Going on from Easter

By Not Known

The Easter message tells of how God so loved us sinners that he gave his Son so that, instead of facing judgement, we have eternal life. This is a welcome message but it is also the start of the good news

God’s Easter love goes on to our peace and joy as we read in Rom 5: 1- 11.

This is firstly peace with God (v1). By faith in Jesus’ Cross we are justified before God – that is, judgement is lifted from us and we have a status of innocence before him. Instead of hostility with God we have peace. And such is our nature that peace with God enables us then to have peace with ourselves (psychological peace), peace with others (social peace) and to live at peace with the creation (environmental peace)

Joy is the next step. But this is where it gets interesting. Paul speaks of the believer’s joy in the hope of God’s glory (v2). This is joy in the hope of heaven. It is an understandable joy. Joy is a natural response as we contemplate the hope of leaving this sin-stained world for the certainly of eternity in God’s presence. But look what comes next: the believer is able to rejoice in suffering (vs3) – because suffering is god’s school for character. Suffering weans us from the things of this earth, moulds our character after God’s nature and leads us to him (vs 4- 5)

Let’s be clear about this. The Christian does not seek suffering like a spiritual masochist. Nor should we be sanguine before the things that brings suffering to ourselves and others. Nor do we deny the real pain and hurt of suffering. Nor do we hide from the fact that our suffering may have evil causes. But the Christian can rejoice in suffering, because God weaves it into his good purposes. Suffering does not separate us from his love, but is the platform on which his love is worked out (Rom 8: 28- 39)

This peace and joy in hope and suffering is all grounded in God’s love for us (vs 5- 10). As we see how god loved us when we were his enemies, our confidence is increased that he will continue to love us now that we are his friends through Jesus. And all of that leads us to rejoice in God himself (v 11)

All these themes link together at the Cross. Through the suffering of Jesus, God provided for our justification, gave us peace with himself and demonstrated his love so deeply that we not only have hope for eternity but are able to rejoice in our present sufferings.