This week's study in gravitate was "The Blessings of Justification," from Romans 5:1-11.
Romans chapters 5-8 deal with the life we now have because of our union with Christ. Through him, and what he has accomplished on our behalf, we are declared righteous, and now have a new life. “The righteous by faith shall live.” This salvation from God encompasses not just the past and present, but also the future...
1) Peace: God is not against me. (5:1, 10, 11) Though we were once enemies, now God is reconciled to us through Christ (cf 2 Cor 5:17-21).
2) Grace: we have free access and a secure position before God (5:2a) By the work of his Son we have free, unhindered access, and warm welcome before God. (See also Hebrews 4:14-16 for an application of this truth.) We have a "standing" in grace... we are ever in the need of, and ever the recipients of, his undeserved, bountiful generosity. I do not begin with grace and perfect myself through works.
3) Hope: our glorious future gives us joy and confidence now (5:2b, 4) Unlike "hope" in the world, we have not only a bright expectation, but a certainty of being glorified in God's presence (and new creation) forever (cf Romans 8:18-21).
4) Character: we have a new way to look at suffering. (5:3-4) God grants tribulation, but with it grants perseverance. And this perseverance works good for us, testing and proving our character, and making us fit for his new creation.
5) Love: we are the recipients of the outpouring of God’s love. (5:5-8) His love is so very unique, in that he demonstrates at the Cross the righteous love that, coming from his nature, is both just and justifying (3:26) (See also 2 Cor 5:14-15).
6) Holy Spirit: he is God’s gift to us that we might know truth (5:5) He gives us the Spirit that we might know experientially our position before him. More on this in chapter 8.
7) Salvation: not just now, but from now on, because Jesus lives (5:9-10) His death secures our forgiveness and new standing, but more, he has risen and ascended, and lives ever to make intercession for us, and will return one day to complete his work of salvation in us. (See also Rom 8:34; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).
8) Joy: because of all this we can rejoice in the Lord (5:11) The verb kauchaomai appears in 5:2, 3, 11. Though
translated "rejoice", the field of meanings is more along the lines of "boast, glory, take pride in." (BAGD) The idea here is not so much a personal delight in (though that is called for), but more that our our boast now is not in ourselves (promoting,
posturing, etc.) but our boast is in Jesus Christ and in what he has completely accomplished for us who are so underserving.
Therefore I no longer need -- as is the case of my fallen humanity -- to validate myself by what I have done, or glory in what I have accomplished (hiding all that I have not done well) and promoting myself to others, whether subtly or not-so-subtly. Here's the truth: God is for me; I am secure in Jesus; all things are working in my favor as a child of God; I am bound for a glorious future; I am loved; I am empowered; I was saved, am saved and will be saved.
All of this is true because, by simple faith, I am "justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus..." (Rom 3:24 ESV) So he now becomes "my glory and the lifter of my head" (Psalm 3:3)
We do not even glory in any of our spiritual accomplishments (if there be any). The salvation we have is a complete and gracious work of God from eternity past to eternity future (see Romans 8:29ff). J. C. Ryle once wrote, "Glory not in your own faith, your own feelings, your own knowledge, your own prayers. Glory in nothing but Christ."
If you are a Christian, which of these eight blessings mentioned is most real to you now? Which is least? If you are not a Christian, please look at what God has done for you and come to him now, believing that Jesus died and rose from the dead to give you all these blessings as a gift in Jesus Christ.