God; reconciliation touches our deepest attitude toward God—it is the intimate side of the relationship.
III. Life in Christ, or Union With and Ultimate Conformation to the Righteous One
A. The Reign of Sin and the Reign of Grace (5:12-21)
We now come to a long section of the book about life in Christ, running from 5:12 through chapter 8. The study can break this section up into its smaller parts and focus on each one of them; but in this survey of the message of the book I shall take the material in larger sections (but breaking down the material into those smaller sections).
The doctrine of justification by faith is vast in its dimensions. It is not bound by national or racial interests. It concerns the entire human race. Paul divides all of humanity into two groups, two creations. A remarkable parallel but an absolute contrast characterizes these groups. Each has its own federal head, cohesive principle and ultimate destiny—the lost and the saved, those who are not in Christ and those who are. In the human race the descendants of Adam die in sin; in the new creation, those who are born into the family of the second Adam, live.
The main idea that Paul is trying to get across in these verses is that there is a likeness between the first Adam and the Last. Sin has affected the whole race because of the first Adam; so the act of the Last Adam has formed a great group who are related to him by faith.
The “Therefore” of verse 12 is more than a loose connection; it looks back to the whole section of l:18 through 5:11, or salvation through Christ Jesus. Because we have this salvation through one man, Paul will argue, there exists this likeness or comparison between the two Adams. Elsewhere he says, “For as all died in Adam, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22).
1. Death through the First Adam
Paul announces that sin “entered” the world through one man. He never tells us how sin originated. But his verb “entered” implies that sin existed before Adam. It did not begin with Adam; it merely entered the world of the human race. This sin then passed on or through the whole race (spreading out, diffusing), because “all sinned.”
What does Paul mean when he declares “all sinned.” There are three major views on this. (1) Pelagians refer this to personal sin (a view that Denney takes also), but this is not likely for several reasons. First, it is contrary to fact, because, for example, if infants do not reach the age of accountability, why then should they die? Second, verse 14 would be unnecessary—they die because of Adam’s sin—verse 14 would contradict the view. Third, time and time again (five times in the passage) condemnation and death are due to the one sin of the one man.
A second view of “all sinned” is to interpret it to mean that all are corrupt. This would be mediate imputation; or, as Murray would say of original sin, the sin which Adam sinned and infected us. But there are difficulties with this view.4 First, Paul keeps saying that it is because of one man. He does not indicate that he means a corrupt nature. Second, to suffer death because we are sinful does not fit the analogy that is expressed here; it would have to then reason that we are righteous because we have been given the righteousness of Christ.
It seems to me that the stronger view is the Reformed view of federal headship. Adam’s act implicated the whole human race. It is the sin of Adam that is responsible for death in the race; so it is the obedience of Christ that brings life to those related to him. First, in verse 12 death passed upon all because all sinned. Second, in verse 13 death is on all because of the sin of one. So there is a singularity as well as a plurality. One acts for the all, but the all sin; and they sin because of the one.
Augustine’s view is more precise than Federal Headship. We were seminally (semen=seed) in Adam, physically, when he sinned. So his act was our act. The analogy for this is Hebrews 7:9,10; but he does qualify this with “so to speak.” He felt the argument based on that alone was really weak. He based the argument on a psalm. We might say that we sinned in Adam because we were in his loins; but we cannot say the antithesis of Christ—we are not righteous because we were in Christ when he died. So this probably forces the wording too much.
Some might protest that it is not fair that they should die because of the sin of Adam. It should be pointed out at the outset that what Adam has done does not have to affect anyone’s eternal lot—just believe in Jesus Christ and there is no condemnation. The act of Adam is not the final determinant of our destiny. Paul is merely telling us how sin arose in the human race, and because it happened at the beginning, it is universal—all sinned. It is like saying the first man was contaminated with radiation poisoning, and that remains with all his descendants.5 Fair or not, it is the reality of life that the human race has been contaminated with sin, and death is the result of sin. Only Christ has provided the way out of sin and death; apart from that, one must esperience sin and death whether it is a pleasant idea or not.
