Romans 5:6-11

Romans 5:6-11

SERIES: The Book of Romans

 God Loves You!  

Introduction:  I have a very simple theme I would like to convey this morning:  God loves you!  I don’t care who you are or what your circumstances are in life.  God loves you!  It doesn’t matter what evil things you have done or what good you may have left undone.  God loves you!

In the six verses that constitute our primary text today the focus is upon God’s love for the believer.  The Apostle’s purpose seems to be to shake some believers out of their doldrums, their depression, their pessimism.  He wants them to begin rejoicing by impressing upon them how much God loves them.  But there is an implicit and inherent application of the love of God to unbelievers as well in that the premier illustration given of His love for the believer has to do with something God did for the believer before he became a believer.  This passage allows me to say with the very authority of God’s Word that you, whoever you are, are the object of His love. 

Our text today, Romans 5:1-11, establishes for us three simple truths about the love of God:

         It is without cause.

         It is without measure.

         It is without end.

Look for those truths as we read the entire passage:

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. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. {3} Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; {4} perseverance, character; and character, hope. {5} And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. 

{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 man, though for a good man 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, when 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! {11} Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

The love of God is mentioned for the first time in the book of Romans in verse 5.  There the Apostle Paul is wrapping up his enumeration of three great benefits of justification:  peace with God, access to God, and hope in God, which Brad taught so well last week.  Our hope in God, according to verse 5, will never disappoint us, “because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”  That mention of God’s love seems to trigger something in Paul’s mind.  It’s as though he thinks, “Peace with God, access to God, and hope in God are tremendous benefits available to every believer, but my friends need to know that these benefits are only available because of the love of God.”

So he tells us that “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.”  Now that sounds somewhat subjective.  How do you know whether the Holy Spirit has poured out the love of God in your heart?  Well, some of you know it, and it’s obvious that you know it, because it can be seen all over your faces.  Some who are perhaps not so transparent nevertheless know it because profound changes have taken place in your attitudes, your priorities, your hopes, and your dreams.  Still others may know it because your relationships with people—at home, at work, at church—have improved greatly.

But some of you may not be so sure whether the Holy Spirit has poured out the love of God within your hearts.  You see possible evidence of it from time to time, but then there seems to be much evidence to the contrary.  Maybe there are broken relationships, perhaps there has been a super heavy load of trials and difficulty, or maybe God just seems far away and unreachable.  And you’re beginning to wonder, “Does God really love me?”  To answer that Paul offers us more than subjective considerations.  Beginning in verse 6 he lays an objective foundation for the love of God.  Even if you don’t feel the love of God poured out within your heart, you can still look at the facts, and the facts scream out the truth that GOD INDEED LOVES YOU!  First, the Apostle indicates that …

God’s love is without cause.  (6)

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”  This verse tells us two things we were, and one thing God did.  Looking first at what God did, we see it expressed in just two words:  “Christ died.”  

God’s love is seen preeminently in the death of His Son.  To understand how Christ’s death is an expression of God’s love, we must, of course, recall what the Scripture emphasizes over and over, namely that Christ didn’t die as an unfortunate victim of human hatred and prejudice.  Rather He chose to die, and His Father chose for Him to die, because He loved us.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son …”  The supreme act of love in all of history was God’s gift of His Son.  

But that act of love can never be fully appreciated until we understand exactly who the objects of that love were.  Two terms are used to describe the objects:  “the powerless” and “the ungodly.” 

It is extended to the powerless.  Powerless people are not the easiest to love.  Several years ago there was a major news story about a Downs Syndrome baby born in Illinois.  The parents found it impossible to love that baby and asked the doctors not to feed him.  The courts upheld the parents and the baby starved to death despite many offers for adoption.  Thank God, that is not the universal response to the powerless, but it is, unfortunately, probably the rule rather than the exception.  The reason is simply that human love is so often conditional love—conditioned upon receiving love in return—and helpless people are rarely able to love in a way that brings ego satisfaction to the one who extends it.  

