What We Have
The book of Romans opens with the charge that both Jews and
Greeks "are all under sin," (Rom. 3:9). After the introductory greeting, Paul
takes up the charge against Gentiles (1:18-32). Beginning in chapter two, he
addresses the Jews and makes the same case against them. The conclusion is "both
Jews and Greek... are all under sin," and in fact "all have sinned and fall
short of the glory of God," (Rom. 3:9,23).
Near the end of chapter three, Paul begins a statement of the good news, that is - God's gracious provision for sin to be forgiven. Though we have sinned, we can be "justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus," (3:24). Chapter four relies upon the Biblical accounts of both David and Abraham to show that when we depend upon God, believe in Him and act on that belief - we become personal recipients of His forgiveness. Though we have sinned, God is willing to impute righteousness to us "who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead," (4:24). Everything else Paul tells us (inside and outside of Romans) confirms that to "believe in Him" means trust that prompts obedience (see Rom. 1:5). Justification by faith simply means hearing, believing and doing what God says.
When we do this, in response to the gospel of Christ, what do "we have?" When I decide to become a Christian, I do that and continue that way of life, what do I enjoy as a result? This very practical question is answered by Paul in Romans 5:1-5.
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
"Therefore" means In Conclusion. Paul has argued (1) that all are under sin, and (2) that by a response of faith, we can personally participate in God's provision of forgiveness in Christ. When I obey the gospel and as I follow Christ after my baptism, I am "justified by faith." Paul concludes - there are good results! There are blessings "we have."
Peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Sin puts the sinner in opposition to God (see Col. 1:21; Eph. 2:12 & Isa. 48:22). Because of who Jesus is and what He did, the sin and the opposition it causes can end! Those "justified by faith" enjoy peace with God; completeness, wholeness, harmony. As faith becomes active in my response to the gospel and my walk in newness of life - I am justified, and one good result is this peace.
Access by faith into grace. There is a vibrant word here: access. In this context it means, entrance into a place of blessing. When you read the word here in Romans five, imagine a beautiful room; a place of great blessing. Call this place "the room of God's favor." Outside of this room - you are alienated, lost and destined for wrath. Inside this room, you are surrounded by God's favor. How can one who has sinned gain access into this room? By faith! Though you have sinned, by an active faith in the gospel of Christ, you can move into this great location, the room of God's favor. But though peace and access are great needs and abundant gifts from God, there is more! "Not only that!" (see verse 3).
We also glory in tribulations. To the world, this sounds - not just strange but absurd and abnormal. Can anyone go through tribulation (pain, anguish, hardship, persecution) and glory at the same time? The idea - when stated in these terms - seems to raise immediate objection. Paul affirms, those "justified by faith" can do this! By this faith we have the capacity to endure trouble, because we know something. For those who live by faith, tribulation produces perseverance! In a hostile environment - faith affords the faithful the strength to develop character (see also James 1:2-4). Jesus said, "In the world you will have tribulation; be but of good cheer, I have overcome the world," (Jno. 16:33).
How do we know all this? The Holy Spirit. We know we have these blessings by faith, and we know that hope will have a good end - because a loving God has communicated to us. "Now hope does snot disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
Romans 5:1-5 is about what you have, if you are "justified by faith." If trust in God and belief in Christ has caused you to repent and be baptized ... if you are walking in newness of life, you have peace with God, access into grace and the capacity to glory and grow even in tribulation!
By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 8.8; August 2001