Key passage

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. How much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by his blood, will we be saved through him from wrath. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.

Romans 5:1–10

Quotes from Chapter 21

God shows his love for us…

Romans 5:8

A Christian conscience is a sensitized conscience. Now that we know God as Father, now that our eyes have been opened to our treasonous rebellion against our Creator, we feel more deeply than ever the ugliness of sin. Failure makes the soul cringe like never before. And so, following a paragraph rejoicing in the blessings of God’s gracious redemption of sinners (Rom. 5:1—5), Paul pauses to convince us of how we can be assured of God’s presence and favour going forward (5:6—11).

While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

Romans 5:6

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

If while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…

Romans 5:10

Jesus didn’t die for us one we became strong; he didn’t die for us once we started to overcome our sinfulness; God did not reconcile us to himself once we became friendly toward him.

God didn’t meet us halfway. He refused to hold back, cautious, assessing our worth. That is not his heart. He and his Son took the initiative. On terms of grace and grace alone. In defiance of what we deserved.

It was only after the fact, only once the Holy Spirit came flooding into our hearts, that the realization swept over us: he walked through my death. And he didn’t simply die. He was condemned. He didn’t simply leave heaven for me; he endured hell for me. He, not deserving to be condemned, absorbed it in my place—I, who alone deserved it. That is his heart. And into our empty souls, like a glass of cold water to a thirsty mouth, God poured his Holy Spirit to internalize the actual experience of God’s love.

Christ died to prove that God’s love is, as Jonathan Edwards put it, “an ocean without shores or bottom.”1 God’s love is as boundless as God himself. This is why the apostle Paul speaks of divine love as a reality that stretches to an immeasurable “breadth and length and height and depth”—the only thing in the universe as immeasurable as that is God himself. God’s love is as expansive as God himself.

I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:17b–19

For God to cease to love his own, God would need to cease to exist, because God does not simply have love; he is love. In the death of Christ for us sinners, God intends to put his love for us beyond question.

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and we testify that the Father has sent his Son as the world’s Saviour. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God—God remains in him and he in God. And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. In this, love is made complete with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because as he is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not complete in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And we have this command from him: The one who loves God must also love his brother and sister.
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of him. This is how we know that we love God’s children: when we love God and obey his commands. For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden, because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith.

1 John 4:7–5:4

What’s the ultimate point Paul is driving at in Romans 5:6–11?

For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. How much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by his blood, will we be saved through him from wrath. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received this reconciliation.

Romans 5:6–11

Paul is not driving at God’s past work, mainly. Paul’s deepest burden is our present security, given that past work.

It is impossible to be truly justified at conversion without God looking after us right into heaven. We were enemies when God came to us and justified us; how much more will God care for us now that we are friends—indeed, sons?

As God did not at first choose you because you were high, he will not now forsake you because you are low.2

John Flavel

His heart was gentle and lowly toward us when we were lost. Will his heart be anything different toward us now that we are found?

When you sin, do a thorough job of repenting. Re-hate sin all over again. Consecrate yourself afresh to the Holy Spirit and his pure ways. If you are in Christ your waywardness does not threaten your place in the love of God.

We will be less sinful in the next life than we are now, but we will not be any more secure in the next life than we are now. If you are united to Christ, you are as good as in heaven already.


  1. Jonathan Edwards, That God Is the Father of Lights, in The Blessing of God: Previously Unpublished Sermons of Jonathan Edwards, ed. Michael McMullen (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 2003), 350.
  2. John Flavel, Keeping the Heart: How to Maintain Your Love for God (Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2012), 43.

Questions

  • What was our spiritual state when Christ died for us?
  • When did we, Christians, realize what exactly Christ did for us?
  • Explain in detail what Christ went through in your place.
  • What is the ultimate point Paul is driving at in Romans 5:6–11?
  • How does Jonathan Edwards describe God’s love?
  • How does Ephesians 3:17b–19 describe God’s love? Why does Paul pray that Christians would know Christ’s love? How does this affect your everyday life?
  • In 1 John chapters 4 and 5, how is God defined? What does it say love does? Why does it say we love God? What will we do if we truly love God? How do we know who loves God’s children?
  • How should we respond when we sin?
  • Does our sin threaten God’s love for us?
  • What is justification? How has God provided for your justification?

This article is adapted from: Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund and Gentle and Lowly Study Guide by Robert Zink.