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.
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