“Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:1–5, CSB)
“Joy, peace, love for God and all people…assurance, steadfastness, confidence, courage, and hope in sorrow and suffering. All of these follow where faith is genuine, because of the overflowing good will that God has shown in Christ.” – Martin Luther, preface to Romans
Peace with God
I used to think that peace with God was about me. I needed to have peace in my restless heart and that could only be given to me by Jesus. But Paul tells us that we were rebellious enemies. Our betrayal grieved God. His designs were ever against us. It would have been better for the world if we were removed from it. Even in that state, Jesus came to rescue us. Now, not only has all hostility ceased, but we are welcomed in as part of the family.
W.H. “Dub” Jackson flew bombers and fighters over Japan in WWII. He knew who his enemy was. He had seen their acts of aggression first hand. Only days after General MacArthur sign the Japanese surrender, Dub and others were thinking about how he could get back to Japan as a minister of the gospel. They started to work with churches in the US to send volunteers as missionaries to the people who were called enemies.
Access to God
Adam and Eve were immediately sent away from paradise and the way back was guarded. Standing before a holy God would now mean their death. In the Old Testament, people didn’t pursue God — He came to them. The tabernacle and the temple showed the clear separation between God and man. But through Jesus’ death, the veil was torn. Access was granted. Now we are promised that we will stand before him forever. Like Mary at the feet of Jesus sitting and listening, we will have eternal access to pure wisdom and attention.
Glory of God
Our old selves would have run for our lives from God’s presence and glory. We were like those who will hide in caves and ask the mountains to fall on them on the Day of the Lord. But now, we look forward to it. It motivates us. Even though we will stand before the Ancient of Days in judgment, we have full assurance and we hope to see his glory. This is the same glory that Moses asked to see on Mount Sinai and was denied because “no man can see God’s face and live.” Our affliction, endurance, proven character–they all affirm our new identity. This life is lived with confidence knowing that we will see his face forever.
If faith produces endurance in spite of afflictions and if we are exhibiting proven character, then it is undeniable that true faith produces true works of faith. These works were never able to bring peace with God, give us access to God, or make us holy in the presence of God. In the church, there have always been ingrown traditions, actions, and rules of living that are said to prove your Christianity. But that’s not what Paul says. Only Jesus gives us a new identity through faith. That faith produces genuine works of faith.
“They invent for themselves their own works in which are neither peace nor joy nor assurance nor love nor hope nor steadfastness nor any kind of genuine Christian works or faith.” – Martin Luther, preface to Romans