Making Peace With God

Romans 5:1-2

September 24, 2006 | Brian Bill

Today we’re beginning a six-part series on Romans 5 that we’re calling “The Grace Awakening.”  If you’ve been with us for awhile you’ve suffered through the incessant emphasis on sin but now we’re turning a corner in this amazing manifesto.  The mood has changed and now we’re going to drink deeply from the rivers of God’s amazing grace.  Please turn in your Bibles to Romans 5:1-2 and follow along as I read: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

These two verses are one extended sentence in the original and serve as a bridge to what has been written previously.  Paul’s use of pronouns changes from “you” and “they” to “us,” “our,” and “we.”  He’s writing to the new community of Christians who have been radically transformed by God’s grace.  The word “therefore” ties us back the early chapters in the book where he has established that “we have been justified through faith.”  Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the means by which we have been declared righteous.  My standing before God is eternally secure because of what Christ has done.  

All charges against you have been dropped and all that Christ has done has been credited to your account.  Ray Pritchard points out that there are two rock-solid truths related to this:

  • Justification by faith is universal for all believers.  There’s no such thing as an “unjustified Christian.”  If you’re not justified by faith, you aren’t a Christian at all.
  • Justification by faith is the permanent possession of every believer.  When God saves, He saves forever.  When God justifies, He justifies forever.  We’re forgiven by His grace and we’re kept by His grace.  If you’re saved, you’re secure.  1 John 5:13: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

I was moved by the words of Charles Spurgeon this week: “…Through Jesus’ blood, we are clean.  Now I do not say that this is this is the privilege of a few eminent saints, but here I look around these pews and see my brethren and sisters…all of whom are tonight just before God—perfectly so; completely so; so just that they never can be otherwise than just; so just that even in heaven they will be no more acceptable to God than they are here tonight…”  

When Jesus died, He died as our sinless substitute, perfectly propitiating God’s righteous wrath, redeeming us from the marketplace of sin, and justifying us by granting His righteousness to us.  It’s our permanent possession.

Radical Results of Being Declared Righteous

Because we have been justified, there are some beautiful benefits that come with our belief.  In these two short verses, we will learn that there are four radical results of being declared righteous.  These are definite declarations or sure assurances, that when fully grasped, will turn us into radically obedient followers of Christ.

1. We have peace with God. 

Look at the second half of verse 1: “…We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  According to Ephesians 2:3, before we came to Christ, we were “objects of God’s wrath” because our relationship with Him ruptured through our rebellion.  Romans 1:18 says that the “wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men…” We recoil at this thought because it doesn’t feel politically correct that God would be at war with the wicked.  Listen to these strong words in Psalm 7:11: “God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day.”  In his classic book called, “Peace With God,” written over 50 years ago, Billy Graham hits it on the head: “The greatest warfare going on in the world today is between mankind and God.  People may not realize that they are at war with God, but if they don’t know Jesus Christ as their Savior…God considers them to be at war with Him.”

Peace only sounds wonderful when we recognize that we’ve been at war.  It’s a radical thought that God’s anger is satisfied because of the sacrifice of His Son.  God’s fury is fully absorbed by the death of Jesus.  Once we are justified by faith, peace is a primary reality for the believer.  The word “with” God points to a person’s relationship with God.  There’s a face-to-face aspect that indicates a relational reconciliation has taken place.  Isolation has been replaced with intimacy.

Our present peace with God rests on the past act of justification

This comes about only through “our Lord Jesus Christ” because Immanuel is our intermediary.  Colossians 1:20: “And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”  Ephesians 2:14: “For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.”  Our present peace with God rests on the past act of justification.  That means that our peace is permanent and unchangeable.

Before we can be at peace in the world we need to be at peace with God.   I love Isaiah 32:17-18: “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.  My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.”  Once we have peace with God, we can then experience the peace of God and then be at peace with others. 

2. We have access to God. 

The first radical result is that we have peace with God.  The second result is that we now enjoy access to Him in verse 2: “Through whom we have gained access by faith…”  This word literally means to “bring to” as when ushered into the presence of royalty.  I’m reminded of the beautiful picture in the Old Testament Book of Esther.  Our Tuesday morning women’s Bible Study is studying this book and they’d be glad to have more women join them.  Esther is Jewish, and through a set of God’s circumstances, ends up becoming the queen.  A plot is then hatched to annihilate the Jews and the king unwittingly signs a decree guaranteeing their demise.  Mordecai, Esther’s godly uncle, pleads with her to go into the king and appeal to him to not go through with this holocaust.  Esther was frightened because no one, including the queen, could just march in the king’s presence unannounced.  She could literally be put to death for doing this.  Unless the king extended his golden scepter to the person, there was no way to approach him.

Esther fasted for three days and three nights and finally comes to the point of saying in Esther 4:16: “…I will go to the king, even though it is against the law.  And if I perish, I perish.”  She then put on her royal robes so she would be dressed in beauty and glory and stood in the inner court of the palace, holding her breath.  He was so moved by her beauty and her boldness that he stretched forth his scepter and granted her access.  Friend, you and I could never stand before the King of the Universe in our own merits.  Dressed in the righteous robes of Christ, we have access to the King, to receive from Him all that we need.  He accepts us completely and grants us continual access.