When Paul describes us as “powerless,” he is calling us weak, helpless, feeble, unable to do anything for ourselves.  Left to ourselves, none of us is able to do even one small thing to please God or achieve salvation.  Elsewhere the New Testament tells us that we were unable to understand spiritual things, unable to see the kingdom of God or enter it, unable to seek God; in fact, we were dead in our transgressions and sins.  In other words, we were no more able to respond to or seek God than a corpse can rise up and walk.  

Now it’s amazing enough that God should love the powerless enough to sacrifice His Son for them, but that’s only part of the picture.  For we were not only “powerless,” but also “ungodly.”  

It is extended to the ungodly.  “Christ died for the ungodly.”  The progression in thought here might be grasped by this parallelism:  “It’s hard to love someone who is insane, but it’s nearly impossible to love the criminally insane.”  It’s hard to love the weak and powerless, but when those same people are also ungodly—opposed to all that God stands for—that kind of love is extremely rare.  Yet that’s exactly the kind of love God exercised:  “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”  No matter how we look at it, the love of God is without any cause outside of Himself. 

Next the Apostle tells us that …

God’s love is without measure.  (7-8)

And the way he goes about demonstrating this is to show that God’s love is immeasurably more noble and honorable than the most noble love we show to other human beings.  In verses 7-8 Paul reasons with us in a very down-to-earth fashion, asking us to search our own hearts regarding the nature of human love.  He suggests that we consider two observable facts:

1.  Very rarely will anyone die for a “righteous” person.

2.  But just possibly, on occasion, someone might be found who is willing to 

die for a “good” person.

Now in order for us to grant these two premises, which are going to lead to a rather astounding contrast, we must understand how Paul is using these terms “righteous” and “good.”  It is obvious that there is something more attractive about Paul’s “good” person than his “righteous” person, for he alleges a greater willingness to sacrifice for the “good” person than for the “righteous” person.  It is my opinion that he is using the term “righteous” here to mean “pious or rigidly upright.”    

This righteous person is like a man I knew back in my first pastorate who considered himself God’s watchdog over his Christian friends and over the church.  He could spot a deviation in someone’s life from a mile away, and he always felt compelled to point it out.  In our church the congregation voted on new members, and you could count on this man to speak up at the business meetings to inform the rest of the congregation that this candidate had a divorce in his background or that one had declared bankruptcy a few years before.  He eventually left the church, having discovered some irredeemable flaws in the senior pastor.  Not surprisingly, because of his rigidity and severity he didn’t have a lot of friends.  I doubt if anyone would make much of a sacrifice in his behalf.  

On the other hand, there are some people who are not only righteous, but also good.  Their piety has been softened and made attractive by a gracious spirit.  They speak the truth, but only in love.  They don’t tolerate sin, but they do tolerate sinners.  I have been blessed to have a number of parishioners who were righteous and good in the two churches I have pastored, and they are treasures.   For such a person one might perhaps, Paul suggests, find someone willing to sacrifice his very life.  

But notice that even in this, the very best of cases, the supreme act of human love is by no means to be taken for granted—it is at best a mere possibility.  Perhaps some think Paul is too pessimistic here in his evaluation of man’s willingness to sacrifice himself for his fellowman.  We all have heard of examples of people who have done just that—soldiers who have thrown themselves onto grenades to save a fellow soldier, mothers who have run into burning buildings to save their children, etc. 

I wouldn’t want to minimize for a moment the nobility of such actions, but are they really in the same category as the sacrifice God made?  Aren’t these usually spur-of-the-moment decisions at a time of crisis?  And doesn’t the person at least think he might survive?  How often does a human being voluntarily, with premeditation, offer his own life for the life of someone else?  

But the Apostle draws this amazing contrast:

God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for us while we were still sinners.  We were neither righteous nor good when Christ died for us.  We were “sinners,” meaning that we totally missed the mark as far as living our lives for His glory.  We measured up in no way, yet God loved us enough to give His Son for us.  Furthermore, He had all of eternity to think about it and He was fully cognizant of the great pain and suffering that would result.  God’s love is, indeed, measureless.

God’s love is without cause, God’s love is without measure, and thirdly, …

God’s love is without end.  (9,10)

What a tremendous truth this is!  And how desperately we need to understand and believe it.  All of us have been on the receiving end of temporary love.  A close friend turns his back on us; a colleague betrays us in order to achieve personal advancement; perhaps even a family member tells us, “I don’t love you anymore.”  It’s devastating.  

