Salvation is Certain
We see a new theme emerge as we move into chapter 5. Read Romans 5:1-11.
It has been established that Jew and Gentile both fall short of God's holiness and that we are in need of a Saviour in order to avoid the divine judgement to come. We are told that we are made righteous, not by the works of the law, but rather by faith in God. Chapter 4 unpacks faith in God, using Abraham to show us that we are credited with being righteous by our faith, just as Abraham himself was.
The topic of the assurance we have in our salvation beings. Moving us from justification to reconciliation and the certainty we have in our justification leads to our final salvation (defined as our hope). In fact, this "hope" of salvation is the key to these verses:
Verse 2: we boast (or rejoice) in the hope
Verse 5: hope does not put us to shame
Verse 9 and 10: how much more shall we be saved
We are provided with two reasons we can be assured of our hope/salvation. Verses 5-8 cover God's love for us, and 9-10 God's work for us. Firstly, we begin with the benefits we have under our new status of being "justified by faith".
In our new status, we now have peace. That is peace with God. We were enemies, to be recipients of God's wrath, but now we have been reconciled.
The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. (Isaiah 32:17-18)
The second is grace. Not, in this case, God's unmerited favour towards us, but rather grace as a location. A state we now find ourselves in. That is, we live in a constant state of grace. These two benefits are so wonderful that we are to boast (or some translations have it as "rejoice"), but we are quickly reminded that we will still experience suffering. However, unlike the ungodly (those still enemies of God), we see the purpose of the suffering. "Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope". Wonderful words to keep in our hearts every day. The best illustration is when we do weight training. We are actually damaging the muscle we're using. As the muscle fibres are damaged, and so healing begins. As the body repairs the muscle, it is built up, bigger and stronger than it was before, just like our hope.
We are to trust in this hope. It will not put us to shame, that is, it will be fulfilled. It is written here and throughout the new testament that the hope we have is to come, however, it is so guaranteed that we have already received it:
To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. (Psalm 22:5)
We will receive what we hope for, so much so that hope has already become a reality. It is through God's love, being poured out. Pointing back to the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17-18) where to Spirit is given to believers. That it dwells in all believers. A love so big that Jesus Christ died for even the ungodly - those that are the enemies of God. Those far removed from God. All those (all of mankind) who have rebelled against God through their sin and transgressions. Paul uses the question of how many people would actually sacrifice themselves for a good man or even a righteous man. Yet here, we have a righteous man (in Jesus) who sacrificed Himself for you and I.
And it is this that brings in a language change. We move from the act of justification to the outcome of that justification - reconciliation. We have been justified by faith. That is a legal term, used to show that we are now credited with being righteous (innocent), and now, this means that we can now be reconciled with God. We are able to draw closer to God in relationship. No more hostility between us because of our sin. It has been removed or covered by Christ's work on the cross, so that we may be reconciled back to the Father. Reconciled is a relationship term. Now that we have been justified and reconciled we are now saved. We have been saved from death and the wrath of God in the last day.
Being justified and reconciled to God is a critical step to salvation. If you are in this place, then eventual salvation is certain.
This is why the health and wealth gospel is so damaging. It is self-serving and does not elevate God or point to His glory of the work of Christ. Suffering is part of a consistent Christian life, one where God allows suffering to accomplish His purposes. We can therefore rejoice in the midst of our suffering. If we are to believe that we can give more, or pray more to avoid suffering - that our faith isn't enough - then we make God small and aim to make God serve us. This should never be the case. Our God is a big God, all-powerful, all-knowing and everywhere. A God that loves us!
These verses link our hope with suffering. It is important to recognise this link. So often when we are in the midst of suffering we lose focus on our hope. These verses pull the two concepts together so that through our suffering we are to be assured of one thing - our salvation!