A Cross-Centred Life
God’s Love Displayed
In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 22a of 83


6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For 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.

11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:6-11).

It is worth repeating that the heart of the book of Romans is the doctrine of justification, or the doctrine of how we may be right with God. Justification must be by grace through faith in Christ alone, says the apostle Paul.

In our last study, we saw how justification is the basis of all the benefits which we receive from God. In particular, we considered three immediate benefits of justification, namely: (1) Peace with God; (2) Hope of Glory and (3) Glory in Tribulation.

We ended our study with verse 5, which reads—

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

This is a very well-known verse. It is beautiful and often quoted. But I suspect most of us do not really know what it means. What does it mean that “hope maketh not ashamed”? What does it mean that “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost”?

Well, as usual Paul does not leave us to guess the meaning. Our text for this morning is essentially an expansion of this verse! Through this passage, Paul reminds us of three things: Firstly, God’s love is displayed on the Cross; Secondly, the Cross brings future hope; and Thirdly, the Cross brings present joys.

Let’s begin by considering the first point, which is:

1. God’s Love is Displayed
on the Cross

a.   What does Paul mean in verse 5, when he says that “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost”? Is it that the Holy Spirit somehow produces a warm feeling in our heart? Does the Holy Spirit produce a feeling of love akin to what alcohol does? No, no; this is not what it means. That is mysticism. It is not what Paul has in mind. When the Scripture speaks about our affections, it is never to be understood in the mystical sense. Paul tells us that we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2). The mind is the citadel of the soul. Nothing that happens in our soul bypasses our mind. It is the case too when God shed abroad His love into our heart.

Paul is painting a picture of God pouring His love into our hearts.  But this is done through the Holy Spirit illumining our minds. Paul teaches us elsewhere that our hearts, our understanding and our spiritual eyes are naturally darkened (Rom 1:21; 11:10; Eph 4:18). We cannot see with spiritual eyes. We do not understand spiritual things. We are not moved by spiritual truth. Unless the Holy Spirit makes the truth clear to us, we remain in the dark.

God therefore sent His Spirit to open our eyes, to change our hearts and to renew our minds. In doing so, He enables us to understand and to be assured of the truth of God’s love. The love of God comes to us not as a romantic feeling of love. It comes to us powerfully as a heart-warming truth—a truth which is made clear to us by the Holy Spirit. This is why the apostle immediately explains to us how God demonstrates His love towards us. He says:

6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

b.   Just how great is God’s love for us? His love is demonstrated by the death of Christ for us. Who is Christ? Christ is the Son of God, the Emmanuel, the God-Man. God loved us so much that Christ suffered death on our behalf.

And it is not because we were worthy. It is not because we deserve His love and attention.

Now, it does occasionally happen in the world that a man would lay down his life for another. There are, after all, some people who have great worth in the eyes of the world. Some are regarded as righteous. Others are regarded as good, or having good causes.

Suppose a man is regarded as good or righteous, there might be people who would risk their life or even die for him. We know that not many people will make this ultimate sacrifice. But it is a fact that there are people who love their political heroes or religious leaders enough to be willing to risk their lives for them. We take our hats off to these people for their bravery and loyalty to these individuals. We write poetry about their sacrificial love. And we built monuments to commemorate their ultimate sacrifices. I am, of course, not referring to wicked terrorists, but to those who lay down their lives for country or king in an honourable cause. The love in their heart that motivates them is commendable.

But what is their love compared to God’s love for us? Christ laid down His life for us not because we are worthy. We are neither good nor righteous in God’s sight. In fact, we were helpless sinners and we were His enemies! No one in this world would die for the sake of those who are wicked and unworthy. Yet Christ, the Son of God did so. He died for us while we were wicked enemies of God.

He died for us that we might be reconciled to God. He did not wait for us to reform ourselves. He did not wait for us to become worthy. If He had waited, we would never have been saved. He died for us while we were yet His enemies. We were hateful in His sight; and He knew we would hate Him from the moment we are born. Yet he died for us. That is how great God’s love is for us.

“God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” says the apostle Paul.

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 Jn 4:10) says the apostle John.

c.   God’s love for you, dearly beloved Christian, is great and undeniable. He has demonstrated His love for you concretely, in history, at the Cross. And not only so, but God has also given you His Holy Spirit to open your eyes to see this truth. By the Holy Spirit, you saw not only that Christ died for sinners, but that Christ your Lord died for you.

Does not this knowledge of God’s love move you? Unless your heart has calcified, you would surely feel constrained by the love of Christ to live for Him (2Cor 5:14). Look to the Cross, beloved Christian, and be ravished by the love of Christ. A sincere contemplation upon the Cross will surely move every child of God to humble obedience and love for Christ!

But, more than that, this knowledge of the love of God in the Cross is a tremendous source of comfort for every believer. This is the second thing that Paul is highlighting in our text.

…to be Continued Next Issue

—JJ Lim