What Are the Haps, My Friends – Romans 5:1-11, Day 3

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Today’s Passage: Romans 5:1-11

It’s another day: a fresh start and a fresh look at Romans 5:1-11. Yesterday I got all the predestination and free will thoughts out of my brain system, and I’m a clean slate ready for new perspectives. Today I want to ask a much better question: what is happening to us? Because it’s clear from this passage that whatever our role, whether active participants or wholly passive recipients, in what is happening to us, something is happening to us.

To begin with, something has already happened to us. Paul’s just finished his exegesis of the verse “Then [Abraham] believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6), and he opens up our current passage by stating, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). What happened to us? We got justified. And as a result, we have this peace with God, this relationship reconciled through the cross.

And that sets the stage for what’s happening to us right now. We’re under pressure, and that’s good news. With a chain of virtues resulting from our tribulations (perseverance, proven character, and finally hope), Paul asserts that our struggle strengthens us–or perhaps more accurately, that God is strengthening us through our struggle.

I was going to say that another thing that’s happening to us is that we’re being reconciled to God. But in fact, that’s already happened! Here, whenever he uses the word “reconciled” (or, for that matter, the word “justified”), every time he’s describing something that already went down: a done deal that puts us where we are today. Each time it’s “while we were enemies we were reconciled” or “having been reconciled, we shall be saved” (10) or “through [Christ] we have now received the reconciliation” (11). Jesus’ death on the cross for us human beings, moral tire fires that we are, has already gone down. It has already reconciled us to God and squared us up to “be saved from the wrath of God” (9), which I take to mean the final judgment. Jesus Christ has already borne the penalty for us; we won’t need to suffer it on God’s day of reckoning.

So what’s happening to us? Mostly things that are a result of other things that have happened to us. We are where we are because of where we’ve come from and what God did while we were there.

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