We Have Life! (5:9-11)
Paul shares with us another benefit of being in relationship with Christ. We are declared righteous by the blood of Jesus. This is an amazing truth. Not only is God’s wrath no longer sitting on us, but we been given access to God our Father because of Jesus righteousness [2 Corinthians 5:21]. The reality that Christ’s death and life has given sinners new life through the spilled blood of Jesus is not an insignificant reality for the believer. Paul makes clear that the full benefits of salvation are a multi-layered reality.
Salvation is not something that just happens. Paul wants the Roman reader to have a clear understanding of what salvation is. Salvation is God’s great gift and this will only be understood by making sure that the Romans (and we, the contemporary reader) have a clear and accurate understanding of the completeness of the salvation that we have been given.
Paul identifies two facets of the salvation diamond for us to examine. Paul says that we are reconciled and saved. Paul separates the two so that we can see that they are not the same thing and so that we can know how they fit together. By reconciled Paul means that our offensiveness to God has been removed. Some may take offense to the thought that God had a problem with us while we were sinners. But we must accept this truth. We are no longer a stench in the nostrils of God.
By “saved” Paul moves us across the gap into the presence of God. It is not enough to be reconciled, to be made un-offensive. We have to recognize that without the grace of God we would not even be able to enter the kingdom of God. Paul appears to point to the fact that salvation is the transference of our citizenship papers from this world into the kingdom of God. Several passages will be helpful here.
14I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. [John17:14-19, ESV, emphasis added]
11Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. [1 Peter 2:11-12, ESV, emphasis added]
20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ… [Philippians 3:20, ESV, emphasis added]
This idea of being citizens of God’s Kingdom was language and imagery that the Romans understood, as did Paul. The rights and privileges of being Roman citizens were significant. Paul was trying to help them understand that the benefits of being participants in the heavenly kingdom were not to be dismissed. Or to be taken lightly. The citizens of God’s kingdom must carry a significant responsibility, as we are the ambassadors of Christ to this world [2 Corinthians 5:20].
Paul’s understanding of our salvation is thorough and complete. We no longer have to fear death or hell. Heaven is a real and sure hope for all that believe. Finally, our citizenship is transferred into the kingdom of God. Throughout this section Paul has been setting the stage that God’s character, word, and promises are trustworthy. And it is based upon these truths that we must proceed in our growing relationship with the God.