“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-11
Peace with God
When Jesus first appeared to the gathered disciples after his resurrection, he focused his message on this one word – peace (John 20:19, 21, and 26). Jesus had just brought about the reconciliation of God and sinners, and the result was peace. Jesus couldn’t get over it. We’re at peace now. We don’t understand the full significance of the word because we probably don’t fully appreciate the severity of the sentence that was against us. But Jesus knew what that sentence was. He knew the wrath that we were under. And he returned to his disciples, bursting with the news that he was at peace with us.
The glory of God was once death for us (Exodus 33:18-23, Ez. 1:27-28). When a sinful man stood before the glory of a perfect God, the result was an all-consuming terror. But now the apostle Paul says that we rejoice in it Rom. 5:2, that is we rejoice in what we were once terrified of, and we are now at peace with God’s holiness. This change in our relationship to God’s holiness, from terror and fear to peace and joy, is what it means to be justified.
And Not Only That
Paul is describing a surprise reversal. Now that we are standing in this grace – “We also glory in tribulations . . .” Tribulation really ought to lead us to despair. But Jesus saw it as an opportunity for God’s glory to be revealed. Outside of Christ, tribulation on earth is merely a foretaste of the eternal condemnation that is waiting for us. But when we are in the grace of God, these tribulations produce something altogether different in us.
This is why we are given the Holy Spirit now. The Holy Spirit is regularly described as a guarantee (Eph. 1:13- 14), a deposit, a promise. The reason that this deposit is so important is that it is going to look, at times, like you aren’t headed towards eternal life. When you suffer it is going to feel at times like you are headed towards death and destruction. But the Holy Spirit is poured into your heart as a confirmation that God is actually moving you towards eternal life. It is a supernatural peace and confidence in the face of suffering.
The world describes people who endure suffering as “fighters.” It is a hollow boast. Because we all know that any victory that they might experience is a temporary victory, a remission from suffering. But Paul promises us that in Christ “we are more than conquerors” (Rom. 8:37-39). Because through Christ we have conquered death itself, our hope will not be disappointed.
For When We Were Without Strength
Paul is about to explain the reason why we can have this confidence, this peace. The answer is – while you were still an absolute jerk, Jesus died for you. And if he was willing to die for you in that condition, then how much more is he going to give his life to you, now that you have been forgiven? We have peace in suffering because we have Jesus’ eternal life promised to us.