Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jul 19 2013 - Romans 5:6-21 – The reign of grace

A few years ago I was in Madagascar where I learned of Queen Ranavolona 1st who reigned there from 1826-1861. She put to death about 800,000 of her own subjects, out of an original population of about 2 million. Her reign of terror earned her the name Ranavolona the Cruel and has gained her third place on a website listing the ten most villainous rulers of history – ahead of Stalin, Idi Amin and Mao Zedong. Hers truly was a reign of terror.

But there is a far worse and far more deadly reign than hers. In Romans 5, Paul speaks about the universal reign of sin which brings death not to 40% of its subjects but to all. However, he also speaks of the one who has unseated this most cruel of all powers. God loved us so much that when we were held fast by sin and doomed to death he sent his Son to die for us. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead has broken the power of sin and death, bringing liberty to the captives and life to those sentenced to die. This reign of terror has been supplanted by the all-conquering power of Jesus’ reign of grace: where sin once reigned bringing death, grace now reigns through righteousness bringing eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Nor is this abstract theology; this is full of practical application to our daily lives and brimming with encouragement. Our past sins cannot condemn us, for despite our “many trespasses” we are justified and can come before God confident of his acceptance and love. And we know that Jesus is now at work in us by his Spirit to conquer everything in our lives that falls short of all God created us to be – we are undergoing regime change.

But all too often, when we begin to think that we have conquered a particular sin or failing it trips us up yet again and we are plunged into despair. We need to be reminded that future failings will not lead to our rejection and condemnation; Jesus does not give up on hard cases so easily. He will not be defeated by us but will continue the work he has begun in us until his resurrection life has consumed all that is left from Adam’s rebellion. None of this excuses or even mitigates our continuing sin, but it does fill us with confident hope of glory – the assurance that sin and death shall never have the last word.

All of this gives us an unshakable hope concerning the future, not for ourselves alone, but for the whole of our broken world. God had not abandoned his world but has come to its rescue in Jesus Christ; “Just as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.” The day of final victory is coming.

I have a friend who is a passionate supporter of Bristol Rovers. But it’s not much fun to support a team that keeps losing games. That’s why many people become followers and fans of teams located far from where they live – maybe even in another country. They want to back a winner. Jesus calls not only for our support and adulation from the side lines; he wants us to be part of his team. And why should we offer allegiance to any other; his is and will be the winning team.

We can rejoice in the reign of grace that God has instituted through the Lord Jesus Christ and need not fear sin and death’s broken powers.

Triumphant Saviour, fill me with joy and peace in believing. May the confident hope I have in you empower me to serve you in a world marred by sin and death. Help me to bring your forgiveness, healing and transformation to those whose lives I touch that they may share in the hope of glory that is to be found in you.

Peter Misselbrook