There was a popular song in the U.S. back in the sixties entitled, “Don’t Pull Your Love Out on Me, Baby.”  Frankly, that’s the desperate cry of many human hearts.  We need not only unconditional love, but also permanent love.  That’s the kind God offers.  

The Apostle conveys the fact that God’s love is without end by means of two arguments, both of which are introduced by the phrase, “much more.”  The form of these arguments goes like this:  “If God has done the greater thing, then how much more can we trust Him to do the lesser thing.”  

The best way I know to appreciate the force of this kind of argument is to ask you to imagine that a person goes into a jewelry store and purchases a beautiful flawless, colorless one-carat diamond for $15,000.  When the purchase is complete and payment has been made, the person says to the jeweler, “Listen, I hate to impose upon you, and if you can’t do it, I’ll understand, but I was just wondering if possibly, by some chance, you might be willing to gift-wrap it.  I’ll be glad to pay extra for it.”  You would probably say, “You’ve got to be kidding!  The purchase of a $15,000 diamond should include gift-wrapping in gold foil and delivery in a limousine!”  If the jeweler refused to wrap it free, the customer ought to walk out and find another jeweler.

Here’s how Paul applies this argument form:  If God showed His love in such miraculous and undeserved ways as to justify those who were sinners and reconcile those who were His enemies (not because He had to, but just because), then surely He can be trusted not to pull His love out on us—now or ever in the future.  

Now the first “much more” argument is this:

If those who are sinners can be justified, how much more can they be assured of future deliverance from God’s wrath?  Look at verse 9:   “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!”  Many people in this world probably pursue religion only because they are looking for a fire escape from hell.  But when you stop and think about it, escaping from Hell is really just the gift-wrap on the diamond of justification.  If God, the judge of all the earth, can hand down a verdict of “not guilty” despite our obvious moral guilt, and if He can perform an accounting miracle by crediting to our account the righteousness of Jesus Christ—all because we took Him at His word when He said that Jesus died in our place—then what’s to worry about hell?  That is why Romans 8:1 can declare without exception or limitation, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Our justification guarantees our future security.

But that’s not all.  Consider the second of the two “much more’s”:  

If those who are enemies can be reconciled, how much more can they be assured of present deliverance from the power of sin?  Here’s how verse 10 expresses it:  “For if, when 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!”  In verse 9 Paul argued from the doctrine of justification; here he argues from the parallel doctrine of reconciliation.  Reconciliation takes place simultaneous with justification, for when God declares us “not guilty,” He also declares us His friends. 

Many people never think of themselves as enemies of God, but that is exactly what they are before coming to faith in Christ.  There’s an abundance of Scripture passages which bears witness to that fact, among them Rom. 8:7:  “The sinful mind is hostile to God.  It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”  Or consider Col. 1:21:  “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.”

But God changed things.  He declared a policy of unilateral disarmament.  He declared peace.  He reconciled us.  That is, He brought us into friendly relations with Himself.  The Scriptures never speak of God being reconciled—only of us being reconciled.  The reason is that we were the enemy of God—God was never our enemy.  We were the offending party, and therefore we needed to be reconciled.  But God had to take the initiative, for we in our helpless, godless, sinful enmity neither could, nor would initiate a reconciliation with God.  The initiative involved God sending His Son to the cross.

Now here’s Paul’s reasoning:  If those who are God’s enemies have been reconciled by the death of Christ, how much more shall they be saved through his life?  That Christ died we all believe, but that Christ lives is sometimes overlooked.  God’s loving provision for sinful people includes a living Christ as well as a dying Savior.  I understand Paul to be using the word “saved” here in verse 10 to speak of daily deliverance from the power of sin through the resurrected Christ.  Christ died for us, but now He lives for us; therefore, victory must be available.  Here’s how Rom. 8:34 puts the same concept:  “Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  Therefore, who shall separate us from the love of God?”   

The love of God, friends, will never end.  It brings us salvation from the power of sin, and ultimately it will provide salvation from the very presence of sin.  So far we have seen that 

         God’s love for the believer is without cause.

