Saturday, July 9, 2011
COMMENTARY ON ROMANS 5: 1 – 5
(1) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (2) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (3) And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; (4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
The 5th chapter of our epistle to the Romans has one great subject — that stated in the closing verse, verse 21, “grace reigning through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord,” in other words, it takes up the topic started at verse 24 of the 3rd chapter, “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” The blessings secured by God’s method of justification, (1) “free,” (2) “by God’s grace,” (3) “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” — i. e. underserved — not wrought for by man, bestowed by God in the exercise of sovereign mercy entirely on account of the ransom paid by our Lord Jesus Christ.
The first part of the chapter is employed in an enumeration and description of some of the principal blessings which are secured and conferred by God’s method of saving sinners. This Scripture brings out strongly that these blessings are bestowed entirely by God gratuitously, and that they are bestowed entirely in consequence of the propitiatory sacrifice of Himself which our Lord Jesus gave as the ransom for sinners. And the first eleven verses of this chapter are but an elaboration, or conclusion, of the truth brought out in chapters 3 and 4. The two leading thoughts in these first 11 verses are: (1) God’s method of induction into the grace of salvation, (2) the happy estate of the justified. God’s method of induction is expressed in verses 1 and 2 in which a vital question is answered — “How do we get into Christ, in whom are all the blessings of salvation, each in its order?” The corresponding truth to our getting into Christ is Christ getting into us to complete that vital union with Him as He expressed Himself: “I in you . . . and you in me” (John 15:4). The two truths referred to in this union are — (1) Justification through faith, or we into Christ. (2) Regeneration by the Holy Ghost, or Christ into us. Concerning this truth of “Christ into us” through regeneration see 2 Cor. 3:3; 2 Cor. 4:6; Col. 1:17. Concerning the truth that we are “into Christ” by faith as given us by Him see John 3:14-15; 1 John 5:1; John 1:12-13; Gal. 3:26.
The Campbellites (in our day known as The Church of Christ organization) put forth deadly error as their method of induction into Christ, for their whole “gospel” is that it is by baptism, which they base on a false interpretation of Gal. 3:27. The Roman Catholic theory of induction of Christ into us is through eating the Lord’s Supper, as they totally misapply 1 Cor. 11:24 and John 6:53 for their false conclusion. This is nothing but double heresy practiced by these two organizations, salvation by ordinances, i. e., salvation by water and material bread. The truth of these misapplied Scriptures is that there is a double method of induction, viz.: We into Christ by God-given faith and Christ into us by Holy Spirit regeneration, symbolized in the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
The elements of the happy state of the justified named here in the first 11 verses are: (1) Peace with God. (2) Joy in hope of the glory of God. (3) Joy in tribulation, because of the series of fruits which follows. (4) The gift of the Holy Ghost. (5) The love of God shed abroad in our hearts, by the given Holy Ghost. (6) The assurance that the justified shall be saved from the wrath to come, because; [a.] If reconciled, when enemies, much more will He continue salvation to His friends. [b.] If reconciled through His death much more will He, alive and on His throne, deliver us from future wrath. (7) Joy in God the Father, through whose Son we receive the reconciliation.
Verse 1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We “who believe in God, who raised up Jesus Christ our Lord from the dead, who was given for our offences, and raised again for our justification,” have faith “reckoned to us for justification.” We are “justified;” our sins are pardoned; and we are treated as righteous on the ground of “the redemption,” or ransom, which was paid when Jesus Christ was delivered as propitiatory sacrifice for our offences; and which was provided to be complete and acceptable when He was raised from the dead by the mighty power of God. There is absolutely nothing done by the sinner, but much received by him; and on the part of God, what is there but an act of sovereign kindness, harmonized with righteousness by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
The idea of “justification” may be viewed in several different ways. It may be spoken of as existing for the children of God from eternity because they have been elected, eternally chosen unto righteousness in our Lord Jesus (Eph. 1:3-5). Again justification may be spoken of as taking place upon the Cross because there Christ actually met the debt of sin and fulfilled all righteousness (2 Cor. ). But when we speak of justification as a phase in the process of salvation, however, the Scripture presents to us that blessed experience which comes to the elect sinner whenever he stands in the awareness that he has become completely guiltless for all his sins before the presence of a Holy God. What it means to be justified by faith is made clear in the following Scriptures: Psa. 32:1-2; Hab. 2:4b; Acts ; Rom. ; Gal. ; Gal. 3:8. Always it is God who justifies and that, too, of free grace on the merits of Jesus Christ: Rom. ; Rom. 3:24-25; Rom. 5:9. Our Lord, in sovereign mercy, justifies the ungodly, Rom. 4:5.
As the Scripture speaks of both justification and righteousness, we must seek to understand fully what these terms imply. Though they deal with the same thing, yet they differ as to their significance. RIGHTEOUSNESS is a forensic, a juridical term that has to do with one’s state. It specifies one’s position over against the Law. It really is one’s legal status that is a result of a verdict of God. God is the Judge, and he always judges us. Judgment is not deferred unto the Day of Judgment which will be the revelation of the righteous judgment of God. No, the living God always judges. Man, in all his life and conversation, always stands in judgment. And God always passes sentence. Negatively speaking, one is righteous before God when God judges him to be without sin, in heart and walk. Positively, righteousness is the legal status of one whom God, declares to be in harmony with Himself and His Law. And we must realize that God does not judge as sinful man judges, i.e., only the external actions. But He also beholds and judges upon all that lies back of the outward deeds. Notice that it is a righteousness before God, and it is indispensable unto salvation and life. A man must be righteous to live. The sinner must be made righteous in order to be saved from the power of sin and death, for eternal life is possible only in God’s favor, and only the righteous can enjoy the favor of God. The unrighteous cannot possibly be the object of God’s favor and love, for the wrath of God abides on him (John ). And God is the only Criterion of man’s righteousness. He can be this because He alone is the absolutely righteous One. He is therefore also the perfect Judge, Who blesses the good and Who curses the evil. Moreover, the righteousness which God will bless, man by nature, since his fall, does not possess. We are all, as the Scripture says, unrighteous (Rom. ). Therefore, shall anyone become righteous in the sight of God, God Himself must make him righteous, and this is exactly what God does. There is a perfect righteousness, and He gives it freely of His grace, to the elect sinner by imputation (Rom. -24).
JUSTIFICATION, on the other hand, although it is also a forensic term, is to be distinguished from righteousness in that it is the application of righteousness. An illustration that should make this distinction clear is of a man who has been arrested and charged with murder, being accused on circumstantial evidence. But, in reality, he is perfectly innocent and is therefore righteous because he is in harmony with the law. But as far as the law is concerned, he can be acquitted and justified only when he passes before the judge to be tried. The declaration of the judge that he finds no guilt in him is his justification. When we are justified before God, therefore, He has already imputed unto us His righteousness which He prepares, and He declares us to be in a state opposite of that in which we are by nature, namely, guilty; and He positively declares us to be just, perfectly in harmony with His holy will and being. We are not now guilty and perverse, but we stand before Him as though we had never committed one sin, and that, too, according to His judgment. This is, indeed, justification before God.
