header image
Home arrow Griffin's History arrow Comments on Romans 5
Comments on Romans 5 PDF Print E-mail
Written by J.H. Oliphant   

ARTICLE ONE

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”— Rom. v. 1.

Some think the coma should be at “jus­tified,” then read “By faith we have peace with God,” but the coma should be at the word “Faith.” If we object to it here we would have to change other places. See Rom. iii. 28—”A man is justified by faith,” (Gal. ii. 16). Gal. iii. 24—“That we might be justified by faith.” I think the punctuation is right. That we are “justified by faith” is plainly taught in other places, so we need not fault this punctuation. But what is it to be justified by faith? Some say we are justified by his blood “meritoriously”, verse 9, and by faith “instrumentally”, verse 1, and “by works declaratively” Jas. ii. 21. The word means to “declare one to be innocent.” Good works “declare one to be innocent,” so the “blood of Christ that speaketh better things than the blood of Abel” declares us to be innocent, and as faith apprehends Christ as our Redeemer and righteousness, it declares us innocent.

“Justified.” The word is like the word round, square, etc.; if one be justified he cannot be more so, it is perfect or not at all. Our faith cannot be the cause or ground of our justification because our faith is only in degrees and seldom perfect if ever.

The righteousness of Christ is of steady value and is capable of being the cause of a justification that is steady, eter­nally the same. “It is God that justifieth” (us)—Rom. viii. 31. He justifies us in view of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. As God was the redemption that is in Christ Jesus it is perfect and substitutive and fit to be the ground on which an eternal justi­fication rests.

When the conscience is disturbed about sin it will not be at rest until some way is found to satisfy the violated law. “The law is written in their hearts.”—Heb. viii. 10. They love the law and will have no peace till faith discovers a plan in Christ to save and yet honor the law; this restores peace to the conscience. The quickened sinner does not want to be saved any way, but he craves salvation in a way of justice so that he will be welcome in heaven. And as faith sees in Christ what we need, and applies it to us, it brings “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ;” that which satisfies the law, also satisfies the good and tender con­science, and peace and ease of mind ensues.

Verse 2—”By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” We are encouraged to come to him as faith discovers his perfections and applies them to us. We are encouraged to come near to him in worship, in prayer, in preaching or hearing. We are weak, but all power is in him; we are poor, but he is rich; we are unrighteous, but he has righteousness for himself and for us. We come in his name, and ask in his name, and we trust in his name.

“Wherein we stand;” note, not wherein we fall, but “wherein we stand.” First, we stand in him as our head and represen­tative. We died in him, and arose, and as­cended in him as our head, we are kept by him (1 Pet. i. 5). Second, we stand in him experimentally; he was our first hope, and has been our hope through life. We come as sinners, trusting in a sinner’s Friend; and there is where we stand to­day.

An English preacher says, “An empty sack will not stand—it will fall, because it is empty—because there is nothing in it. But a sack full of good wheat will stand up as straight as a peg. So some people fall because there is nothing in them, and oth­ers stand because there is something in them.” We love to have those join the church that have something in them. Some preachers fall because there is nothing in them.

“And rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” We think with pleasure of our home above. 2 Cor. v. 8—“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord;” “desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is in heaven.” We often dread death, and wonder if we shall have dying grace; we do not need dying grace until we come to die, and we hope to find it true that “as thy days, so shall thy strength be.” The Savior seemed to dread death, and we need not be surprised if we, too, shall shudder at it, but “Let us rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

 

ARTICLE TWO

“We glory in tribulations also.”—Rom. v. 3.

Paul was more concerned about his re­ligious welfare than any thing else, and he knew that tribulation was better for him than worldly ease and prosperity, and on this account he gloried in it. Storms cause the roots to strike deeper and to lay hold of the earth and rocks below. So trials cause us to take a firmer hold on Christ.

“Before I was afflicted I went astray.” “Trials make the promise sweet.” We are proud and vain enough as it is, but if we met no disappointments what would we be!

Paul gloried in anything that deepened his humility and strengthened his love to God, and helped him to set his affections there.

