Click here for a list of all our sermon series. 查阅我们所有的讲道系列

Peace with God 与神相和

Sermon passage: (Romans 5:1-11) Spoken on: August 2, 2015
More sermons from this speaker 更多该讲员的讲道: Rev. Wong Siow Hwee
For more of this sermon series 更多关于此讲道系列: Romans

Tags: Romans, 罗马书

Listen to sermon recording with the play button or download with the download link. 您可点播或下载讲道录音。
About Rev. Wong Siow Hwee: Rev. Wong is currently serving as a pastor in the children and young family ministries, as well as the LED and worship ministries.

罗 马 书 第 5 章 1 - 11 节
Sermon on Romans 5 : 1 - 11

Speaker: Rev. Wong Siow Hwee
Title: Peace with God

In my earlier sermon, I spoke about God’s will. God wants to co-create in a relationship with Man. I also described it as a tricky task. Allow me to explain myself. From the way I see it, this trickiness comes in two forms. Firstly, co-creation would imply that we are working towards a desired outcome. It involves a journey to the future. It need not be that God has already pre-determined ABCDE, but it is quite apparent that God sees certain things as good. In short, God has standards. In Genesis 1, God sees a creation that brings forth order and abundance as good. God’s idea of good can also be derived from his laws for Israel. We often say that the Law is good, and even Paul said so in Romans. But in what way is it good? The Law is good because it is life-giving.[1] That is the standard of God.

Since God intends for his creation to be life-giving, then you can expect the co-creation process would be required to meet certain standards. And if the contributions of humanity then lean towards destruction and oppression, surely you can see why that is against God’s will. That would not be life-giving. What was created by Man would not be life-enriching, and it does not lead towards order and abundance. And this is why Romans 1-3 is about God’s wrath. Of course, there would be wrath. Just imagine a scenario where you prepared a place or an event for beauty and growth, and it gets tarnished with evil and sin. Or imagine the wonderful potential of our newly renovated Leviticus Room, and if it is used to host orgy parties or utilized as a torture chamber instead. Of course there would be wrath. You may think I’m exaggerating, but just read the Prophets, and observe that much of the history of ancient Israel was filled with violence and social injustice. Then what? Wipe out humanity and start all over?

This brings us to the second portion of the trickiness in God’s will. The first part of the trickiness is the co-creation, and that you need to maintain standards. The second part of the trickiness would be the relationship. How would a relationship between God and Man work? Some people might think it is easy to be God, and I think that’s because they think of God as the Greek Zeus or the Roman Jupiter. God is a deity with a lightning rod, and if anybody misbehaves, when there are problems in the relationship and you need to maintain standards in your co-creation process, you can solve that with a thunderbolt. The Chinese would call that 五雷轰顶 or 天打雷劈. But that’s not the predominant narrative we observe in the Old Testament. Aside from a few individuals who were specifically stuck down by God (like Er and Onan in Genesis 38), most of the time, God used prophets to convey his will. Well, I think it’s not hard to understand why God doesn’t use the thunderbolt form of relationship. It’s not that God does not have spare thunderbolts lying around, so he’s got to resort to less effective communication methods, like prophets and pastors. But you just have to return to God’s desire for a relationship. And if the working relationship with God is such that he is like a micro-managing boss with his stalker-ish eyes on you, always ready to pull the trigger, then even you yourself would not call that much of a relationship. Think about it. What kind of a God-Man relationship would be ideal for co-creation?

For the first century people of God, they had different answers to this question. Remember: They experienced the pain and the shame of the exile, and they were still experiencing the erratic rule of the Romans. They had gone through the litany of prophets, from Moses and David of ancient times, to Isaiah and Jeremiah of the difficult times. The prophets often encouraged through visions of hopes and dreams. But in times of recurring national crisis, they also dished out their fair share of judgment and scolding. By the first century, if I were to give a relationship status to such a God-Man relationship, I would describe it as “rocky”. It is complicated. Any therapist or counsellor would have a hard time. These are deep-seated “heavenly daddy issues”. There is a communication breakdown.

Some thought the answer was to return to the law harder than ever. If only we were to commit to every nitty-gritty of the law, if 100% was not enough, then give it 200%, then maybe the relationship could be restored. Some thought the answer was to exclude themselves from this sinful world. If we could barricade ourselves into a community of purity with only praying and worshiping, maybe that might work. Some thought the answer lied in activism. Just trust in the Lord in our fight against the Romans. Others thought it was a matter of religious organisation. Just get the temple and priestly system right, and we could cleanse away our sins, just like back in the days of Aaron.

None of these are foolish answers. They can all be derived from some parts of their history and the Scriptures. You can also see many facets of these answers floating around in Churches today. But in a way, it is like a child seeking parental affirmation after some negative experiences. “Maybe if I do well enough in my studies from now on; maybe if stay at home all the time and show how I am different from all the other kids”. Or “maybe if I act-out I will receive more attention”. “Maybe if I do this or that, I can get a little more love, and things will be just as before”. None of these are wrong in themselves. And certainly the intention to restore the relationship through our human efforts is good. But there is a problem. What if the relationship then becomes only a matter of efforts and affirmation? That wasn’t the original God’s will. If this continues, pride would be falsely based on efforts. I did this and that, that’s why God loves me more.

