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Chapter 2
Paul's Benign Tsunami from the Lord

We have in our first unit, considered something of the depth and dimension of Jeremiah in his vast scope and prophecy, focussing on Chapters 30-33..

If you would like some progressive, Bible study, survey, following the opening with Jeremiah and going where it pointed, then this will be met by some further points  provided here, in our second unit.

We move now from the long-term coverage of Jewish history, one focussing on Christ and the Gospel and the days when Israel will cease to be alien to it, to the all-time amplification  and glorious consummation of the Gospel, following Christ's perfected performance as He completed the divine requirements for mercy, in that refreshing and astonishing movement, where deity became flesh for the purpose, in the person of the Son.

First, let us review

Romans 4:24-8:39.

We shall look first, at the


2. THE CLASSIC STATEMENT OF PERSONAL FAITH, based in Christ (Romans 4:23-5:11); then at


4. THE PRACTICAL OUTCOMES (Romans 6), then

5. THE BLIGHT THAT MUST BE RECTIFIED (Romans 7), and lastly


If you thoroughly grasp these things, you will need the grace and the power of God in you, and you will find the stability and beauty of holiness, as you follow in life what you read, in the Lord.


Paul, in Romans 4, has been considering Abraham. HE, Paul makes clear, lived a classic life of faith. His reward was from faith (Romans 4:2-3). Actually, Abraham was given these promises BEFORE he acted with Isaac, as if he would sacrifice him, so that the works FOLLOWED the faith. Similarly,  the justification famously referred to in Genesis 15;6 and quoted by Paul in Romans 4:3 was a work of faith which CONTAINED THE RESULT, which incorporated the reward, independently of action. This we show at length in SMR pp. 525ff., and in particular, at *2 on p. 531. In other words, a good tree brings forth good fruit, as Christ stated in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, and that is the order of procedure. The tree is first planted by the Lord (Isaiah 61:3, Matthew 15:13), and then it bears fruit, having been first created with the right seed (I Peter 1:23 cf. 1:3-8, cf. I John 3:9), so that it does not fail, being rendered incapable of it through these actions of the orchardist (I John 5:12-13).

Indeed Paul is vehement. After all, the cost of allowing pride a place is hell. It IS important. Heaven does not and will not contain such sinfulness; and if it did, it assuredly would not be heaven (cf. Ephesians 2:8-10, I John 3). Thus the apostle declares: "If Abraham were justified by works, he had something to boast about, but not before God." He goes on to quote that Abraham, ex works, was DECLARED justified by God. On the contrary, "to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt" (4:4), the apostle asserts, pursuing his thrust. But, he continues, "to him who does not work but believes on Him who justified the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness."

Having cleared that up, he cites David in similar vein, "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute sin" (Romans 4:8), forming the principle, "David ... describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works" (Romans 4:6).

It is our present purpose only to introduce the thrust of Paul here; but it is important to see that this issues in due course in the use of Abraham as a FAITH EXEMPLAR, and then as a FAITH PARALLEL. ABRAHAM was sure God could even raise the dead, and was prepared to lose his only son, because "he did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God" (4:20). There was nothing fey or fairy-like, subjectivistic or existential in this. Abraham needed a son for the race to develop and inherit as prophesied, and for the Messiah to come as indicated, in His time. YET he did not waver when the action he thought needful was APPARENTLY to the uttermost contrary to this. God tested Him, delivered Him and showed Him the way. The principles of priority, grace and power, a non-earning relationship to God as a son: these are given clear focus. Come to think of it, how perfectly ghastly is any thought of earning your way into being someone's son. It is an insult to all sensibility, an arrogance prodigious and a disproportion against all nature and example!

Not so with Abraham, Paul indicates in his survey. Then, he draws his exact parallel:

JUST AS Abraham believed God in the very face of all that the natural might suggest, on the basis of His word,
so do we believe not to the point, in effect, of offering our sons, but our sins;
not to the point of offering a sacrifice (for a ram was produced by the Lord to enable Abraham to HAVE a sacrifice which was NOT, emphatically NOT his son - cf. Psalm 49:7,15, Hosea 13:14, Isaiah 52:12-53:13)...
but of RECEIVING ONE, as did Abraham.

Our sacrifice, to be received, is not a ram caught in a thicket, but the Son of God, willingly caught in the turmoils and the scurrilous strategies of the high priestly party, of the Pharisees and the enemies of the cross. Here is more than a vaccination to produce the antibody, which a surgeon gains by taking the disease himself; here is DEATH itself consciously adopted, that death which is the PENALTY. This the Saviour took Himself, while, as it were in passing ,exhibiting in the gory mess that had been His face, the defacing defilement of sin.

As He bore it, this it did to Him; as they sought His sacrifice, so they showed what they were doing to life. He was not merely a legal sufficiency to cover guilt for those who repenting received Him, but a ghastly exhibition of the nature of that guilt. Indeed, the whole preliminary priestly pathology was in its intensely manifest character, shown up by His disarming innocence, and spiritual willingness to meet all it could throw at Him. Indeed, many of the priests actually came to BELIEVE IN HIM (Acts 6:7), so that His willingness was far from being merely theoretical.