“Tribulation worketh patience.” Long or repeated tribulation will work patience, and in this we learn experience. The old Christian can instruct the young one as to the trials of life. You may think that your sun has gone down, that your hope is end­ed, and all your comforts have dried up; but the old soldier can tell you all about it. “Experience” means to know, and the old soldier knows—he knows that the storm will go by, the war will end, and this dark night will give place to a morning sun, and so knowledge of the trials of life “works hope.” If I am down now, I was so once before and was delivered. That part of the wheel that is now down in the mud soon be­gins to ascend. So the Christian that is near despair is not kept there long.

The daily experience of the Christian strengthens our hope; when the skies are dark it keeps from despair or pride. We have reason to glory in the trials of life that make the inner man” strong and bring us to be reconciled to death.

“Hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts” “The love of God” That is, we love God because his love is shed abroad in our hearts. Those who love God are prepared to serve him without shame, or to suffer if need be the tribulations that are directed by the Father’s hand. We are often ashamed of our poor service, but not of him nor of his commands. We are not ashamed because of all that he has done for us, nor for all we hope he will do. “For when we were yet without strength; in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” We were “without strength,” that is, we were unable to do anything to bring about our salvation. He undertook for us, expecting us to do nothing towards delivery—he assumed all the burden.

This “without strength” is a veto to every conditional theory. What can a man without strength do? What need has such a man with a conditional system?

“In due time.” Our sins were like a debt that fell due at a certain time, and at that time he was there with the payment. “The hireling fleeth;” but he was not a hireling, he was the Shepherd of the sheep.

“For the ungodly;” in their room and stead—as their substitute. The commer­cial view of the atonement is the right view. The church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood;” “ye are not your own;” “but ye are bought with a price.”

“Christ died for us.” Two things are made plain in this. One is that he loved us, and the other is, he designed to save us. One might die for a righteous man, “perad­venture for a good man some would even dare to die.” It would be great love that would cause one to die for a good man. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man would lay down his life for his friend.” But God commendeth his love to us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Here is exceeding love, that Christ died for sinners— “for the ungodly.” He proves his love for us by dying for us. He must have loved us with love inexpressible.

The way he takes to exhibit it, and the death he died, all declare his love for us. “That ye may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, . . . and to know the love of Christ that passeth knowledge.” It is a dictate of reason that God will not suffer the objects of such Love as this to perish at last. Many texts teach that he died for his people with the intention of saving them.

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, . . . that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” Such love as this, coupled with the desire and the design of saving them, is a pledge that he will do it at last.

“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” The argument is, that if the death and suffering of Christ laid hold of us while we were “sinners,” and “ungod­ly,” and has justified us, then the worst is over, the most difficult task is done. If he has brought us along the way till we are justified, no doubt he will easily take us on. The road we have come is the steepest and roughest of all the way; the task yet to do is easy.

“If, when we were enemies, we were re­conciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” If the death of his Son laid hold of us when we were enemies, and reconciled us, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. The worst difficulties in the way of our salvation have been overcome. The argument is like this: If the team has drawn the load to the top of the last hill and yet not tired, much more it will complete the journey. The Savior has come over the steepest and roughest part of the way, he has met the cross and endured it; has gone through the grave and conquered it; and the difficulties yet are as nothing to him, and “much more, we shall be saved by his life.”

ARTICLE THREE

“We also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”—- Rom. v11.

We joy in God, not through the works of the law, but through Christ; “By whom now we receive the atonement,” or rather the reconciliation that results from the atonement. The atonement, proper, is re­ceived by God, and we by it are reconciled to God. “Wherefore as by one man sin en­tered into the world.” Adam was in this, a public person, and acted for the race; was a federal head and seminal head for all the race. “All have sinned” in him and “death passed upon all men.” If it were complained of that the destiny of all men ought not to be suspended upon the loyalty of one man, we reply that this is as reasonable as that our salvation should depend on the loyalty of Christ. Death passed upon all men—all the race— so that infants were drowned in the flood and perished in Sodom, and in all ages have been subject to death; and this proves they were under the curse. It was for the sin “of one man.” The sin of Eve did not corrupt the fountain only for her­self. Adam was the representative head that brought the race into ruin.

