Saved by Christ's life. 5:6-11
Paul, in our passage for study, explains that believers are assured of their final salvation. In v6-8 we are reminded of the proof of God's love in that while we were still sinners "Christ died for the ungodly". Then, in v9-11, Paul makes the point that since we now stand right before God through the sacrificial death of Christ, how much more will we be saved from the wrath of God by Jesus who is now reigning at his right hand. If, while rebels in God's sight, we are reconciled as his friends through Jesus' death, how much more will be ours in Jesus' life, in his resurrection, ascension and present rule. This is not just a future blessing, for even now our reconciliation with God brings unbounded joy.
v6-8. In v5 Paul refers to the love which is poured into our hearts through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. This love of God toward us is most likely the dynamic character of God which is both made real to us and impels us through the indwelling Spirit of Christ. This love is best illustrated in God's spontaneous and undeserved love expressed toward us in Christ; he died for the ungodly. It is very rare for a person to give up their life to save just anyone, although a person may give it up for a friend or benefactor, yet Jesus died for rebels.
v9-10. Paul again takes up the theme of the "hope that does not disappoint us" and details its certainty in two parallel statements:
Since God has done the difficult thing, namely, reconciling us to himself when we were enemies, then we can be confident that he will do the relatively easy thing of saving the righteous by faith from wrath in the last day, v9.
Again, since God has done the difficult thing, namely, justifying the sinner, then we can be confident that he will do the relatively easy thing of saving those who are his friends in the last day, v10.
v11. Not only will we be saved in the last day, but we actually rejoice now because we have received the gift of reconciliation with God. This intimate relationship with the Father, which we experience right now through the ministry of the indwelling Spirit, is a joyful blessing indeed.
Rejoicing in the love of God
With the arrival of the Neo-Pentecostal movement, there was a growing awareness of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Many claimed that the evidence of the Spirit's infilling was seen in the gifts of ministry. The apostle Paul questions this notion, especially regarding the gift of speaking in tongues. Paul notes that it was by no means abnormal for pagans to speak in tongues, so although a valid gift, it is really not an evidential proof of the Spirit's infilling. 1Cor.12:1-3.
For Paul, the primary gift is the gift of love. We usually speak of love as a fruit of the Spirit and this it is. None-the-less, it is first and foremost a gift which outshines all others, even the "tongues of angels..... the resounding gong and the clanging cymbal" - Paul is obviously alluding to tongue-speaking. This gift of love images the love exhibited by God himself. The most powerful example of this love is the self-giving of Jesus for a people who deserve nothing from God. Our primary anticipation as a Christian, is that we will be shaped into the image of Jesus. This hope is very much related to the day of Christ's return. Yet, right at this moment, through the indwelling Spirit of Christ, we are being touched with the gift of love; we are being given the capacity to love as Christ loved.
Jesus showed what God's love is all about when he busied himself asking God's forgiveness for those who were crucifying him. I remember hearing an African "charismatic" Anglican Bishop speak of his infilling with the Spirit. He was in prayer in his chapel when he was washed over and over with the love of God; wave after wave. He said that the authorities could have taken him then and there and beaten him to a pulp and he would have loved them for it.
"Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us", 5:5.
1. What does it mean to possess the love of God in our hearts?
2. What does "saved through his life" mean?
3. Discuss the idea that "accentuating the positive" is beneficial for healthy living.
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