"Father forgive them" turned, even for some of the worst
(just as Paul makes it clear, was his lot in a group to which he personally belonged in persecuting the church),
into the beauty of actual pardon.

Hence, says Paul in the inspired record:

"Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him {that is for Abraham's sake alone},

but also for us.

It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord form the dead,

who was delivered up because of our offences and was raised for our justification..."

The justification is a function of Christ's being raised up, which again, is obviously not something which we do.

Accordingly, in Romans 5:1 and 5:9, as in Titus 3:7 (where as in II Timothy 1:9 and Ephesians 2:8, we are referred to as having been saved), we  who believe in Him, are designated in this way: "HAVING BEEN JUSTIFIED BY FAITH... ", and then comes the result of this fact: WE HAVE PEACE WITH GOD. Not 'we hope to have peace', 'may be justified perhaps or in any good scenario'; but no, for it has already happened. It is a fait accompli. it is all past for the performance, and hence present immediately.


The Grand Statement of Salvation - Romans 4:23-5:11. Here we regard things of unspeakable wonder: a peace so profoundly gained, effectively conveyed and everlastingly applicable that it bursts into joy at the end.


Having found ourselves both JUSTIFIED as a PAST act, by faith, and having peace, as a present fact, with God - and the Christian is aware of these things, just as a baby is aware of being born! - we still gain profits by seeing the objective, divinely authorised statements on these things. Indeed, here is the authority for it. Thus, we find, as Romans 4:23-24 has shown, that this is THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, the One delivered up for our offences, and raised up for our justification. He is raised, that is, for the declaration of our acquittal by justice because IN JUSTICE, the case is covered, the cost is met by Christ through His own penalty in suffering death, lovingly, willingly and freely; and this,  on behalf of those who are to be His, a sacrifice offered to all.

THEN, in Romans 5:2, we find this, also known inwardly by the Christian, but, as in a laboratory manual, declared outwardly before the student finds it out for him/herself: "we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand". It is a faith which operates like a surgeon. The results of its operation, as with surgical operations on the body, are quite manifest, and in this case, the personal awareness of the divine presence, power and provisions in one's life is manifest. We stand, knowing the reliability and being inwardly indelibly convinced in multi-dimensional fashion of these things, as outwardly confirmed in them by the word of God, itself even further attested through the reason for the faith which is so freely available and overwhelmingly positive.  (We find the wisdom of giving such a reason to those who ask, in I Peter 3:15 - and this Web site is largely given to just this phase, along with instruction and exhortation, exposition and encouragement).

In view of this access and its ground, at once,  there is a place for great joy - Romans 5:2; for there is something called the heavenly hope, the awareness BEFORE it happens of what faith knows will happen, a sort of lustrous exultation which the now open eyes see confirmed on all sides in the infallible word of God and the unfolding work of God in this world (as shown for example in SMR Chs.8-10, or in Ch.5 in another dimension of demonstration, or Ch. 6 in yet another).

JOY? That is not all. Naturally in such a syndrome as that of the sickeningly pervasive presence of rebellion against the Creator in this world, there is conflict in this world, one currently is seizing it like a fit; and  there are things to be done against the 'ruling' current of diseased events, against the course of alienated minds, and towards their deliverance, something to be done to encourage souls to escape while they may (Hebrews 2;1-3) from the vortex of folly which masquerades emptily as wisdom (I Cor. 1:20-25).

GLORYING IN TRIBULATIONS is the next phase in our passage in Romans 5 (v.3). This along with joy is the testimony of the happy soldier, the alert warrior for Christ, who knowing that soldiering in enemy territory (I John 5:19, John 14:30) must involve discipline and dynamic, is ready for the wounds of service for the Saviour. It is a privilege (Acts 5:41). At times the tribulations, the impacts and difficulties are for the honing of the rough places in one's character, the testing of one's faith and, which is the other side of that coin, the opportunity to USE it in the removal of mountains which is both its proper exercise and its rewarding self-attestation.

Those mountains are not in general those of mere discomfort, but rather those which would otherwise obstruct or even render futile one's work in the Lord while one has the privilege to do it, before the night comes in which no man can work.

Paul then shows a new cycle. There is one in Romans 8:30 of immense significance, and another lodges here in Romans 5. "Affliction produces patience," as Berkeley's version renders it, "patience eventuates in tried character, and character begets hope, such hope as does not disappoint; for God's love is poured out into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit which is given to us." Thus there is a sort of wind-tunnelling which SHOWS the lines, and if it does not, helps give evidence of what is needed to HAVE the lines which are right, in the construction of one's character! The whole result, as if metal could feel which is being moulded to avoid fatigue weaknesses and the like: is a continuance, a reinforcement, a freshness, and a hope which is confirmed on all sides, by the work and the word of God, which is like the second wind, a testimony in itself (Romans 5:5).

