I'm a functional kinda guy. If I don't see a purpose, I don't buy in. Just after Kim and I were married, we went to the Shepparton Show. At Kim's behest I demurely agreed to "do the big zipper". As my lanky frame origamied into the cage with which it restrained its victims, I looked across at Kim's extremely excited face. "This is going to be such fun!" was written across her Song-of-Solomon-4:7-face. As the "Big Zipper" began to move, I wondered, "Why I am doing this?" As we passed Mach3 I wasn't able to wonder anything because breakfast was mostly on my mind (ordinarily bacon and eggs on thick toast with a side of baked beans only brings up fond memories). Some how between Mach4 jerkings from this retired Soviet torture device I miraculously managed to ask: What's the purpose of this? To which the only jocular person in our cage said- Because it's fun!
For me there was a huge disconnect between the theory of fun and reality! This week, as I prepared a Bible Study on Romans 5 for our Small Groups, I was struck by the opening verse and its life-changing implications.
¶ Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
"Therefore" constitutes, what is for many, four chapters of pure theoryon the doctrine of salvation just presented by Paul. This is a tragic view of Romans 5:1. The first four chapters of Romans not only declare us guilty-then-forgiven before an infinitely holy God, they also reveal that we have been reconciled to God. We are no longer enemies of God. We are able to approach God. Wow! Paul's statement that the believer now has "peace with God" is earth-shaking.
Have you ever experienced a lack of peace? I don't mean mereuneasiness. I mean, deep anguish mingled with mortifying fear. Imagine if this kind of lack of peace was produced by the presence of one particular person. This is more or less how Paul has described everyone before God. He has explained how Jesus Christ has borne our deep anguish and mortifying fear (the result of our sin-induced estrangement from God). We experience the forgiveness of our sins by placing our trust in Christ as our Substitute. Therefore...we have peace with God. For some, this is just a doctrine. But not for me. I'm a functional guy. This is no mere theory for me.
Peace with God is not simply sins forgiven and forgotten. Peace with God involves sweet fellowship with God as a beloved adopted child of God! Parents who adopt choose their child. An adopted child is a wanted child. We have peace with God - we have been adopted by God!
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"
The "Therefore" of Romans 5:1 is not the only therefore of the Epistle. In fact, chapter 5 contains three therefore's. It is a profoundly functional chapter. But these are not the only therefores of the Epistle. There is another 11! This Epistle may sound like lofty theological theory - but it is richly functional. Within it are the secrets to inner peace, mental health, spiritual well-being, social cohesion, and societal harmony, and political stability! It is far more than a theory!
¶ There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Confessing your sin to God is not to be reduced to a tidy tick on a Doctrine Questionaire. Experiencing peace with our Creator is not to be treated like the right answer in a Bible "Trivia" contest. Don't read Romans quickly! Your soul deserves to be treated far better than a mere theory. The peace, ease, healing, and joy you are craving are found in sweet fellowship with God and this is more than a theory!