Summary: God offers us peace for all time with him. His love is unconditional, entirely his own doing
"Therefore, since we are justified by faith ..." If you remember back to when we started this series on Romans, I said then that whenever we come across that word "Therefore" we need to stop and think about what’s gone before. What is it that the ’therefore’ refers to? Well, I wonder if you can recall what it is we’ve discovered as we’ve gone through Romans 1-4 so far? Turn back to Romans 1 if you will and see if you can recall what we’ve discovered as we’ve gone through each chapter.
We began in 1:16-17 with the statement that the gospel is the power of God for salvation for everyone who has faith - for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. That certainly fits with 5:1 "Therefore, since we are justified by faith" And we discovered that in it a righteousness from God is revealed - again, by faith for faith. Then in the rest of ch 1 we saw how all the efforts of people to be righteous, to be right with God, have failed. In ch 2 we saw how even the Jews who were given God’s law failed to keep it. So we saw that that there’s this universal failing of humanity to do what’s right, an inability to please God. But then as we moved into ch3 we discovered that even if humanity had failed to be righteous, God hadn’t. He’d remained faithful to his promise to Abraham to bring a blessing on all of humanity through his descendants. How? By sending Jesus to bring redemption to all who have faith. Look at 3:23&24: Now all people "are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Finally, in ch 4 we discover that this has always been the case, ever since Abraham. Abraham was justified because he believed God. His righteousness was counted to him as a gift, just as our righteousness is counted to us as a gift now.
In other words, no-one has to earn their salvation. God gives it to us freely as a gift. All we have to do is to believe.
So, ’Therefore’, he says, ’we have peace with God.’
Now peace is a timely subject this week, isn’t it? The nation stopped on Thursday to remember those Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fought and died to secure our peace as a nation. I don’t think it’d be far off the mark to suggest that Anzac Day is the most spiritual day in our calendar. And it’s important that we stop to remember, that we don’t take for granted the peace that we, the many, enjoy as a result of the sacrifice of the few who fought and died. In fact if you think about the world in which we live, peace is a rare commodity. So much of our world suffers from war, violence, terrorism, oppression and the like, while we enjoy freedom, choice, comfort, a legal system that protects our rights, a social welfare system that ensures a basic standard of living. All as a result of the peace in which we live.
There’s a similar situation for those who have faith in God. Paul says we now have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. And this is a peace which affects us both in the present and in the future. Look at what he says:
"Through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand." Our current status is that we now have access to the grace of God in which we stand. In other words we now have access to that righteousness that Jesus Christ has won for us. You hear about young people who are left a large inheritance that’s tied up in a trust account that they can’t access until they’ve met certain conditions: coming of age, getting a degree, getting married, getting rid of their nose ring. And sometimes Christians think of the righteousness that God offers us as being like that. It’s something they know is theirs but they think they have to do something before they can actually get their hands on it. It might be some moral reform, it might be some regular religious service, it might be having a regular quiet time. Whatever it is, they think that the gift of righteousness is dependent on how they behave. But that’s to misunderstand the grace and the gift of God. There are no strings attached to this gift. We have access to it right now. When God looks at you today, he sees, not your failings, but the righteousness that Jesus Christ gives to all those who believe in him. So we have peace with God right now.