None of these are wrong answers, but none of these are good answers. Because God has supplied the actual answer to the relationship problem and his plans for the new creation: the one true answer is Jesus Christ.
Romans 5: 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.
Because of Jesus Christ, whenever we respond in faith, we now know our relationship status with God: we have peace with God.

That’s it? It sounds too good to be true, right? The reality of this amazing grace always sounds incredulous in itself. To the child who is always scolded and punished, it surely feels like that. What do you mean you have always loved me? It is never good enough with you. I still remember the day you kicked me out of the house. You let me get caned by the school principal. You are never around when I needed you. Yet the child is always doing this and that to gain approval. Maybe if I achieve success, you can become proud of me. But the father seemed to care more about other children instead.

If this is a Korean drama, maybe you can guess the critical turning point in the plot. In the fit of an argument with the father, the child stormed across the road. But he failed to notice a car speeding towards him. The father noticed the danger and pushed the son away and sacrificed his life. And that’s the moment the child realized that the father really loved him. Sometimes in a communication breakdown in a relationship, words and action are often misunderstood. And only an act of true grace can breakdown the defences, to reveal that the love was actually there all along. That’s a moment of paradigm shift, and the relationship can start anew.

Romans 5: 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
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, while 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!

The passage today is the critical turning point. It is the moment of realization that from the act of pure grace, we can have absolute faith in our relationship with God. This is a biblical declaration: We are loved by God. We have peace with God. No more struggling and doubts. No more attention seeking and futile attempts to gain favor. This peace is not just a feeling which disappears when the situation changes or when we get paranoid. This peace is an official relationship status.

If this passage is a turning point, it not only turns us away from all the misgivings in the past, it also turns us towards the new relationship we have with God. And Paul’s idea of a response to this new life is quite interesting. Paul said that we should “boast”.

Romans 5: 2 And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also boast in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

This is interesting because Paul was really negative about boasting previously. Romans 2: 17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? Romans 3: 27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Romans 4: 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What Paul meant was that all boasting in the law is in vain, because the Jews have failed in keeping the law. But here we have the right to boast, because what we are boasting has been accomplished by God. But the boasting here doesn’t mean bragging or showing off, which is why many of the English translations are uncomfortable with the word; boasting here means to express confidence. And we should express confidence in God. We should express confidence in our hope. We should even express confidence in our sufferings for God. Because we now know that our efforts will never be in vain. They are no longer efforts to reconcile to God. They now become efforts of a new creation, because we have been fully reconciled to God. And because these efforts and sufferings are positive in nature, they will build character, and it will be something we can be eventually proud of.

I want to speak to the younger ones in the congregation. You may have been familiar with these doctrines from Children and Youth Ministry. But maybe this is the first time you see things from God’s perspective. You see what God has done in order to transform his relationship with you. If you respond to his love, you can live forth fully reconciled to God. It is not a possibility. It is a certainty. And when Paul says you should boast, it means you should face and shape the future with pride. You should express confidence, because you are moving forward and running the race with God as your backing. Be proud and confident, as young people should be. Sometimes people describe young people as idealistic. I disagree. They are not idealistic; they just have more faith. The world needs more young people with a strong faith. So does Jubilee Church. To believe that God can always transform things for the better, using the people he loves.

Peggy Noonan shared an insight during the Arab Spring from 2010-2012. Many dictators were overthrown in a movement led by the young with the power of social media. She described the situation in Egypt at that time, “The young want revolution and progress, the old are inclined toward stability and peace. The grandmother was probably thinking, "I want you safe." The young man might have been thinking, "I want my freedom." The old are certain that happiness cannot be found in politics, that life is deeper and more mysterious than that. The young believe that happiness cannot be found without freedom, that freedom cannot be won without a fight, and that the fight is political. The old of Egypt will likely think the young have no idea what they're unleashing. The young think the old have no idea what they accepted—the limits, the oppression. "Anything is better than that," the young say. "We'll see," reply the old.”[2]

Today, Egypt is in a political mess, probably even worse than the days of Mubarak. One might have concluded that the old were right after all. It would have been better to settle for the oppression under Mubarak than to hope for something better. But I want to tell the young: don’t ever settle. Don’t ever give up the fight for something better. This is what it means to boast in the Lord. Let us express the confidence, even the audacity, to partner God in his creation. You should say with pride, “let’s make things better”, I’m with God, you know?” There will be sufferings and hardships. That’s the way with things worth fighting for. But we shall conquer with God. We shall conquer things even scarier than evil dictators. We can even conquer sin and evil in broken relationships. You don’t have to become a missionary like Paul. But you can have the same faith.

[1]Deuteronomy 30: 15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.