What “stuff“ exactly? Might sound greedy to ask what we get from justification. Maybe “consequences” is more palatable. But in Romans 5:1-11 Paul lists the “stuff” (or, “consequences” if you prefer) . . .
PEACE WITH GOD
”Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ . . . “ (5:1).
Paul has just summarized 3:21-4:24 with these words: “ [Jesus our Lord] was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” Now comes the “stuff” that follows as a consequence of being put in right-standing with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
We should note that this means nothing for the person who believes he’s “good” so he’s “okay” with God. This is why 1:18-3:20 is so important. We’ve exchanged creation-revealed knowledge of God for our idols. Therefore, God has given us over to the lusts we want to gratify—and their consequences. This is God’s wrath in the world’s everyday life. But religious people have no excuse. They do the same as the God-rejecters and won’t repent. Therefore, they are storing up wrath against themselves on the day of God’s wrath. Conclusion: all are sinners; all are accountable to the God of righteousness and wrath.
But “we”, who’ve trusted the crucified and resurrected Christ, “have peace with God.” Wrath has been appeased. The war is over.
STANDING IN GRACE
“ . . . through [our Lord Jesus Christ] we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (5:2a).
The English “gain access” comes from the Greek, prosagogen, a word used of admission into the presence of a person of high rank. The fact that Paul uses it with “into this grace in which we now stand implies continued access. So we, who believe in our Lord Jesus Christ and are now justified, have ongoing access into grace. So there we now stand.
I picture it like this. The most common definition of “grace” is “God’s undeserved favor.” God’s favor is an ocean. We’re standing in it knee-deep as gentle waves of grace wash over us again and again. It’s another benefit of being justified by faith.
REJOICING IN HOPE
“And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (5:2b).
“ . . . rejoice” (Greek, kauchometha) obviously is a verb (unlike “peace”—above—which is a noun and, therefore, something we are given as a result of being justified). So, rejoicing “in the hope of the glory of God” is something we do, says Paul, and able to do because of being in right-standing with God.
This rejoicing is specific. It’s “in the hope of the glory of God.” “Hope” isn’t a wish; it’s a confident expectation the future has broken into the present through Christ’s resurrection. “ . . . in the expectation of the glory of God” captures the sense of the word. The “glory” of God (Greek, doxa—splendor, grandeur, power) is what we fell short of (3:23) and what we exchanged for our images (1:21). Now we rejoice because our confident expectation is to gain what we lost.
It should be noted that ”the glory of God” is more than a simple definition can contain. If I say “God’s glory is all that he is in his splendor, grandeur and power”, we’re stepping closer. But, in my view, “glory” is a “catch-all” word to express the inexpressible.
Why is “the glory of God” a hope in which we rejoice? Because God’s glory will be revealed in us (8:18). This will include “the redemption of our bodies” (8:23). My imagination could soar here. But I’ll tamp it down, so we can move on. (You, go ahead. It will be more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20,21).
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We take peace with God (benefit #1 of justification above) pretty much for granted. I think that’s because our culture has penetrated our minds, and we can’t envision God’s wrath against us. God is love, right? Besides wrath sounds so 18th century puritanical. But the wrath-war has ended only because God makes us right with himself through our faith in the crucified and resurrected Christ.
Standing in the “ocean” of God’s grace as waves of his kindness and favor continually wash over us can be a tough image to accept, especially in times of suffering and pain. How is this grace? How is this undeserved love? But like “peace with God”, “standing in grace” is a state of being for the justified, not something we have to do. We’re standing in the “ocean” of God’s grace even if it feels like a dry desert at times.
Hopelessness is one of the worst emotions. Many of us struggle with it as we face death, because we will die with much undone we wanted to do. Only in the movies do we get to check-off everything on our “bucket list”. But we who are justified have a future beyond our last breath here. Paul calls it “the glory of God.” I can’t define it. But gaze at a field of wildflowers, or pounding ocean waves, or majestic mountains. Creation is a tiny revelation of “the glory of God.” Or read the Gospels and watch Lazarus come out at Jesus’ command, and envision Jesus suffering an agonizing, bloody death in our place. And then read of the empty tomb and Jesus meeting Mary and showing his wounds to doubting Thomas. Jesus is the supreme revelation of “the glory of God.” And justification opens the floodgates of rejoicing in our future of God’s glory.
Pretty good stuff, no? More to come next time . . .