Sunday, September 9, 2018

So, that is what it is there for

My pastor is always saying, "Don't overlook the therefore, because you need to know what it is there for." The use of the word "therefore" 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 conclusions. In this case, the 'therefore' points us to the fact that ignoring God leads man into a place of ungodly pursuits and God is never pleased with this behavior. We try to get away with our sin, but God is not willing to let us off the hook. He has his eye on us, attentive to our every choice even when 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.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 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)

At the time these words were recorded for us 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 of bondage to their slavery in the land of Egypt, and finally called his bride. They thought this gave them a "leg up" on the Gentiles and constantly threw this up into their faces. The "works" of the law did not "save" anyone - even the Jews - it is faith and faith alone that accomplished that important 'transition'. We are then presented with 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....

We are 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. It is 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 been given peace with God - a sense of security, freedom from all disquieting and oppressive thoughts - now it is time for us to walk and live in that peace. It is gained through Jesus - we have an obtained advantage over those who have not experienced the work of the cross in their lives - peace. We also have access to God - a total freedom to obtain and make use of the grace extended to us - something not to be taken for granted. Not just once, but over and over again we can come freely into his gracious presence. 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, worldly pursuits of life, yet never find in any of these. The peace of God - the freedom to stand in his presence - both elusive to those who have not experienced his grace. We are reminded 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 just not within 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 and restfulness of his grace. Just sayin!

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