By Steve DuPlessie | June 7, 2017
Someone once asked author and speaker Lucy Swindoll what here favorite emotion is. Expecting she would say Joy, or Excitement, or maybe Love, they were surprised when Lucy said her favorite emotion is … relief!
And when I thought about that, I have to admit hearing the judge say my Hit and Run charges were dropped, that relief was … sweet! Hearing the doctor say “We got all the cancer out,” that relief was … delicious! Standing in line for graduation practice the week before my wedding and reading the bulletin board to discover that I had actually passed my last core requirement course, Astronomy, the relief was … indescribable! And I’m guessing you have your favorite relief memory, and it is sweet.
That’s Romans 5:1: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have … peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…” There’s more relief in those three words than any other. And the more you understand of God’s holiness and your lostness, God’s perfect goodness and your desperate helplessness, the more relief those three words – “peace with God” – bring.
Jesus talked about that. Luke 7, verse 41: “Two people owed money to a certain money-lender. One owed him five hundred denarii (one dinari equals a day’s pay), and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Peace with God. No more fear of facing God. No more uncertainty. I was talking with a new Roman Catholic friend a few weeks ago and he said to me, “I just hope God’s not angry with me when I die.”
The good news is …
The good news is it’s possible to face God with confidence and not fear … by trusting that the death of Jesus was totally sufficient to satisfy all God’s demands for justice. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have … peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom (through Jesus and his death on the cross for us) we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” Those two words, “gained access,” don’t mean, snuck in when no one was looking, as in the burglar gained access through an open window. No, the words “gained access” in Greek are actually language of the king’s court as in, you have been invited, announced, introduced, and escorted right up to the throne of the king. Official, invited, special access.
“…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…” If you are a believer, trusting Jesus and only Jesus by faith to save you, you have gained access by faith into grace – get that. Into the space, into the place of God’s grace.
I think of the small family of boat-people refugees from Cambodia that Deb and I sponsored back in the 80s. They stepped off the plane with a couple of little plastic shopping bags of their only possessions, after flying half way around the world. They stepped off the plane in Warwick into … freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom for war. Freedom from the reeducation camps. They stepped … into the land of freedom.
Into the place of grace…
Listen, because of God’s gift of justification, you have gained special access into the space, the land, the place of … grace. That’s where you live now. In the land, in the realm of, God’s amazing grace. Undeserved. Unmerited. Unearned. Grace.
Verse 2b: You have “gained access by faith into this grace in which you now … stand!” Praise God! The Greek there has the sense of establishing something permanent. Not weak-kneed, fearful, trembling in God’s presence. Not shamed, embarrassed, humiliated, hiding from God’s presence like Eve and Adam in the garden. No. Because of Jesus, because of God’s free gift of justifying grace … you currently, this morning (not just at some future eschatological time) you right now STAND … and will always stand, by invitation … in the presence of God. Through Jesus you have “gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand!” Praise God!
Okay, so I know enough about myself to know that none of us are perfect. All of us have a history, have stuff that we hope no one else ever knows. All of us fall short of our own standards, never mind God’s. And it’s a short trip, a very short trip to guilt … and shame.
Guilt is what we rightly deserve when we mess up: I did it; I’m guilty. Shame is how we feel about ourselves because of our guilt.
And God says, “I’ll have none of it! Go ahead, stand up! No more guilt. No more shame. All of that stuff, Jesus already owned all your guilt – the past, the present, even the future – Jesus already owned all your guilt at the cross. That’s why he died. For all your guilt. For all the stuff that only you and God know about. That’s why he died.
And Jesus already took on himself all your shame … at the cross! The perfect Son of God was humiliated and taunted, mocked, laughed at, embarrassed, stripped naked and shamed for you. That’s done. It’s over. So by God’s grace you can stand up! Listen, those memories of guilt and shame are just the poison tricks of the devil to rob you of relief and joy today. By God grace through faith you have gained access … into this grace … in which you now stand!”
That’s a deep and heavy truth! Let that Bible truth sink in for a moment and soak into your soul. … Let that truth waterlog your mind. … God does not call you to wallow and waste away in the land of guilt. God does not call you hide and hope no one notices in the land of shame. Because of Jesus, God have given you privileged, special access into grace in which you now stand! So stand up! Take a moment and reflect on that. Picture yourself standing – washed clean, forgiven, justified, redeemed – standing in the presence of God. … take a moment and offer God a prayer of praise, a prayer of thanksgiving and worship for the place of grace in which you now STAND before God!