We have an introduction into God’s presence but it is also a lasting privilege.   Because of what Christ has done we can walk right into the presence of God.  The word “access” is used in only two other places in the New Testament.  Ephesians 2:18: “For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” and Ephesians 3:12: “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” 

To those from a Jewish background, these would indeed be radical words and a revolutionary thought.  The very design of the temple of God communicated that there was limited access.  Gentiles could only go into the Court of Gentiles but then they faced a fence and could go no further.  If they crossed this line they could face death.  Women could only go into the court of women but no further.  A Jewish man could go a bit further but then was met with a barrier.  Priests could go in a little more but they too were kept at a distance.  Only the High Priest could go through the thick curtain into the innermost sanctuary, and then only once a year after very careful preparation.  He went in and sprinkled the blood and then got out of there as fast as he could.  The message was clear: “Keep your distance!”

Nadab and Abihu were extinguished when they made an unauthorized offering to God in Numbers 3:4.  In Numbers 16:27-32, we read that the ground opened up and swallowed Korah, Dathan and Abiram for disregarding God’s holiness by offering strange incense before Him.  People in the Old Testament were petrified of God; with good reason.

When Jesus died, Mark 15:38 tells us that “The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”  We can now come right into the very presence of God.  Hebrews 10:19-22: “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.” Hebrews 4:16 says that we can come “with confidence” to the throne of grace.

3. We have grace from God. 

The first radical result of being declared righteous is that we have peace with God.  The second is that we have unlimited access to Him.  The third result is that we have grace from Him.  Notice the middle phrase in verse 2: “…into this grace in which we now stand…” This phrase is in the perfect tense, meaning that the action has been completed in the past and never needs to be repeated.  What happened in the past has a present and continuing result.  Believers stand solid in God’s grace.  To stand connotes a posture of triumph and immovability; our footing is firm.  We don’t have to cower before Him, crawl on our knees, or run away.  Ephesians 6:13: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”  

Listen to these words from the hymn, “Grace Greater Than Our Sin.”

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, 

Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt! 

Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured, 

There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt. 

Grace, grace, God’s grace, 

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within; 

Grace, grace, God’s grace, 

Grace that is greater than all our sin! 

4. We have hope in the glory of God. 

Verse 2 concludes with a future focus as we discover the fourth radical truth: “…And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”  The word “rejoice” literally means “to shout with joy” and has to do with unashamed confidence.  Did you know that the Hebrew language, which is what the Old Testament is written in, has more words for joy and rejoicing than any other language?  In contrast to the rituals of other faiths, worship for the Israelite was filled with joyful jubilation.  We could stand to be more joyful in our worship, couldn’t we?  Psalm 16:11: “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”  Eugene Petersen paraphrases this passage in a beautiful way: “We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace—standing tall and shouting our praises to God.”

Hope, as used in the Bible is not a wish; it’s a confident expectation that something will happen because God has said it will happen

It’s radical to rejoice.  Since our hope rests upon His promise and His power, we can be happy.  Hope, as used in the Bible is not a wish; it’s a confident expectation that something will happen because God has said it will happen.  J.B. Phillips translates it this way: “The happy certainty of the glory of God.”  

We who have come “short of His glory” in Romans 3:23 are now able to “rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”  Quite simply, the hope of the glory of God is the assurance that believers will go to heaven when they die.  Even though life will end here; it’s not the end of the story.  Do you have that assurance right now?

Too many of us fail to ‘posses our possessions.’  As children of the King, we must stop living like paupers.  Some radical results flow from being declared righteous:

  • We have peace with God
  • We have access to God
  • We have grace from God
  • We have hope in the glory of God

How can we not live radical lives when we possess these four promises?  What’s keeping us from living full-throttle for Jesus?   Are you ready to run the race?  

I’m not sure how God is going to apply this message to your life, but I want to challenge those of you who have been born again but have not yet been baptized.  If you’ve never demonstrated your faith publicly through baptism, it’s time to do so.  I think we’ve minimized the importance of this ordinance, even implying that it’s somehow optional.  It’s not.  Its part and parcel of the final commission Jesus gave to His followers in Matthew 28:19: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

It’s a way to say, “I really mean this and I’m going to live a radical life for Jesus.”  When the early Christians were baptized, they counted the cost because to stand up publicly for Christ often put them at great personal risk.  In some countries today, it’s the equivalent of signing one’s own death sentence.  And in a way that’s true here as well.  When you’re baptized you’re saying, “I’m dead to self and alive to Christ.  I will never be the same again.  I can never return, I’ve closed the door.  I will walk apart; I’ll run the race…whatever you need to do, Lord, do in me.”

I will never be the same again,
I can never return, I’ve closed the door.
I will walk apart, I’ll run the race
And I will never be the same again.

Fall like fire, soak like rain,
Flow like mighty waters, again and again.
Sweep away the darkness, burn away the chaff,
And let a flame burn to glorify Your name.

There are higher heights, there are deeper seas,
Whatever you need to do, Lord do in me.
The Glory of God fills my life,
And I will never be the same again.

I will never be the same again,
I can never return, I’ve closed the door.
I will walk the path, I will run the race
And I will never be the same again.
And I will never be the same again.
And I will never be the same again.

Benediction: I love these words from Jude 24-25: “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy–to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!  Amen.”

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?