6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11)
The totality of salvation creates in the Christian a robust trust in God to protect and provide. Though it may include suffering, Paul wants to show us that our suffering should not discourage us from trust. The argument in 5:6-11 is this. God has already done the hardest thing in saving you through Jesus’ coming, living, dying, and rising. And he did that when you were in love with sin. How then can he not do the easier thing of keeping you safe and secure for eternity? He’s earned the fortune. What can stop him from spending it now on you?
God didn’t wait until we became savable. He’s not like us, weighing the options, trying to decide if action is rational at this point or that point. God had a plan for the world, and he worked out that plan. It was when we were still sinners that Jesus died for us. It was not when we were cleaned up or even when we became repentant enough. We offer him nothing but our trust in him.
Paul continues to drive home his central point of God’s love. How does God show his love for us? In dying for us. When does he show this? When we’re still sinners. The love of God would not be as clear if he died to save good people who make some bad mistakes from time to time. The love of God is most explicit when we see that he died to save bad people who never can do enough good to find their way to him.
That’s the theological truth. God saves sinners. In verse 9, he shows us the result. Since God justified us, he will keep us for eternity. Notice the verb tenses in verses 9-11. Past tense: “we have been justified by his blood.” Future tense: “much more shall we be saved by him.” Past tense: “we were reconciled to God.” Future tense: “much more shall we be saved by his life.” Present tense: “more than that, we also rejoice in God.” Past tense: “through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Paul uses prior justification for present and future hope.
Paul is showing us how to live the Christian life. When things pop up, how do we respond? We can look to the past justification of God, and from it draw implications that inform and transform our current circumstances. If God has justified us in the past, he must be able to keep us in the future. God doesn’t save partially. He saves entirely. He’s not giving us a get out of jail free card only to put us back in the world to see how we do now. He’s giving us an eternal hope. In moments of trial, we can look to the past reality of our justification to enjoy the present and future hope of glory on that basis. God showed his love at the cross, it is experienced in the present, and is kept in endless storehouses for us in the future. Whatever our need is at any moment, meditating on the justification we have received in Christ sustains us.