Paul argues, in verse 13, that the law was in force because sin was in the world, sin not being imputed where there is no law. So it is plain that if death reigned from Adam to Moses then the law was in force during this time, “even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression.” That is, they did not transgress a statute given them as Adam did. And infants did not sin as Adam did against a given law, yet death reigned over them. They suffered as adults do in death, and this all argues that they were involved in the sin of Adam, and were exposed to the curse of the law as adults are.

Adam and Christ are both set forth as heads of those they represent, and we will miss in explanation if we consider them as representing the same company. To do so will lead us into Universalism.

“If through the offense of one, many be dead.” No doubt this one is Adam, and all represented by him are, first, dead in sin, and are, or will be, dead in body. “Much more the grace of God and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” The two manys here denote, first, the many that Christ represented, to whom the grace of God abounded; second, the many that are dead, that Adam represented.

“Much more.” Paul uses this expres­sion often in his writing, and it here indi­cates that possibly it might be so, that some represented by Adam will escape the death of the body as Enoch and Elijah, or those that are alive and remain at the com­ing of Christ, who shall be changed in a moment, but not one represented by Christ shall fail to receive the fruits of his repre­sentation.

In some things the headship of Adam and Christ (verse 16) are similar and in some very dissimilar. “The judgment” was by one to condemnation, one single offense; but the fruits of Christ’s representation respects many offenses, an innumerable multitude of sins. It is wonderful that one single offense was enough to bring condem­nation on the entire race of man. It gives an idea of the inflexibility of the law—that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than for one jot or tittle of the law to pass. It also gives an idea of the merits of the life and death of one man, Christ, that an innumerable company shall derive pardon for sins more numerous than the sands of the seashore from his life and death.

The 17th verse is not so obscure. By one man’s offense death reigned; by one— here are all represented by Adam. “They which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” The two companies here are not the same; while Adam stands for all the race, Christ stands only for those that “shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” Here in verse 17 we have “much more” again. It. denotes that, as Christ is possessed with infinite perfec­tions, the effects of his representations are much more certain. We can imagine that some represented by Adam might escape, but we cannot imagine that one represent­ed by Christ shall fail to “reign in life by one.” “Much more they which receive abundance of grace, . . . shall reign in life by one.”

Verse 18 is plain, if we will note, that the two companies are not the same. “By the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation.” “The free gift came upon men to justification of life.” This cannot be said of all the race, and shows that “all men” in the two parts of the verse are not the same. Adam represented all the persons that Christ represented, but Christ did not represent all the persons that Adam did. This fact is clearly brought out in verse 19—”By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners;” this is plain. “So by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” Here are two manys, but they are not the same many.

“Moreover, the law entered, that the of­fense might abound.” The law does not remove sin, but it reveals it and perhaps ex­cites to it; it is the straight edge that re­veals the crooks, but removes none. “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” I regard this as experimental. “The commandment came, sin revived.” The law entered that sin might abound. Paul felt that sin abounded with him, but “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Does sin abound with the Phar­isee? It abounds in every awakened soul, but where sin abounds grace much more abounds.

Verse 21 is plain—”Sin reigned unto death.” Death moral and physical. The soul is dead in sin as a result of sin’s reign, and the body will be dead in the grave. Sin reigns, rules like a tyrant. But “grace reigns”; it carries on its work sovereignly, irresistibly; reigns “through righteous­ness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Grace does not set the sinner free, nor unlawfully open the prison door, but he reigns “through righteousness, unto eternal life.” Grace undoes the ruin of sin, delivers from death in trespasses and sins, delivers from the curse of the law, and blesses us with eternal life—the earnest of it here in time, and the fullness of it in the glory world. Grace will reign until we are delivered from sin and all the consequences of it—until the bodies of the saints are raised from the dead and fashioned like Christ’s own glorious body.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 September 2006 )
< Previous   Next >

Purpose

The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.