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GIFTS THAT FILL OUR NEEDS

Romans 5:1-11
1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a]have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we[c] also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

 6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! 10For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

 

INTRODUCTION

It could be over something as trivial as a shriveled balloon, but "No, No, I NEED it" is a common scream heard in households with toddlers, isn't it? The selfishness of "original sin" in human nature can be seen at a very early age. From early-on we exhibit feelings of our needs being threatened if some outside person or force impinges on our own control of our environment.

Growing up often doesn't change the motive, - just the scenery. "Church-hopping" is perhaps sometimes a way in which people show the anxiety that they're out of control and don't feel that the needs they perceive are being met.

God isn't blind to our true needs, though, and through His Son has ever been busy to fill those needs for us and all people - especially our spiritual needs. Through the Gospel of Christ's death and resurrection all by
itself(!) those needs are truly and fully met (as in God's dealing with St. Paul's trial in 2 Corinthians 12:9 and its context, for example), and whenever human hearts receive that Gospel in sincere faith such people are equipped for fruitful service.

The text in Romans 5 indicates that we have already received not only the basic primary need of all humanity, but several associated gifts or blessings besides! That primary need is God's very personal declaration of "justification" for each of us. That means that He regards us as being "put right with Himself" through all that Jesus Christ accomplished for us. Sometimes we may tend to forget how involved God is with us through His Son, "Immanuel," the Name that means "God WITH us"! Where Romans 5 begins is by stating that the primary need of all humanity to be put right with God has been done(!), and then it points out several additional gifts that fill our needs as well, which are:--> PEACE, HOPE and LOVE...

PEACE

Those who promote cultic ideas such as the decades-ago fad of Transcendental Meditation believe that we can put an end to distressing thought-patterns and be sedated to life's more disturbing realities. They think it's possible to forget the mess this world is in and find a sense of inner peace anyway through some meditative process. It's utterly impossible to maintain such an illusion, of course.

The peace that God gives through the fact of our already accomplished justification goes far beyond mere human feelings, though. It exists whether we feel it or not! God says it's o and made it so, no matter what miserable shape the world or our hearts may be in. And justification must come first! - Martin Luther, in observing mankind's futile quest for finding the feeling of peace without repentance and faith, was right to quote Jesus about seeking God's Kingdom and "righteousness" FIRST (i.e., the gift of justification - Matthew 6:33 and context), and then peace would follow.

Peace is a reality for us because God personally made us right with Himself through Christ. (See Ephesians 2:14 and Colossians 1:20 for extra verification!) This peace is not some inner feeling in the first place, but an historical deed accomplished for us some almost 2,000 years ago on Calvary's hill! That knowledge and faith is what then gives the inner security the world can never know. "Having been justified, we HAVE peace with God," the text says.

HOPE

It then goes on that "We..rejoice in the HOPE of..glory," and even in tribulations, because their final outcome is hope. And, just as with "Peace," HOPE is a gift God says is THERE!

Just "wishful thinking" kinds of hopes are destined to be dashed again and again. Countless people may be heard to half-heartedly claim that they "hope" they're headed for Heaven, but they really aren't sure. - Get this! The promise of Glory is sure for those who believe because Jesus paid for the world's sin and is now ALIVE! It's certain because we've already been PUT right with God through Christ's atoning action on our behalf.

No one can order anyone else to "rejoice always" and to be happy just because they say so, - and then expect people to actually be. We human beings are too prone to focus on our earthly problems rather than the eternal Glory promised to us. The text in no way commands us to be joyful just because we do suffer in many ways, though. It literally encourages us to "BOAST," rather, (not just be happy but BOAST) while trials touch us, because God's very purpose in them is to see us through to the fruition of His promise! Boast not "because of" but "in the midst of" sufferings. And boast not in our own strength, but that God exerts HIS! - There's real "HOPE" in that!

LOVE

The third gift of God's reconciling LOVE, too, isn't some fleeting human emotion. It's almighty and unconditional "AGAPEy) —A deed, an action, a fact that's done and reaches out to cover us through all eternity! In this is Love (see First John 4:10), - that GOD DID something SPECIFIC! (And where the text says that His own Love has been "demonstrated toward us," it means more literally "EVER standing WITH us"!) - It simply means again in this third way that Jesus died once on the Cross for all people for all time, removing all of humanity's sin and putting us "right" with God. (Hebrews 7:27 & 9:26-28 & 10:10-14)

That's not a love that just drips and trickles like a leaking faucet, but one that's poured out on us like Niagara Falls. To have it makes all other "supposed" needs shrink into nothingness. God's reconciling Love hasn't only removed sin's punishment from us, but it has also even put our very guilt itself on Christ. One person may be able to serve another's deserved court-sentence sometimes, but none could ever take away the other's personal guilt, too. Only Christ's Love demonstrated on the Cross could remove all our stains - and it DID!

A survey of Lutherans (and you who ARE Lutheran take note of that - LUTHERANS, mind you!) once revealed that many felt they first had to show some love towards God before He would ever love them. Amazing! As the text clearly states, "When we were still without strength, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly" (we in a state of being defiant enemies of God in other words!). All we had was our own hostility to bring to the bargaining table. Yet, at the right time His perfect Love broke through the barrier of our sin for our reconciliation (as in 2 Corinthians 5:19 - same thing as "justification" - having things set right between us and God again), and therefore for our every other real need, too. -- A spiritual song some black prison inmates in Illinois use d to sing for me had words to the effect that, "I may be down and out, not even have a dime; But God's Love is always there right on time!" --- A reconciling action poured out on us before we ever could or would move in that direction ourselves, and which ever stands with us for ALL our needs!

CONCLUSION

Being put right with God, His PEACE, promised HOPE and Glory and accomplished LOVE all come as gifts from God to attend our very real and desperate need. Where the Gospel of Christ's death and resurrection is truly received in faith, there simply is NO LACK! Our needs and security ARE filled! - Repent and grab hold. Cling to and TRUST that God has given all He says He has ... because He HAS through Jesus Christ!

 

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