Yesterday I preached Romans 5:1-5 in our series through Paul’s letter to the church in Rome. After spending an entire chapter on the faith of Abraham and demonstrating that he was justified by faith alone—Paul turns to chapter five and points out two things that cause the Christians to rejoice.
Rejoice in the Peace of God
First, Paul begins by talking about rejoicing in the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. The fact that we were once enemies of the cross and enemies of God and have now been reconciled to God through the work of Jesus is something to rejoice about for sure. We were once under the wrath of God which is just and righteous and settled indignation against transgressors of the law. God has brought us near and settled the account against us through the suffering and bloody death of Christ. We should rejoice indeed.
Rejoice in Suffering
Paul goes on to make the point that not only do the Christians rejoice in their salvation, but Paul says, “we” rejoice in our sufferings. He included himself in the equation. Not only is he a sinner who has been justified by faith and brought into a peaceful relationship with God through Christ, but he also rejoices in the fact that he is counted worthy to suffer with him as well.
The word Paul uses here for rejoicing is “καυχάομαι” meaning to boast, brag, glory in, pride oneself in. In other words, it’s not only something the Christians were willing to endure, but something they found joy in as they were identified with Christ in the pain of public opposition and suffering for following Jesus. That should not only be true for the Christians in Paul’s day, but it should likewise be true for us today.
According to The Voice of the Martyrs, approximately 171,000 Christians are martyred for their faith each year around the world. We hear far more about political parties, political agendas, and other lesser important new stories each year through the news media, but we rarely hear anything about Christians dying for their faith.
According to Persection.com, on September 20th 2018 the following story was shared as a matter of prayer:
Authorities in Chiapas have forced nearly 30 Christians out of their homes and off their farmland simply because they are Christians. The men and women, who are also losing most of their personal belongings, are being humiliated, beaten and detained for days at a time by local government authorities.
As we survey the Scriptures, we find many warnings about the suffering that will come upon those who would follow Jesus. We must take these words seriously since it has always been dangerous to follow Christ around the world.
Matthew 10:21-22– Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death,  and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
John 16:2– They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.
Romans 8:16-17– The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with himin order that we may also be glorified with him.
Philippians 1:29– For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,
2 Timothy 1:8– Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospelby the power of God
Acts 5:41– Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.
We must not forget the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 3:12 where he made it clear that anyone who desires to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. As we survey church history, we find these words are strikingly accurate. Consider how men like William Tyndall, John Rogers, John Leaf, and many others. One man, John Hullier was taken to the stake in chains, and placed in a barrel of pitch. As they lit the flames, the crowd began to throw books by the Reformers into the flames with Hullier.
As Hullier was being burned, he reached out and caught a book on the sacraments – a book that was written to counter the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church’s doctrine of transubstantiation. He opened it and read it joyfully and loudly to the crowd holding it up above his head. He read until his eyes were consumed with smoke and he couldn’t see any longer, and he then held it to his chest and prayed aloud one final prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of that little book in his dying moments.
How can men go to the flames with such resolve and joy as they’re martyred for following Christ? The answer is found in what Paul says in the first two verses of the fifth chapter of Romans. It’s because of the fact that they have peace with God through Christ. They may not have peace with the world, but they have peace with God—so they can endure the pain of the world while longing for the eternal peace that they will soon enjoy in the presence of Christ Jesus.
If there is one thing we can learn from these verses it’s the reality that the Christian life is not an easy life. It will be filled with pain, rejection, and suffering. We must rejoice when we are called upon to suffer for Jesus.