Paul then proceeds to ...


Romans 5:6-11 now provides us with a clear pattern in the plan of salvation which interprets what has been wrought, giving it depth and height, objectivity and sufficiency, program and direction.

WHAT then has the love of God DONE!

This: when we were not in this blessed condition
(one speaks of Christians as is the case in the context, as hearers),
when what we now have is contrasted in other words with what we earlier LACKED,
indeed when to us belonged condemnation and weakness and alienation from OUR OWN CREATOR
(an incredibly perverse situation, in view of His magnificence and love of justice),

We had no STRENGTH to redeem ourselves, being hopeless. But the LOVE of God rose to the occasion and Christ, who had the strength and purity and the plan and the knowledge and the place of Son of God (Romans 1:1-4), went through the turmoils of the situation to the point of death (cf. Philippians 1:1-10). Paul dwells here on the enormity of the difference of the "doctor", the Christ, and the patient, the sinner.

IF THE SINNER HAD BEEN WONDERFUL, or even good, one could perhaps understand - Romans 5:7, though dying even for a good man  would be amazing enough. But (5:8):

or as Berkeley has it, "God proves His own love for us by Christ's dying for us when we were still sinners" - that is, when we were  caught in the web and weft of sin as our condition and situation.

Do not be surprised at our use of Berkeley's translation here, for it appears unquestionable that in this chapter he has captured the idiomatic force of what is being said in Greek and transferred it into a parallel idiomatic force in English, with scarcely a trace of the seam, in such a way that it is a joy to behold. Its translator's art is here a marvel. The rather heavy handling of it by the King James version - which appears  in making  a vast parenthesis which in fact disturbs the straightforward reasoning, and the same applies in the New King James - is bypassed by Berkeley who seizes aright the close development of Paul's theme without such strange distancing of one point from another, such prolonged and interrupted prongs of thought.

Thus in 5:12-18 there is a perfectly clear-cut and close reasoning which needs no more than 2 verses (13-14) for the distinction which Paul is making, requiring no interpolation of a massive parenthetical assumption into the text. But more of that anon.

Incidentally, let a point be made here in favour of using many versions, many different translations of the New Testament, and indeed some for the Old. It is TRUE that unwise and ill-based philosophic intrusion has come even into the area of translation, and perverse misuse of the textual data has been parallel to the liberal radicalism which in so unscholarly a manner for some decades sought to substitute man's thought for God's, even when 'studying it', as if students were to shout while their teacher talked (and man has paid in this brilliant century, massively for the intemperate impertinence this whole vicious program of disinformation of the divine, entailed - a folly, moreover predicted as shown in SMR 8-9). It is TRUE that there are translations which are even an enormity, using idioms so far from the original demonstrable meanings, as to demolish some of the fine features of Biblical truth. However THAT DOES NOT MEAN that we give carte blanche to mere reaction, and ignore the wonderful features which some translations have, some here, some often, some occasionally. THAT is one of the proper works of a pastor, to use what is not irrational or rebellious, or an intrusion, and to be careful with the food, so that it is not contaminated, but yet to provide a good diet.

But let us proceed with out text. GOD has proven His love by acting when neither charm, nor essential merit, nor human 'irresistibility' nor any other thing motivated Him: SIN motivated Him, LOVE motivated Him, the NEED of His creation motivated Him, and HE ACTED not because of merit but despite demerit, as Professor Skilton of Westminster Seminary, that most gifted teacher, liked to put it. (To this writer, John Skilton appeared one of the most enthusiastic and thoughtul of teachers with that rather rare gift of beign able to draw forth from students with joy, a blessed saint.)

GOD LIVES and GOD LOVES and GOD IS LOVE, and God did what was necessary, always with the restraint so obvious in love (see Repent or Perish Ch.1, and The Kingdom of Heaven Ch.4), yet without restraint as to the COST on His part! SINCE God did so much for such a ruined race, not to say one otherwise doomed altogether - as some seem to insist on being, for their own part, in any case (cf. Hebrews 2:1-3):  what joy lies in contemplation of what now follows for those whom at such cost He has rescued! If sinners requiring the blood of Christ for their being acceptable, so that the case justly inevitable against them might be dismissed on the ground of adequate satisfaction having been provided to cover the sin, even the ultimate, life given in death to pay: if these are redeemed from THAT mess, what now?

This: that the wrath deserved being so transmuted into acceptance, as they have been  moved from their pitiable and foul state to that of covered and received citizens of God's kingdom, how surely will it now be avoided. The sinner has been moved from such vast distance to such near acceptance, and now is embraced in the near security of the known God.

If it was open to God to deliver from that severity of sin, to Himself, how much more will He deliver from wrath to come, those now so brought near. If one has rescued an aviator about to fall at 80,000 feet with no protection, paying what it took, and being capable as it required, how much more will one save from a fall from a 10 foot wall!

"Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him" - Romans 5:9.

In Romans 5:10, Paul develops the point. Once we had three deficiencies for life:
1) we were actually ENEMIES of God,
2) we were sinners messing up the equipment, the design and the plan and
3) we were alienated from God, there being a revulsion from sin in the Lord, and a compulsion to it in man.

Now, being justified in the gift of God's love in Christ, sent in the plan of salvation, we have not the DEATH of Christ, a seemingly weak thing - yet one so highly effective, but the LIFE of Christ to sustain and keep and control and guard us. It is like two aeroplanes on collision course at high speed: if they avoid that tussle, when the least flicker of error would have been catastrophic and a blend of wisdom and work avoided it (the more so if one pilot was emotionally unstable and psychically adrift, and the other had to act alone), how much more can they be expected to avoid collision when they are 100 miles apart, on carefully governed paths!

"For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" - Romans 5:10.

Romans 5:11 proceeds to the joy: such a situation has such a change that it is filled with the thrust of a dynamic joy which flits like a swallow in the Autumn sky. The "atonement" - really reconciliation, one which involves like a settled account, a statement of the case past, of the action taken, and a cancellation of indebtedness in a free and new relationship, here with God Himself - it is this which is now a cause of such delight.

Here a word is in order to the "hopeful" Christian. Whether or not you be a Christian now, consider this. IF you are, then these are the ingredients in your life. We are hearing the nature of the life. These things  may not be perfectly realised, they may not be logically analysed; but they will fit, resound if you like, to these words of God which cover the fact and the case, describing the basic character of your life.

Obviously if you are NOT justified NOW, or are in some madness
(as Paul implies in Galatians 3:1-5 which could well be studied here),
you are trying to justify yourself when it takes all God gives to do it! even the death of His Son,
and allows no imperfection such as is yours till glory comes:
then you will NOT be expected to have this foundation or this joy or this peace. It would be idiotic, Paul implies, to BEGIN with these great gifts of God and then expect to CONTINUE to get them for yourself! Go on as you began, he declares, founded in faith and working by it (Galatians 3). Here in Romans the issue is the same. YOU ARE ALREADY justified and the ONE WHO DID it, did it on a basis which covers you for good, for always, because it is divinely planned and divinely assessed, and divinely passed and authorised.

Thus it does not say, "Having been justified by His blood, we MAY be saved from wrath", but "we shall be saved from wrath through Him". In full accord, in Romans 8:30, that other grand sequence, declares this: IF you are justified, then you WILL be glorified, even with the contextual glory of 8:17, that in heaven. So do we find also John 10:9:
If you enter the door which IS Christ
(not yourself or your church or your ideas or theology which you invent),
then you WILL BE SAVED; and so in Philippians 3:20-21, I Thessalonians 5:9 and I John 5:12-13.

For reference purposes, then, let us call the current sequence developed by Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the SALVATION SEQUENCE (5:1-11). That in Romans 8:30, we could call for reference, the PREDESTINATION SEQUENCE (cf. II Timothy 1:9-10), WHILE THAT IMMEDIATELY TO FOLLOW IN Romans 5:12-21, could be termed, the HISTORICAL SEQUENCE. To this let us now look.


For more on this, see A Spiritual Potpourri Ch.9, and
That Magnificent Rock, Appendix 1.

Here we reach the grand historical survey, to the historical facts which are basic and foundational to Christian faith.

This is essential to the new Christian, real basic doctrine. It is not hard really, merely systematic.

the one bringing in the ruin, Adam,
the other, Christ,  dismissing it with a celestial reclamation project of huge proportions, inconceivable cost
(the infinite is always in one sense inconceivable, that is, quantitatively, although it may be sensed).
These dynamics issue transcendental triumph; for God is not only compassionate but competent to the point of unsurpassable infallibility, Himself the just object of worship.

We quickly find in our present passage, that it focuses on a kingly payment from a King, indeed the King of Eternity, with paralleled impact in the arena of our own lives, in terms of reigning as subjects, being  so empowered. It reminds one of the British Empire at the material level, in the late nineteenth century, in its watch over its citizens; but it is here far more deeply imbued with spiritual beauty, uncompromised and with unmixed motives of love.

NEGATIVE: ADAM. The first man, not surprisingly given the name which means 'man' now, since this is the object of the concern, and the word both specifies and typifies the being concerned, what was he like then? He was like an inlet, a fiord by which the sea of sin came into the heart of man to an enormous distance. Its proud waters spread without restraint into the heart of the territory called man with destructive vehemence and unrestrained mutinous surging. According to the realities of divine construction and control, not to say word and warning, this led to death.

