God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
Notice that “demonstrates” is present tense and “died” is past tense.
The present tense implies that this demonstrating is an ongoing act that keeps happening in today’s present and tomorrow’s present.
The past tense “died” implies that the death of Christ happened once for all and will not be repeated. “Christ died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter [3:18]).
Why did Paul use the present tense (“God demonstrates”)? I would have expected Paul to say, “God demonstrated (past tense) his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Was not the death of Christ the demonstration of God’s love? And did not that demonstration happen in the past?
I think the clue is given a few verses earlier. Paul has just said that “tribulations work patient endurance, and patient endurance works proven character, and proven character works hope, andhope does not put us to shame” (vv. 3–5).
In other words, the goal of everything God takes us through is hope. He wants us to feel unwaveringly hopeful through all tribulations.
Written by John Piper
Full story at Desiring God