Yet we now must consider what it means to be “justified by faith.” The faith of which the Scripture speaks here must be understood as true, SAVING FAITH. It is the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Prophet, Priest, and King. This faith is a complete going out of ourselves into a living bond with our Precious Lord Christ. Strictly speaking, it is a God-given power, a gift of grace, wrought in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whereby our soul, our mind and will clings to the Lord Jesus, becomes one plant with Him, and out of Him draws all the spiritual blessings of salvation, righteousness and life. To savingly believe in Christ means that we know Him as a living reality. This is not a mere theoretical knowledge of the intellect, much in the same way we know about George Washington; but with a true, spiritual knowledge of the heart. So many in Christendom know all about Christ, and the doctrines of Scripture, without having the spiritual knowledge of faith whereby they can appropriate Him. We do not minimize intellectual knowledge for we can never know enough about our Lord. The more we know about Him, if we also possess the true knowledge of faith, the better we will know Him. But mere intellectual knowledge is insufficient, yea, it is damning. True saving faith experientially knows our Lord Jesus Christ in all the riches of His grace. It receives Him, spiritually eats and drinks Him, and knowing Him, we trust Him. We know that He died for our sins, and that God raised Him from the dead for our justification. And on our Precious Christ, we rely with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength; for time and eternity, now and in the Day of Judgment. Christ becomes our all in all, “the fairest of ten thousands to our souls.”
As a power, faith is given to us in regeneration, the moment we are born again from above. As an activity, faith is brought to consciousness in us by the powerful preaching of the Gospel. Faith is God’s instrument in as far as it is the bond which makes us one with Christ, and He speaks thereby to us in our own consciousness of justification, setting us free also before the bar of our own conscience. Faith is a means only in as far as we now, by an operation of the Holy Spirit and the Word, are able to appropriate and receive the righteousness of God in Christ. This should eliminate the many false conceptions that are so abundant in professing religion as to the grounds of our justification. We are not justified before God because we believe. Faith is never the ground for our justification. Faith, as far as righteousness is concerned, always receives, it never gives; and it never adds anything to our righteousness. It has nothing in or of itself. Faith never asks us to look to ourselves to find any ground of hope for our salvation, but it always looks toward, reaches out for, and embraces Christ. Neither is it true that faith is the condition upon which God justifies us, for there are no conditions in God’s Covenant. All the benefits of grace are of God and are given to us unconditionally in Christ. True faith is an act of God, and a gracious benefit given to us sinners. Neither is faith our means whereby we receive Christ and His righteousness. It is often presented as such in our religious organizations today. It is presented as the hand that grasps Christ, but, in reality, faith is God’s means to raise our hand to grasp Christ. Faith is our activity only after God has first given us the power, and He stirs up that power by His Spirit and Word into a conscious living reality in us.
It is said by many preachers and religious leaders that every man has faith inherent in him. Charismatic leader Oral Roberts made this very boast in his ignorance of that Scripture “according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith “ (Rom. 12:3) by applying it to all mankind, when clearly it applies to the saints, and saints only (Rom. 1:7). This poor deceived man has evidently not read “for all men have not faith” (2 Thes. 3:2), nor does he seem to be aware of the deep depravity and inability of fallen man, nor does he seem to know the Scripture teaches plainly that faith is a gift of God and that God is sovereign in working, by the Holy Ghost, in the hearts of poor sinners. Mr. Roberts’ faith theory is not so. Of ourselves we have no faith, nor does any man, and therefore no means whereby to be justified. Saving faith is never inherent in us. And faith is never the means whereby we produce good works which will serve as the grounds of our justification. No where in Scripture do we read that God justifies us because of the works of faith. No more than we can be justified by the works of the Law, can we be justified by the works of faith which we perform. We are justified, as we are saved, out of pure grace.
The only ground of our justification therefore is the sovereign, free grace of God. God of mere grace justifies us, and that, too, on the only ground of the perfect and complete work of Christ Jesus, our Lord. Christ is our righteousness, from beginning to end. And being united to Christ by faith, we are righteous as He is righteous. His perfect satisfaction in the Cross of Calvary is imputed to us. And before God we are righteous because He raised Christ Jesus from the dead as proof. So we have the experience of being justified by faith.
Having, in the preceding chapters, established the doctrine of justification, Paul proceeds to mention, in the opening of this 5th chapter, some of the fruits which spring from God justifying a sinner. The first is “peace with God.” Therefore, being justified by faith, we “have peace with God.” We speak of this first as an objective fact, a relation to the Lawgiver — that relation which arises from the expiation of sin and consequent justification. God is the enemy of the natural man, and man the sinner is the object of the holy disapprobation, the subject of the just sentence of condemnation of God. And on the other hand, man the sinner is the enemy of God; “an enemy in his mind by wicked works,” set in opposition to God’s holy and benignant purposes. But, being justified by believing, the state of war becomes a state of peace — God is pacified, and the sinner is reconciled: and this “through our Lord Jesus Christ,” who was given for our offences, and raised again for our justification. A Holy God no longer regards His elect as enemies, who in Christ are now the objects of His favor. It means that the sword of Divine justice, which smote our Shepherd (Zech. 13:7), is now forever sheathed. With that propitiatory sacrifice, which was the divinely appointed and every way suitable ransom for the elect, God is well pleased: and through that propitiatory sacrifice, He is well pleased with every true believing sinner who places all his hope in Christ — in His atonement or reconciliation. God was angry; but His anger is turned away. The sinner’s happiness was opposed to the ends of our Lord’s holy government: it is no longer. God is just in justifying him; and the same ransom, revealed in the sinner’s heart by the power of the Holy Ghost, destroys the enmity of that sinner’s heart. God and the believing sinner are then at one, joined in vital union. And the sinner is simply a receiver; God is a gracious Bestower; and it is all entirely through our Lord Jesus Christ, as the propitiatory ransom, that sinners thus receive, and God bestows peace.
But there is also the subjective experience within the believer of this “peace with God.” Being justified through the God-given gift of faith, which is a fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the fruit of peace is also wrought within by the Spirit (Gal 5:22). Inward peace always accompanies true faith, “The God of hope fill you with all peace in believing, that you may abound in hope through the Holy Ghost” (Rom. ). The power of the Holy Ghost is not only extended to our hope, but to our peace also in believing. Christ said, “I will give you the Comforter:” and what then? What follows that grant? “Peace,” saith He, “I leave with you; my peace I give unto you.” And He gives His elect His peace, by bestowing the Comforter upon them. The peace with God is the peace of Christ which consists in the soul’s sense of its acceptation with God in friendship. Christ is said to be “our peace,” by slaying the enmity between God and us, and in taking away the handwriting against us. A comfort of persuasion of our acceptation with God in Christ is the bottom of this peace; it includes deliverance from eternal wrath, hatred, curse, condemnation — all sweetly affecting the soul and conscience.
