Romans 5:1-5 gives us three benefits of salvation by grace through faith that Paul has been describing in the first four chapters of this book. We have peace with God, we have access to grace in which we stand, and we are able to exult in tribulations, in anticipation of the glory of God.
How can a person rejoice or boast in their tribulations? The word here describes affliction and suffering as “pressure, or a pressing together, distress, or straits.” Picture a path through a canyon wall that continues to press inward until you are squeezed from all sides. Paul says we can rejoice when this happens because that is when the peace and grace of God enable us to endure. To endure is to “bear up under, to abide (instead of running away). It is to be patiently steadfast, experiencing a peace that God knows and is in control of the circumstances, and that He will give grace to endure.
This endurance produces proven character or experience. Literally, it is to pass the test. We become living proof of the power of God as we bear up under difficult circumstances. The value, or worth of our salvation is proven. It is proven to be effective.
What does this do for us? It gives us hope. Hope that God will be glorified. Hope of the glory which waits for us at the end of this journey. Hope is not just wishful thinking, but “confident expectation.” We look back at our tribulations and see how the grace and peace of God have sustained us, proving the power and value of this salvation we have received, and are filled with hope – a hope that does not disappoint us because the Spirit of God has poured out the love of God in our hearts.
Why does Paul take the time to describe these benefits of our justification? He is setting the stage for how we can live a Spirit-filled, victorious life that honors God and proves that we do indeed belong to God (chapters 6-8). The price that was paid for our salvation was not just to “get us to heaven.” It also provides everything we need to get through this life. If God is able to raise Jesus from the dead, He is surely able also to carry us through our trials. Just as the death and resurrection of Christ brought glory to God, so will our patient endurance through the tribulations of life. As we “share the sufferings of Christ,” we are made in His image, bringing glory and attention to the Father.
What “dire straits” are you in right now? How are you suffering? Is this life pressing in upon your very soul, so that you are filled with despair? God has granted salvation that provides grace and peace so that you can exult in this tribulation.
Stand firm in the grace that saved you.
Trust that God is working, and rest in His peace.
Fix your eyes on Jesus and hope in the glory of God.
Hebrews 12:1-3 – Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.