Monday, December 26, 2022

2022.12.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 5:1–2

Read Romans 5:1–2

Questions from the Scripture text: What is the condition of the people the apostle is talking about (Romans 5:1)? Through what have they been justified? Who has peace? With Whom? Through Whom? By what title is He called here? What else do we have through Him (Romans 5:2)? What is the mechanism through which we have this access? To what do we have this access? What do those who have this access also do? In what do they rejoice? In what is this hope?

What is the condition of being justified like? Romans 5:1–2 looks forward to the devotional in this week’s midweek meeting. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the condition of being justified is not just a legal standing but a condition of peace, service, strength, joy, and hope.

Believers can develop the habit of thinking of salvation entirely in terms of being forgiven of sin and given a righteous standing with God. And most of Romans to this point has focused on standing of righteousness before God (over-against being under wrath). But now the letter shifts to the believer’s strengthening for righteousness from God (over-against enslavement to sin). 

In the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith and for faith; both the standing and the strengthening come only from Jesus, and both come through the mechanism of faith. So, into what condition has this righteousness by faith brought us? Into a condition of peace, service, strength, joy, and hope!

A condition of peace. “We have peace with God.” This is wonderful. Those against all of whose unrighteousness and ungodliness God’s wrath has been revealed (cf. Romans 1:18) have peace with Him. Christ has been exhibited as a propitiation (cf. Romans 3:25), that the wrath of God might be completely consumed. And Christ has risen from the dead, affirming that this in fact has happened (cf. Romans 4:25). God is entirely favorable toward us. We have peace with God. His divine power and wisdom are no longer against us. We have peace with God. But they are not merely neutral; God is for us (cf. Romans 8:31) in His divine power and wisdom. We have peace with God!

A condition of service. “through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Since Christ alone is righteous (cf. Romans 3:10–22), and Christ alone can propitiate for sin that is against God’s glory (cf. Romans 3:23, Romans 1:22–25), peace with God can be had only through Christ. And not Christ as we like to think of Him or Christ as we wish He were, but only Christ as He actually is. So the Spirit adds the title “Lord” here. If we are not ransomed, redeemed subjects of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we do not have peace with God. If we have peace with God, it is as subjects of the Lord Jesus. 

Justification has brought the believer into a status of ransomed, redeemed, purchased servitude—joyous servitude, as we will see in a moment, but still servitude! A Christian is a servant. He must live entirely to fulfill the will of his Master.

A condition of strength. “through Whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand.” As we come into the section of the letter that argues the theology of the believer as God’s slave for righteousness (chapter 6), the Spirit brings us there through the wonderful doctrine of union with Christ. We are not just under Christ as Lord; we are in Christ as Jesus, as Savior. So it is through Him, within Him, by means of Him that “we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand.”

We are not brought by faith into a service that we can perform by works. Even our working, even our service, can be done only by God’s own strength. That is to say, we stand not by the flesh but by grace: by God’s strength in the place of our weakness (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:9). Standing, strength for standing, comes only in Jesus, by a mechanism of faith. By the knowledge that Jesus is God’s strength for us, by the awareness that He is carrying us. 

A condition of joy. “through Whom also we […] rejoice.” Jesus doesn’t just make us servants and make Himself our strength for that service. Jesus makes us happy servants. Here is a good test for whether I am actually a servant of Christ or am merely flattering myself that I am a servant of Christ: am I glad? Do I have joy? Jesus came that His joy might be in us (cf. John 15:11, John 17:13). Through Jesus we have access to grace, and through Jesus we rejoice! It is possible to have an accurate knowledge of justification without having an experiential knowledge of justification; those who are justified in Jesus are made servants in Jesus and are made joyful in Jesus!

A condition of hope. “in hope of the glory of God.” It is the truth of God’s glory that the sinner has suppressed in unrighteousness (cf. Romans 1:18–21). It is the blessedness of the Creator’s glory that the sinner has exchanged in order to seek blessedness in creatures instead (cf. Romans 1:25). It is against the glory of God that all have sinned, and it is the enjoyment of the glory of God that all have forfeited by that sin (cf. Romans 3:23). But for the believer, Jesus has reversed all of this. Through Him, we “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” 

This New Testament word ‘hope’ is not a wishful desire. Though we have grown accustomed to using the word that way in English, the word here doesn’t mean something wishful but something that is absolutely certain. It means the ability to enjoy already something that is not yet seen (cf. Romans 8:24; Hebrews 11:1). To put it succinctly: if we already have the righteousness of God, then we can already enjoy the certainty of God’s glory. 

The more that we experience a joy that profound, the less that light and momentary pleasures will succeed in compelling us to serve them instead of serving Christ.

When have you most needed to know your peace with God? What should you do in those moments? What would a log of your time and spending suggest about whether you are a servant of Christ? By what strength have you been trying to stand? What is the source of your joy? What is the quality of your joy? For what do you hope? How surely do you hope?

Sample prayer:  Lord God, thank You for this righteous standing into which You have brought us in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Grant unto us to know also the glorious condition into which You have brought us. Give us Your own strength, joy, and hope in Christ, in Whose Name, we ask it AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP117B “What Blessedness” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

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