Summary: In this sermon we observe the blessings of justification by faith, the first of which is peace with God, and the second is standing in grace.
Grace is what lies behind God’s entire plan of redemption. That is why Paul can use it in writing to the Ephesians, saying, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The second word is faith. The faith referred to in Romans 5:2a is the faith in Jesus Christ by which we are justified. It is not merely knowledge and assent, but it includes entrusting ourselves fully and completely to Christ.
The third word is access. The Greek term lying behind this word access is prosagoge, which can mean “access, or right to enter, or freedom to enter, or even introduction.” Since it is used of the work of the Holy Spirit in prayer in Ephesians 2:18, it has sometimes been said that the Holy Spirit “introduces” us to God.
What does the word mean here? The important thing to see about its use in Romans 5:2a is that it is preceded by the verb “we have. . . obtained.” The tense of the verb indicates that something happened in the past, but has continuing effects into the present. Therefore, just as we have been justified, and we continue to remain justified, so we have obtained access into grace, and we continue to have access into this grace in which we stand.
And the fourth word is stand. By now we can see how it should be taken. By the grace of God we have been brought into the position of justification, and that is the grace in which we have the privilege to stand. Before, we were standing without, as children of wrath. Now we are standing within, not as enemies or even as pardoned criminals, but as sons and daughters of Almighty God.
2. Access to the King
In his short but valuable commentary on Romans, Ray C. Stedman illustrates the nature of our standing in grace by the Old Testament story of Queen Esther.
Esther was a young Jewish woman living in the days after the fall of Jerusalem, as a result of which the majority of the Jewish people had been carried off to Babylon. At the time of her story, the king was Xerxes and he was ruling at Susa.
Xerxes sought a bride to replace the deposed Queen Vashti and found one in Esther. She became his queen after being taken from the home of her cousin and guardian, Mordecai, to live in Xerxes’ palace.
A great enemy of the Jews named Haman was also living in the palace. Haman hatched a plot against the Jews in which Xerxes unwittingly signed a decree that would result in death for all the Jews in Persia. Mordecai got a message to Esther, telling her about the plot and saying that she must go to the king and tell him what was about to happen and prevent it.
But, Esther explained, there was a problem. It was a law of the Persians that no one could approach the king unbidden. If a person approached the king in the inner court without being summoned, there was only one result: death—unless the king held out his golden scepter to that person and thus spared his or her life. Although Queen Esther had not been summoned to the king for thirty days, even she could not approach him without danger of being put to death.