Romans 5:1-5 shows each Person of the Trinity in action, in the three stages of our salvation - past, present and future. When Paul talks about 'God', he is usually thinking especially of God the Father - Romans 8:14-17 shows this clearly. The Father is at the heart of the process of salvation; he sent the Son (John 3:16), he sent the Spirit (v.5), and the result is peace with him and a share in his glory (vs1,2). Yet the Three are somehow a unity - there is only one God. So in John 16:15 Jesus says that all that belongs to the Father belongs to him as well, and when the Spirit is revealing to us truths about the Son that is also a revelation about the Father. Many people think that Jesus saved us from an angry God, and do not realize that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were united every step of the way. Nevertheless, each Person has a distinct part to play in our salvation.
The stages of salvation:
We have been saved, through Jesus Christ (vs1,2a). Because of him, we now are 'justified': in the eyes of God, we are righteous and acceptable, 'just as if I'd never sinned'. God holds nothing against us; we are at peace with him. It is not because we deserve it; our standing with God is all due to 'grace' ('undeserved love'). It is a gift to us, a gift that cost Jesus his life. Like every gift, it needs to be received and enjoyed. That's where our faith comes in: we believe in what Jesus has done for us, so we come to God on that basis, and God welcomes us. He cannot welcome us on any other basis - his present to us of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour is the only ticket to his presence there is. Future
We will be saved, and share the glory of God the Father (v2b). This is our goal, our future destiny. The word 'hope' has no overtones of uncertainty in the Bible! We can look forward to seeing God as he is, and being transformed into his likeness (1 John 3:2). Present
We are being saved, by the work of the Holy Spirit (vs3-5). Present circumstances are a spiritual struggle; but the love of God is constantly poured into our hearts by the Spirit, and he helps us keep going. As we do so we find it more natural to act the way God wants - we become more like him, and like Jesus. We have a foretaste of the future - a future guaranteed by the Spirit's continuing work in us. We don't rejoice in the painful things happening to us; but we do rejoice in the good that God brings out of them.
ISSUES AND QUESTIONS
1) How do you see the process of salvation working out in your life?
2) When God is at work in an individual's life, what might be the effect on the people and community around?
IDEAS FOR MEETINGS
If you could put one question to a panel of experts who knew all the answers to everything, what would it be?
After a time of praise, ask a member of the group to say briefly how they first came to have peace with God, then another to say how God is helping them at the moment, and then another to say what they are most looking forward to about eternity. (You may need to give them plenty of warning!) If others want to have a say themselves, let them! End with more praise.