True spiritual peace is: (1) Ordained by the Lord God, “Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us” (Isa. 26:12) — ordained in Covenant purpose, to be bestowed upon those who are by nature enemies to God, — by the impartation to them of Covenant grace, in the day of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18). (2) True spiritual peace is the gift of the Holy Son of God (John ), and His is His legacy to His troubled disciples. Just as He is the Lord our Righteousness, He is the peace (Micah 5:5; Isa. 9:6), and those who have Him have peace. To be without Christ is to be without peace with God, and therefore an enemy. (3) True peace is the fruit of the Holy Ghost (Gal 5:22); and it is communicated and maintained by Him, through the application of the Blood of Atonement, removing guilt from the conscience, and softening the heart (Eph. 2:14-15). The peace with God, yea, peace of God, is enjoyed by true faith, both as an objective fact and subjective experience. (4) Justification by the grace of God is the cause of true peace. God justifies the sinner and, thus, clears us from the condemnation as well as every stain of sin; and so removing the sin, its guilt, and its penalty, He takes away everything that stands between our souls and our God. “And the work of righteousness shall be peace” (Isa. 32:17a). (5) The nature of this peace is “quietness and assurance for ever” (Isa.32:17b). It is complete reconciliation with God (2 Cor. ) and it “passeth all understanding” (Phil. 4:7).
Verse 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. The 2nd fruit springing from justification — and, Oh, the vast importance of it! — is true “access to God.” In Adam we are as far away from God as sin and Satan could bring us; but our Blessed Saviour would not leave us there. In Christ we are as near to God as sovereign love could make us and it was there that our most precious Surety pledged to bring us. In saving sinners, our Precious Saviour, takes us by the hand and by the heart, arrays us in His glorious perfections, and introduces us to the Majesty of Heaven — to His Father and ours. In His sufferings He accomplished this: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter ). He is THE WAY, the only way, as He tells us Himself that there is no other way into God’s presence (John 14:6). This “access to God” is more than peace with God. It indicates not only a state of security from God, but a state of intimate and endearing friendship with Him. The justified sinner is not only freed from all hazard arising from God’s righteous displeasure, but as an object of His peculiar favor and everlasting love, is admitted to dwell in His presence, to enjoy the Fatherly love of his Heavenly Father. It is Christ “by whom” we have this access “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to God” (Eph. ). “By whom!” yes, Blessed Lord, Thou hast redeemed us from Hell, death, and sin, and dost cleanse us from all our uncleanness with Thy most precious blood, clothe us in Thy richest and most perfect robe of righteousness, sustain us by Thy sweet intercession, and bring us into the banqueting house of eternal love. Christ by the power of His Spirit and the preciousness of His truth which the Father entrusted to Him for our spiritual teaching, brings us to God, while the broken hearted confession flows from our heart and lips, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in Thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called Thy son” (Luke 15:21). By the merits of the Lord Jesus we are “made accepted in the beloved” (Eph. 1:6), even “in Him, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sin;” and this is all “according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7).
This access to God the justified sinner enjoys by faith in reference to “this grace” — the grace which reigns through righteousness (vs. 21), or the manifestation of that grace in this gracious economy — the righteousness of God (1 John ). It is “precious faith in the righteousness of our God and Saviour” (2 Peter 1:1) — in the truth respecting God’s method of justification, that enables the sinner, through the new and living way, to draw near with a broken spirit and contrite heart, with God-given confidence, having his heart sprinkled with the blood of the propitiatory sacrifice by which atonement was made. This grace is not only of justification, but of freedom from sin, deliverance from death, peace with God, and oneness with Christ in His so great salvation, anointing and sovereignty. This grace is not only brought home to the poor sinner’s heart with living power by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, but we are brought into this grace. Here the favored sinner, the privileged saint, enjoys real, heartfelt communion and spiritual intercourse with the Majesty on high. O what condescension for our Lord Jesus to come and carry worms into the presence, the home, the heart of the glorious Three-in-One.
O what a stupendous mercy we have as in “this grace wherein we stand.” By grace we stand, and to stand is equivalent to preserve in, to maintain. The state of grace into which the Lord brings true believers is one “in which we stand” — continue — stand by faith — continue in by continued believing. By grace the redeemed of the Lord joy in “the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand” (1 Cor. 15:1) — which is secured by the continued influences of the Holy Ghost Who first lead us to believe, which the Saviour perfected by His sufferings, has shed forth on us, and will continue to impart to us. It is our relation to the good Shepherd, our being “in His hands,” His property, under His care, that secures us. Unceasingly safe and secure are all the favored sinners whom our Lord Jesus Christ introduces into this grace. We stand by His keeping in humble confidence “of this very thing, that he who has begun the good work, will perform it” (Phil. 1:6).
In the 3rd fruit springing from justification, all the justified “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” “Hope” is an effect of those workings of the Holy Ghost in us and towards us, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 15:13). This is the effect of the Holy Ghost upon the hearts of believers and from it springs the branches, in exultation, of assurance, boldness, confidence, expectation, glorying. The influence of this hope is all grounded on redemption in Christ Jesus. The saints of God are distinguished by the possession of a peculiar hope — they have this hope wrought in them. It is the hope of eternal salvation, the hope of being like Christ (Psa. ; 1 John 3:1-3). The hope of beholding His glory as a joint heir will produce joy. There can be no true joy without this hope. It is the “hope of salvation” (1 Thes. 5:8); that is, deliverance from evil, both physical and moral, in all its forms and degrees, forever. It is “the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7); that is, not merely of immortal existence, but of an eternity of true life with the Three-in-One, true happiness. It is “the hope of the glory of God,” or the approbation of God. Men have sinned and lost God’s approbation. They are not, and cannot be, the objects of His approbation. They are the objects of His judicial displeasure, of His deep moral disapprobation. Sinful, blind, God hating mankind fail to see that this is the sum and substance of their misery; and the removal of this, and restoration to our Lord’s favor, are absolutely necessary, and this alone will make a poor sinner happy. The hope of the saints is a hope that we shall ultimately be just what God would have us to be, perfectly holy, perfectly happy, in intimate relation, in complete conformity, to our God; that the eye of our Father in Heaven shall yet rest upon us with entire moral complacency, and His word pronounce us, as a part of His completed new creation, very good.
