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. (verses 1-2)
This sentence is thick with word pictures and potent theological insights. It’s like a rich mountain trail that leads to one stunning vista after another. Travelling this path makes all the difference for life.
To be “justified” means a brand new beginning. The picture is that of a courtroom where we stand guilty, ready for the final pronouncement of condemnation, because the sentence is so obvious and clear. Judgement is all we could ever expect. Yet, stunningly, the Judge’s words turn everything upside down. There is a different outcome. He declares us to be fully, completely in right standing. No guilt clings to us. We look up into the Judge’s face – it is the face of God. There is no higher court of appeal that will overturn this pronouncement!
This declaration comes “through faith.” Like Abraham we cling to the promise and experience its fulfillment – Jesus “was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (4:25). We believe, and the courtroom drama plays itself out. We are free.
We continue the path. It leads us to continually look into God’s face! We discover we are at “peace.” No need for hiding. No need to hang our head. No need for fear. The relationship now radiates peace. This is that rich Old Testament variety captured in the word “shalom,” a peace which is much, much more than simply an absence of conflict. Oh, no – “shalom” is completeness, wholeness, health flowing through and through. When Jesus said he came to bring life in all its fullness, this is what he meant. No wonder, then, that Paul affirms it is Jesus himself who brings about for us this vibrant, peace-filled relationship with God.
But not only that. The path goes on. There is a doorway that is wide open, beckoning us. Elsewhere, Jesus described himself as the door, the gate (John 10:7, 9). Here we discover it’s truth. “We have gained access” – through the open door, right inside to the place of privilege, freedom, sanctuary, refuge. Again, it’s all by “faith,” nothing of our own effort or deserving or struggle, but simply believing the promise, trusting the one who is himself the gate. Walk in. Step through. Make yourself at home.
And find yourself standing firm on a new foundation – “grace.” Grace can never be earned. By its very nature it is only, always pure gift. Immovable. So our footing is absolutely sure. But we not only stand “on” grace, we stand “in” it. The very atmosphere we breathe is saturated with its vital essence. Inhale deeply. Fill your whole being. Simply amazing.
Justified. Through faith. Peace. With God. Through Jesus Christ. Access. By faith. Into grace. In which we stand.
Thank you, Father, for the ever-unfolding wonder of the life I have received in Jesus Christ, my Lord. Grip my mind with it. Strengthen my feet in it. Fill my being full.
I look to you today, knowing I am embraced in your peace. Praise you.
Reflect: Which of the words or pictures or themes in this sentence grips you most. Set it before your mind all day. Give thanks. Step into it more fully.