In Romans 5:1-11 Paul discusses the benefits of being justified by faith. Years ago, I memorized Romans 5:1-2 in the New International Version: 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. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
First of all, we are justified by faith. I once heard someone define the term justified as “just [as] if I’d” never sinned. Through faith, and only by faith, we are worthy to share in the benefits that Paul describes here. They are gifts given through the grace of God to those who believe. The NET Bible translates “justified” as “declared righteous”. We don’t start out righteous, but we don’t have to clean ourselves up before we can be accepted by God. All we have to do is have faith, believe. (Romans 4:3-5)
The term peace here does not simply mean a contented feeling, but a state of peace. It is not the peace of God, but peace with God. We are not on opposing sides. We can join God’s team, and the only way to get on the team is if we are justified by faith. And this is only possible because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Jesus acts as a mediator for us to reconcile us to God. As soon as we make the decision, we are at peace with God. So, our faith plus Jesus gets us access to God’s grace. We no longer have to worry about God’s wrath because He is surrounding us with His grace, His undeserved favour. It was grace that allowed us to be justified by faith in the first place.
This all brings us to the hope of the glory of God. Hope, as it is used in the New Testament, is not defined as wishful thinking but as expectation. We expect to see the glory of God; we are looking forward to seeing the glory of God—to see God as He truly is. We know that we will see God clearly in eternity, but we can also see glimpses of God’s glory now if we keep our spiritual eyes open. (Titus 2:11-13, I Corinthians 13:12)
Sometimes we can get discouraged by all the things that we have to face in life, and maybe we sometimes think that God is punishing us. He’s not. It’s true that we may have to face the consequences of our unwise choices, but this is not punishment, because, if we are justified by faith, we are no longer under God’s wrath. If we dwell on the promises of these two verses, perhaps our hope will be renewed. What we are going through today is small in the light of eternity. Even still, God is on our side.