“Hope” is a grace of the Holy Ghost which is imparted to a regenerated sinner’s heart by the application of the Gospel. In Scripture “hope” always respects something future, and signifies far more than a mere wish that it may be realized. It sets forth a confident “expectation that it will be realized (Psa. 16:9). We point out 6 things in regard to this hope.  The great need of hope for the application of God’s Holy Law works self despair in the sinner, and, sin produces despair, Satan drives to despair, insurmountable difficulties cause despair, and deep sorrow soon leads to despair. With so much to cause such deep despair and dejection, the poor sinner convinced of sin, and the broken saint sunk in sorrow, needs hope to keep them from utterly sinking.  The Source of hope is in God (Psa. 39:7). He is the “God of Hope.” It is His gift and He communicates it in regenerating the soul. It is an accomplishment of eternal life, and it cannot fail, being an anchor to the soul both sure and steadfast (Heb. ).  The Foundation of hope is the precious blood and perfect righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. ). This is the only foundation revealed in God’s Holy Word (Isa. 28:16).  The Object of hope, the thing expected (Rom. ), is future blessings revealed in the Promises of God. The trustworthiness of God’s promises, as He is the One looked to: “O Lord, the hope of
” (Jer. ; 50:7) is sure. “Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel , according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promises” (1 Kings ). They are sufficient ground for hope and prayer, for they are backed by God’s oath (Heb. -20); Fulfilled on schedule (Acts 7:6, 17; Gal. 4:4); Centered in Christ (2 Cor. ); Confirmed by Christ ( Israel 15:8).  The trial of hope always follows its creation in the soul by a promise tried or any other way. Hope is tried by being deferred (Prov. ), and by everything going against it, which necessitates a “hoping against hope.”  The Consciousness of hope is certain (Heb. ), at God’s appointed time, for which we have to patiently wait: “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry” (Hab. 2:3). Rom.
The believing, justified sinner rejoices “in hope of the glory of God.” “The glory of God” seems here to mean, as it did in Romans , the approbation, or official approval, of God. The reference is to the Heavenly state; but it is to that as a state of perfect conformity to the will and image of God. The ultimate object of the believer’s hope is to be, in character, conduct, and condition, just what God would have us to be. This the regenerate sinner hopes for, seeing God has promised it; and he knows that by the atonement of His Son, the mighty working of His Spirit, and the instrumentality of His Word and Providence, He is carrying forward such a transformation, which He will perfect in the Day of the Lord; and in this hope the believer rejoices, glories, exults. Amid a deep sense of deficiency and fault, it fills the saint with unutterable gladness, to think that he will one day be “unblamable and unreproveable” in His presence, and be as holy and happy as the infinitely Holy and good God could desire him to be. So we “rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” that is, of the glory we expect to receive from our gracious God. David Brown comments, “The meaning is, that as our gratuitous justification gives to us who believe present peace with God, so it secures our future glory, the assured prospect of which begets as triumphant a spirit as if it were a present possession.” This future manifestation of God’s glory is the consummation of His eternal purpose, which includes the glorification of His people in Christ (2 Cor. ; Phil. ; Col. 3:4; 2 Thes. ; 1 John 3:2). The redeemed are renewed in order that man’s chief end might be realized, which is “to glorify God and to enjoy Him for ever” (1 Cor. ; Rom. ).
Following is an extensive quote of the esteemed pastor Thomas Bradbury: “When blessed with the sweet enjoyment of our standing before our God and Father in the Beloved, with every needful want supplied, and every needful blessing given, do we not long to sit down with the whole family in our Father’s house, up yonder? Ay, indeed we do! . . . We hope for the glory of God, and for God in His glory. He will give grace and glory. Nothing short of the experience of a good hope through grace can make a way worn pilgrim’s heart rejoice. This hope entereth into that within the veil and delights in the knowledge of secrets hidden by the Father from the world. While the proud professor and the babe in grace may be glorying in the things that are seen, the experienced saint rejoices because his name is written in Heaven (Luke ). Peter knew something of this when he wrote, ‘Whom having not seen ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls’ (1 Peter 1:8-9).
“Here I would delight in the ability to lead my dear fellow pilgrims to the Hope of Israel in whom alone true and unfading joys are found. In Him, by faith, and hope, and love, we come ‘to the spirits of just men made perfect’ (Heb. ). Yes, we are privileged to commune with the blessed ones who have through grace followed their Leader to His eternal joy . . . Jesus has full possession of your hearts. Stores of Covenant blessings and spiritual privileges are treasured up for thee, O child of God, in thy Covenant Head. Jesus is thine! He daily leads thee by the hand. He holds for thee all needful grace — He brings thee to thy Father’s house — He draws thee to His loving heart — He keeps thy feet, thou canst not fall — He cheers thy soul with His sweet love — He prays for thee, thy faith fails not — He comforts thee, thy hope revives — His love is thine, thy love to Him though weak shall never die.
“He is thy prophet to teach thee — thy Priest to bless thee — thy King to govern thee. By-and- bye He will come and take thee to the glory which the Father gave to Him for thee before the worlds were made.”
Verse 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulation also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience. The 4th fruit springing from justification is “glorying in tribulation,” a fruit of true faith, for as John Calvin says, “this is not the natural effect of tribulation, which, as we see, provokes a great part of mankind to murmur against God, and even to curse Him.” It is only the knowledge that these tribulations are the appointment of our Heavenly Father, which enables the saints of God to rejoice in them, even in tribulations, trials and afflictions (James 1:2; 3:2; 2 Cor. 12:10). In themselves these difficulties are evil, grievous and not joyous (Heb. 12:6; Rev. 3:19), and we do not rejoice in the suffering, not the trial itself, but we rejoice in the effect of the trial. The word “tribulation” means being pressed down and trials are worked by God in the saints to press down the soul and thresh out the chaff. The Lord’s people have many tribulations, for written in large letters on the strait gate is, “We must through much tribulation enter into the
” (Acts ). There is no short cut to glory. The Scripture emphasizes everywhere that true believers must always prefer suffering to fellowship with the world, and in this very suffering we have abundant reasons to rejoice. Some of our trials are outward, as persecution, oppression, scorn, contempt, contumely; these result from the position of the true Church in the world, as a witness for Christ; the Church suffers them as one with her suffering Head. “If the world hate you ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John -19). But our chief troubles are inward, and arise from the assaults of Satan, powerful temptations, the guilt of sin laid on the conscience, doubts and fears about our interest in Christ, distressing suggestions, and a daily, hourly conflict with a nature ever lusting to evil. “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations,” James exhorts us (James 1:2). “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye: for the spirit of glory and of God restest upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified” (1 Pet. ). And our Lord Christ teaches us, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake” (Matt. -11). And so the Scriptures admonishes us that we should be faithful even unto death, that we may obtain the crown of life Rev. 2:10). The believer must follow the path marked out for us by our Saviour, for the Cross always precedes the Crown (Phil. -30). All of our trials are appointed by God, our Father, they are weighed out and timed by His special appointment (Job 5:6), and are for His glory and our good (Rom. ; Heb. 12:9-11; Psa. 119:71). In the words of the puritan George Swinnock, “Peace with God hath such a sweetening property, that it will make the bitter portion pleasant. They need not fear the saddest fits, whoever carries this rich cordial about them; what dangers and deaths may not they look in the face who have a reconciled God to countenance and encourage them.” The apostles did “glory in tribulations” when they departed from the presence of the Jewish council “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name: (Acts ). It is strikingly stated, when suffering for Christ is represented to the Philippian saints as a privilege, on the possession of which the apostle congratulates them, “Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ to suffer for His sake” (Phil. ). It is, as a gift of grace, given us, in the behalf of Christ, to suffer for His sake. The apostle contrasts his own feelings in the matter of suffering for his Lord with the Judaising teachers. While they were afraid and ashamed of bearing the Cross after Christ, Paul counted this his highest honor; and through the means of theses sufferings he rejoiced that the world was crucified to him — the pleasures, and honors, and riches of the world had become, in his estimation, things contemptible and valueless; and, on the other hand, these sufferings had made him an object of contempt and dislike to the men of the world (1 Cor. 4:9). Kingdom of God
These sufferings, tribulations, and afflictions of the Lord’s children are all loving allotments from their gracious Father’s hand, and that to bring them nearer and nearer unto Himself. All the true saints of God know of a truth that the hard things He has shown us, causing unpleasantness and pain, are teachers of His own appointment. They are brought to us in His wisdom and prudence, and over time prove to be His antidotes to our petulance and pride. Predestined afflictions are healthful incentives. “Come and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn us, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up” (Hosea 6:1) shows the effect upon the wayward and rebellious. Listen to Eliphaz’s utterance to Job: “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth; therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: for He maketh sore, and bindeth up; He woundeth and His hands make whole” (Job -18). Robert Hawker said, “That no trial to His people can arise which He knew not, nay, which He appointed not, and for which He hath not made a suitable provision. Well then, what trouble of thine can be so great, as to counteract and overcome Divine strength? What burden so heavy, that Jesus cannot bear? What afflictions so painful that Jesus cannot soften? What grief so scorching, as to dry up the streams of God’s love?”
