A Study of the Epistle to the Romans
Salvation: The Blessings That Accompany Justification
Our Standing with God
Let us face a real problem, one that has been the problem of the ages: how can a sinner stand in the presence of a holy God? "If thou, Lord shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?" (Psalm 130:3). Let somebody answer that question. If God would begin to pick out iniquities in your life, would you stand under that scrutiny? The same thing the apostle is talking about in this passage is referred to in Revelation when the wicked cry out in the presence of the wrath of God: "Who shall be able to stand?" (Revelation 6:17). The Psalmist declares the same thing in the first Psalm: "Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment." He will go down to wreck and to ruin when he comes to the day of judgment!
But "being justified by faith, we have" a standing. We stand, and our standing is in Christ Jesus. In Christ Jesus is the only place any man will ever be able to stand.
How is that standing maintained? By grace. Any man who tries to stand in his own works, his own character, his own righteousness, will fall. Grace is the only thing that can maintain his standing. I praise God for His grace this day, and you ought to, too.
Our Rejoicing In Hope of Glory
"Being justified by faith, we rejoice in hope of the glory of God." The apostle introduces a subject he later discusses in full (see Romans 8:18). In this introductory statement he is saying, "We rejoice in hop of the glory of God". We have hope that some day we are going to have the glory of God and because of the hope, we rejoice!
What is the glory of God? To put it simply: the glory of God is the likeness of God. God's glory is what God is in character, in essential power, and in external appearance. That is the glory of God. Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus Christ is the brightness of His glory, and that word "brightness"means "outshining." Jesus Christ is the outshining of God's glory; He is the image of God's glory.
Paul means our hope is to be like Jesus Christ in every respect. As he says, "Whom He did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son" (Romans 8:29).
When we have the image of Christ, then we shall have the glory of God. Glorification for the Christian is putting on to the full the likeness of God Himself as it is revealed in Jesus Christ. That is "the hope of the glory of God," a wonderful hope! The apostle says we rejoice in it! You know the hopes of men - oh, how they fail! But here is something that cannot fail. Paul says we rejoice in it!
Our Rejoicing in Tribulation
"We also rejoice in tribulation." Let me emphasize the verb, we "rejoice" in them! The unbeliever is unable to do that. To the unbeliever this life is all he has. He has no prospect of joy or happiness hereafter. He doesn't even know whether there is another life. If, in this life, his joy and happiness is marred by tribulation and affliction, he is miserable, because he has lost all he had.
But it is not thus with the Christian. No matter how dark it may be, he knows the morning still comes. There is not an experience nor a tribulation, no matter how hard it is, that will take away his hope. He can actually take a tribulation, look it in the face and say, "I thank God for this! I rejoice in it!"
The King James Version reads, "We glory in tribulations," and it is commonly interpreted, "We rejoice in the midst of tribulation," that is, we rejoice in spite of tribulation. But it does not mean that "I thank God in spite of my tribulations." Paul says in effect, "I thank God for my tribulations!"
Look at the eleventh verse: "We ... rejoice in God." Does that mean we rejoice in spite of God? It means that we look at God and take pleasure in Him. Now it is the same Greek construction here: "We ... rejoice in tribulation." It means that we praise God for the things that come into our lives. You may say, "How can I do that?" There are a good many reasons why you should. "If children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (8:17). Then suffering leads mo glory. If you can rejoice in the glory of God, and suffering leads to glory, can't you glory in suffering? "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (8:18). "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Corinthians 4:17).
The text here in this fifth chapter tells us why we should rejoice in tribulation. It is because we know something: "Tribulation worketh patience" (5:3). Let us leave the patience for a moment, and dwell on the word "worketh". Tribulation works patience for us, and not merely patience but steadfastness.
Here is a principle by which you can discover the difference between a true child of God and one who is just a professed child of God. It is by the effect that tribulation has on him. In the life of a true child of God, tribulation brings him close to God, makes him steadfast, makes him patient. There is another sort of person. Troubles come into the life and instead of bringing him close to God, tribulation makes him hard. If tribulation comes into your life and does not make you more tender, if it does not make you love Him more, then it would be wise to examine your life in order to discover what the trouble is. In justified people, tribulation works steadfastness and patience.
~Alva J. McClain~
(continued with # 42 - "Patience Works Experience")