Death as we find now, appears BIOLOGICALLY PROGRAMMED, in no sense a necessity, but a part of the current format of our design with all its codes and conditions which, as with any other design, may be used operate to express and maintain it. In this case, THIS part of the code, which refers to death,  is for the self-destruct PHYSICAL aspect. Unlike the case with the recent (August 1998) Canadian weather balloon, THIS self-destruct call reaches its target with an effectiveness which is the cause of medical concern and human desire, to overcome, just as the weather balloon was a cause of concern because it did NOT self-destruct. So we may appropriately contrast the plans of God and those of man. Death has been programmed, it was so used for a reason, and it occurs by order. Research merely confirms the particular and specific fact that such an order makes appearance. This mortality, this death decree, it is not intrinsic, it appears at the biological evidential level; rather, if you will, it is extrinsic, or imposed *1 .

That is the teaching of Romans 5:12, as of the body cells in their own way. Now in 5:13-14, we find a distinction very carefully drawn. This relates to the DEATH which is a fact, which was decreed by God for the race following the sin which renders the hold on life a temporary thing with a certain end, short of divine intervention, in no glad state! We find from Paul here that this death has been delivered to our erring race in two different dimensions.

1) there is the mere onset of death, the penalty from the first for sin.

2) With the law, there came a judicially explicit phase, in which sin is examined, anatomised in the books of Leviticus and others, and the sacrificial system set up, with stress on rebellion, ignorance, oversight and so forth, in many layers of transgression. The law thunders and the rain falls on the error: the reign of error cannot be ignored. Judgment in justice is weighed and man made more aware of his predicament, his offences and the cost which they represent; and as to that, it is being more and more obviously FELT by this spiritually slow twentieth century generation, which seems to be putting so much of its thought into trifles, and so little into what endures, while glorifying itself amidst its deserved ruins, which are many and diverse.

The law came into force with MOSES, and since no jot or tittle goes except it be fulfilled (as, for example, the sacrificial part in entirety was - Hebrews 8-10), there is still the sting of law for this as for other generations since Moses. It remains in all its amplitude, except their be repentance to life.

POSITIVE, CHRIST: Also however clear is Romans 5:15, providing one of a series of comparisons of the negative and the positive, the debt creation and the debt obliteration, the call to death and the provision for life, which follows.

Here we use Berkeley as having that edge in linguistic felicity:

"It is therefore as follows: Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and so death passed on to all persons in that all sinned. To be sure sin was in the world earlier than in the Law; but, in the absence of law, sin is not charged up. Death, however, held rule from Adam to Moses over those who sinned but did not transgress a command in the way Adam had done, - who foreshadowed the Coming One.

"With the free gift, however, it is by no means as it is with the fall; for if through the lapsing of one person, many die, far more richly did the grace of God and His gift, that comes through the favor of one man, Jesus Christ overflow to the many."

In effect, Paul is simply making the point that death entered, later being legislated into the structure of law, by which in its time, death came as an imputed offence, reckoned and registered, not merely an announced result of sin. When sin came, death came; but when the law came, the matters were declared, evaluated and imputed so that in its time, the offence could be commuted by the payment of precisely the announced legal penalty, namely death. He interrupts his flow in 5:12, to 5:15, with this two verse explanatory comment in 5:13-14, one which in fact is a preparation for the developments which follow.

Having then searched and certified the issue of death, brought in through one representative man whose actions were by their very nature integral to the race which lived through and with him, he makes in 5:14 equally this point: the sinners after Adam were different in their KIND of sin from the case presented through Adam. Obviously, as to those who are already MADE sinners,  downstream from Adam, they sin in a way which is diverse from the case of someone created WITHOUT sin, but later finding it through his explicit polluting mis-practice.  This chosen in the very face of the available alternative to which sin simply did not relate, constituted a self-corrupting case, a change of systematics being introduced, and not merely a continuance in it.  Innocence is lost only once.

In other words, Paul is making it clear

a) that Adam was a specific individual;

b) that his sin was a specialised case which affected mankind, so that they are all different from Adam as he was at the start;

c) and that therefore sins since Adam are of substantially divergent IN KIND from the original.

Pursuing the subject of MAN AS CREATED in parallel to MAN AS SAVING, Paul continues to create a wonderful historical comparison.

1. Negatively, the offence affected many, dooming; positively, the salvation likewise affects many; but it is uplifting, progressive and powerful, involving as it does an intervening KINDNESS from God. Further, in this work of GRACE, there comes  a GIFT BY THE MEANS OF GRACE (5:15). Not only is there a gift; and not only is it grace that plans it; but what it  performs, what it provides is a gift made by the medium of grace. In grace there is a gift; of grace this gift is filled, through grace this gift is given, so that it is a "gift by grace". Its essence and its presentation both, its substance and its dynamic, its provision and its deposition, all are in the arena of grace.

Thus a gracious gift by a gracious means constitutes a gracious provision to fulfil a gracious plan, and altogether we see here how Paul mirrors the emphasis on ZERO works for salvation in any form, guise or situation, that he earlier stressed. Life is by gift; and the gift is by grace.