To suffer with Christ is a great blessing. Being made conscious that we are deemed worthy, with all the dear old saints of God, to suffer in His behalf and for righteousness’ sake, — melts our hearts, while at the same time, brings us great joy and deep peace. Also, we reap the present fruit in the way of this suffering: for tribulation worketh patience, and patience, true experience, and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed. Lastly, there is at the end of this road of suffering for Christ’s sake, the crown of life, the glory with Christ! And the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with that glory.
“Tribulation worketh patience” and perseverance. “Patience” here is not to be understood in its usual acceptation, as signifying meekness and quietness of disposition, for the spiritual meaning of this word, here and elsewhere, is endurance. There are 2 different words in the Greek translated “patience;” the one used in James 5:11 means a quiet suffering disposition. The other Greek word, used here, means endurance, as we see also in James 5:11: “Behold, we count them happy. Ye have heard of the patience of Job;” or the endurance of Job, the 2 words being the same. In his trials Job was peevish and fretful; but they wrought endurance. Tribulations, however severe, they do not, as in the case of the false professor, lead to apostasy; they make us, if we be true believers, hold the faster by our Saviour, and by the God-given faith which makes Him known to us. All the hardships or hindrances in the Christian life produce a steadfastness and endurance and makes the real Christian take deeper roots in Christ and become more firmly established in Him. Endurance, in the Scriptural sense, implies submission to our Lord’s will. By means of the trials which faith encounters and the disciplines of daily life, we are taught humble submission to God and, notwithstanding obstacles and failures, to preserve in the path of duty. Our souls are brought to endure in silence and resignation the afflicting strokes of God’s hand. In patience we are brought to see in our trials the hand of God, and tribulations continue to work in us and produce submission to Him. Patience is to be content and wait upon the Lord (Heb. 13:5; Psa. 27:13-14). It is the opposite of covetousness, complaining, and haste.
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4). Temptations or trials try faith; and, “the trying of faith worketh patience” — the exact expression Paul uses, but “patience” must have its perfect work; that is, must be completely wrought out in the soul, and brought out in its real character. Tribulation thus “worketh patience,” sustains it, and is united to it.
Verse 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope. Patience worketh experience. The word “experience” here does not mean experience in the usual sense of the term; that is, the whole work of God in the soul. Here it means a special experience of the power, wisdom and grace of God in and under tribulation. The word “experience” literally means “proof,” and therefore signifies the proof that the soul has of the goodness of God in and under trial and affliction. And this patience, this perseverance, “works” — leads to — “experience,” that is trial or proof — or maturity of character and proof of genuine faith. Trials do not produce faith, but they prove the reality of our faith; they prove that we really possess the faith that we profess, and that our faith is that faith that overcomes the world. Actually these trials may detect and expose a hypocrite, harden his heart and cause him to give up his profession. But the true faith of a saint is made stronger by trials. With the apostle we glory in afflictions because it calls into exercise the Christian grace of endurance (2 Cor. 12:9). Our affliction calls into exercise that strength and firmness evinced in patient endurance of suffering, and in perseverance in fidelity to truth and duty under the most severe trials. And this experience leads to “hope,” increased hope, as we prove God and ourselves, our hope, instead of diminishing, grows stronger. As the genuineness of our faith is manifest and confirmed by trial, and as we grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Christ, our hope of enjoying the glory promised in Him is strengthened. Steadfastness, under these trials, provides the Christian with subjective evidence of their own sincerity. True Christian character is proved by patience in tribulation, which in turn shows that that he does not have a delusory hope (1 Peter 1:7). The present trials of the believer must be viewed in light of their eternal sequel (1 Peter -13).
On the phrase “experience worketh hope” we give the words of the godly William Mason: “We first experience God’s power, in effectual calling, and then His love, in keeping us close to Himself, and obedient to His will. So we enjoy peace from Him, and our hearts are cheerfully devoted to Him. But, how oft doth the believing soul find coolness of affection, heaviness of heart, and dejection of mind? Doth not this destroy his hope? No: even this experience, sad as it seems, worketh hope. Hereby pride and self-confidence are slain — sin embittered — the soul humbled at the feet of Jesus, with ‘Thou, even Thou alone art my hope — I dare not trust in any other — my soul shall make her boast of Thee, and Thee only.’ We have the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves: And the more we live upon, and trust in the Lord, so shall we experience hope spring up, love flourish, and holiness abound. Praised be the Lord our God, who is ‘the God of hope, and who fills us with all joy and peace in believing that we may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost’ Rom. 15:13.”
“Experience worketh hope,” but what hope? Not hope in the general, but hope in the particular; that is, a hope connected with experience, as experience is connected with patience, and patience with tribulation. This is not so much “a good hope through grace” generally, as a special hope, connected with the experience gained through patience. This hope is wrought in the soul by the Holy Ghost for weary, way-worn pilgrims, for it is made by God’s own hand out of “the preparation of the gospel of peace,” with which he is shod from the armory of God. See how this feeling of hope was wrought in the Apostle Paul’s soul. He writes to the Corinthian Church; “We would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life. But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God, who raiseth the dead” (2 Cor. 1:8-9). But let us take note, after he was slain to all creature hope, how our Lord stepped in: “Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver.” Now comes his hope, his trust: “in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us” (verse 10). First there was a heavy trial, which overwhelmed his soul almost in despair; this crushed out all creature trust. Trust wholly and only in God followed; then came deliverance; upon this followed hope for the future — that He who had delivered in the past, and was delivering in the present, would also deliver for the future.
