Many people live spiritual lives, filled with uncertainty. Does God accept or reject me? Has God forgiven my sins or still hold them against me? Will God keep all His promises to me, or does God’s faithfulness depend on my performance? For people who live with this uncertainty, the spiritual life is topsy-turvy. In these verses from Romans, Paul presents us with four assurances that help us live Christian lives that are confident and assured.

Assurance of Our Future (Rom. 5:1-2)
Paul starts by describing how our future looks in light of our experience of justification in Christ. These verses are full of important terms that must be defined carefully. Chief among these terms are the words justification and grace. Throughout Romans, Paul has been building his case that we are justified (set right) with God based on what God has done through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Thus, our justification with God does not come as a result of human effort, merit, race or social status. It comes as a result of God’s free favor, God’s grace. This merely restates what Paul has been teaching up to this point in Romans.

Paul now speaks of “gaining access” to grace. This realm of grace opens the door to a whole new reality. The word translated “gained access” was used by the ancient Greeks to describe sailors who had been at sea for months, yearning to see land again.1 Back then, before radios, cell phones and GPS software, sailors relied on maps and luck to find their way home. This phrase “gained access” was used in that context to describe what happened when sailors finally found dry land and were able to stand on solid ground again. What a graphic picture of how the Christian now stands on the solid ground of God’s grace.

This standing enables us to rejoice in God’s glory. The word hope sets our sights toward the future. When we’re right with God, we receive assurance that our futures are secure.

Assurance in Our Problems (Rom. 5:3-4)
Paul doesn’t linger too long on the future because he knows the present can be very difficult. Often, painful problems threaten to crush our hope.

Circumstances such as broken relationships, financial ruin, terminal illness and life-changing failures can shatter our hopes. Paul shows us the way to find joy even in the midst of our present problems. In the midst of painful circumstances, we have assurance that God still is working.

Suffering produces perseverance. Perseverance is the distance runner who keeps running despite leg cramps until she gets her second wind; the medical student who retakes the class after failing once; the entrepreneur who starts another business though his previous business failed. Such perseverance results in a tried and true character; tried and true character results in more hope—a greater sense of confidence that God is restoring us to the glory for which He made us.

When we’re right with God, we not only have assurance that our future is secure, but we have assurance God is working in the midst of our problems. Just as an antique table probably doesn’t like being stripped of the old varnish and sanded, we recoil from the pain that comes our way. Yet it’s this very process that evidences the fact that our restoration already has begun. God already is stripping away the old stuff, sanding down the rough edges, and applying new coats of varnish to restore us to our divine purpose.

Assurance of God’s Love (Rom. 5:5-8)
Next Paul zeros in on our experience of God’s love. He focuses on the subjective and objective components of God’s love. Subjectively, we experience God’s love because, through the Spirit, God has drenched our hearts with His love. Objectively, we look at the cross, where we see the evidence for God’s love. The objective evidence of God’s love in the cross of Christ anchors our experience of that love in reality. In those moments when we doubt God’s love or our experience of God’s love fades, the cross of Christ stands as an ever-present reminder.

In addition to receiving assurance about our future and assurance that God is working in our problems, we see that when we’re right with God we receive assurance that God loves us no matter what.

Assurance of God’s Friendship (Rom. 5:9-11)
In this final section, Paul uses the language of reconciliation to describe our new relationship with God. While justification was a legal term to describe a person being set right, the term reconciliation is a relational term that describes former enemies being brought together in friendship. Because reconciliation comes from the realm of friendship, most religious people of Paul’s day didn’t use this term to describe people’s relationship with God because it was considered too arrogant and boastful to think of God being our friend.2 Yet here we find our relationship with God described as nothing less than a reconciled friendship.

When we’re right with God, we receive assurance of God’s friendship. We sing a worship song called “Redeemer, Savior, Friend.”3 I can understand God as my Redeemer. I can understand God as my Savior. Yet to view God as my Friend seems too audacious, too amazing—but it’s true.

In the midst of life’s many uncertainties, Paul provides us with four assurances: assurance of a secure future; assurance that God is working in our problems; assurance of God’s love; and assurance of God’s friendship. These assurances enable us to face any circumstance with hope and confidence.

1 James D. G. Dunn, Romans 1-8. Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 38 A (Dallas. Word Books, 1988), p. 248.
2 Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans. New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996), p. 311.
3 “Redeemer, Savior, Friend” words and music by Darrell Evans and Chris Springer. © 1999 Integrity’s Hosanna!/Integrity’s Praise! Music.

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