2. The doom came in the fall by one evil; but the salvation, the gift, is like the opposite of a plague. It spreads; but what it spreads is restoration, not desolation as in the case of Adam. Further, the sin led to condemnation, but the saving act to justification (Romans 5:16). The first brought irrevocable condemnation; but the salvation taking care of this very indispensable condemnation, annulled offences to those who believe, as it spread its life-giving thrust into the world. Each set, the positive and the negative,  spreads, is powerful; but the second spreads deliverance, and a sort of virus infection which kills judgment, whilst the patients themselves regain health. In 5:17 we see death reigning by defect of one; but much more, the sheer superabundance of grace and the gift of righteousness itself for many, will mean this: that these will reign in life through the One. Which one? It is through Jesus Christ that this reign occurs.

3. Paul re-addresses the issue in v.18. The concern is here results. The first situation, the negative, resulted in an impact of spreading, spiralling judgment; the second, the positive, in Christ, thrust like a gale the resolution of that crisis, as if it were pushing open the very door of life. Inescapable as have been the results of the first act of doom, it is mirrored and surpassed by the overflowing deliverance of the second act of justification; and as the first snuffed out the life itself, that is  in debt and without hope, so that second accounts likewise for the WHOLE LIFE. The whole death is counter-balanced by the WHOLE LIFE, so that it is to the LIFE of the believer which in one whole, that deliverance comes, a life made  acceptable and justified - Paul using the phrase "justification of life" in his explicit parallel - 5:18.

4. In language yet more searching, Paul in 5:19 makes it clear that Adam's disobedience CONSTITUTED mankind sinners, just as Christ's provision for believers makes of them those CONSTITUTED the righteous. In neither case did the recipient DO IT, though in each the recipient receives it. Where the recipient does not accept in this second case, the salvation offered in Christ, yet even here the loss does nothing to reduce the parallel for those who do. The Greek refers to a CONSTITUTING, or APPOINTING as to a post for example. There is a change of status and this of course relates to a change of state; but the change of state is not the cause but the result of the change of status, and the status does not remove the existence of sin but the persistence of its bane and curse and judgment, its sovereignty and its blindness.

5. The law? This was an advent to underline the gravity of the offence (5:20), but what it filled with condemnation, grace in superseding it, overfills, like a reservoir, a dam going over its boundaries in vast pulsing flows aided by the depths beneath, flowing down the spillways.

6. Finally, both in 5:17and in 5:21 we find that the result is not merely a cleansing and a change of status, important as this is, when ONE result is that you know and may commune in friendship with God. It is also a PALPABLE victory: death had ruled as king (5:17 - so in the Greek and in Berkeley), and now those who receive this gift of righteousness, earned for export to sinners by Jesus Christ the righteous, vicariously, these "reign as kings". That is the literal force of the term. So again in 5:22, "so grace might reign through Jesus Christ our Lord with righteousness that issues in eternal life".

In other words, grace reigns in position; power reigns in condition, and the second follows from the one, for the first brings you to God who brings to you life; and in it this power for living in His light. In His light we see light, and He sends forth His light and His truth and leads us, as the Psalms instruct us (43:3, 36:9) .


Our purpose is to highlight the power and plan of the Lord, with special emphasis on what, in the contemporary scene, are neglected or often confused elements, such as creation in all its detail and unique particularity for the first man, Adam, and salvation with all its plan and divine grandeur in the second man, in Christ, God once and for all, incarnate.

Hence we now merely follow the thrust of his survey, in order to gain perspective.

ONE RESULT of what Paul declared in Ch.5 is this: The glory of the gospel does not end in the death of One; for it flows, indeed grace overflows to the many. The overflow is not limited to justification of life, but includes reigning as kings, though of all kings, the crushed beauty of the humble Christian is not one of which  the world conceives as having regality! It is however, like beauty, one of a kind to which it is possible to be dead, and blind. It is one of quality of life, vitality and reality of knowledge of God, fulfilment of design specifications, friendship with the Almighty, perspective in spiritual things and knowing your origin and destiny, and the one whose dynamic is not limited to natural things, who is with you on the way.

HENCE, the justified life is one which has DIED with Christ in this: that the sin of the personality as such, is not the least; so that when its case is met, its end is met, and its beginning is new as from the dead, in a specialised act of re-creation which mirrors, parallels and redeems the first act of creation. You have this same emphasis in Colossians 3:10, which states "(you) have put on the new man, who is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him", and Ephesians 4:24, where you "put on the new man which WAS CREATED according to God, in true righteousness and holiness" - that is, it is something GOD HAS MADE and in which you live and develop, like a butterfly from a grub. It is neither the same thing nor a thing which is purely static. It is both new and to be lived. It has ways of its own which Paul refers to in Romans 8:2 as "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus". Although this is partly a dispensation and a dispersal of forgiveness and favour, it is also the LAW of the SPIRIT OF LIFE, the mode, manner and matrix, the force and the fulness of living in this redeemed and not merely renovated NEW MAN, situation.

