I want to begin our study today by playing a little game. I call the game, “If! Then?” It’s not so much of a game as it is a quiz. I’ll ask you two related questions and we’ll see if you can get the answer right. Let’s get started.
First question: If a man were able to lift a car, then do you suppose he might be able to lift a feather? Are you ready to give your answer? The answer is, “Yes!” Of course. Okay, you are doing great so far. Let’s move on. Second question: If a girl was able to make an “A” in her college Calculus class, then do you suppose she would be able to recite her “times tables” all the way through the 10s? Are you ready to give me your answer? The answer is “Yes!” Did you get it right? Sure you did. Third question: If a cow was able to jump over the moon, then do you think she might be able to jump over the fence at the edge of the field? And the answer is, “Yes!” You are doing great! How about this one: If Batman were able to forgive The Joker, whom he can’t stand, do you think he might be able to forgive Robin who has been his buddy forever? What do you think? Of course he can. Let’s try one more. Last question: If a man was able to conduct the world famous New York Philharmonic Orchestra, then do you suppose he could play “Chopsticks?” Survey says, “Of course!”
Now, I’m sure you are wondering, “What in the world does this have to do with Bible study?” I’m glad I’ve got the synapses firing. Our silly little quiz is much more closely related to what Paul sets out to show us in our Scripture for today then you will ever know.
In our study today the Apostle Paul uses a form of reasoning called “a fortiori.” Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, describes “a fortiori” this way.
The Latin phrase argumentum a fortiori literally means one of the following:
A. “from the stronger”
B. “even more so”
C. “with even stronger reason”
It is a proof of a claim by means of an already proved stronger claim. For example, if it is forbidden to ride a bike with an extra passenger, then it is also forbidden to ride a bike with two extra passengers. Or, if one can lift a 100 lb object, then it follows that one can lift a 50 lb object. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_fortiori)
The phrase is Latin, but the method of reasoning is really rooted in the Old Testament. The Jewish Rabbi Hillel used this method to interpret Scripture. This method of interpreting Scripture goes like this: “If a lesser thing is true, a greater thing must also be true.” Let me give you an example from Jesus’ teaching. In Matthew 7:11 we read,
11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11 NIV)
This method of interpretation can also work the other way. “If something greater is true, then something lesser would also be true.” This method of interpretation, or argumentation, is exactly what Paul is setting forth for us in our Scripture for today. Read along with me from Romans 5:9-11.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For 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! 11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:9-11 NIV)
Did you notice the a fortiori argument of Paul? Paul says, “Since we have been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” In the next verse Paul goes on to explain why the first action of God is a much greater thing than the second act of God. If you will remember our study from last week then you will remember that Paul gave us four descriptions of our condition before we came to know Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Paul taught us that we were “powerless, we were ungodly, we were sinners, and we were enemies of God.” If, when we were all of these things, God was willing to give the life of His Son, to justify us, to reconcile us to Himself, then, now that we are reconciled and no longer enemies, it is no big thing for God to save us from the wrath to come. John MacArthur writes,
If God had the power and the will to redeem us in the first place, how much more, does He have the power and the will to keep us redeemed. In other words, if God brought us to Himself through the death of His Son when we were His enemies, how much more, now that we are His reconciled children, will He keep us saved by the life of His Son. If the dying Savior reconciled us to God, surely the living Savior can and will keep us reconciled. (John MacArthur, MacArthur’s New Testament Commentary: Romans 1-8. The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. 1991)
Let’s go back to Romans 5:9 and take a deeper look at the lesson Paul has for us. In Romans 5:9 we read,
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! (Romans 5:9 NIV)
Over the past few weeks, as we’ve been studying Romans 5, we’ve seen what God has done for us. Paul has told us that we have been justified through faith. We now have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We are the recipients of God’s glorious grace in which we stand. We are rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God. We are rejoicing in our suffering because of what it is producing in us. God has done all of this for us while we were alienated from God, enemies of God, sinners to the core. What amazing things God has done for us! Would you agree?
