The Christian’s Boast

Man in front of waterfall

In the first half of Romans 5, Paul explained how Christians have been justified by faith and by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross (Romans 5:1-11). In this passage, Paul used the word exult three times (NASB). This is not a term we commonly use today. The King James Version uses three different terms instead – rejoice, glory, and joy. The word means to boast about something (Thayer).

Usually we would think of boasting as something that we should not do as Christians. Yet it depends on the context. Paul told the brethren in Corinth, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31). If the word of God indicates that we are to boast, glory, and rejoice in something, then we can and should do so.

In this article, we will notice the three things Paul indicated in this passage in which we are to boast.

In Our Hope

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2).

The hope in which we boast is the hope of salvation – eternal life in heaven with the Lord. Paul began by saying that we are “justified by faith.” This is the basis upon which God declares us to be righteous. As a result of this, we have “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Later in this passage, Paul declared that “we have now received the reconciliation” through Christ (Romans 5:11). Through Christ we receive the grace of God, as Paul wrote, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Jesus Himself said, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:17).

Therefore, let us exult in hope! We must recognize the greatness of this blessing as we hope “to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4). As we recognize this great blessing, let us then continue to pursue it and “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

In Our Tribulations

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that our tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).

The tribulations in which we boast are the hardships we face as we strive to follow the Lord in this life. All those who follow Christ will face these hardships. Paul and Barnabas admonished their brethren, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Yet these trials are ultimately for our good. As Paul said, tribulation leads to “perseverance…and proven character.” James said something similar: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). We endure all of these things because of the hope that we have through the love of God. Paul wrote, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? […] But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:35, 37).

Because of this, we must exult in tribulation! We can “share the sufferings of Christ” (1 Peter 4:13) and become more like Him (1 Peter 4:1). No matter what happens in this life, we must “be faithful until death” so we can receive “the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

In God

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Romans 5:6-11).

As Paul explained, God in whom we boast is the one who loved us enough to send His Son to die for us. We were helpless and could not save ourselves, yet Jesus offered His life for us while we were sinners and enemies of God because He wants to save us. Paul told Timothy that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Even Paul, the “foremost of all” sinners, could be saved (1 Timothy 1:15). Through Christ, we are saved from the wrath of God, avoiding the punishment that we all deserve. “The wages of sin is death” and all of us “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 6:23; 3:23). Yet God still makes salvation available to us.

So exult in God! Let us rejoice in Him always (Philippians 4:4). As Paul told the brethren in Corinth, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31). We must not boast in ourselves because we cannot save ourselves apart from Him. It is only through God that we can have forgiveness and hope.

Conclusion

We are not to boast arrogantly as others do – boasting in our accomplishments, riches, influence, opportunities, knowledge, etc. Instead, let us rejoice in the Lord, glory in tribulations, and exult in hope. We can do this through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and our response of faith in Him.


When you subscribe, you’ll also receive 3 free PDF’s: Plain Bible Teaching on Unity, the latest issue of Plain Bible Teaching Quarterly Review, and Thankful.