BY LARRY STOUT, ELDER
Pastor Raphael quoted Romans 5:1 during his message on February 5, 2017, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” He was so excited about this passage that before he read it, he told the congregation they all should memorize it!
It is an incredible promise , because it reiterates again the unbelievable blessing that comes to us through faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Solely on the basis of Christ’s willing and obedient sacrifice on the cross, the shedding of his very own blood on our behalf, we have been “justified” with God through faith.
Justification is a big word, and whole books have been written to unpack it, but very simply, it essentially means “to pardon.” It is a legal term. If I have committed a crime and I am convicted in a court of law, I deserve to be punished for that crime. That is justice. Now, there is in the United States a place where a governor of a state or president of the United States can rectify injustices by declaring a pardon to the accused. Suppose that I did not commit the crime, and it has been proven to be so but after I am already been convicted. This authority can now make that right and pardon me. This is meant to be a form of justice as well.
But, if the person is guilty, they should not be pardoned. That might be considered merciful, but it does not satisfy justice. For justice to be served, the punishment must fit the crime. Which brings us back to our problem — we are sinners! Not a single person who has ever lived can claim to have never once failed to live up to God’s standards as he has outlined them in his law. The book of Romans even shows that even by basic human standards, no one can make the claim to be blameless. “All have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23) . And further in the book of Romans it tells us the consequences, “For the wages of sin is death…” (6:23)
What this means is we are actually at war with God in our sinful state. We are condemned to death, and rightfully so! We have broken God’s law, the only laws that really matter, and for justice to be served, we should have to pay for our sins.
We would be forever doomed, if it were not for the love and mercy of God shown to us through the giving of His Son. The rest of Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” It is not completely true to say that every single person who has ever lived has never once failed to live up to God’s standards, because there was one. That was the Son of Man, Jesus Christ. He perfectly and absolutely lived by God’s standards. He was blameless.
So, Jesus was capable of offering up his life in place of our own. Which brings us back to Romans 5:1 and that wonderful, beautiful promise, ““Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We receive this “pardon” from God, not because we are sinless, but because the punishment for the crime (our sins) has been fully paid for by Jesus Christ! God no longer looks at us as His enemies at war with him - quite the opposite - we are now his friends! We have been adopted as his sons and daughters. We are welcomed into his presence with open arms. How is this possible? Because of faith. We acknowledge this wonderful act of grace done on our part, and now live our lives out of the gratitude to Him for what has been given to us. The best way to sum all that up? Peace with God.
Larry W. Stout, Ph.D., MBA, is an elder at City Church. Larry is a former missionary in the republic of Latvia. He helped start several churches and was a founder and first director for the Baltic Reformed Theological Seminary in Riga. Larry is an author of three books on leadership and human resource management and two novels. He also is currently a weekly columnist for Lycoming County’s largest circulation newspaper, the Webb Weekly, a Clinton Township Supervisor and a Leadership Consultant & Trainer.