“One of the world’s favorite types of stories is a good love story.”[1] Maybe that’s because of how captivating and gripping they are. Maybe that’s because every woman wants to be swept off her feet and every man wants to be the hero of a woman’s heart. I think it goes deeper than this. I think God hard-wired us to seek love. We were made in God’s very image and because God is a relational being (having and enjoying perfect communion within the Trinity) we too are relational beings seeking a deep communion with others. Sure this is why we enjoy friendship, but it’s also why we desire the flow of romance, “…boy meets girl, boy wins girls heart, boy marries girl…” And of course, part of the flow of romance is strong attraction. Jacob labored for many years to win lovely Rachel’s hand in marriage. Boaz was struck with Ruth’s virtue. And Solomon, who had many wives, spoke the following about one of them in Song of Solomon 4:1, “Behold, you are fair, my love!” In each of these stories there is thick romance, strong attraction, and an active pursuit. These love stories are indeed tales as old as time.

But when we come to God’s love, do the same things ring true? There is an active pursuit, for sure. We even call God the ‘Hound of Heaven’ who chases sinners down in His gospel grace. But is there beauty present in us that would grab ahold of God’s heart and somehow move Him to pursue us? No, there’s not. Because of our sin, beauty is the one thing missing in us. Which makes the gospel story a love story similar to Hosea and his adulterous wife Gomer. Yet, God’s love given through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, is indeed the greatest love story of all time, we could even say it’s a tale older than time itself that goes back all the way before the foundation of the world.

How is all this true? What does it look like? Why did God send His Son if there was no beauty in us to strongly attract Him to us? Well, this and more is before us in our passage.

In Romans 5:1-5 we see the many blessings of being justified by faith alone: peace with God, access into grace, rejoicing in hope, rejoicing even in our sufferings, and experiencing the love of God being poured into us through the Holy Spirit who permanently resides within us. As we come now to 5:6-11 Paul desires to show us more. You think he had already exhausted his list of the benefits and blessings of the Christian, but he keeps on! Specifically in v6-11 to show us just how God has poured out His love to us. Paul does this in two ways. First in v6-8 he gives us a description of God’s love. And then second, in v9-11, he gives us the implications of what God’s love leads to.[2]

The Glorious Love of God (v6-8)

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

There is one argument made in these three verses. That God’s love is glorious and has been displayed for all to see in the death of Jesus. This basic statement is given to us in v6, and then it’s proved in v7-8. See v6 then, what it states clearly. It begins with “For…” to connect with v5, where we learned how God pours His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. But ask, ‘How do we know God’s love?’[3] Is it just the pouring into us that God does or is it more? v6 shows us it is more. Yes, God’s love is poured into our hearts by the Spirit, but His love isn’t just a feeling in our hearts we have, it’s a sacrifice He made. That’s what v6 brings home to us. The love of God seen in the death of Christ on the cross is factual proof of God’s love (v6), but God’s love is far more than just historical fact isn’t it? It’s driven home to our hearts (v5) and where we experience His love through the Spirit.[4]

v6 tells us more. It shows the character of those Christ died for. He didn’t die for squeaky clean people who have it all put together, no. Christ died for the weak, for the ungodly. Again, long ago it was Jacob who was drawn to the great pursuit of Rachel’s heart because of her pure beauty. Her beauty attracted him, drew him in, and fanned his love into flame. Contrast that with Hosea. God told Hosea to pursue Gomer, not for her pure beauty, she had none, she was a prostitute. There wasn’t anything in Gomer that fanned Hosea’s love into flame that put him on the pursuit! So why did God tell Hosea to do this? To illustrate to His people what His pursuit of them was like. They were the adulterous ones who had gone after many other lovers, but God, despite their sin and despite their ugliness, pursued them and loved them. Such is the case here in v6. Christ wasn’t sent by the Father to love and die for a beautiful bride, no we’re weak and ungodly. We don’t catch the Father’s eye and stir up love in Him to come for us, there was nothing in us to commend us to Him. The Father didn’t look out at us from heaven, see our worth and value and loveliness, feel empty without us, and then send His Son to die for us, not at all! Such a view of man is far too high and such a view of God’s love is far too low. See it, behold it, and be stunned by it. The depths and heights of the Father’s love is this: that He sent His Son to die for unlovable, adulterous, weak, and ungodly sinners who themselves go after other lovers. For these He died. This is the wonder of God’s love Church!

Perhaps you struggle with this though. Perhaps you’re a bit tired of coming to church and hearing how bad you are. Perhaps you feel a bit bruised with all this talk of our sin. Perhaps you’d rather come and hear about how great you are instead? Church, it’s always been those who have known and owned their sin the deepest, who have beheld and enjoyed the love of God the greatest. Why is that so? Because it shows us the glorious love of God. So if we ignore, if we deny, even if we downplay the reality of our own sin, we won’t see the greatness of the Father’s love and how far He descended to save us. v6 shows us this, at the very time of weakness and ungodliness, the great love of God was displayed for all to see.

Paul then continues on to expand this very idea in v7-8 by using a ‘lesser to the greater’ kind of argument. In v7 we find a description of love in the human sphere. “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die…” This might feel strange because Paul uses the words ‘righteous’ and ‘good’ about certain people. He’s not saying in God’s sight certain people are truly righteous or good, no. We need to remember he’s speaking in human terms here, and not contradicting the first three chapters of Romans. He’s saying most people would rarely consider dying or sacrificing themselves for a generally righteous or just person who abides by the laws, but most people might consider dying for a person they know to be good, according to how man commonly sees goodness. But, do you see what’s not here in v7? While men and women might think about sacrificing themselves for righteous people and might even be willing to sacrifice themselves for good people, no one would ever consider sacrificing themselves or dying for wicked people.