Today we hear a lot of this, that life is not fair, that it is not fair that we were born this way or that, with this nature or that, and so God should accept us with our preferences and acts because it is not our fault. God’s answer to that is that we all share a fallen nature—we were born with the desire to sin and rebel against God—and so we must be born again. People do what they want, and it is dishonest and self-centered to claim that since they were born that way God should accept them that way. No. We all must be born again into the family of God, or we will die in our sins. We all are born with traits and characteristics, and at times inherited diseases—you cannot ignore the fact that we share the nature of the ancestors, and that goes back to Adam. From the very began the race is contaminated, lives in rebellion by nature, and dies as a result. Blaming Adam, or parents, or human nature, will accomplish nothing. The new birth is designed to change our nature, and our destiny.
Paul further explains that Adam’s sin was there before the Law came in. Since there was no Law, there was no reckoning of the sin except for the fact that death was the evidence. Why did death reign? Because of Adam. Paul explains that in this Adam is a type, an example, an illustration of a corresponding reality. One sinful act affected the whole race; and this is a parallel to the Last Adam, for his one obedient act has affected a great number—the redeemed, over whom the death Adam began has no power.
2. Life through the Last Adam
The rest of the chapter will focus on this obedience of Christ. Jesus’ righteousness is in contrast to Adam’s disobedience. His obedience unto death brought justification and life to believers. Grace now reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord (5:21). As Adam’s sin was imputed to humanity and issued in death, so Christ’s righteousness is imputed to believers and issues into their eternal life.
The parallels between Christ and Adam are numerous in the writings of the New Testament. To Paul Christ is the beginning of the new creation, for everything that Adam wrought through sin, the curse and death, Christ reverses by becoming the curse and tasting death for everyone. The Law revealed the depths of sin and showed just how righteous one had to be to fellowship with the LORD. But grace increased all the more, for what the Law demanded the LORD provided through sacrificial atonement. The Law, Paul will say in Galatians, was to bring us to Christ. Or, to put it another way, now that Christ has come we can see that God intended the Law to awaken our need for forgiveness through his grace. But the Law also prophesied through types and symbols that atonement would be provided for people so that the Law would not condemn them.
B. The New Relationship in Life (6:1-14)
Verses 1 and 15 form structural markers in this chapter: “What shall we say, then?” and “What then, shall we sin… ?” The first question (v. 1) is linked to the argument of chapter 5. In verses 20 and 21 of that chapter Paul affirmed that the Law came alongside, and that where sin increased grace superabounded. The Law had a secondary force for Israel—it came in that sin might abound (meaning it exposed more sin), but grace increased all the more. So the basis of the question in verse 1 (“Shall we go on sinning that grace may abound?”) is the suberabounding of gracious provisions.
But the answer was already there in verse 21—”through righteousness.” Grace reigns through righteousness, not through abundance of sin. Often we stress that God is a God who forgives; but we do not stress the means of that forgiveness. We imply that God is a little soft, that he is not true to the standards, or if we approach him just right he will forgive—all this manipulates and minimizes God. But grace reigns through righteousness. We have the right to stand before God; his holiness is not impugned by our presence. But does this open up antinomianism (living against the Law)? God forbid is Paul’s answer.
It is worth noting that if you are in ministry and your teaching or preaching does not produce or provoke the same question as is in 6:1, then you are not preaching the Gospel accurately. If people respond to you, as Paul imagines his audience will ask this question, then they have understood what grace means.
