[This is the second part of The Grace Series in Romans 5. The first part of this series can be found here.]
Paul continues in the book of Romans. Because we have been justified and are now at peace with God we are now standing secure in a state of grace. Grace has brought us to this point and grace will sustain us at this point. Romans 5:1 opens by saying, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." On to Romans 5:2 Paul continues, "...through whom also we have obtained our introduction (or way of access) by faith into this grace in which we stand." Faith in Christ is the only path to eternal life, to right standing with God, to acceptance, to peace, and to rest. Faith in Christ is the only means to placing us in a state of gracious security. Jesus said in Matthew, "Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest." He said in John 14, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, but by me." There is only one path to God and it is through Christ.
Yet, this Christian life that God has called us to, upon our justification in which we now live, notice what he calls it. We have gained our introduction by faith into "this grace in which we stand." What an interesting way to describe our lives and the way they should be like. I think that the truth here is this period of our lives upon our salvation should be so characterized by the gracious influences of God as to call it, grace. Grace, that's you...that's me. There is no security in my own works and ability to earn my favor with God. I cannot be righteous, holy, and disciplined enough to find acceptance with God. I must rest in the sufficiency of Christ- his gracious provision of salvation.
I would say also that God has so orchestrated our salvation so as to cut off any alternate means of approach. You think you can try hard enough? Work hard enough? Labor hard enough to earn your favor with God? God says in Isaiah 64:6, "all our righteousness are as filthy rags." Our righteousness offends Him. You think you can be religious and disciplined enough in your religion? God despises empty religious rituals. Isaiah says further, "bring me sacrifices no more." They are an offense to God. Salvation according to the Old Testament prophets, confirmed by the New Testament apostles, is "of the Lord." It is of His doing and of His work. It is graciously bestowed and provided only by His hand, His path, and His means alone.
An interesting passage comes in Romans 5:21, "so that, as sin reigned in death (meaning that sin brought universal death), even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." In our lives grace is the king, the ruler, and the sovereign before whom we submit and we worship. Grace is our sovereign. Blessed grace of God in our justification declaring us to be righteous and holy before God. Blessed grace of God in our sanctification as we walk with Him and He bestows His grace as we are secure in that gracious standing; nothing to be added to, nothing could ever be taken away from it.
But now also in our glorification. The second part of Romans 5:2b says, "we exult in hope of the glory of God. " We rejoice in the coming completion of our salvation which God has already begun. We boast, praise and rejoice in hope of the glory of God as we look forward to the consummation of what God has begun. Remember Romans 8, "whom He predestined, these He also called. And to whom He called He also justified. To whom He justified He glorified." All whom He predestined before the foundation of the world will be justified and will eventually be glorified. What He has begun, He will complete. God promises this in His scriptures. Philippians 1:6, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." Salvation secured and finished in justification, but now in process growing in Christ-likeness being conformed to the perfection of God as we see in Christ- becoming more like Him.
We rejoice in the on-going process that will one day be complete. We are now growing in grace. Peter says this in 2 Peter 3:18, "But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity, Amen." As God works in our life and as we grow in Christ's likeness, who gets the praise and glory? Jesus. Because it is of His grace that we partake. 1 Peter 4:10, "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." It's God working in us and people see Christ and God's power on display. We praise God now for this ongoing gracious work of God. We have been freed from the power of sin in our justification and we look forward to a day when we will freed from even the presence of sin. Amen! Do you long for that day?
C.S. Lewis wrote a profound allegorical book on why there must be a heaven and a hell, The Great Divorce. In that book Lewis says, "Heaven is a place where good people will never again be bothered by bad people. Hell is a place where bad people will never again be bothered by good people." There is coming a day when the sheep and the goat will be separated. Praise be to God! "We exult in the hope of the glory of God."
In the next installment of The Grace Series I will be covering Romans 5:3 and discussing the somewhat radical declaration by Paul to then expand our exultation of grace to rejoicing in our tribulations.
Cross-blogged at Apologia Christi