We are brought to the separation of our hearts from the world, and a clearer consciousness of what God is as we pass through the world. We hope, and we are weaned from the world which tends to shut Christ glorified out of sight. Our hope is clearer. Though we may have tribulations, we have both the key and the power to bear them. In grace, as God does not withdraw His eyes from the righteous, He watches over us in blessing, making everything work together for our good. The love of God [what He is in His nature] is shed abroad in our hearts. (v.5) It is God’s love, known by the Holy Spirit’s presence, bringing in what God is in His nature to our hearts.
Baptism with the Holy Spirit was one of the two great acts ascribed to the Lord in John 1. It is consequent on the value and efficacy of His blood, that the sins of those who believe are put away. In the Old Testament, the leper was washed with water, sprinkled with blood, then anointed with oil. We are washed with the word, sprinkled with Christ’s blood, then anointed with the Holy Spirit. That is not being ‘born again’: new birth applies to the Holy Spirit’s work in unbelievers: it is after we believe that we are sealed.
This has practical importance. We are accepted, forgiven and sealed. God’s perfect love to us when we were sinners, is not a matter of experience. Being accepted, we are sealed. Experience has its place, and some Christians would even oblige souls to have the experience of Romans 7, in order for the salvation of Romans 5 to be true.
While we enjoy God’s sovereign, causeless love by the indwelling Holy Spirit, the knowledge and proof of that love is in a work outside and independent of us. ‘For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly’ and, God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us’ (Rom 5:6,8) – such was our state.
The Holy Spirit reveals the truth; he does not reason it. be. Man is always reasoning naturally, with a vague thought of mercy. Even when repentant he carries on reasoning till he has really met God, and known His grace. (The prodigal talked of being made a hired servant before he met his father.) The Holy Spirit makes us see clearly that we are lost, but then we reason about God, and what He has done for us. Whilst this is going on, we are still in a legal state. When we reason naturally there is either carelessness and self-delusion, or a mixture of law and grace. With the Holy Spirit, there is no mixture: just clear condemnation on the ground of responsibility, or salvation and blessing on the ground of grace.
Hence we have hope. ‘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’ (v.5). Then we reason from the starting point of divine grace –
- We glory in God Himself
- We are reconciled
- We rejoice in salvation and in the God who has made Himself known through it
- We learn to joy in God.
This closes the first part of the epistle. Justified, having glory in hope, and joy in Him whom we have known through this great salvation.
A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans