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Monday, November 29, 2010

Invited into Peace

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  (Romans 5:1-2)

One of the things I often remind people about when exploring scripture together is the use of the word "therefore".  This is a "joining" word.  It focuses us on what has been said up to the point that this word is used - reminding us that based on what has been presented, we can make the following assumptions or conclusions.  Paul has spent four chapters laying out the fact that ignoring God leads man into a place of ungodly pursuits and how God is not pleased with this behavior.  We try to get away with our sin, but God is not letting us off the hook - he has his eye on us, attentive to our every choice.  We try to mask the conviction of our sin with the pursuit of all kinds of religious experiences - thinking that if we look or sound religious, somehow this will appease the requirement for holiness that God requires of us.  

Paul was aware that there was a struggle in the church between Gentile and Jew.  The basis of the struggle was that the Jew felt superior to the Gentile because they were chosen by God to be his unique people - given the law, brought out bondage to their slavery, called his bride.  They thought this gave them a "leg up" on the Gentiles and constantly threw this up into their faces.  The facts that Paul wants them to remember is that the "works" of the law did not "save" anyone - it is faith and faith alone that accomplishes it.  Now, he presents the concept of peace with Jesus - gained through faith in the grace in which we now stand.  We no longer stand in "religion" or "rules of the law", but in grace (unmerited favor).

Therefore...or "since"...in view of the fact that we have been justified through faith....

Justified - proven right and qualified to become participants in the ownership of our inheritance in Christ Jesus.  We are now treated as righteous, all sin absolved through the work of the cross - not by any work of our own.

Through faith - we have come to a place where we have complete confidence in the promises of God.  We have more than a passing knowledge of his work on the cross - we have a firm persuasion, a conviction based on hearing that leads to a full acknowledgement of God's revelation in us.  We are firmly grounded on fact - the fact of the cross accomplishing what we could not in and of ourselves - holiness comes at the foot of the cross, not in the keeping of rules.

We have peace with God - a sense of security, freedom from all disquieting and oppressive thoughts.  It is gained through Jesus - we have an obtained advantage over those who have not experienced the work of the cross in their lives.  

We have access to God - a total freedom to obtain and make use of the grace extended to us.  Not just once, but over and over again.  Grace is needed frequently - it is to be accessed repeatedly.  Grace is the special favor, privilege, approval, and pardon of God.  It is his unmerited, divine assistance - just when we need it, right where we need it, just how we need it.

That gives us an ability to stand - in a specific position - occupying the "space" God has prepared for us in his presence.  To have this kind of assurance is something that people seek for all their lives in the natural, yet never find.  The peace of God - the freedom to stand in his presence - are both elusive to those who have not experienced his grace.

Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2:11-18 that we were once without hope, but now are brought near.  That nearness to God is accomplished at the foot of the cross.  In coming near, he became the very peace we needed.  In that peaceful nearness, we experience the total access to God that the blood of Christ accomplished.  

If peace is eluding you today, perhaps it is time for a fresh visit to the foot of the cross - asking God to revitalize you today with the joy of his presence.