24-7 Joy, IDOP, Romans 5, November 6th 2022

24-7 Joy, IDOP, Romans 5, November 6th 2022

Romans 5:1-11 Sermon on 6th Nov, 2022

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The leader of an organisation that supports persecuted Christians, Voice of Martyrs was once in Korea; and in fellowshipping with these dear brothers and sisters in Christ facing persecution in North Korea, tells them how American Christians are praying for them, for which he got a surprising response:

”We pray for you too American Christians, that you would find what we have found. You have so much, and yet you’re not very happy. We are on the run for our lives, we do everything in secret and hiding, but we have such grace of God. The presence of God is with us, and we have found such joy even in the midst of this hardship.”

Indeed this seems to be a constant amongst persecuted Christians. I recently heard the story of Esther Ahn Kim, little Korean girl. She had grown up in a very privileged home, and she refused to bow at the Japanese shrine during the time when the Japanese were taking over Korea. Because of that, for many years of her life, she was in very, very difficult circumstances: prison, starvation, torture,

and yet, there were many times in her story where she is crying tears of joy because God counted her worthy to suffer for His sake.

Or Darlene Deibler, the American missionary girl captured with her husband by the Japanese during World War II. Or closer home, Corrie and Betsy ten Boom? Incredible suffering. Profoundly joyful.

And the question I would like us to ponder on this International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is: What is the secret of 24/7 joy?

What is the secret of Rejoicing always, In all circumstances as the apostle Paul encourages the Thessalonians to do

What is the secret of as Paul says in 2 Corinthians, “to be sorrowful and yet rejoicing.”

Do you know what it means to Rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings as Peter instructs in 1 Peter

Everyone, those with faith and those without, know how to rejoice in happy times—end of year party, Christmas, the birth of a child. Everyone!

But the Christian is able to v.3 rejoice/ glory in our sufferings— which is a very very surprising and difficult thing to imagine.

Of course I does not mean that Christians don’t suffer, nor does it suggest that Christians don’t struggle in suffering.

It’s not even putting up a smiling face whatever the circumstances.

Christians feel pain, and suffer and struggle. Jesus himself wept when confronted with the death of a loved one.

The point is that there is a deep joy that the Christian can hold on to even in the face of suffering and persecution.

And friends, there are times that being a Christian will be hard. As we heard in the baptism liturgy, the pressures of sin, the world and the devil are real.

And as the world increasingly turns its back on God, I will even be harder. Christians are already facing forms of persecution right here in Europe for seeking to be true to Jesus.

And so it is very urgent that we ask,

Do you know the secret of 24/7 joy?

And the answer is here in Romans 5.

A bit of context, in chapter 1-4, Paul has been describing how all of us were in the wrong before God. None of us was righteous. None is righteous, not even one. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

And so God was rightly angry at all the unrighteousness and ungodliness of men, by which we suppress the truth about him. All of us are in the wrong with God.

And Paul reaffirms Jesus teaching that there is a day in which God’s wrath will be revealed.

Not because God is a short fuse, or because he gets easily overheated, but because God is appropriately morally indignant to evil. He hates it, and of course, he should hate it.

But then he says, wonderfully, that through the death of Jesus, God can declare right those who were in the wrong. That’s what that word justify means.

And this is not some legal fudge where some corrupt court official manages to mix files so that the guilty person is let go as the innocent one is incriminated.  no

God manages to, while continuing to uphold justice, to let the guilty people go free, as the son of God takes the punishment that they deserve.

 It’s a wonderful thing, and he summarises it again in our reading from v.6-10.

But as he comes to chapter 5, Paul wants us to see how that matters. What is the result/consequence of that justification thing—being made right with God.

v.1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Peace with God here doesn’t mean serenity or tranquility.

It is not peace as opposed to anxiety, I don’t think. It is peace as opposed to war.

One of the great shocks of the book of Romans is that, contrary to popular opinion, God and humanity are not naturally friends. We don’t naturally get along. We are not on the same side.

For Paul, God and humanity, because of sin, are enemies.

