Daily Archives: March 29, 2021

A RIVER OF CONSEQUENCES

A RIVER OF CONSEQUENCES

“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 boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5.

It has happened. We have been justified. It is a cut-and-dried fact!

Not only that, but justification releases a river of consequences. The first one is peace with God. The war is over. God and man have been reconciled. God and we have “smoked the peace pipe” and there is no longer any reason for Him to be at odds with us. The solid ground of peace with God is that the reason for the war has been removed. Where once the broken law was the issue, it no longer exists. Jesus has satisfied God’s holy standards by living a perfect life and then doing away with the law as a standard of judgment by setting up a new law that encapsulates the old perfectly.

And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.” 1 John 3:23

Jesus has become God’s standard of judgment and, because we are now “in Him” through faith in Him, we wear His righteousness as a covering for our sin. Justification, and the peace with God which follows, is our legal standing before Him. We can approach Him without fear, look Him in the face and receive His smile of approval because there is nothing left to condemn or separate us from Him.

Through Jesus, we have been given access into God’s grace – all His resources of love, strength and enabling that we need to live our lives in and for Him. We have a standing in grace – we are surrounded with His favour as David experienced:

“Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with favour as with a shield.” Psalm 5:12.

Another consequence flows from justification – the hope of the glory of God. What does this mean? When Adam sinned, the whole human race was plunged into darkness – selfish and self-centred living that brought chaos and conflict into the world because everyone was looking out for number one. Jesus died in our place, not only to deal with our sin but with our sinfulness as well. That means that, through the power of the Holy Spirit we are being and will be restored to God’s original intention, to be replicas of Him in our nature and behaviour.

But how does this happen? Strangely enough, the very hardships we experience, which we so often use to accuse God of not loving us, or of punishing us for something we have done wrong (which cannot be because God has already punished Jesus for all sin, ours and everyone else’s), are God’s way of knocking off the rough edges so that we begin to understand and share in the hardships of others instead of being self-absorbed and self-centred.

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? …They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness, No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:7; 9-11.

Three more consequences flow from our training to reflect God’s glory: perseverance, character, hope. Have you ever noticed how God’s children who have suffered much have been mellowed by it and are full of hope for their future in the life to come? Paul says, “Revel in it! There are indescribably great things up ahead.”

These consequences go full circle – they begin with God’s great love for us and they work in us until God’s love is poured through us to touch the lives of others who, in turn, follow the same pattern, over and over again and on and on. Justified; peace; grace; perseverance; character; hope; love, and it all flows out of what Jesus did for us on the cross.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

JUST AS…SO ALSO

JUST AS…SO ALSO

“Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as, through the disobedience of the one man, the many were made sinners, so also, through the obedience of the one man, the many will be made righteous. The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But, where sin increased, grace increased all the more so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:18-21.

Amazing, isn’t it, how precise God’s action was to undo at the cross what Adam did in the garden!

But, before anyone gets the idea from the above passage, that Paul was advocating universal salvation, that is that everyone is automatically saved because of the cross, we need to look carefully at what Paul said. Adam’s one act of disobedience brought sin and death on all people because Adam represented the human race. Every human being, past, present and future came from Adam. We are all “in Adam”. Therefore, we were all born with Adam’s nature, with a natural enmity towards God and a bent towards sin.

Jesus Christ died in the place of all human beings, past, present and future, to free us from the punishment for sin, but only those who are “in Christ” actually receive the gift of eternal life. Everyone has been forgiven but not everyone has received forgiveness.  Everyone has been invited to access God’s forgiveness and the gift of righteousness and eternal life, but only those who receive His gift by faith and participate in His life are actually “in Christ”.

Paul was both comparing and contrasting what Jesus did with what Adam did to reveal the extent of God’s mercy over His judgment. Adam disobeyed one instruction which was enough to separate him from God and bring death upon the whole human race. From that one act of disobedience flowed a stream of rebellion which turned the world into a jungle of sin and death.

After a lifetime of submission to the Father, Jesus’ life culminated in one act of obedience which brought mercy to all who believe in Him. He reconciled us to the Father and provided the potential for us to be restored to the His image.

God separated and called one nation, Israel, through Abraham, to be His own people and gave them His law to show them how to live so that the surrounding nations would have a glimpse of the one true God. The law was intended to teach them what sin is so that they, in their inability to keep the law, would experience God’s forgiveness through the blood of an animal sacrificed in their place.

The entire sacrificial system was to be a visual aid of what God had already done through His Son from before the foundation of the world. “So,” Paul said, “God gave the law to increase sin.” But why? Surely. He wanted them to obey Him, not to sin? Yes, that was His intention, but the law could not produce obedience – it could only reveal the extent of their guilt. They had to realise how deep their sin was in order to understand and appreciate the greatness of God’s grace.

It is impossible, through any amount of effort, to produce perfect righteousness because everything we do is stained with sin. Even our best efforts have our filthy fingerprints all over them. So, God did away with our trying as a basis of acceptance with Him. “That was useless,” He said. “I have a better way. My Son did a perfect job of living in obedience to me. All you need to do is accept the gift and put yourself under His authority and I will accept His obedience as though it were yours.”

But there is more. Just as we received Jesus’ righteousness as a gift to save us from God’s wrath, so we accept His righteousness in our everyday living. Many believers come unstuck here. Once we are “in Christ” we think that we have to maintain our acceptance with God through hard work. We keep trying to be good enough. God says, “Stop it!” We’re okay, just as we are. All He wants us to do is to keep trusting and following Jesus. He will recreate us into the image of His Son through the Holy Spirit in us.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.