But, having said that, you will also have to deal with the question as Paul did. There is a threefold answer: (1) Paul makes a direct dismissal of the idea as a blasphemous thought. Many such questions can only be answered in this way. If the question is against what we know to be true, it is wrong and therefore needs no reason why. (2) Paul adds a statement of the believer’s death to sin (v. 2). And (3) Paul proves that we are in the risen Christ by identification with him, and therefore separated from the dead life. Thus, true faith that responds to grace leads to righteousness and not greater sin. If a person says, “I want to be a Christian,” but refuses to get rid of sin or change a sinful nature, and tries to reason that God’s grace will cover whatever is done, that person has not understood the grace of God. The grace of God is God’s provision of taking care of sin in Christ, so that its effects will not continue in the life of the believer, and so that sin will no longer reign in the human heart. A true believer will come to the point of saying “The way I have been living is wrong, and I want to change.”
So up to this point Paul has been discussing justification by faith. Now he has begun a consideration of the believer’s sanctification. Here he is concerned with how a justified saint can live to God’s glory. Jesus came into the world not only to deliver people from the guilt and the penalty of sin, but also to bring them victory over the daily, hourly power of sin.
1. The believer was identified with Christ in death.
Notice the cumulative effect: “dead to sin” (6:2), “baptized into his death” (6:3), “buried with him by baptism into death” (6:4), “planted with him in the likeness of his death” (6:5), and “our old man is crucified with him” (6:6).
What does Paul mean when he talks about being baptized in the likeness of his death. What kind of baptism is this? The word “baptism” is a difficult one to define in all its nuances. The background of the word refers to the ritual with water whereby someone is immersed (in the first century by self-immersion in a ritual bath with an authority figure witnessing it [but not touching the person]), either as a purification ritual, or an initiation rite. But it can be used in the Bible to mean identification with something, such as judgment (a baptism by fire), or regeneration (a baptism by the Holy Spirit). So what kind of baptism does Paul mean here?
(1) One view is that it could be water baptism. In support of this we have the common use of the word baptism, as well as the truths that the rite sets forth, death, burial, and resurrection. Moreover, verse 3 sounds as if not all the readers had been baptized (“as many as are”), whereas all believers have been baptized by the Spirit (according to 1 Cor. 12:13). And so according to verse 5 we have been united with him in the likeness of his death. His death was physical and representative; our death in Christ is spiritual and judicial. There is a likeness, but both are real.
(2) The other view is that it is the baptism of the Holy Spirit that Paul has in mind. Water is in the picture when we talk of baptism; but water is the physical representation of the spiritual reality. For example, when John baptized Jesus, it was an actual act using water. But that act inaugurated Jesus’ ministry which was to lead to the suffering at the cross. John’s baptism prepared the way for the death of Christ. So when people respond to the preaching of the Gospel and want to be baptized, the water baptism is a testimony of the spiritual reality, that is, Spirit baptism. If they have come to faith in Christ, they have already been “united with” Christ (baptized) by the Spirit; the ritual now becomes the sign (as circumcision was in the Old Covenant with Abraham). The point Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 12:13 is clear: all believers have been baptized by the Spirit into one body, the Church.6 There could be no regeneration (new birth) without the Holy Spirit. So the idea of the term “baptism” is that of “identification with” Christ.
There is a mystical union between the believer and his Lord. If anyone is “in Christ” by faith, that person has “died” in Christ. When God the Father beholds the cross of Calvary, he sees the Savior dying for our sins; but he also sees the believer dying in Christ unto sin. Our sins were placed on Christ; but we were in him in an identifying union. His death for sin was our death to sin. Our burial with him is a spiritual fact which demonstrates the reality of our death to sin (see Gal. 2:20). This language is hard for many to understand, but it has to be grasped as spiritual language to describe what saving faith means. If I truly believe in Christ (not just believe things about him), then I am identifying myself, my life, my destiny with him. When I accept Christ as my Savior, then I am receiving by faith the salvation that he purchased for me on the cross. And if that faith is saving faith, I am so identified with Christ, I am so committed to Christ, that it will change my life to be like his. And the basis for the change is in my identification by faith with his death on the cross. So Paul can say it is as if we died on the cross, and were buried, and rose to a new life—if we have the kind of faith that places our whole life in him.