But because we have been justified by faith—because wrong people, through faith in Christ, can be declared right—a handshake has taken place. We are now on peace terms with God. There is reconciliation.

And it is this peace, this reconciliation, both at the beginning of our passage and at the end, that leads to joy.

v.2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

v.11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Or peace.

You see, it is this peace with God that leads to joy; joy that in v.3 is possible even in suffering.

At which point you want to ask, how? How does this peace lead to joy. What’s the link?

And the link, which is the main theme in the rest of the verses, is hope.

Peace, means hope, which leads to joy.

Or to say it differently,

Peace with God now, secures a future with God in eternity, and that means profound joy in God irrespective of what happens now.


The past, Jesus’ death, has secured the future, and that means we can rejoice in the present whatever happens.

Let’s look at v.2 again:

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

I find this verse really fascinating. You see, when we speak of grace, we usually think of God’s underserved favour. We don’t deserve it, but God is kind to us.

But Paul takes that idea, and says, because we have been justified by faith through the death of Jesus, we now stand in a place called grace. He gives grace a sort of geographical perspective.

And he says, if you are a Christian, you have access, the keys, to that place, that land, that realm, that environment where God is favorably disposed towards you.

What if we believed that about our current situation?

There would be times when we are conscious of failing God, and messing things up. There would be bad times and good times, good weeks and bad weeks. There would be promises we fail to keep, or new year resolutions we forgort about in June. But in terms of our position before God, we stand in the place of grace.

You see, it’s not like there is a day you will wake up and God is your enemy again. The peace deal has been annulled. All other relationships are like that, aren’t they? One day you are good, the other day you are not talking.

Not with God. If you are a Christian, you stand in a place of grace. And that means the future is secure.

Peace means hope, which leads to joy.

Do you see then that the basis of Christian hope is the death of Jesus Christ.

And he really emphasizes this:

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

The past has secured the future. There is an objective ground for Christian hope.

And that means that we can rejoice now even in suffering.

v.3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

A grim present, combined with the knowledge of a glorious future equals hope.

Imagine you are a student. It’s November and studies are just beginning to feel overwhelming.

Knowing that Christmas is coming in just over a month can be really helpful.

Naturally, you know Christmas is on 25th. Most of the time you don’t even think about it. But going through some really difficult time at school, or in the family, can intensify your longing for Christmas.

The suffering is not the ground for the hope for Christmas. That’s elsewhere. It is set in the calendar. But it intensifies that hope.

Now the future is secured by the death of Jesus Christ. But we can live with only a casual expectation of that future.

But suffering now can really intensify that expectation. I think, that’s Paul’s point here.

It’s not that Christians enjoy suffering or that suffering is a good thing. It’s not even that they don’t feel the pain of persecution. But that pain intensifies their longing and hope in the glorious certain future. A future where there is no death, or sickness, or poverty, or geography exams.

And so we rejoice in suffering because suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character intensifies hope.

And the best illustration of this is just ordinary Christians who have gone through suffering. In almost every church I’ve been at I have known people who have gone through some really difficult stuff, and these people are some of the most decent human beings I’ve ever met. Endurance produces character. Character produces hope.

A few weeks ago, Javellah and I watched a film called Silence. Quite a remarkable film. It’s harrowing to say the least, so don’t of you are not into things like that, but it’s an extraordinary film. It’s about some Jesuit missionaries in Japan hundreds of years ago at a time of national state persecution. And Christians face all sorts of extraordinary forms of torture.

And for me the most annoying thing about the film was the title of the film. Silence, and the premise is that God doesn’t say anything; and yet the Bible is never open in the film. There is no promises of God to hang on to. Just deep faith in the Jesus who suffers. Extraordinary how Christians still hold onto their faith and endure so much.

What about of the film was called hope. If there was just a bit more description of the future, the glorious future that awaits those who trust in Jesus.

You see the death of Jesus secures a glorious future for those who put their faith in him. And so we can rejoice in hope of the glory of God, but also rejoice even in our sufferings now.

Shall we pray.