by Mike Ratliff
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28-29 ESV)
In my younger days when I was working on my undergraduate degree, I had a professor who used to work in a major manufacturing company in the US. He used his experiences there in analogies pertaining to the management topics we were studying. He used one of his former co-workers there as an example, a bad example, as he taught us how we should work together toward our common goals, et cetera. This fellow’s nickname at that company was ‘Yeah-but.’ He told us that it never failed that in meetings when someone had a solution to an issue or a concept of a better way to do things, this fellow would always interrupt and start his diatribe against it with the words, “Yeah, but…!” I had an encounter with a “religious yeah-but” several months ago here on this blog. I had written a post dealing with our Justification and this fellow’s response to it was, “Yeah, but what about those sins you have committed since God saved you?” It did not matter how I replied to this fellow, he was convinced that, yes he was saved by grace through faith, but it was his obedience, et cetera, that kept him there. If he sinned, he lost his salvation and had to be re-justified I suppose. Is this biblical?
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5 ESV)
1δικαιωθεντες ουν εκ πιστεως ειρηνην εχωμεν προς τον θεον δια του κυριου ημων ιησου χριστου 2δι ου και την προσαγωγην εσχηκαμεν [τη πιστει] εις την χαριν ταυτην εν η εστηκαμεν και καυχωμεθα επ ελπιδι της δοξης του θεου 3ου μονον δε αλλα και καυχωμεθα εν ταις θλιψεσιν ειδοτες οτι η θλιψις υπομονην κατεργαζεται 4η δε υπομονη δοκιμην η δε δοκιμη ελπιδα 5η δε ελπις ου καταισχυνει οτι η αγαπη του θεου εκκεχυται εν ταις καρδιαις ημων δια πνευματος αγιου του δοθεντος ημιν (Romans 5:1-5 WHNU)
Having been made right then from trust peace we have toward God through the Master of us Jesus Christ through whom also the access we have had in the trust in the favor this in which we have stood and we boast upon in hope of the glory of the God. Not alone but, but also we boast in the afflictions, knowing that the affliction patience works thoroughly, the but patience approval, the but approval hope. (Romans 5:1-5 word-for-word translation from Koine Greek to English)
What brings us peace with God (ειρηνην εχωμεν προς τον θεον)? We have bee justified by faith (δικαιωθεντες ουν εκ πιστεως) through our Lord Jesus Christ (δια του κυριου ημων ιησου χριστου). In v2 we see how this actually took place. It was through him (Christ) we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand… (δι ου και την προσαγωγην εσχηκαμεν [τη πιστει] εις την χαριν ταυτην εν η εστηκαμεν). The key to this justification in which we stand firm is that it came by faith, τη πιστει. In Ephesians 2:8 we read, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Here is the Greek for v8, “τη γαρ χαριτι εστε σεσωσμενοι δια πιστεως και τουτο ουκ εξ υμων θεου το δωρον.” All in Christ are so because they were saved by grace (τη γαρ χαριτι) through faith (δια πιστεως). This saving faith is the conduit of our justification and it came to us by God’s grace. All who have been brought to this state of justification have peace with God (ειρηνην εχωμεν προς τον θεον).
What is this peace (ειρηνην)? This peace denotes rest in contrast with strife. It is a state of untroubled, undisturbed well being. In this context, it is referring to God’s mercy towards those He has justified according to his grace. He has granted them deliverance and freedom from all the distresses that are experienced because of sin. This is not to say that our sin does not cause us grief, but that we who are in this state of justification are secure in our salvation because it is based on the righteousness of another, our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of this, we can glory in our afflictions that come because God is using them to purify us and build Christ’s character in us. The word used here telling us that we are justified is δικαιωθεντες. This is a legal term in which a person is declared righteous by a decree of some sort. Paul is telling us in v1 that because we have been declared righteous, then v1-11 is true for us as well. He gave us these truths in Romans 1-4 and is now giving us the implications of our justification by grace through faith. All in Christ are no longer under God’s wrath, but are now under His Grace. Instead of fearing God’s judgment when we sin, we have a joy in the midst of tribulation because of what God produces through it. We have assurance of God’s love and joy in Him.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die– but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11 ESV)
The ESV states this beautifully here. Our justification is entirely according to God’s grace. We did nothing to deserve it. We were ungodly and outside of His grace, we would be unregenerate and subject to His wrath. However, He loves us and sent Christ to bear our sins in His death on the Cross (Romans 3:25). Those in Christ have been justified by His blood and saved from the wrath of God. How then should we live my brethren?
We who have received Christ as Lord and Saviour by grace through faith are no longer “of this world.” Why then do so many who call themselves Christians live as friends “of this world?” Our role in the Kingdom is to love God, obey Him, and be beacons of light that God may use us to draw others out of the darkness to salvation. The goal of being a Christian is not to see how religious we can be. It is not to be good church members. It is to be disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ who have died to self and live for Him as we carry our crosses in self-denial. How’s that going for you?
Soli Deo Gloria!