Wednesday, April 21, 2010
The Grace in Which We Stand
The work of salvation has been accomplished only by Jesus Christ, by His death and resurrection. It is our faith in Christ, what we know and believe about Jesus from the scriptures, that has changed us from sinner to saint. That salvation that God chose to reveal to us, has changed our condition from the condemned nature of a sinner to that of an accepted child of God. It is Jesus Christ alone that has made this possible. It is nothing we have done, it is awesome power of God through Jesus Christ that has saved us. It is God's grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone that has saved us. Today, we will explore “the grace in which we stand”.
I. Justified (declared righteous) v. 1a - “Therefore, having been justified by faith”.
The term “justification” means to be declared righteous. How is it that we who are unrighteous (sinful) can be declared righteous? Well, a good clue to this is that it says here that we are declared righteous by faith. We are declared righteous by our faith in Christ as our Lord and Savior. The reason I know this is that the word “therefore” here in verse 1 is referring to something that Paul has already mentioned previously. And if we look at chapter 4, in the final verses we can understand how we are justified by faith. The whole chapter talks about how Abraham was justified (declared righteous) by his faith in the promises of God (Rom. 4:3 - “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” and 4:9 - “For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness”). Abraham put his faith into the revealed plan of salvation God showed him in the person and work of Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:8 - “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand”). We just like Abraham are justified when we put our faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. If we look at the final verses of chap. 4 we can understand that better, 4:20,22-25 - “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God; And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification”. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins by His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Is 53:4-5 says this about Christ, “Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed”; this shows the work of justification by Christ's death. Dr. John MacArthur wrote in his commentary on Romans, that through the work of justification by Christ: “God credits the believer's sin to Christ's account, He can credit Christ's righteousness to the believer's account. God could not have justly credited righteousness to Abraham had not Abraham's sin, like every believer's sin, been paid for by the sacrifice of Christ's own blood. Before the cross, the believer's sin was paid in anticipation of Christ's atoning sacrifice, and since the cross the believer's sin has been paid in advance”. This is how we are justified (declared righteous), by faith in Jesus' finished work of salvation. “Faith is never the basis or the reason for justification, but only the channel through which God works His redeeming grace. Faith is simply a convicted heart reaching out to receive God's free and unmerited gift of salvation”. ---John MacArthur.
II. Peace with God. v.1b - “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”.
Because we are justified by faith, we can now have peace with God through Jesus Christ. This peace is something we possess at the very moment we put our faith in Christ. This peace comes from the fact that we are saved and justified in Christ. The fact of the matter is that when we were lost sinners, we were hostile and against God; we were enemies (Rom 8:7 - “the carnal (sinful, fleshly) mind is enmity (hostile) against God”. Because we have been justified by Christ, we now have peace with God. We are now reconciled to God by Jesus Christ, v.10 - “when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life”. Jesus took upon Himself the full force of God's fury on the cross, that we as sinful humanity should have deserved. Because of our sinfulness we were against God, we were His enemies and undeserving of His grace and mercy he showed us through His Son. All of us who trust in Christ as Lord are no longer enemies of God and under His wrath, we are now at peace with Him through Christ (Col. 1:19-22 - “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight”). Being reconciled to God will bring peace with God. Because we are justified by faith, the immediate consequence of that justification is peace (reconciliation) with God. This peace or reconciliation has been made forever between the believer and God. We are eternally at peace with God. We cannot fall out of favor with God because we saved, justified, and reconciled because of what Christ has done in our behalf, by His death and resurrection.
Christ not only brings peace to the believer but “He Himself is our peace (Eph. 2;14)”. The knowledge that we have peace with God should strengthen our assurance that we are eternally secure in Christ.
III. This grace in which we stand. v.2 - “through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
from what we have looked at, we can understand that because we have been reconciled to the Father through trusting the Son we have access into that grace in which we stand. Before we put our faith in Christ, sin denied us access to God. Sin would prevent us from ever enjoying the presence of God, from ever hoping to have salvation, and from ever having a true relationship with Him. The believer can now approach God because of what Christ has done for us. Our standing (our position) with God has changed through Christ. Once unrighteous but now righteous in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21 - “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”). This standing in the grace of God never changes even though our circumstances on this world change daily our position of salvation in Christ does not change. Nothing can change it, nothing can take us out of God's hand of salvation (John 10:28-29 - “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand”). The grace in which we stand shows us the completeness and fulfillment of Christ's salvation (Phil. 1:6 - “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”). The act of saving us, of keeping us saved, and completion of salvation is solely in the hands of the One who has provided that salvation. We are incapable by our strength or our will power or by our good works to save ourselves; we do not have the strength or power to do so. It says in 5:6, “when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly”. We are utterly and totally and completely dependent on Christ to save us and to keep us saved. Once we are standing in the grace we can never leave that place. What we can do is begin to live and operate in grace. Another thing we can do is to “rejoice in hope of the glory of God”. The hope that we receive from being in God's grace is not a wishful hope of this world but that know so assurance of hope in God. Knowing that once we are in His grace through faith in Christ, we are eternally in His hand of grace. It says in Col. 1:13, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed (transferred, translated) us into the kingdom of the Son of His love”. By awesome power of God through the saving power of Christ we are now declared righteous in Christ, reconciled to the Father, and permanently standing in God's grace. Now that should be grounds for us to glorify and rejoice in our God. But the question I want to leave you with today is this, are you standing in grace today? Do you have the joy of knowing the God of this universe through a saving relationship with His Son Jesus Christ? If not, today you can enter into His grace through faith in Christ.