But, my oh my, what’s absent in v7 is very present in v8. If such a love exists among men and women, see how much greater the love of God is. God is willing to do what no man and what no woman would ever be willing to do. In contrast to the best of human love stands the love of God. “…but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Here we see how much God’s love is far greater than any love found among mankind, for God loves and sacrifices for His enemies. Isn’t that what ‘sinners’ means? Those who are hostile to God, at war with God, those who refuse to honor and submit to God. For these He died? Yes! So while the world might consider dying for those who deserve it, God delivers His own Son to the cross for those who don’t. “In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

This is the glorious love of God. But we don’t stop here, no, God’s love takes us on to much more.

The Great ‘Much More’ (v9-11)

We just saw that v6-8 makes one argument, a ‘lesser to the greater’ kind of argument about God’s great love. In v9-11 we see the same thing happening. One argument is made here in these three verses, but this argument is all about the ‘much more.’ What do I mean? Well the phrase ‘much more’ occurs repeatedly in these three verses, teaching us that if THING A is true how much more must THING B be true?![5] What’s the big point of all these ‘much more’ phrases? Well, in v6-8 there was a lot about the death of Christ, and that in the death of Christ God displayed His great love. In these ‘much more’ phrases of v9-11 we now see more benefits that come to us from God’s great love in the death of His Son.[6]

Let’s walk through these ‘much more’ phrases one at a time.

First much more. v9, “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.”

v9 begins very similar to how 5:1 begins speaking of our justification once again. But back in v1 it was, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith…” Notice how v9 puts it? Since we have been justified “by His blood.” Curious way to phrase this isn’t it? Why does Paul, who so often speaks of faith when he’s talking about justification, why does he speak of it so differently now saying we’ve been justified by the blood of Jesus? Think of where we’ve been today. What was the subject in v6-8? Wasn’t it all about the death of Christ? It was. So having just explained much about the great love of God displayed through the death of Jesus, that Paul moves into these much more statements is evidence he’s still got the death of Christ on his mind. This is why he says we’re justified by His blood.[7]

Now we see the first much more come into view. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much moreshall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.” In other words, since it’s true that God so worked to save us in the past through the death of Jesus, how much more is it true that God will save us in the end from His wrath? While the love of God is poured into the hearts of those who believe in Jesus, the wrath of God will be poured out on the day of judgment on all who reject Jesus. As we anticipate that final day dawning, do you grow worried or fearful that God will judge you and find you wanting or lacking and pour out wrath on you? You might, but this verse exists to work hope and assurance into you. Why? Because of the much more. Since it’s true that God has saved us by His blood in the past, much more, we know the same blood will cover us in the end.

Second much more. v10, “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.”

Here we read the fourth word that describes us. In v6 we’re called weak and ungodly. In v8 we’re called sinners. Now in v10 we’re called enemies. Enemies, it’s a potent word don’t you agree? This is not just someone who might annoy you, or who might anger you, it’s more. An enemy is a rival, a foe, an opponent, or a nemesis. What makes this potent is that it’s what we were to God. Enemies of God. Hostile rebels who were seeking to dethrone God as King and enthrone ourselves. But are we this still? Look at v10. “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.” In other words, since it’s true that God reconciled us to Himself through the death of Jesus when were His enemies, how much more is it true that we shall be saved by the life of Jesus? Or put it like this, since God was able to save us when we were His enemies, will God fail us now that we’re His friends? Of course not![8] Again, curious way to say it, right? “Saved by the life of Jesus”? v10 not only refers to Jesus’ death with the mention of how we were reconciled, but it refers to Jesus’ resurrection with the mention of His life. So question: Jesus died, what happened next? He rose, what happened next? He ascended! To where? To the right hand of the Father, where He, according to Heb. 7:25 is ever interceding for His own before the Father.[9] So because He lives, we who are alive in Him shall live as well!

Finally, we see the third much more. v11, “More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

v11 begins with a much more statement, as if to raise the whole passage to a new level of joy and delight. Since all of what we’ve just been through in v1-10, how much more shall we rejoice, boast, glory, and exult in God through Christ, who reconciled us to God? Such examination and contemplation over v1-10 leads to higher and higher rejoicing.[10]

Conclusion:

As we end come back to where we began, to love stories. I said earlier that God’s gospel love is a tale older than time that goes back all the way before the foundation of the world. We mentioned, Jacob and Rachel, Boaz and Ruth, and Solomon words in his great song, how great attraction and beauty spurred these men on to pursue their beloved. Yet, be reminded of our text today: is there any beauty or loveliness that is attractive in us that caught God’s attention, moving Him to send Jesus for us? No indeed. Remember, like Hosea pursued a wayward prostitute, God in Christ pursues His wayward bride. This is God’s love for us.

I’d like to compare two responses to this:

Bad response: God’s love is great, and I will praise God because through Christ’s death He freed me from sin and makes much of me forever!

Good response: God’s love is great, and I will praise God because through Christ’s death He freed me from sin and enables me to make much of Him forever!

Church, whether in sorrow and suffering or in peace and plenty, we’re to be a rejoicing people because of God’s great love.


[1] J. V. Fesko, Romans (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reformation Heritage Books, 2018), 125–126.

[2] Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, vol. 4 (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth, 1985), 103.

[3] John Murray, Romans, NICNT (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1968), 166.

[4] Douglas Moo, Romans, NICNT (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2018), 333.

[5] Murray, Romans, 169.

[6] Ibid.

[7] This is how Isaiah puts it as well, in Isa. 53:11.

[8] Timothy Keller, Romans 1-7 For You, God’s Word For You (The Good Book Company, 2014), 118.

[9] R.C. Sproul, Romans, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2009), 165.

[10] Moo, Romans, 342.

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