Love of God surpasses human works

In the fifth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Roman church, we find these words: “But we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us,” Romans 5:3–5.

These particular words of Paul follow immediately Paul’s important theological discussion of God’s action to justify humanity through faith and not works (Romans 4). Paul contends that because God has acted in this way, we can now live at peace with God and with ourselves. But, not necessarily with the world. Being in a right relationship with God and understanding properly who we are in the light of who God is, does not insulate us from suffering.

Paul is quick to point out that any suffering we endure as people who trust in God will lead to a deeper relationship with God, and, ultimately, result in a deeper existence of peace.

The whole of the letter to the Roman church is to assure the believer that the power of the gospel supercedes any other power and that God is in control of all that is necessary to bring salvation and freedom to the world. Paul gets to that point rather quickly in Romans 1:16–17.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, ‘The one who is righteous will live by faith.’”

I find in Paul’s writing the constant reminder that God loves the world even when the world does not return that love. Paul expresses God’s deep commitment to creation and how God will be satisfied only when all creation is brought to redemption. Of course, the beauty in all of this is that God is choosing us and assuring us that ‘there is nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.”

Mark Davenport is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Alabaster (Cumberland).