What does the believer receive spiritually when he is born again? What is included in the gift of God’s grace, which is Christ in you, the expectation of glory? The book of Romans will provide some answers for the student of the Word. Romans is a Church Epistle; it is addressed to us. It is that Church Epistle which deals specifically with our justification, our salvation. Surely somewhere here we must find statements that will help us understand just what is wrapped up in the spiritual gift-package of eternal life.
Actually, the book of Romans is loaded with tremendous statements as to what was God’s great gift to the Church on the Day of Pentecost. This gift has been received by every person who has believed in his heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and confessed with his mouth Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9).
“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets: Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God: Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:21-24).
In this passage we see two expressive terms: righteousness and justified. These are both from the same basic root word in the Greek. Let us also notice Romans 5:17: “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”
What a tremendous subject opens up for us in that one statement, “the gift of righteousness”. Righteousness is the ability to stand in the presence of God without any sense of weakness, lack or shame, and to stand in the presence of Satan with the boldness that is ours in Christ Jesus. The word “justified” indicates the act of being made righteous. Now this is a thrilling truth!
Imagine what it would be like to stand in the presence of Queen Elizabeth or the President of the United States. Would you feel any sense weakness, lack or shame? Would you feel you belonged in the same circle as they do? However brazen or bold you might be, you ought to realize that there is some difference. And yet, our position as a believer is such that we should not have those feelings in the presence of God. We have received the gift of righteousness; we belong to the family. The ability is ours to stand in the presence of God who made heaven and earth. That is tremendous!
Romans 1:16, 17 tells us about the only source of information on this subject: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth: to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
In Romans 4 we have Abraham brought before us in a teaching illustration, and we must consider these statements with an alert mind. “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:3-5). “For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith” (verse 13). “And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness” (verse 22).
There are many more references in the Epistles, but the subject is so vast that I just want to bring it to your attention here. “Righteousness” is a great reality, and the term describes what God has for every believer in the gift of salvation. It is wrapped up in that one great package.
In chapter 5 of Romans there are two or three tremendous statements we must look at. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with [towards] God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). What happened to give us that peace towards God? We were justified by faith. Our peace towards God is through the work of Jesus Christ. God was not fighting us, but we had no method of communication, no area of fellowship. We were aliens, we were strangers, we were just so out of touch that there seemed to be no hope between us and God. But now being justified by faith we have peace towards God.
In Romans 15:33 God is described as “the God of peace”. So now we have peace towards the God of peace! Romans 16:20 says the same thing: “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” The gospel is spoken of as being the gospel of peace in Romans 10:15: “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” Thus one of the things wrapped up in the greatness of God’s gift to us at the moment of the new birth is peace towards God.
Now as we apply and renew our minds to the greatness of the Word, “peace towards God” can be a reality in our dealings with other people. Notice in Romans 15:13: “Now the God of expectation fill you with all joy and peace in believing.” This brings it into the field of the renewing of the mind where, through the operation of what God has given us, we start developing this attitude of peace; we start living in peace; we start manifesting peacefulness.
Romans 14:19 also instructs us: “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” There is no fighting mentioned here, but rather a showing forth of peace. If we are going to follow after these things we must stop and think: what could I do in this situation that will bring peace? Now we start to work out in our daily living the principles of the more abundant life, manifesting them on a horizontal plane.
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. By whom also we have access [introduction] by faith into this grace wherein we stand [grace is another beautiful description of God’s gift], and rejoice in expectation of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, expectation; And expectation maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:1-5).
Notice here that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. I Corinthians chapter 13 refers to agape, the love of God manifested through the renewed mind of the believer. It is the love of God in action. The love of God in the inner man is a gift from God at the time of the new birth. It must be clearly distinguished from the love of God in action by the renewing of the mind.
“God is love” we are told in I John 4:16; love is one of the characteristics of God. II Peter 1:4 informs us that we have become partakers of the divine nature. One aspect of that divine nature is love. So we have become partakers of the love of God. But when did this happen? When we received that same great spiritual gift-package of eternal life. Now again, with our renewed mind we start manifesting love on a horizontal level: believer to believer, and believer to unbeliever whenever and wherever possible.
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God’s love was always there ready for us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son…” God’s love has always been available, but we have been so slow to take advantage of it. The moment we believed in our hearts and confessed with our mouths Jesus as Lord, that wonderful love of God became a reality, an inside spiritual job. It is now up to us to work it out day by day.
“And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:11). If you have marginal references in your Bible they will give “reconciliation” for “atonement”. “We have now received the reconciliation.” Now at last we are reconciled to God. At the moment of the new birth we are in perfect fellowship and harmony with Him; we are perfectly reconciled. That is the greatness of what God has done for us.
“For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17). Here we see the steps that were necessary to bring into reality John 10:10b, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Our abundant life comes from receiving God’s gift, here termed the “abundance of grace”. It would be sufficient to speak of God’s grace, but the figure of exaggeration is used to emphasize the greatness of the grace we have received. The word “reign” certainly indicates a Christian life considerably beyond what is normally seen today.
“That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:21). “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
The gift from God is eternal life. It is life, not just existence but life in all its fullness, and it is eternal. Sometimes the King James version uses the phrase “everlasting life” for this same term. It is eternal from God’s viewpoint; life that has no beginning and no ending. It is everlasting from our viewpoint, because it had a starting point at the moment we accepted Christ as our Lord and Saviour, but it will have no ending. It is not by works of righteousness but by His grace alone. There is nothing more that I can do, only to accept it and enjoy its greatness.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1). Having no condemnation is part of your privilege, part of the greatness of what God did for you in the new birth. “Therefore” leads us to the previous chapter where the life of a person under the law is contrasted with the spiritual life of a believer. Because of the answer that came through Christ Jesus (Romans 7:25), therefore now there is no condemnation. The rest of Romans 8:1 is not supported by most texts, as the first phrase is unconditional.
“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption [sonship], whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). The Word says we have received the spirit of sonship — not adoption (which is for Israel). We were born into the family, we became sons, we have received the spirit of sonship.
Verse 16 informs us, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” Notice this tremendous statement in I John 3:2, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be. ” Some people are spending all their lives trying to figure out what they will be instead of enjoying the greatness of what they are right now. We are sons of God with power. We have received the spirit of sonship and belong to God’s family.
“Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). Somehow back deep in our tradition we have always thought that bondage and the children of God had to go together. God was viewed as walking around with a stick, hitting us whenever we would step out of line. Also many religious organisations try to keep the children of God in bondage. This is not what it says here. It speaks not of liberty but of the glorious liberty of the children of God. That glorious liberty will always be in line with the Word. If God’s Word says it is glorious liberty, then that is what it is! It is not bondage. If you stay with the Word you will never be in bondage; it will always be the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Even this far in the book of Romans we have caught a quick glimpse of the greatness of God’s gift to the believer. We will leave the balance of the book for your personal “treasure hunt”. It is exciting what God has done for us! If we put a lifetime of study into God’s Word and into the greatness of what He did for us at that one moment, at the new birth, I doubt if we would ever exhaust the treasure. I believe there would still be more to thrill us and bless us abundantly because of what God did.
The thrill of it is that at the moment I accepted Christ, I did not comprehend what was taking place. Since the Day of Pentecost men and women, by an act of their will, have confessed with their mouth and believed in their heart and received this wonderful spiritual gift-package. It is eternal life; it is power from on high. It makes us children of God and the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. We are reconciled to God and we received the gift of righteousness. We are truly “loaded” with spiritual blessing!
Copyright © 1998 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the King James Version. This article appears on the site: https://www.peterwade.com/
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