Like a late night TV salesman peddling their wares, Paul says, “But wait, that’s not all!” There is much more to come! God has done all of these wonderful things for us, but there is still more to come! Let me explain to you what I am talking about by taking a look at one word that Paul uses in Romans 5:9. Paul says, “…how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” The word we are looking at is the word, “saved.” The word in the Greek New Testament is “sozo” and it means, “to save, keep safe and sound, to restore to health, or to deliver from the penalties of judgment.”
Christians like to speak of “being saved.” Most often, that phrase is used in the past tense like when someone says, “I was saved on May 9, 2010 when I was at summer camp.” Paul uses the word in that sense when he looks back to what God has done for us on the cross. In Ephesians 2:4-5, Paul writes,
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions– it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV)
In Ephesians 2:4-5, Paul is looking back to the cross as the definitive moment in the life of the believer. It is through the death and resurrection of our Savior that our relationship with God has been transformed. You can see the same focus in 2 Timothy 1:8-10.
8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life– not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (2 Timothy 1:8-10 NIV)
We were “saved,” our relationship with God was transformed, through the cross of our Savior. I have to tell you that Paul doesn’t just use this powerful word in the past tense. He also says that we “are being saved.” Take a look at 1 Corinthians 1:18 with me.
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV)
God is still working in each of our lives through the power of the cross to save us from sin in the present. Through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit we are being empowered in our daily lives. We are being saved from the power of sin this very day!
There is also a future tense to the word that is important for us to understand. James Montgomery Boice writes,
In this case you would be looking forward to your future glorification when the work begun in the past by Jesus and continued in the present by the power of the Holy Spirit, who works in us, will be perfected. In that day we will be delivered even from the presence of sin and made like Jesus forever. (James Montgomery Boice, Romans: Volume 2. Baker Books: Grand Rapids, MI. 1992. pg. 545)
Through what Jesus has done for us on the cross we have been put in right relationship with God. Through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit we are being saved from the power of sin in the present. One day, when Christ returns our salvation will be complete and we will be delivered from the presence of sin and our lowly, frail bodies will be transformed. Let me show you some instances where this future-looking word is used. In Matthew 24:12-13, Jesus says,
12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:12-13 NIV)
Again, in Mark 13:13, we find Jesus speaking. Jesus says,
13 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Mark 13:13 NIV)
Last of all, Paul writes to the folks in Philippi and he tells them that they “will be saved.” In these verses, Paul doesn’t mean that the Philippian brothers and sisters are not already saved by the power of the cross, but he is urging them to look forward to the day when their salvation will be completed. Paul writes,
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved– and that by God. (Philippians 1:27-28 NIV)
I told you earlier in our study that God has done great things for us through His Son Jesus, but that there is even more to come. I hope that by gaining a better understanding of the future tense of our salvation that you are getting a better grip on what I am talking about. It is overwhelming to know that because of what God has done for us that we have been put in right relationship with God. It is humbling to know that the Holy Spirit lives in us to help us fight the good fight against sin in the present, on this very day. It is even more astounding to know that one day we will be fully delivered from the power of sin and death and we will glory in the presence of the Father. The best is yet to come!
Let’s move on to Romans 5:10 in our study. In this passage Paul clarifies his argument that because of what God has already done for us, while we were His enemies, what God is going to do for us now that we have been reconciled, now that we are His children and friends, is no hard thing. Read along with me.
10 For 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! (Romans 5:10 NIV)
We took a look last week at what Paul means by the phrase, “we were God’s enemies” so we won’t go over that again. Suffice it to say that we were against God. When we were in absolute rebellion against God’s claim upon our lives, He reconciled us to Himself through the death of Jesus. The word translated, “reconciled,” is an interesting word in Greek. The word used here is from the Greek word, “katallasso” and it means, “to change, or to alter.” The word is really a compound word with the preposition, “kata,” added to the verb, “allasso” which means, “to alter or change.” With the addition of the preposition the word is greatly strengthened so that it means, “to radically alter or change.” The same verb is used in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed– 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52 NIV)
The verb with the preposition is used in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 where Paul talks about our having been reconciled to God through Jesus. Read along with me.
