Paul has concluded his argument about faith and righteousness we read in this morning’s text. Now, he pushes forward with the benefits of faith-producing righteousness.
Note that the text begins with the word, “Therefore” which we could read, “As you can plainly see.” He continues, “...since we have been justified (made right with God) through faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” If there is only one benefit of righteousness, “it is peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
As I read this, the Holy Spirit caused me to wonder, “If we have peace we must, at one time, have had the opposite -- we must have been at war with God.” That’s a frightening thought: To be at war with God. Or perhaps we could say, we and God had been adversaries. How could this have happened -- to be God’s adversary? We inherited this position from Adam. As he sinned the world carried sin and we, each of use, bore out our share of sin. It is sin that began the quarrel between us and God. We all know how a simple quarrel, with a friend, a neighbor, or a family member can get out of hand if it is not stopped. A cross word, a misunderstanding, or unintended slight or insult - all of these can lead to a quarrel and then worsen when the party that began the dispute does not apologize or seek forgiveness.
I wonder how many wars could have been prevented if only one side had swallowed its false sense of pride and said, “I’m sorry. I offended you. Please forgive me.” How many countless thousands or millions of lives could have been spared with an apology. Our lives, according to Paul in his letter to the church at Rome, have indeed been spared with an apology of sorts.
Jesus said, as he hung on the cross, dying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) With these words and His death and resurrection, we have been made right with God, if only we believe - if only we have faith.
Paul writes to the house church in Rome, “...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.” Powerful words - “...we have gained access...” Remember the moment when our savior died?
Turn to Luke, chapter 23 and verse 45 to read a reminder of how we gained access to God. Luke writes, “...for the sun stopped shinning and the curtain of the temple was torn in two.” The curtain separated, at God’s command, sin-filled man from coming into contact with a pure and holy God. The curtain was torn in two from top to bottom as a symbol that this separation was dissolved by God (from the top) and not by any effort of man (from the bottom). Paul tells us that Jesus Christ, through his death and resurrection, has provided us access to God by faith and Paul continues the sentence by telling us that as Christians, by grace, we not stand in God’s presence. Not just in this church this morning, but everyday, everywhere, in every way, we are in God’s presence, justified and righteous.
When a war breaks out and lives are spent or thrown away in the fighting, only two words can stop it - “I surrender.” I suggest to you today that to stop your war with God, a war which needn’t be, all we need to say to stop it is, “Lord, I surrender. I accept your peace terms. I will believe.” Peace with God is that simple. There’s not long drawn-out negotiating formula, no need for shuttle diplomacy, just a simple surrender to God and His will for our lives.
“Lord, I surrender. I accept your peace terms. I will believe.” Believing is, after all, a matter of will. We accept, we believe, or we do not. It’s our choice.
After a war the winning party usually tries to punish the offending nation. After World War I, the allies punished Germany by cutting up its territory, setting limits on its military and demanding financial reparations. All of this humiliation led directly to World War II. God does not have a plan to humiliate you or I when we surrender. Instead He offers us a piece of His kingdom. Jesus tells us when we surrender, “In my Father’s house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you.” With God -- when we surrender -- when the war is over -- when we believe, all is forgiven.
Now, Paul writes, “And we rejoice in the hope (the future reality) of the Glory of God.” Amen? We’ve become allies with God. What is our hope? The hope of which Paul writes? Remember, when Paul used the word “hope” in this context, he is really saying, “The future reality.”