The Prodigal Returns Home
Remember the story that Jesus told about the “Prodigal Son”? This guy took his inheritance from his father and ran off to a life of wild, foolish living. Of course he ran out of funds and ended up living in horrible poverty. And then his father’s undying love for him came back to memory and he resolved to go back home. Can you grasp the incredible emotions that were experienced? The father faithfully watching every day at the end of the lane to see his son’s face again? Both father and son embraced in great joy – the son’s humble confession and request for forgiveness – the father’s uncontained joy to have his prodigal son return home.
Paul’s use of the term “reconcile” in v10 carries with it the emotion expressed in this marvelous story. God was broken-hearted when His fellowship with mankind was broken by sin, and from that point in time to now He has sought to fulfill His promise of Redemption . His inspired Word, the Bible, constantly expresses how His heart aches to have his precious people return to Him (Hosea 6:1-3). The Gospel story, the truth of the finished work of Christ on the Cross, is the story of God giving man a way to come home to Him, by being reconciled to Him through faith in Christ as Savior.
1 Peter 3:18
2 Corinthians 5:18-20
1 John 4:9-10
In Romans 5:6, we see that God provided Redemption to us “while we were weak”. The word for “helpless” in Greek is asthenon which refers to being sickly, feeble, diseased, with no ability to come up with a solution, laying on the ground exposed to the elements. Other translations say “weak” or “without strength”. This is an emphasis on man’s status without faith in Christ – until Christ died, there was no solution, but now there is a solution. Each of us are desperately and hopelessly lost, drowning in the sea of a sinful life. When we grab hold of the “life preserver” of Redemption, we are rescued into the secure safety of eternal life in Christ.
Here are a few further observations on important terms in this passage:
- v6 – In due time-see Galatians 4:4 – not only “in the nick of time”, but at just the right time, the time most perfect for this to occur
- v6 – Christ died for us. A triple repeat in this passage of this important truth – 5:6, 8,10.
- Extra Credit: The “substitutionary death” of Christ for us is one of the most essential doctrinal truths in Scripture. You would do well to go to www.bible.org, do a search on that term and become familiar with the basis for our salvation.
- v7-For a really nice guy who has done lots of nice things for me-maybe I would take his place; but for a slime ball laying in the gutter? …nah. And yet, Christ did just that.
- v8 – God “demonstrates” His love. Not just a simple “show” or “reveal” – this term is to positively establish, commend, demonstrate, prove, validate. There is no room for doubt – salvation is real.
- v8 – God’s love- His grasp of and deep concern for our desperate need, His desire to do anything needed to resolve our condition. 1 John 4:9-10
- v8 – For us, Christ stood in front of me and took the shot, completely died instead of me. The spiritual, eternal death that I was already sentenced and committed to, Christ took Himself. (John 3:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18).
- v9 – Much more -all you see is the bullet, but actually there is much more accomplished in our salvaition: we were enemies of God, we are eternal beings and destined for an eternal judgment (God’s just wrath) in hell for our rebellion, and we have been delivered from that death. But “even better”, we have been “justified”, declared by the only High Judge that we “are righteous” as He is. Paul liked this little phrase – look for 3 more instances of it just here in Romans 5.
- v9 – We are justified “by His blood”. Verse 1 says by our faith, that’s referring to how God uses our trust in His work. Here the emphasis is on the “payment”. Here’s the scenario: our sin breaks God’s moral law, we are judged, found guilty and sentenced to pay a penalty (eternity in hell). Jesus’ blood shed on the Cross was presented spiritually to God and received as full payment of the penalty on our behalf and God then applied the payment “to our account” based on our faith (Romans 6). Wow! Big doctrinal truth, summarized in one paragraph. You can look up more by searching bible.org for the word “propitiation” – but bring a lunch.
Since Adam & Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden as a result of their sin, God has sought to recover that fellowship He treasured so deeply. He has worked since that time in many ways, in many peoples’ lives, sovereign over all the affairs of man, all the way to the first coming of the Messiah – Jesus Christ our Savior, born in Bethlehem. The work of Redemption was completed in Christ, the “once for all” payment for sin was made, and the free gift by God’s grace was now offered to every man and woman. “Therefore…we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)
- Be sure write your answers to these questions in your Bible Study Journal!
- In verse 6,8,10, what words describe our condition before salvation? Would you agree these words adequately describe you – either before you knew Christ as Savior, or now if you haven’t yet received Him?
- Romans 5:8 is a key verse in sharing the Gospel message with an unsaved friend. Take a look at the other verses in the “Romans Road” plan of the Gospel: 3:23; 6:23; 10:9-10.
- Big words, major truth: Make note in your journal of “propitiation” and “reconciliation”. Note the related verses in this passage, and try to find a few more to note as well. This is a life-long study, so never stop thinking about these great themes!