Perhaps an illustration of this will help. In the Old Testament the Israelite brought an animal to sacrifice on his behalf. He placed his hand on the head as the throat was slit, and the animal would die at his hands and cruimple life less to the ground. By laying his hands on the animal, the worshiper was identifying with the animal to be slain; and when the animal died, the believer knew that that should be his blood spilled, and that should be his body on the ground. But God in his grace allowed a substitute, an animal for the sinner. For all spiritual purposes, he died with and in that animal. That truth would have a profound impact on the way the believer lived in the future, knowing that only by God’s grace could he walk away from judgment of the burning altar.
So too the believer today knows that faith in Christ is that kind of identification. The Christian faith is not a nice little philosophy of life, or some moral teachings to live by; it is salvation through the death of Christ—a salvation that not only delivers us from the judgment of God, but also changes the way wwe live today. How can we cling to a sinful life-style when we have so identified with Christ who was slain on our behalf for that life-style that God declarted sinful. To express how it should change us, Paul speaks symbolically about our dying with Christ.
2. The believer was identified with Christ in resurrection.
A parallel passage to these verses (6:4b; 5b; and 8b) is Colossians 3:1, “If you then are risen with Christ … .” By identifying with Christ in faith the believer not only died to sin but has been raised to a new life. Here again we seem to have a positional truth that if believed could be influential; but it is much more than that. With regeneration a divine operation takes place that brings enormous changes. With faith in Jesus Christ the believer receives the Holy Spirit, that is, a new life in Christ. So the idea of being raised with Christ focuses on a divine provision that enables the believer to live on a higher plane, to walk in the newness of life. Ultimately, death and sin can have no power. Paul carries his symbolic wording then to the resurrection—Christ did not just die, he rose again and lives forever; and we who died in Christ by faith, now have risen to a new life, the spiritual life, which is eternal. We cannot go back to the old ways if we have risen to a new life.
3. The believer must live by faith.
How are we to realize this change in our life? By faith. Paul calls for the believer to reckon these truths to be fact. To live by faith means that believers must count their identification with the Lord to be true and to act upon that reality. That is the way genuine faith works (Abraham believed in the LORD, and so he acted on what God had promised and left for the promised land).
Temptation will knock. Sin has by no means been eradicated; it is a constant threat. But the Spirit will give the enablement to overcome the old nature and the old practices. But the believer must act like a resurrected child of God.
So we have here a call for faith. This is consistent in Paul’s theology: we have been justified by faith, and so we also shall be sanctified through faith. A saint can commit sin; but a saint cannot live in sin, not without the conviction that comes from the Spirit. Believers are to reckon7 that they died in Christ and therefore will live in obedience to Him. If we really want the power it is available; it is Christ working through us. But it has to be accepted by faith.
But there is a positive side to this act of faith. Not only do we reckon ourselves dead to sin and therefore not yield to living as slaves to sin, but also we must yield ourselves to God, as instruments of righteousness. We must commit our bodily members up to the Lord as instruments of righteousness. We must keep our lives yielded if we want daily victory, for this is the secret of spiritual victory.
So there is an initial dedication or yielding to God (as 12:1, 2 will remind us), then a daily discipline, a daily vigilance, to live as a servant of righteousness under grace and not become a slave of sin. Spiritual identification with Christ through the presence of the Holy Spirit will be the means of doing this—if we take it by faith and live as justified believers. The crucifixion of the old nature leads to the yielded person; just as salvation leads to works of faith.
C. The New Principle in Life (6:15-23)
The new principle is servitude to righteousness. Once we were servants of sin simply doing what our flesh, our human nature, called for (6:16,20)—and our wages were death (6:23). Then Christ freed us from the tyranny of sin (6:18,22) and we were emancipated. We are a new creation, born again, and with the Spirit have a new nature; we are now servants of God (6:22). This is our new position. A gift, eternal life, has replaced the wages of sin. We must realize our liberty and enter into the glorious possibilities it affords. We may not always be successful—that is why we have an advocate!—but the evidence of saving faith is the willingness and the desire and the conviction to live differently, and the gradual progress towards righteousness.
Paul begins this section by raising a second question in the minds of some—are we free to sin? The first question in the chapter (v. 1) was “Shall we continue to sin?” Here it is simply “Shall we sin?” The question arises out of our position under grace, not salvation by grace.
The form of the verb used looks to an isolated sin: “Shall we sin … ?” So, it is not possible to continue in sin, but is it possible to engage in sin now and then without condemnation? Paul’s answer to this is along the same lines as the previous question. First, God forbid! It is unthinkable that someone living under grace would plan such a thing and hope to justify it. Second, we have become slaves to righteousness. Paul then appeals to laws of moral living. If a man sins he becomes the slave to sin, for sin is enslaving. Not only does sin control the person, it leads to death and destruction (and our understanding of all kinds of addictions makes us painfully aware of this). But now that we have become believers in Jesus Christ, we become obedient to do works of righteousness; and the reward is holiness and eternal life. But if we are to be servants of righteousness, we will have to learn what the master wants us to do, for the old nature is still present letting us know what it desires us to do (more of this later).
It seems strange to cap this argument off with what seems to be a Gospel text: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The way we quote this verse suggests that the verse does not seem to belong here, but back in the section on justification and salvation. However, a closer look at its meaning will show why it is here.
The term translated “wages” is opsonia; it is a military word for soldiers’ daily rations. Roman soldiers lived largely on the booty taken in captured cities as well as a small wage. They subsisted on salarium (salt) and opsonia (fish), but made their money from booty. These rations were given out each and every day. What Paul is saying is that a little bit of death, a little bit of separation from God, is measured out to you when you sin. The more that you sin, the more you open yourself to sin, and the farther you get from God spiritually. The second sin is easier—that is the way enslavement works. It pays day by day with anxieties, troubles; a little bit of death is paid when you sin. At the time of sin there is a definite feeling of difference and separation from God, of guilty fears that come in. The true believer will be convicted of such spiritual alienation, knowing that sin leads to destruction.
The principle of faith brings eternal life. This gift has replaced the grim wages of sin. As we yield ourselves to be servants of God and slaves of righteousness, we will realize our liberty in Christ, and experience the healthy, enduring life that grace inspires. It is the outworking of the spiritual, and eternal life. I shall come back to this procedure when we look closely at Romans 12, for that is where it is laid out—dedication, yielding, being transformed, renewing. But at this point Paul is simply introducing the theme that identification with Christ by faith sets us free from enslavement to sin because we have a new principle of life within, thanks in chief measure to the presence of the Holy Spirit. But sin goes the other way entirely, gradually enslaving people and separating them from life.
Things to Consider
1. Can you think of earthly examples, personal or otherwise, of reconciliation? How exactly was the reconciliation accomplished that has established our peace with God. You may wish to read again Isaiah 53:4-6.
2. On what basis do we have peace with God? On what basis do we have access to His grace? On what basis do we have confident hope of glory? On what basis do we enjoy the love of God? On what basis have we been given the Holy Spirit? So then, on what does our salvation hang?
3. What does it mean that sin entered the world through one man? Give some thought to the practical implications of this—the effects of sin such as sickness and death, the propensity to sin through a fallen nature, the alienation of the race from God. How did that come about through the fall of Adam and Eve? Or, more specifically, how is the sin nature passed on? And if someone claims to be born with a certain nature or propensity to live in violation of God’s laws, then is that a legitimate option instead of righteousness?
4. What prevents a believer from living loose and free in sin throughout his or her life? What very specifically is bound up in being identified with first the death and then the resurrection of Jesus Christ?
5. Since we are justified by faith, we are also being sanctified by faith. How does faith work in ordering our lives correctly to be servants of God? That is, what do we believe, and how does it work itself out in our decisions day by day?
