24 May 2012Romans 5:1-11
"But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us." (v. 8)
"Results of Justification" is the subtitle for this passage in
the NRSV version of the Bible. It is useful to note the previous
chapter (Romans 4) ends with "[Jesus] was handed over to death for
our trespasses and was raised for our justification". Being
"justified by faith" (v. 1) because of Jesus' death, results in the
believer having peace with God, obtaining access to God's grace and
the assurance in the hope of sharing God's glory.
Paul (the writer of Romans) encourages the reader that "suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope" (v. 4). This hope is the assurance that God loved us and made the first move whilst we were still enemies. This love far transcends human love, and is an act of pure grace to provide a way back to God.
This is the grace that John Wesley discovered when he woke up the morning of 24 May 1738, opened his Bible to the reading "Thou are not far from the kingdom of God" (Mark 12:34) and later on went to hear evensong at St Paul's Cathedral. He remembered the words which the choir sang, "Out of the deep have I called unto thee, O Lord" (Psalm 130) and felt as if that was what he was doing. Reluctantly he joined a meeting of a little group of Christians in a house in Aldersgate Street, and while someone was reading aloud from the writings of Martin Luther, John Wesley felt his heart "strangely warmed" by the love of God. His testimony is: "I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation. And an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death".
It was a discovery that John Wesley passionately shared for the rest of his life, as a preacher and in a ministry that expanded in England, Europe and America to make him the founder of Methodism.
John Wesley's last words were, "The best of all is-God is with us!". Reflect on these words along with Romans 5:7-8: "perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die ... but God proves his love ... in that while we still were sinners, Christ died for us". What is your response?
If, like John Wesley, you wrote a journal (or blog) reflecting on your life and faith, how would you put into words your experience of God?