St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

The War Is Over

Sermon on Romans 5:1-11

Text: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

It is one of the most iconic images that ever graced the cover of Life magazine. I am sure you have all seen it. It is the picture of a sailor kissing a nurse. This particular issue was published on August 27, 1945. What is often lost is the reason for that kiss. That picture was part of a story celebrating the end of the Second World War. There were other pictures in that issue of people celebrating the end of a war that had been raging for the past four years. We had lost many young men in Europe and in the South Pacific. Now, however, that war was over. There would be peace. This morning, as we study God’s Word, we are going to look at another war and, that God that THE WAR IS OVER. We want to look at 1. The Combatants. We want to see 2. The One Who Brought Peace and we want to see 3. The Peace That Is Enjoyed.

Our text tells us about the aftermath of a war. The war is over. The two sides have been brought to peace. Let us, for a moment, look at a time before the war was over. Who were the two opposing sides? Verse ten gives us the answer to that question: “we were God’s enemies.” So, it was us against God. In what way were we God’s enemies?

We became God’s enemies as soon as we were born, as a matter of fact, as soon as we were conceived. God had set up his Law for us to be kept perfectly. But, ever since, Adam and Eve fell into sin, man naturally rebels against what God says. He looks at God’s law and wants nothing to do with it. Mankind sees that God demands that he be number one in our lives. Natural man is selfish and wants to place himself in the number one position. God tells us that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Natural man says, ‘I will look out for number one and let everyone else worry about themselves. I will do whatever it takes to advance myself.’ Natural man has rebelled against God.

God does not pretend that this rebellion can go unchecked. He tells us that all who rebel will be punished. They will spend an eternity in hell because of their sins. There they will feel God’s full anger toward sin. God is holy and perfect and will not look the other way when rebellion occurs. All sin must be punished. God tells this to you and me and to the rest of the world. There are two sides in this conflict. Of course, because God is God and does not change, we all faced a sure defeat and punishment. Yet, our sinful nature did not care. It continued on its way, sinning against God. We were powerless to change anything and did not care to do so.

These two sides were in direct opposition. There could be no peace between the two. God will not change his mind toward sin and man continued to sin. But, then, something changed the situation. Verses 6-8 focus on that change: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” These verses highlight two things. First of all, it reinforces the idea of our complete unworthiness and inability to save ourselves. We could not save ourselves by anything that we did. We were powerless to do anything. These verses also highlight the love that was shown to us by Christ. Paul shows this by a hypothetical situation: “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.” (Verse 7) He is saying that it is unlikely that one human being would die for another in spite of the fact that the person is a good man. While it is unlikely that they might die for a good man, it is a sure thing that they would not die for an evil man.

Yet, that is exactly what Christ did. He died for his enemies. He died for the sake of all sinners in the world. He did so to pay the debt that was owed to God because of sin. Because the sin has been removed, God and man can now be at peace. Christ’s death brings peace to the two warring parties. Verse 1 of our text points to the work that Jesus did for us: “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Elsewhere in our text, it says, “We were reconciled to him through the death of his Son.” (Verse 10) The conflict is over. Our debt to God has been paid in full. We have been made his children through Baptism. We no longer need to fear God, because he now calls himself “our Father.” We thank God that he sent Jesus into the world to bring about peace between us and God through his death. The war is over! Peace is now ours!

Let us look at this peace that we enjoy because of Christ’s work. In the world, when a war is over, the peace that is between two enemies is, at times, uneasy. The two former adversaries try to keep some distance between them to avoid any further outbreaks of hostility. Each is satisfied if the other leaves them alone and does no more harm. Neither expects the other to do any good for them. Earthly peace is often uneasy and all too often broken.

Not so the peace that we have with God. God does not harbor any animosity against us. If he did, we would certainly be in trouble. But, we are told that our sins have been cast from his sight. Now he only wants things that are beneficial for us. Certainly, as verse 2 tells us, “We boast in the hope of the glory of God.” We look forward to sharing in the glory that is God’s. Because our sins have been forgiven, we look forward to spending an eternity of joy with God in heaven. We know that, because we are at peace with God, heaven is ours. It is a certainty for us.

We can look at this life and find cause for rejoicing at the peace that is ours. Paul tells us, “We also glory in our sufferings.” (Verse 3) This seems strange. What kind of person would glory, would rejoice when troubles enter their lives? Yet, Paul shows us the benefits that can come from troubles in this life: “We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Verses 3&4) Suffering produces perseverance. Suffering teaches us to wait patiently for the Lord to help us out of our troubles. It drives us more closely to God for our strength and courage. “Perseverance [produces] character.” The character shows that the person has been tested with the hope of passing. After a person has been tested, he is shown to be strong in the faith. God sends these sufferings to strengthen us in our faith. When we pass with God’s help, our faith is made stronger. “Character [produces] hope.” The more our Christian character is built up, the more we will look forward to all of the things that have been promised to us. We can rejoice in our sufferings because we know that they are meant to strengthen our faith. We are not to feel that our sufferings are further punishment from God for our sins. Our sins have been paid for completely. Rather, they are a loving testing and strengthening from our Father. We are at peace and can enjoy all of the benefits that come from the fact that Jesus brought peace into the world.

When a war has ended, there is often a great celebration. People show how they are thankful in different ways. So also, we can show our joy in the fact that the war is over between God and us. We want to show our thankfulness to God for all that he has done for us. Our lives can mirror our love for God to those around us. God has shown us what we can do to say “Thank you” in the Bible. There we see how we can act toward God and those around us as our way of being thankful. Let us show our rejoicing in the fact that the war is over.

At present, our country is not involved in armed conflict, though we know that the possibility is always there. Should our country be involved in armed conflict in the future, we pray that God would end the conflict soon, so that peace might be restored in the world. We pray that God would bless and protect those who our serving their country in the armed forces. Yet, as we think about the possibility of war, we want to be careful not to lose sight of the war that is over between God and us. Let us praise Jesus for bringing peace and let us live in the joyful peace that Jesus has won for us. No matter what happens on this earth, we can say with joy and pride that the war is over and I thank my God for his love. I can and do live in peace. Amen.