Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are justified by faith alone. Justification is a forensic term that refers to God’s divine act whereby He declares sinful humans, who are worthy of condemnation, acceptable before Him. The Bible asserts this, that sinners are pardoned from God’s just punishment and condemnation of their sin by grace alone and are brought into a loving relationship with God as their Father by faith in Christ alone. This justification by faith alone has several implications.
Some of these implications are found in Romans 5:1-5. When believers go through trials or when trials are pending as in times during a global pandemic, we tend to forget these golden gospel gems that can sustain us through trials. We can lose perspective on God’s love for us when life looks bleak. What I hope to show in this brief meditation on Romans 5 is how we can find and know of peace, access, and joy in our justification with God, which can help us to endure difficulties in this world.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.Romans 5:1-5
First, Paul assures us of peace in our justification (v. 1). This peace is not referring to a feeling, but to the fact that we no longer stand in judgment under God’s wrath. This peace should be contrasted with the way unbelievers think about the peace that religion brings. The peace Paul is talking about is not a subjective feeling of internal peace, but an objective change in the relationship that we have with God.
What non-Christians often fail to recognize is the fact that being under the wrath of God is not something that can be felt. Non-Christians are not at peace with God. The most frightening reality to observe here is not that they have a problem with God, but that God has a problem with them. They do not feel that God has a problem with them, which is why they do not think that He does.
Similarly, Christians may not feel that that justification has brought about peace between us and God, but this is something we can know. It is not dependent on feelings; the peace we have with God is not about us satisfying our wrath towards God, but about God satisfying His wrath towards us. We are the ones who by nature have wronged God. He is the one who is angry, although people may hate Him or blame Him for the wrongs He has not done. If He is the one who is angry, then He is the one who has to give peace. When we say we have peace with God we mean that He is now happy with us.
Second, Paul assures us of access to God through our justification (v. 2). The word “access” means an intimate, loving, ongoing, and permanent relationship with God. This means that believers have more than just peace with God. Why does justification by grace allow us this access to God? It is because we have favour with God. The text says, “through our Lord Jesus Christ we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand”.
It is more than just access to God. It is to stand with the King of the universe in His presence everlastingly. We remain firm in His presence, knowing Him personally as our Father. Should this truth not bring you joy?
Third, Paul assures us of joy arising from our justification (vv. 2b-5). This joy that we have is in the future participation in the glory of God, meaning the greatness and wonders of God. We boast in our future glory, greatly anticipating the revelation of God’s glory.
Not only that, but we exult in it. This future glory here is a likely reference to when all things will be made new, seeing the hope that God called us to. We cannot think of a time when all things will be made new without thinking about the new heavens and the new earth. If this is secured for us, can anything keep us from rejoicing in the Lord who has justified us?
Since He has justified us, secured our pardon and future joy, can present tribulations take away our joy permanently? By no means. The present sufferings bring about perseverance, perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the Love of God has been poured within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Notice that Paul does not say we have joy in spite of our suffering, but in our suffering. This “joy” is active with regard to something specific that is going on, and in our text, that thing is suffering. We can rejoice during suffering because of what God produces in us through it: perseverance, character, and hope.