There is a textual problem on the verbal form here; the choice is between the indicative (“we have peace”) and the subjunctive (“let us have peace”). There is a good deal of support for the reading with the subjunctive. The exhortation in that sense would then be to live in the reality of life that Christ has obtained for us through his death on the cross. The Bible certainly teaches that we have peace with God through his blood, and so a subjective mood reading here would not contradict that, only call for its implementation. But because that is the clear teaching of the Bible, most translations have retained “we have peace with God.” The fact that Paul had to declare this truth would suggest that many in the church had not fully appreicated it or implemented it in their lives any way.
The Bible often uses the word “boast” in a good sense, that is, boasting in the LORD, which is equal to praise. Boasting in oneself, or bragging, is a different matter.
Although it is popular to sing about or describe God as reconciled, Paul’s use of the word indicates that it is we, the sinners, who have been reconciled to God. He needed no change. As long as people remember that, they will keep this doctrine clear in their minds.
This is not to say that the doctrine of original sin is in question; the issue is what Paul meant in this passage.
You can see that if one denies the historicity of Adam, or of the account of the Fall, then there is great difficulty with most doctrines being presented in this book.
Common usage of the expression “baptism of the Spirit” does not fit the way Paul uses the expression. Every true believer has already been baptized by the Spirit. However, at some subsequent time they may yield their lives in a renewed commitment, they may be filled with the Spirit, they may learn what it means to walk by the Spirit, and they might find their spiritual gifts—all of which could be experienced with changes in worship, power in prayer, and possibly supernatural signs and wonders. Whatever those changes are called, they are not the baptism of the Spirit. In the Book of Acts, a transition book in many ways, supernatural experiences accompanied the giving of the Spirit to new groups. But once the Church is established, the epistles explain what the norm will be.
This word “reckon” has also been used for God’s reckoning us as righteousness. Because we believed in him, he treats us as if we were righteous. Thus, if we reckon these truths to be true, then we must live in that understanding.
1 There is a textual problem on the verbal form here; the choice is between the indicative (“we have peace”) and the subjunctive (“let us have peace”). There is a good deal of support for the reading with the subjunctive. The exhortation in that sense would then be to live in the reality of life that Christ has obtained for us through his death on the cross. The Bible certainly teaches that we have peace with God through his blood, and so a subjective mood reading here would not contradict that, only call for its implementation. But because that is the clear teaching of the Bible, most translations have retained “we have peace with God.” The fact that Paul had to declare this truth would suggest that many in the church had not fully appreicated it or implemented it in their lives any way.
2 The Bible often uses the word “boast” in a good sense, that is, boasting in the LORD, which is equal to praise. Boasting in oneself, or bragging, is a different matter.
3 Although it is popular to sing about or describe God as reconciled, Paul's use of the word indicates that it is we, the sinners, who have been reconciled to God. He needed no change. As long as people remember that, they will keep this doctrine clear in their minds.
4 This is not to say that the doctrine of original sin is in question; the issue is what Paul meant in this passage.
5 You can see that if one denies the historicity of Adam, or of the account of the Fall, then there is great difficulty with most doctrines being presented in this book.
6 Common usage of the expression “baptism of the Spirit” does not fit the way Paul uses the expression. Every true believer has already been baptized by the Spirit. However, at some subsequent time they may yield their lives in a renewed commitment, they may be filled with the Spirit, they may learn what it means to walk by the Spirit, and they might find their spiritual gifts--all of which could be experienced with changes in worship, power in prayer, and possibly supernatural signs and wonders. Whatever those changes are called, they are not the baptism of the Spirit. In the Book of Acts, a transition book in many ways, supernatural experiences accompanied the giving of the Spirit to new groups. But once the Church is established, the epistles explain what the norm will be.
7 This word “reckon” has also been used for God’s reckoning us as righteousness. Because we believed in him, he treats us as if we were righteous. Thus, if we reckon these truths to be true, then we must live in that understanding.
Related Topics: Bibliology (The Written Word)