Not The Bell – Neal Pollard:
There is no better New Testament chapter for showing us the power of forgiveness than Romans 5. One of the concepts Paul uses to teach forgiveness is “justification” (5:1,9, 16, 18; see also “reconciled,” “saved,” and “made righteous” in this chapter). One source illustrates justification by referencing a supposedly true story centering around the ringing of the bell in London’s St. Paul Cathedral. It is said this bell saved a sentinel soldier’s life. The man was on duty at distant Windsor Castle and accused by the guard who relieved him of sleeping at his post. He was tried by court martial and condemned to death. The man denied his guilt, saying that on the night in question he heard the bells of St. Paul ring 13 times at midnight. The court did not believe he could hear the bells from so far away, but eventually the testimony of many people supported the claim of this condemned man. The mechanism on the bell malfunctioned that night. The king pardoned the soldier, who supposedly lived to be 100 years old. He was justified after he was condemned.
The word translated “justified” in Romans 5:1 means “acquitted, put right with, and set free” (Louw & Nida, Vol. 2, Gk.-Eng. Lex. of the NT, 64). It means to be declared righteous with God (Friberg & Miller, Vol. 4: Anal. Lex. of the Gk. NT, 117). Paul mentions three things we get to enjoy, being justified by Jesus’ blood, death, and life (5:9-10).
Because we are justified by Jesus’ blood, we have peace with God (5:1), we get to stand in this grace (5:2), and we get to boast in hope (5:2), in our tribulations (5:3), and in God (5:11). In the end, because of Jesus, we shall be saved (5:9-10).
We deserve the wrath of God (5:9), spiritual death (5:12), and condemnation (5:16). Unlike the fortunate soldier, we could not claim innocence (5:12,19). Our pardon is the result of Jesus’ innocence, but because of that we can lay claim to “eternal life” (5:21). Thank God for the saving blood of His Son.