Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 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. (Romans 5:1-5)
These verses introduce a section that contains some difficult concepts. To understand the next four chapters in the book of Romans, it helps to keep in mind the two-sided reality of the Christian life. On the one hand, we are complete in Christ (our acceptance with Him is secured). On the other hand, we are growing in Christ (we are becoming more and more like Him). At one and the same time we have the status of kings and the duties of slaves. We feel both the presence of Christ and the pressure of sin. We enjoy the peace that comes from being made right with God; but we still face daily problems that often help us grow. If we remember these two sides of the Christian life, we will not grow discouraged as we face temptations and problems. In stead, we will learn to depend on the power available to us from Christ, who lives in us by the Holy Spirit.
In Romans 5:1, Peace here is not a subjective feeling of peace. Rather, this peace is the state of being at peace instead of at war. The hostility between God and the believer has ceased. The believer has been reconciled to God.
In Romans 5:2, to have access means “to approach,” as if by introduction into a king’s throne room. Believers have been granted admission to stand before God. Even though they were once rebels, they do not have to face His judgment. Instead they approach His throne in the realm of grace, or in the King’s favor. Rejoice means “to boast” and hope means “expectation.” Believers boast in the sure expectation of the glory of God. They are confident, for God Himself has placed the Holy Spirit in their hearts (Romans 5:5).
Paul states that, as believers, we now stand in a place of highest privilege (“this grace in which we now stand”). Not only has God declared us not guilty; He has drawn us close to Himself. Instead of being enemies, we have become His friends – in fact, His own children (John 15:15; Galatians 4:5).
As Paul states clearly in 1 Corinthians 13:13, faith, hope, and love are at the heart of the Christian life. Our relationship with God begins with faith, which helps us realize that we are delivered from our past by Christ’s death. Hope grows as we learn all that God has in mind for us; it gives us the promise of the future. And God’s love fills our lives and gives us the ability to reach out to others.
In Romans 5:3, glory is the same Greek word that is translated “rejoice” in Romans 5:2. Believers can rejoice, glory, and boast not only in their future hope (Romans 5:2) but also in their present troubles. Tribulations refer to physical hardship, suffering, and distress. Perseverance means “endurance.” Trials and tribulation produce endurance when we exercise faith during those difficult times (James 1:2, 3). As believers endure tribulation, God works in them to develop certain qualities and virtues that will strengthen them and draw them closer to Him. The result is fortified hope in God and His promises. Such faith produces its own reward (Matthew 5:10–12; 2 Timothy 2:12).
For first-century Christians, suffering was the rule rather than the exception. Paul tells us that in the future we will become, but until then we must overcome. This means we will experience difficulties that help us grow. We rejoice in suffering not because we like pain or deny its tragedy, but because we know God is using life’s difficulties and Satan’s attacks to build our character. The problems that we run into will develop our perseverance – which in turn will strengthen our character, deepen our trust in God, and give us greater confidence about the future. You probably find your patience tested in some way everyday. Thank God for those opportunities to grow, and deal with them in His strength (James 1:1-4; 1 Peter 1:6, 7).
The hope that believers have of their future glory with God will not disappoint them by being unfulfilled. They will not be put to shame or humiliated because of their hope. The reason the believer can be so confident is that the love of God has been poured out. The moment a person trusts in Christ, that person receives the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9), who constantly encourages them in their hope in God.
All three members of the Trinity are involved in salvation. The Father loved us so much that He sent His Son to bridge the gap between us (John 3:16). The Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit to fill our lives with love and to enable us to live by His power (Acts 1:8). With all this loving care, how can we do less than serve Him completely!
Here is my question to you this CHRISTmas morning: Are you experiencing God’s peace and joy today as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? I hope the answer is Yes!
Merry CHRISTmas to all of my blogging friends and followers. May our Lord bless you all abundantly. And please always remember that Jesus is the Reason for the Season. God bless and Amen.
References: NKJV Holy Bible, Life Application Bible (NIV), and the Nelson Study Bible.