         God’s love for the believer is without measure.

         God’s love for the believer is without end.  

Finally, …

God’s love demands a response.  (11)

Verse 11 reads, “Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”  I have just two simple questions to ask from this verse:

Have you “received” the reconciliation?  The word “receive” implies a positive action on our part.  God has declared us reconciled, but have we received that reconciliation?  Years ago I received a letter from someone from whom I had been estranged for several years.  The end of this letter went as follows:

Finally, I can say that “I forgive you” for all the real and imagined wrongs I credited to you.  I’ve been nursing an unforgiving spirit and I am today clearing my account with you.  We are reconciled and I am your friend.  

Now tell me something, “Did that letter reconcile us and make us friends once again?”  No, it only provided the possibility—it removed the barrier that had been there from his side.  But I had to receive the reconciliation.  I had to respond by saying, “Thank you.  I accept your friendship.”  

It’s possible, of course, to reject reconciliation.  Nearly twenty years ago when I was a young pastor in Wichita, two men in our church locked horns.  Angry words were spoken and a deep-seated antipathy toward one another resulted and lasted for many months.  Finally, the younger man left the church, but eventually he came back.  He went to the other man, apologized for his anger, and said he wanted to put it all behind him and to be friends again.  The other man looked at him and said, “Get out of my sight—I don’t ever want to see you again.”  Reconciliation was offered, but it was not received.  

Have you received the reconciliation God has offered?  Have you laid down your arms?  Have you accepted the friendship He offers through faith in His Son?  God actually begs you to receive His reconciliation.  Listen to 2 Corinthians 5, beginning in verse 17:

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.  And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ’s behalf:  Be reconciled to God.  

Then just two verses later we read these words:  “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”  There are a lot of people who are of the mind that they would like to be friends with God—when they are through being friends with the world.  The problem for many of them is that they become addicted to the friendship of the world and never get around to being reconciled to God.

The other question I would like to ask also comes out of verse 11:

Are you rejoicing in God’s love?  Paul says, “Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God!”  And why not?  How can we not rejoice in God when He has loved us without cause, without measure, and without end?  When He has not only justified us but also guarantees us salvation from the wrath to come?   When He has not only reconciled us but has also guaranteed us salvation from the power of sin?  When His Son not only died for us but also lives for us?  

Ray Stedman has written, “The one clear mark of a true Christian is that he always rejoices.”[i]  Yet, why are there so many professing Christians pouting, complaining, criticizing, and walking around with chips on their shoulders?  Why so many long faces?  It must be that they don’t believe that God really loves them.  But when you stop to think about it, isn’t it a sin to languish under a pile when the great God of the Universe says to you, “I know you’re powerless, I know you’re ungodly, I know you’re a sinner, and I know you’re my natural enemy.  But I love you, anyway.  Let’s be friends.”

No wonder the hymn writer, F. M. Lehman, wrote,

         The love of God is greater far

         Than tongue or pen can ever tell;

         It goes beyond the highest star,

         And reaches to the lowest hell.

         The guilty pair, bowed down with care,

         God gave his Son to win;

         His erring child he reconciled

         And pardoned from his sin.

The last verse of that great hymn was written not by Lehman, however, but was found scratched on the wall of a room in an asylum by a person said to have been insane.  The greatest of theologians could not have said it better:

         Could we with ink the ocean fill,

         And were the skies of parchment made;

         Were every stalk on earth a quill,

         And every man a scribe by trade;

         To write the love of God above

         Would drain the ocean dry;

         Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

         Though stretched from sky to sky.

         Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!

         How measureless and strong!

         It shall forever more endure–

         The saints’ and angels’ song.

Perhaps you have never thought of yourself as someone who was powerless before God.  Perhaps you have never considered yourself to be ungodly, or a sinner, or God’s enemy, either.  But, friend, that is what you are if you have never come to Christ in order to be justified.  It is only when you recognize the truth of these descriptions that you can begin to appreciate the love that God offers you through the death of His Son.  

DATE: February 19, 1995


God’s love



[i] Ray Stedman, Expository Studies in Romans 1-8, From Guilt to Glory, Vol. 1, 127.