Author: Ron Graham
Grace and Wrath
—and the blood of Christ (Romans 5:8-9).
This lesson is anchored in a statement Paul made about the grace of God.
¶“8But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then shall we be saved from the wrath of God, having now been justified by his blood” (Romans 5:8-9).
Paul later expressed this very simply, when he said, "Consider the goodness and severity of God" (Romans 11:22). The goodness of God is his love. The severity of God is his wrath. These are two sides1 to God’s nature.
1Note:— Two Sides of God’s Nature. When we say that God’s grace and God’s wrath are two sides to his nature, we do not mean that God has a good side and an evil side. The love of God is a righteous love, and the anger of God is a righteous anger. There is no more evil in God’s wrath than there is in his grace.
Three Elements of Salvation in Romans 5:8-9.
In the text quoted at the top of this lesson there are three elements of salvation. These are: (1) what sinners are saved by; (2) what sinners are saved from; and (3) what makes this salvation possible.
1 Saved By God’s Grace
Paul says that God demonstrated his love both for Paul himself and for the Roman Christians. Paul knew that he didn't deserve to be loved by God, because he was a sinner. But God did love Paul, and made provision for Paul’s salvation. Paul rejoiced in this grace of God toward him, and he put all his hope in God’s love.
"Through our Lord Jesus Christ we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:2).
We can have every confidence that the grace shown to Paul and the Roman Christians will also be shown to you and me, provided we believe and obey the gospel that Paul preached and that they all believed and obeyed.
2 Saved From God’s Wrath
Paul goes on to say, in the plainest of words, what it is that God saves people from. There are long and detailed answers to that question in Paul’s writings and the rest of Scripture. However Paul here in verse 9 sums it up in four words: "we are saved from the wrath of God" (Romans 5:9).
Paul believed in the wrath of God against all sinners. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth in unrighteousness" (Romans 5:18).
Is there any way of escape from this wrath of God? Can God’s anger be turned away from us? Is there anyone who can save us from the retribution we deserve?
Paul’s answer is a definite yes. The same righteousness of God that would justly condemn and punish us is also able to offer us salvation and forgiveness —for not only is the wrath of God righteous, but so is the mercy and grace of God.
So Paul says, "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, as witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, the very righteousness of God through faith in Christ Jesus, to all and upon all who believe..." (Romans 3:21-24).
The law of God is righteous and its condemnation of the sinner is quite just. But that leaves the sinner subject to God’s wrath. So sinners must hope that the righteousness of God can also include mercy and forgiveness, alongside the law that condemns. By the grace of God, that hope is found true in Jesus.
3 Saved Through Christ’s Blood
Paul continues, "For there is no difference. All have sinned, and all fall short of the glory of God. But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Him God presented as an atonement, by his blood, through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness... so he could be righteous, and make righteous the one who has faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:25-26).
So God has provided a means of mercy and forgiveness, a means of atonement or reconciliation, in the blood of Jesus Christ. By his sacrifice, we are able to escape the wrath of God. And God can do all this for us righteously, so powerful is his love.
God can make us righteous by the sacrifice and shed blood of Jesus. We became unrighteous, but God is able to reverse that, blot out the record of our sins and record instead that we are believers whom God has been able to "make righteous". In the Bible, by the way, being made righteous is often called being “justified”.
God places one condition on this salvation, this redemption, this atonement, this justification. If you want it, you must believe (have faith) in Jesus. For God will "make righteous the one who has faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:26).
Moreover, this faith must be obedient to Christ. Paul discusses this in chapter six. "What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Most certainly not! Don't you understand that, if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you really become the slaves of that one you obey? You can be slaves who obey sin and die, or a slaves who obey God and are thus made righteous" (Romans 6:15-16)
People are made righteous by God through the blood of Jesus when they have an obedient faith in him. That's the simple, wonderful truth, and I commend it to you.
God’s wrath and God’s grace are both righteous. But we wish to escape God’s wrath and enjoy God’s grace. To this end Jesus died and shed his blood. So we put our faith in him and obey his commands.