Dear reader, has tribulation bowed your soul down, and was submission given to endure it? Did any sweet experience come into your heart; an experience of the mercy, goodness and love of God in tribulation? And did there spring out of this a sweet, childlike, blessed hope in the mercy of God, of an interest in the precious blood of Christ, and that the Lord would support you through every trial, and eventually set you before His face in eternal glory?
Verse 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. The main reason why this “hope maketh not ashamed” is because the love of God is shed in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. Thus we see how love, hope, experience, patience, and tribulation are all joined together. The saints of God are sustained under present trials by this hope and it gives us a bold profession of truth in our daily walk. By God’s grace we possess a good hope in Christ that is never ashamed (for in Him we are perfected), nor shall we ever be put to shame. A vain hope and a false profession will always fail, and prove to be empty and result in eternal loss (Rom. ; ).
That it is “the love of God” to us, and not our love to God, which is here put before us is beyond question. It certainly is not our love for God that gives us a strong hope and comfort (although the grace and fruit of love for God and others is produced in us by His Spirit), but the Holy Ghost reveals to us God’s love for us in Christ, and with the knowledge of that love comes the effects of it — which are peace, access to the presence of God and rejoicing in hope of eternal life (Rom. 8:35-39). Note: we shall have much more to say on the love of God for us at Romans 8:35-39.
An apprehension of the love of Christ, as dying for us ungodly sinners, is that which “is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.” When the Holy Ghost gives us a due apprehension of Christ’s love in dying for us, ungodly sinners as we are, then is His love shed abroad in our hearts. The Spirit led apostle proceeds to show how great this love is, in that Christ died (vs. 6-8). He died, not for good men, and righteous men, or for friends; but He died for the ungodly, for sinners, and for enemies. This was great love indeed. O, let us be melted before Him for that love of Christ wherewith He gave Himself to death for us when we were enemies, and would have continued so to eternity, had He not loved us, and given Himself for us. May this truth be shed abroad in our hearts in a felt sense of them — in a spiritual apprehension of them. “Shed abroad” is the same word that is used concerning the Comforter being given us (Titus 3:6). God sheds Him abundantly, or pours Him on us; so He sheds abroad, or pours out the love of God in our hearts. The Comforter gives a sweet and plentiful evidence and persuasion of the love of God to us, such as the soul is taken, delighted, satiated withal. This is His work and He does it effectually. To give a poor sinful sinner a comfortable persuasion, affecting it throughout, in all its faculties and affections, that God in the Lord Jesus Christ loves him, delights in him, is well pleased with him, has thoughts of tenderness and kindness towards him; to give a soul such an overflowing sense hereof, is unspeakable love and inexpressible mercy. It is the special work of the Holy Ghost to apply all the benefits of God’s love and Christ’s redemption to those for whom the Saviour suffered. The elect sinners are wooed and won, brought to a feeling knowledge of God’s love by the work of the Holy Ghost revealing it in our hearts and enabling us to believe it.
George Smeaton said: “These words intimate that the Holy Ghost as a Divine Agent does a certain work; that He is given according to a Divine economy; and that through His aid the redeeming love in God’s heart is shed abroad in our hearts, tasted and enjoyed, not only in the first stages of the Christian’s experience, but ever afterwards. It intimates that the Holy Ghost sheds abroad God’s boundless, free, unchanging love in our hearts, and that He is, given to believers as a perpetually indwelling guest — reminding the Christian of reconciliation, supplying the constant experience of the Divine love, and assuring him of its perpetuity as a gift never to be forfeited.”
The “love of God” is that especial affection that He bears to His elect people (1 John ). All that He loved, in eternity, come to love Him, by regeneration. This love implies His absolute purpose and will to deliver, bless, and saved His people. The love of God to His people appears in His all-wise designs and plans for their happiness (Eph. -11). It is shown in the choice of them, and determination to sanctify and glorify them, (2 Thes. ). His love is vividly manifested in the gift of His Son to die for the elect, and redeem them from sin, death, and Hell (Rom. 5:9; John ). God’s love is again shown in the revelation of His will, and the declaration of His promises to His people (2 Peter 1:4). We see the love of God for His people in the awful punishment of their enemies (Exo. 19:4). His love speaks loudly in His actual conduct towards them; in supporting them in life, blessing them in death, and bringing them to glory (Rom. & Rom. ). The properties of this love may be considered as, (1) Everlasting, Jer. 31:3 & Eph. 1:4. (2) Immutable, Mal. 3:6 & Zeph. 3:17. (3) Free; neither the sufferings of Christ nor the merits of men are the cause, but His own good pleasure, Luke 12:32. (4) Great and unspeakable, Eph. 2:4, 6; Eph. 3:19 & Psa. 36:7.
“It is shed abroad — lit. ‘poured forth,’ i. e., copiously diffused (Cf. John ; Titus 3:6). By the Holy Ghost, which is (rather ‘was’) given to us — i. e., at the great Pentecostal effusion which is viewed as the formal donation of the Spirit to the
, for all time and for each believer. (The Holy Ghost is here first introduced in this Epistle). It is as if the apostle had said, ‘And how can this hope of glory, which as believers we cherish, put us to shame, when we feel God Himself, by His Spirit given to us, drenching our hearts in sweet, all-subduing sensations of His wondrous love to us in Christ Jesus? This leads the apostle to expiate on the amazing character of that love.” (Jameson, Fausset & Brown). Church of God
Some readers will no doubt say, “John says that God loves the world, and, world means world.” True, but world does not mean everybody, or all mankind. It means the elect world as opposed to the reprobate world. “Esau have I hated” (Rom. ). We shall deal with this thoroughly when we reach of the epistle. We ask the reader to consult the extensive quote of E. G. Cook in the “Worthy Doctrinal and Spiritual Notes and Quotes” section below. It is at verse 5 under “God so loved the world.”
Worthy Doctrinal and Spiritual Notes and Quotes on Romans 5:1-5.
Verse 1. Faith in its first act discovers at once with one eye a man to be poor and ungodly, and with the other looks up to Christ’s riches, to Him that justifies the ungodly. So hungering and thirsting after Christ’s righteousness doth imply faith as the bottom of it, for none can so hunger truly but he that sees the true worth and preciousness of Christ. Unto them that believe only is Christ precious. — Thomas Goodwin (1600-1680).
It is the general doctrine of all Orthodox divines, viz., that actual faith is never wrought in the soul, till, beside the supernatural illumination of the mind, the will be also first freed in part from its natural perverseness, (God making all men of unwilling, willing,) hereupon he concludes that this is done by the spirit of sanctification, and one supernatural quality of holiness universally infused in all the powers of the soul at once, so that the Spirit instantly sanctifies us and puts life in us; then it acts in sorrow for, and detestation of, sin; and so we come actually to believe. — Thomas Shepard (1605-1649).