We who believe are, then, in Romans 6, compared to trees planted together with Christ, to people crucified together with Him, to those buried with Him. It is nothing whatsoever to do with any sacrament, and in fact the concept that this teaching on spiritual holiness is something sacramental is close to clowning. The TOPIC is holiness, resulting from historical, objective and planned events and faith, and it is a matter of practical life being lived continually. The burial no more than the crucifixion has the slightest reference to someone spluttering in 'death' and shivering into life from the baptismal font! That is a ludicrous eisegesis, as well as a topical import. Death and burial are covenantal bases, and into this base the Christian enters, no more living for or in him/herself than is a buried person doing so; and no more following the flit of fancy than is a crucified person doing so. Anything further removed from the sacramental scenario, it would indeed be hard even to imagine.

But having identified the topic, let us appreciate what it has to provide for us. Continuing in SIN when you are a Christian is nonsense (Romans 6:1-2). Of course you are imperfect, considering Christ as the mark, but that is wholly different from living in the old misalignment and practices, thoughts and ways. As for making a virtue of sin, as if it induces more grace and so glorifies God, Paul is appalled as such comic contrariety, like pouting and silly children who will not look at the realities, but must be quarrelling their way into littleness with blindness for spice. He proceeds to the concept of "the body of sin", the nexus of misapplied spirituality which constituted the distortion of life which is what he calls "the flesh". It is as in Genesis 6, when the Lord announced that the end of all "flesh" was before Him. It is that insolently and insolvently self-assertive imagination which fails to recognise its creatureliness, its uncomeliness, its sinfulness or the way of its salvation. It is like tar, black and sticky, covering and inveigling the careless foot that makes contact  with it, when wet!

Consider yourselves dead! Paul announces (6:11), to sin, but alive to Christ. USE your equipment as under righteousness for its path, not consigning to the grip of sin at all. Indeed, "having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness" - 6:18. You live by GIFT, and that, it is eternal life; and you live through the destruction, the garbaging of the body of sin. It does not remove the presence of sin, but denies and disrupts its operational transcendence. A whole new vista and vitality in life, the new life, the butterfly-not-grub life ensues. It is not yet perfection, but it has its own "law of life". It operates entirely differently, flowing differently, growing differently, and glowing with the goodness of God resident within.


THEN, in the following Chapter, Paul recounts his pre-conversion experience, when sin brought him to the extremity of life, when he felt doomed by the intrusive dynamic of sin, unable to do more than think good, while doing evil, living a contradiction which loved the law but hated the performance, or wanted the performance of it but failed to achieve it: a life  which systematically and continually, by these high standards, was an abject failure.

This is nothing whatever to do with the opinion of one's peers, and is not even fundamentally a matter of one's own opinion of oneself, when in that unsaved, unredeemed and sunken condition which does not know the God who made it. It is a matter of a realisation, however dim, that sin is dominant, that life is not dominant, and that the gap is irreconcilable with reality. There lies the "body of this death", of which Paul records his intense desire when so gripped, for escape, a quantum leap: "O wretched man that I am ! Who will deliver me from this body of death?"

It is true that the apostle may also be making some side reference to such temporary fluctuations as may daunt any pride which may be a-building in the Christian life, any self-assurance which may be sneaking back in. Such events are seen in his own life in II Corinthians 1:6-10, where he learns not to trust in himself, as he tells us. It is of course not that he did not know who for so long had preached as he did, and written; but that there is the possible drift, the feckless invasion or intrusion which can creep in, or manifest itself when one is in some disarray. It is like the case of David and Uriah's wife. For THAT, to correct him after he was forgiven, David  had a therapy which constituted a TREATMENT, and reminders included the action of his own son, Absolam, against him, so that the private life which he ruined for another family was mirrored in the ruin of this part of  his own family. This however was not a matter of being denied forgiveness (and Psalm 51 beautifully shows just how clearly the words of pardon of the prophet Nathan were felt within, as the Lord Himself worked in David's heart). SUCH SINS, in other words, are not impossible in the Christian life, but the consequences are more like those in a well-run school, where the life is indeed given to God, and the moulding of character which results is deep and the etching of the required understanding may be long.

Quality is always of  utmost priority.

Paul, then, outlines the warfare of flesh against spirit which, though normatively found in victory, may have results for the unwary which may be humbling indeed (cf. Galatians 5:17-24), and which may strike even the outstanding servants of God, in some moment or phase or at some time. It is however emphatically not the way of life, its norm or its kind. Indeed, in this latter section of the Bible, we find that "those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires". This is not a suggestion but a description as to the norm and nature of Christian life.


We are now in a position to gain some overview of the thrust of Paul's inspired words from the Lord, from Romans 4:23 to Ch.8.

