A wise old Pastor once said, “Whenever you come across a therefore in Scripture you need to go back and see what the therefore is there for…”
In Romans chapter 5, we read, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” There it is, a therefore. Well, what’s it there for?
So we go back to Chapter 4, and there we read that Abraham was justified by faith. In the book of Romans, Paul lays out his arguments like a trial lawyer addressing a skeptical jury. Indeed that’s probably very close to the truth. Skeptical, anyway.
Roman believers, to whom Paul was writing, were no doubt a product of their culture. Emerging from first century Judaism, these folks were proud and obdurate, but they were also utterly isolated. They were practicing their faith, first Judaism then Christianity, in the most cosmopolitan city of pagans in the known world. No wonder Paul tells of the Romans “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.” (Romans 1:8) He goes on to say that he really wants to travel to Rome, “that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” (v. 12)
What follows is a cohesive, coherent and connected sequence of arguments where Paul addresses some of the critical doctrines of the Christian faith. First is the doctrine of sin, the simple and terrible fact that the natural condition of mankind renders all of us incapable of being in fellowship with God. So what to do?
And here, Paul shares more what we can’t do, and that is “be good.” Which leads to his next argument which is the doctrine of Justification by faith. Our works, our feeble attempts to keep the law can’t restore our fellowship with God. Only faith in the love and grace of God can do that. And just to make sure his audience got the point, Paul shares that if “Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God.” So what made him right? What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:3)
That’s what is there, and therefore we have peace with God. That’s what the therefore is there for.