When a child of God wants peace, he can have no peace till God speaks it. — Thomas Goodwin (1600-1680).
“The God of peace” declares what He is paternally, namely, the Giver of peace to His children. Before the foundation of the world God ordained there should be mutual peace between Himself and His people. As the immediate result of Christ’s mediatorial work peace was made with God and provided for His people. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
Suppose you have inward graces and good qualifications, the best of these will not give conscience peace when God awakens it. I shall suppose you have faith; well, but have you not unbelief also, and more unbelief than faith? And may not conscience condemn you for that, as Christ did His disciples, “How is it that ye have no faith?” while you carry in many cases as if you had none at all? Suppose you have repentance; yet have you not impenitency also? May not conscience condemn you many times for a hard, impenitent heart; so hardened from God’s fear, that neither the Word nor rod of God does make impression on you; yea, neither mercies nor judgments do you lay to heart as you ought? Suppose you have humility; yet is there not pride also in your heart? And may not your conscience accuse you of much self elevation and self-confidence? Suppose you have love to God; yet have you not much enmity also? and may not your conscience condemn you, “that you love not God with all your heart, with all your soul, mind, and strength;” and that your heart goes more out to the creature than the Creator, at least sometimes and in many instances? Suppose you have sincerity; yet may not conscience witness against you, that your sincerity is mixed with hypocrisy? Suppose you have zeal; yet will not conscience witness that you have too much lukewarmness? Suppose you have a fixed heart upon God, and Christ, and Heavenly things at some times; yet will not conscience accuse you of innumerable wanderings of heart? Why, then, it seems your best righteousness even of inward graces will not pacify conscience. — Ralph Erskine (1685-1752).
Verse 2. It is professedly cross to the whole current of Scripture, which saith, “We are justified by faith,” and therefore not before faith; and to say that the meaning of such phrases is, that we are justified declaratively by faith, or to our sense and feeling, is a mere device; for our justification is opposed to the state of unrighteousness and condemnation going before, which condemnation is not only declarative, and in the court of conscience, but real, and in the court of Heaven; for so saith the Scripture expressly, (John 3:18,) “He that believeth not is condemned already;” and, (verse 36,) “The wrath of God abideth on him;” and, (Gal. 3:22,) “The Scripture (which is the sentence in God’s court) hath concluded all under sin.” . . . If a man be justified before faith, then an actual unbeliever is subject to no condemnation. But this is expressly cross to the letter of the text, “He that believeth not is condemned already, (John ,) and the wrath of God doth lie upon him.” The subjects of non-condemnation are those that be in Christ by faith (
8:1,) not out of Christ by unbelief (Rom. ). There is indeed a merited justification by Christ’s death, and a virtual or exemplary justification in Christ’s resurrection, as in our Head and Surety; and both of these were before not only our faith, but our very being; but to say that we are therefore actually justified before faith, because our justification was merited before we had faith, gives us a just ground of affirming that we are actually sanctified while we are in the state of nature unsanctified, (Eph. 2:1,) because our sanctification was merited by Christ before we had any being in Him. We must indeed be made good trees by faith in Christ’s righteousness before we can bring forth any good fruits of holiness. God makes us not good trees without being in Christ by faith, no more than we are bad trees in contracting Adam’s guilt without our being first in him. God gives us first His Son (received by faith,) and then gives us all other things with Him. He doth not justify us without giving us His Son; but having first given Him, gives us this also. — Thomas Shepard (1605-1649). Rom.
Is it that grace which reigns through the Person and work of Christ? Can we say with the primitive Christians, We believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved? Are you come to a point about that most interesting and solemn affair, the salvation of your immortal soul? Is your hope of glory lively and bright, or languid and obscure? Is it such as is attended with rejoicing, as purifies the heart and conduct? Has it Christ and His finished work, together with the promise of Him that cannot lie for its everlasting support? — O, professor! Seek for certainty and satisfaction: they are to be had in the knowledge of Christ, and in the belief of His truth. If you love your soul, rest not in uncertainty about an affair of infinite consequence. You are building for eternity; be cautious, therefore, with what materials you build, and upon what foundation. A mistake in the ground of your trust will ruin your soul. Read your Bible, meditate, and pray that the Spirit of truth may direct you in the momentous concern. — Abraham Booth (1734-1806).
Has His promise inspired your soul with this precious hope? And is your heart filled with love to Him, so that you feel that He is all you have or desire in Heaven or earth? Then you will be looking for Him with greater desire than ever woman looked for her husband, and when His coming is announced, with a feeling of joy that can never be expressed, you will say, “Come.” — Gregg M. Thompson (b. 1811).
Verse 3. Troubles are blessings when they lead you to Christ, and you need not fear if He undertakes your future. — Wylie W.
(b. 1939). Fulton
Whether God come to His children with a rod or a crown; if He come Himself with it, it is well. — Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661).
Ah! Happy afflictions, that wean us from this wretched, dying world, are a means to mortify our corruption, teach us to live more constantly by faith on Jesus Christ, and to fix all our hopes and expectations on another and better world. — John Berridge (1716-1793).
How sweet must the following considerations be to a distressed believer: (1) There most certainly exists an almighty, all-wise, an infinitely gracious God. (2) He has given me in times past, and is giving me at present, if I had but eyes to see it, many and signal intimations of His love to me, both in a way of providence and grace. (3) This love of His is immutable; He never repents of it or withdraws it. (4) Whatever comes to pass in time is the result of His will from everlasting. Consequently, (5) My afflictions were a part of His original plan, and all are ordered in number, weight, and measure. (6) The very hairs of my head are every one counted by Him, nor can a single hair fall to the ground but in consequence of His determination. Hence, (7) My distresses are not the result of chance, accident, or a fortuitous combination of circumstances. But, (8) The providential accomplishments of God’s purpose. (9) They are designed to answer some wise and gracious end. Nor, (10) Shall my affliction continue a moment longer than God sees meet. (11) He who brought me to it has promised to support me under it, and to carry me through it. (12) All shall most assuredly work together for His glory and my good. Therefore, (13) The cup which my Heavenly Father hath given me to drink, shall I not drink it? Yes, I will in the strength He imparts, even rejoice in tribulation, and, using the means of possible redress which He hath, or may hereafter put into my hands, I will commit myself and the event to Him whose purpose cannot be overthrown, whose plan cannot be disconcerted, and who, whether I am resigned or not, will still go on to work all things after the counsel of His own will. — Augustus Toplady (1740-1778).