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20 NIV)
God has radically altered our relationship with Himself, He has reconciled us who were His enemies, through what He has accomplished through the death and resurrection of Jesus. There is something else that makes this even more amazing. Any time this word is used in regard to people’s relationship with God it is always used in the passive—we have been reconciled. It is not our work, it is God’s work. This isn’t the only passive verb that we find in the Scripture that we are studying. Let me show you something really amazing.
There are five instances in Romans 5:9-10 where we are acted upon by God. In verse 9 we learned that we “have been justified” and that we “shall be saved,” in both of these we are being acted upon. In verse 10 we’ve been talking about how God “has reconciled us.” Paul also says, “having been reconciled” and “we shall be saved by his life.” In these two little verses we see how God has acted on our behalf—God is acting and we are passive, we are acted upon. Can you see how your salvation, your justification, your reconciliation is all of God? When did God do this? It was while we were enemies.
This takes us back to where we began. If God was willing to give His Son as an offering for our salvation while we were His enemies and dead in our transgressions, then do you think that He is willing to save us from His coming wrath now that we are called His children and His friends? Absolutely He will! This is Paul’s a fortiori, this is Paul’s argument of the “greater” accomplishment to prove the “lesser” task of God.
Paul goes on in verse 11 to show us that, not only will God save us in the future, but this knowledge moves us to rejoice in God. Read along with me.
11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:11 NIV)
Halfway through our study of Romans 5, Paul takes us back to where we began in our study of this chapter. If you will remember, back in Romans 5:1-2, Paul wrote,
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2 NIV)
These two ideas, shared in Romans 5:1-2 and Romans 5:11 may sound like the same idea, but if you will take the time to read them you will see that there is a major difference. In the first passage the object of our rejoicing is our own glorification. One day we shall be changed and we are rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God.
In the second passage we can see that the object of our rejoicing is God. Paul says that we “rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We are rejoicing in God! This is the greatest of all rejoicing known to people. Why are we rejoicing in God? Look what He has done and see if you can keep yourself from rejoicing. He has taken us, who were His enemies, and He has radically changed our lives, our relationship with Himself, and our futures. He has accomplished all of this through His glorious Son, our Savior! That is reason to rejoice my friends!
There is one final question that I need to ask you—are you rejoicing? Are you rejoicing in God? We rejoice in all kinds of things, but are we rejoicing in God this morning? We rejoice in getting a raise, making an “A” on a test, our team getting a win, and much, much more, but are we rejoicing in God this morning? I want you to stop for a minute and let God search your heart to reveal to you if you are truly rejoicing in Him alone this morning. If not, if you are not rejoicing in God, then what is preventing you from the most important joy He has made available to you today? Is it your troubles or the troubles of someone you love? Is it a lack of knowledge of God’s Word and what God has done on your behalf? Is it busyness that draws you away from God and clutters your mind with lesser things? Whatever it is that is hindering you from rejoicing in God this morning I want to ask you to lay it at the feet of His throne. Acknowledge your failure to rejoice in God and begin to allow Him to flood you with wave after wave of joy. Don’t wait until your storm is over until you begin to rejoice in God, rejoice in God in the midst of the storm and you will find your storm not nearly so devastating. Don’t wait until you get some things done, some items moved off your “to do” list before you rejoice in God, begin to rejoice in God now and watch how He will replace your chaos with His peace. If you lack understanding concerning God’s Word and what He has done for you then rejoice in God that this very morning He has taught you from His Word about His mighty acts done on your behalf. I want to urge you to rejoice in God this very morning.
Before you can ever rejoice in God you must first come to know Him. How can you do that? How can you know, have a relationship with a holy and righteous God? The same way that He has done all of these things on our behalf. He has done them through His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Won’t you call out to Jesus this morning and acknowledge your need to Him? Won’t you invite Him into your heart as your Lord and Savior?
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
OKC, OK. 73114
October 1, 2013