Thus just as it starts in its marvellous circling surveys, in the parallel so strongly drawn and focussed in Romans 4:24-25, moving from Abraham to crucifixion and resurrection, to Christ's being delivered up for sin and raised up for justification of life, and moves through Ch. 5 with its personal statement of faith, gathering force and momentum in the parallels in 5:1-11, and the historical comparisons in 5:12-21, it moves on. It takes in Ch.6 the vital consequences, in Ch.7, the dismal preliminaries and the heights to which such depths relate, to which no more must Christian feet return: so it continues through Ch.5 with its two pronged thrust, and then surges like an unstoppable tsunami of grace to Ch.8. Here Paul translates the key dynamics of God's action into the resultant reality in our own, not merely in BEHAVIOUR, and not only in abhorrence of sin, but in the ultimate interplay of life and death, vitality and tastelessness, the necrotic and the eruptive, the fallen and the risen. "For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live ", he declares, 8:13.

But is this exhortation? Of course, but far more. Thus in Romans 8:7-9, he categorises lives in terms of the resultant strains, like virus cultures if you like, which they attest. THIS IS NOT HOW ONE GAINS SALVATION, but the result of it, which is sure;  and this result  is not to be shown by its absence! If it is unwise to JUDGE, yet we may be wise to examine our own selves (II Corinthians 13:5), with no slack hand.

If you know the Lord, you will know it.

If however you are a systems person who has not met the Lord, one who  does not realise that the system he/she seeks to follow is a construction from Bible pronouncements which relates to the PERSON of whom it speaks, and to yourself, who have come to know him, then is it with you  as with the Pharisees of old, "You search the scriptures, and you think that in them you have life; and these are they which testify of Me; but you will not come to Me that you may have life"  ... ? It is not EITHER doctrine OR life; it is life in accord with the teaching of God which relates to life, in the presence of the Almighty, through Jesus Christ the Lord.

Thus Paul's wave surges right on to the inward vitalities of life in the Lord (8:12-17), what is called the inward witness in which the Spirit of God is like a friend whose intimations you are quite aware of, and in particular, to the adoption embrace, in which you become aware, as you might if actually adopted into a family, of the loving divine acceptance (cf. Ephesians 1:6), and of its assured continuance (cf. Ephesians 1:11, Romans 8:28-30).

This reminds us of what we considered earlier. Even in this height of delight, Paul continues to teach in objective style. Thus the new circuit: from justification to call, to glorification, is produced, with its backdrop, namely, foreknowledge and predestination (8:29-30). Thus the foreknowing God knows who are His own (NOT as Romans 9 tells us so clearly, a que stion of what they will do so that He may peek into it and decide whether this looks good), but He foreknows them for Himself in His own way, and in that love which seeks throughout the whole world (John 3:16), He finds what love may, according to what in turn, is His own sovereign predestining decision. The power and the glory, the principles and the selection all work together and God knows, foreknows; and those foreknown He predestines, calls, justifies and glorifies, as He states here in Romans 8.

THUS do all things work together for those who love God, for those, that is, called according to His purpose (8:28).

Then Paul invokes crucial practical areas : GOD? condemn someone for whom Christ died, who knows Him! Be serious! He who did not spare His own and only Son, but delivered Him up for us all, He tells the Christians at Rome, will He condemn! Will Christ who died? Will the Father who sent Him? Will He fail WITH HIM, freely to give all things to His own? (8:31-34). Indeed, Paul surges to the final part of this last vast beach of beauty, "Who shall separate us from the love of God ...?" - and so moving through 8:35-39, he delivers the final surge of this splendid ocean of revelation.

Our purpose here then is fulfilled. It is of course possible to move back to Romans 1-3, and on to Romans 9-15, but here we have been considering the systematic heartland in Romans 4-8, in this, that it is so integral in its parallels and its systematic presentation, that chapter divisions may obscure something of its thrust.

As Biblical workmen, we need to aware of these treasures and adopt them with delight.


*1 Creation Magazine, September-November 1998, pp. 10ff., has the medical testimony to the telomere, for example. Apparently placed at the tips of chromosomes, it seems to function as a counter to specify the cell division total allowed, and inscribed. When this ceases, the renovation, rejuvenation program ceases for that part, and so without replacement, the biological end, death, comes as the existing bodily apparatus exceeds in demand the provision already made. In a sense, it may be compared to running out of capital. When the bulk is gone, there is only the result to live on. The fact that in some ways the body could go on and on, yet is programmed differently, evidently required to terminate at or near a specified terminus, has often struck the medical writer in the past, and as new discoveries unleash more detail, it is indeed fascinating.

Thus after thousands of years, science has found attestation of what God declares from 1400 B.C. to the present in the Bible: namely, first, creation by word, and then, death equally, by a specific data input into the program. The Bible equally recorded God's third word - in Romans 5:18-21 for example, the destruction of death by the Prince of Life, available to faith in Him ; and the fourth word, to be uttered in its time, that to raise the redeemed dead, incorruptible (I Cor. 15:51ff.). It is a wonderful thing to see the progression from life, to sin, to death, to redemption, to resurrection, all by speech, the expression of the will, mind and thought of the creator, whose every action is attested in word and world, at this level, as it all unfolds.