It is through great tribulation we are to enter the kingdom of heaven. In this world we have a rough and thorny road to travel; we are beset with foes without and within; we have our gloomy days and dark nights. We often feel that we are alone; there is none like us; and if we try to call up some of the bright moments we have had, when we hoped we felt the Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we were the children of God, it was to us like the manna that had spoiled; we could draw no comfort from it, but feared it was a delusion, a vain imagination. With what strong desire we would then pray for another token of good, an evidence from our Saviour that we were the objects of His love. O come, and decide this doubt for me! My misery I can never express while I remain in this wretched suspense. Am I deceived? Am I yet without hope and God in the world? In this dark moment let the still, small voice whisper in thy soul, “I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; I love thee, and will never forsake thee; thou art mine, I have redeemed thee, and thy sins and thy iniquities will I remember no more.” O sweet visit this! The soul is filled with melody and joy. Christians, do you not desire and pray for these visits, these love-feasts, along the dreary road you have to travel? Is it not your constant desire and earnest prayer, that our Lord would visit
with refreshing seasons? I know it is. But what will it be when Zion ’s wars and afflictions are all over, and she is called away from the land of sorrow by the voice of the Beloved, saying, “Behold, I am coming; and my reward is with me?” The bride will mount upon the wings of love to meet Him. O, it is the voice of my Beloved! “Come, Lord Jesus.” — Gregg M. Thompson (b. 1811). Zion
Verse 4. He who would believe, let him reconcile himself to the fact that his faith will not stay untempted. — Martin Luther (1483-1546).
For the Christian, trials and temptations are not only means for proving his faith but for improving his life. — Anonymous.
Our faith is really and truly tested only when we are brought into very severe conflicts, and when even Hell itself seems opened to swallow us up. — John Calvin (1509-1564).
Verse 5. When the Lord blesses your soul, and sheds abroad His love in your heart, you will take no credit to yourself. No. You will feel that if you had a thousand crowns you would put them all upon the head of Christ, and if you had a thousand tongues they shall all sing His praise. — William Tiptaft (1803-1864).
Notice how the Scriptures speak of “a good hope through grace;” and call it “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.” What a blessed grace must that be which thus enters into the very presence of Christ! How, too, the Word of God speaks of it as the twin sister with faith and love (1 Cor. ); and declares that it “maketh not ashamed,” because it springs out of the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost! Now we learn what a “good hope through grace” is, by being tossed up and down on the waves of despondency, and almost at times sinking into despair. Evidences so darkened, the heart so shut up, the mind so bewildered, sin so present, the Lord so absent, a nature so carnal, sensual, idolatrous, and adulterous — no wonder that amidst so many evils felt or feared, the soul should at times sink into despondency. But at such seasons the blessedness of “a good hope through grace” is found; and when this anchor is cast into and enters within the veil, taking hold of the blood and righteousness of the great High Priest, how strongly and securely it holds the ship, so that it shall not be utterly overwhelmed in the billows of despair. — J. C. Philpot (1802-1869).
The reason why a saved sinner glories in the love of Christ so much is that he is now a possessor of that love. It is not enough to hope to enter into realization of that love when we go to Heaven, but we must have some knowledge of it now! It must be wrought deeply within to be effectual. Salvation is a revelation of the love of God in Christ, and what His love has done for me personally. It is more than theory of speculation or dry doctrine, but it is a personal, vital experience. — Wylie W.
(b. 1939). Fulton
GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD. To deny that God loved the world is to deny the precious Word of God. John plainly says that He loved the world. But, on the other hand, if I affirm that God loved everybody would I not be denying other Scriptures that are just as true as John 3:16? Let me hasten to say there are no contradictions in the Scriptures . . . If you have an open mind and a receptive heart, may it please our dear Lord to bless our study of this subject together. If God has ever hated just one person among all His created creatures, can we say that He loved everybody? Then let us turn to Romans where God says, “Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated.” I know the popular teaching on this verse is that God loved Esau a little less than He loved Jacob. But this word “hated” comes from MISEO, which means to hate. It has no other meaning, so how could I make the word “hate” mean “love” to any degree? The Greeks have two words for love. Their word AGAPAO is the one used in the case of God’s Divine love. Then they have another word PHILEO which is a much weaker form. This word PHILEO expresses the love of husband and wife, or the love of parents and children. Now, if God meant to say that He loved Esau a little less than He loved Jacob, why did the Holy Spirit not use the weaker word PHILEO in regard to Esau rather than the word MISEO which always means to hate? In Psalms 5:5, the Psalmist says, “Thou hatest all workers of iniquity.” The time was when I could jump over a couple of letters in this word “workers” and make it just plain “works.” Then I could put just a little imaginary love in the word “hate” in Romans 9:13 and go on my merry way. But, when I became willing to throw all of my preconceived ideas concerning God and His precious Word in the waste basket where they belonged and let my beliefs be in accord with the Scriptures rather than trying to make the Scriptures be in accord with my beliefs, I had to go back and put the 2 letters back in the word “workers” in Psalms 5:5. And then when I looked a little closer I found there was no niche, nor cavity in the word “hated” in Romans 9:13 in which I could squeeze the least tiny bit of love. So, today, thanks be unto His Holy name, I can believe Romans and Psalms 5:5 just as they were written, and at the same time believe John 3:16.
But before I could believe these 3 Scriptures just as they were written I was forced to make a sincere word study of the word “World.” I had been giving it the meaning I wanted it to have . . . We must interpret John , or any other Scripture, in the light of other Scriptures. So we study this word “world” in the light of other Scriptures found just in John’s writings. First in John 1:10 how could the world that knew not our Lord ever include His disciples who did know Him? Then in John 1:29, if the Lamb of God took away everybody’s sin, why did Hell enlarge herself, and open her mouth without measure in Isaiah 5:14? Since a Saviour is one who saves, why is not everybody saved if the word “world” in John means everybody? Please note, it does not say that He is the potential Saviour of the world. It says He is the Saviour of the world. If the word “world” in John means everybody, how can anybody be dead in trespasses and in sins? Here we are told that He “giveth life unto the world.” . . . Could the world that hated our Lord in John 7:7 and ever include His precious saints who loved Him so much? Would you say that the world that our Lord refused to pray for in John 17:9 included the ones that He did pray for in the first part of this verse, and the others for whom He prayed for in verse 20?
There are so many other references, even in John’s writings, to prove to any open minded person that the word “world” in Scripture almost always means a certain group of people. In 1 John 5:19, for instance, “the whole world that lieth in wickedness” cannot possibly include the “we” who are of God. Our better dictionaries will give you something like 20 different meanings of the word “world.” No one seems to object such expressions as, the new world, the free world, or the religious world. And no fair minded person would dare say that the whole world in 1 John 5:19 includes everyone. So, in the light of that great array of evidence which proves beyond a doubt that the word “world” usually means only a part of the people, how can I ever again contend that John 3:16 means that God loved everybody? If God does not love everybody, does He tell us in His Word who it is that He does love? Since God is the only One competent to answer our question, let us turn to John 13:1 and listen closely as He says, “Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end.” Here He says plainly that He loves His own. I am waiting patiently for someone to give me the book, chapter and verse where He says He loves the devil’s crowd. — E. G. Cook.