“The Blessings of Justification” Pt. 2
August 13, 2017
Four years ago, Ryan Boomershine, a principle of a Christian school in Nashville, wrote this account:
Last Wednesday, the third day of this year, I was working at my desk at school when Christie called me on my cell. She said a jumble of things [in my mind] but also something close to, “some men just came into our house…they put a gun to Karsten’s head….and put him in the closet.” She was also able to confirm that at least one item was missing and they had attempted to take the TV. I was her first call, so I ran to the car, raced home and talked to 911 the whole way there. I beat the police, and as I entered home, Karsten obviously had a jumbled dread of emotions on his face.
Karsten is our oldest. He is 10, and he was enjoying his last morning of Christmas break by playing with Legos on the living room floor when a knock came to the door. Christie was heading up the stairs to tend to the running water (a tub being filled for [our daughter’s] bath), and she told him he could answer it. We live in a busy house with many guests and neighbors at our door throughout the week; sometimes even when I come home, I knock and wait at the front door. When the door was opened, a man with a gun presented himself and asked Karsten who was home. There were two masked and gloved men with him. Karsten told him that his mom was upstairs. He covered Karsten’s mouth, put the gun to his temple and marched him about 12-15 paces to a closet and deposited him inside. For 3-5 minutes, the three men (ages 17-20) went through the downstairs of our home trying to disconnect the TV, taking our iPod, and turning the radio on the docking station to a rap station.
Karsten’s heart was pounding in the closet. He couldn’t hear the intruders, but he expressed very high concern that they would head upstairs where his siblings (ages 9, 7, 4, 3) and mama were. His emotions were racing. He described that time, not as primarily fearful for himself, but a strong sense of “I can’t believe this is happening here, happening to us.”
The men left with a slam of the door and raced to the car where a waiting 15-year old was in the rear seat of their car. The gunman drove away and out of our subdivision.
That story is probably among the greatest kinds of nightmares for any parent. It’s the kind of story that tempts many to say, “With all the troubles in this world — in my world — how can anyone say that life is good, or that God is good?” You have trouble, don’t you? You suffer. As believers, we all suffer in some way; we haven’t (yet) been imprisoned for our faith, but we’ve suffered for our faith.
I looked through one of my files on suffering this week and found articles like this:
- An 11-year-old boy gave John Piper a note after Piper spoke in his church: “If God promises to meet all our needs, why are we hungry?”
- In 1665 the bubonic plague broke out in London, ultimately taking the lives of almost 70,000 people; and the church at the center of the outbreak was pastored by Thomas Vincent, taking the lives of many of his people, including seven people in the house in which he lived.
- There was the story of Joni Eareckson Tada, who has now suffered 50 years as a quadriplegic.
- And the story of Guido de Brès, the author of the Belgic Confession (a good Protestant statement of faith) who was imprisoned and died for writing that confession.
There are enough stories of suffering and persecution that it might be tempting for a believer to say, “Life is not as good as it seemed that Christ promised for us. It’s hard — unreasonably hard.” And in reading passages like Romans 5:1-2 and Paul’s recitation of the blessings of justification, the Roman readers might have been tempted to tell Paul, “That’s okay for you, but we are suffering here in Rome; you don’t know what our lives are like…” It seems that in verses 3-5, Paul anticipates just such a response and makes a most unusual statement about the blessings of justification, connecting our sufferings to God’s blessings.
In these three verses Paul emphasizes that:
Because the believer is justified, he has the grace to exult in his troubles.
Here are four reasons to exult (rejoice) in our troubles and suffering — and these reasons are all provisions of God for us through the troubles and trials; they are four products of the trials when we respond to the trials in godly ways:
- Exult in Trouble Because Trouble Produces Perseverance (v. 3)
- Exult in Trouble Because Perseverance Produces Character (v. 4a)
- Exult in Trouble Because Character Produces Hope (v. 4b-5a)
- Exult in Trouble Because You Have the Love of God (v. 5b)
It is tempting to think that suffering and troubles are always “bad” or “wrong.” They are not. And this passage demonstrates why suffering is not “bad.”
Download the rest of this sermon on Romans 5:3-5.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website tomorrow morning.