God’s enemy love is a reconciling love
“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:9-11, ESV)
In these verses, Paul employs an argument from the greater to the lesser. You see much more repeated in verses 9, 10, and 11. In each case Paul says,
If God has done ________ in the past, he most certainly will do __________ in the future.
The thing in the past was the harder thing. If God has already done the harder thing in the past, then we can be confident he will do the easier thing in the future. So, let’s see what he has done.
“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood.” Talk about a hard thing. How do you make unrighteous people righteous? The only way was for Jesus to incarnate himself as one of us and live the life we couldn’t live and die a death we deserved. Was that hard? Only God could have done it.
Yet, notice that “We have now been justified by his blood” is in the past tense. “Much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” is in future tense. If he can save us from his wrath when we were unrighteous, we should be confident he can save us from his wrath and hell now that we are declared righteous.
“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:10)
Which is harder? To save enemies or to save friends? Enemies. Yet, God reconciled us while we were enemies. Now that we are reconciled, it’s no stretch to be confident that we will be saved. How? By his life. There’s debate on what that means exactly. I take it to be the fruit of the resurrection and Jesus’ ongoing life and ministry. If his death reconciled us, just think what his life must do for us! The third one doubles down on the second.
“More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:11)
If God has reconciled us in the past, then our present perspective can only be rejoicing in God through Jesus Christ. This is the joy of the gospel. This is what should make Christians the most joyous people on earth. What is the only possible response for a weak, sinful, enemy of God who finds themselves justified by God, reconciled with God, assured of eternal life with God through Jesus? Joy.
Our assurance of our future salvation is derived from our confidence in God’s past saving love. Paul is modeling the look back and the look ahead. See in the past the mind-boggling saving love of God for us when we were his enemies, and then look forward with confidence knowing that Daddy loves us so much and always will.
While this is certainly true in our eternal futures, it also applies to the daily fears and wonderings. How do we know God loves us today and tomorrow so much? How do I know God’s love can sustain me in the trials and troubles of this week? The answer is to constantly remind our hearts of God’s love when there was nothing at all about me to love. If he loved me even when I was aligned with Satan and his purposes, how much more will God’s love deliver me now that I am aligned with him as a child of God?
This is why a deep understanding of things like justification and reconciliation provides resources for sustaining us in the troubles of life. How we need to go deeper than Jesus loves me, this I know! While true and wonderful, what does it mean? What difference does it make in my life? All the difference, because the more I relish the divine exertion of power and love through the cross of Jesus, the more confident I will be that God can handle the little crosses of my life.
Football season is here. Now that football season is here, we also have the onslaught of new truck ads. I don’t know that I have ever seen a truck commercial during a televised golf tournament. But a TV football game is three hours of beer and trucks. Now here’s the thing about truck commercials; they are generally preposterous. They will show the truck off road in some desert or on some vertical mountain climb. Sometimes in fine print it says, Professional driver – do not try at home. And you see the pickup truck pulling three semis and a 747 down a lonely interstate. What possible relevance is there for the general consumer that this truck can pull three semis and a 747 simultaneously?
The psychology is this, as you watch the commercial you think, if that truck can vertically climb Mount Kilimanjaro in the ad, then I’m confident it will climb up my driveway. If it’s strong enough to pull three semis, then I’m confident it will pull our pop-up camper. If it can do the hard thing, then I’m confident it can do the easier thing.
Friends, whatever you are facing this week is nothing compared to God loving you as his enemy. Whatever you are facing next week is nothing compared to God reconciling himself to you, a sinner. Here’s the kicker, whatever future judgment day may be like, God declaring you righteous and doing it through the death of the Son of God means future resurrection and eternal life is doable. If he did the one, he most certainly can and will do the other.
So, friend go deep in the gospel. Think seriously about what God did to save you, a sinner. Let the hard thing give you confidence that neither height nor depth nor anything in all creation will be able to separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. He loves you so much!
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
© 2018 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
To hear the message of this excerpt in its entirety, click here