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Peace with God
The Starting Point

     In this lesson, we're going to get very practical.

     Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 
     By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Romans 5:1-2

Peace with God

​​   Verse 1 sums up the meaning of justification - that it puts us at peace with God. What exactly that means is encapsulated in a single word Paul uses in verse 10: “reconciliation” ...

... we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.
                                                                           Rom. 5:10


     In short, when Paul tells us in verse 1 that justification puts us at peace with God, he means that ...
  • it not only terminates our enmity with him - a truth highlighted in Romans 5:9 by the phrase “saved from his wrath”2 - but, in addition,
  • it restores us to fellowship with him as well - which, of course, is the meaning of the word “reconciliation” in verse 10.

     Think about it!
  • How astonishing it is that God, under no moral obligation to do so and at such infinite cost to himself3, redeemed us - meaning delivered us from the penalty of our sins4
  • But even more so - how utterly incomprehensible it is that he restored us to his fellowship as well - and not just that: he made us his sons and daughters5

     A human judge might pardon us, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that he will become our friend. Not true, however, with God. Fellowship is why God created us. Therefore, when God redeems us - meaning when he pardons us - it’s for the purpose of restoring his fellowship with us. That’s what Paul means when he tells us that justification entails peace with God.
     
     Verse 2 adds to the meaning of verse 1. It tells us that we’ve been put into a “state of grace” - which is what Paul means in the first clause of Romans 5:2 ...

     ... we have access by faith into this grace ...

                                                                Romans 5:2

     It’s not simply that God has tendered us grace; it’s that we now
live in grace - that grace, meaning God’s unmerited favor, is now our
state of being. We have, in short, been taken from a state of wrath6 ...
 
     ... and were by nature the children of wrath, even as
others.
                                                                  Ephesians 2:3

... and translated into a state of grace - what Paul, quoting David in

Romans 4:6-8, tells us is tantamount to the forgiveness of sins ...

     But to him that works not, but believes on him who
justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. 
     Even as David7 also describes the blessedness of the
man, unto whom God imputes righteousness without works, 
     Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and
whose sins are covered.
     Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
                                                                                                                                                                                Romans 4:5-8

     The verb tenses in Romans 5:2, though they don’t often draw our attention, provide further elaboration. Verb tenses in Greek add a dimension that’s missing in English. In English, verb tenses denote only timing - whether an event is occurring in the present, has occurred in the past, will occur in the future, has occurred in the past and is continuing to occur in the present, etc. In Greek, however, verb tenses often denote not only timing, but a state of “consummation” as well8 - that an event has not only occurred, but that the result arising therefrom is in a final state - nothing more can be done to take it any further. And so it is with the Greek perfect tense9. When an event is cast in the Greek perfect tense, the consequences arising therefrom continue indefinitely into the future10; they’re final. And that’s what we have in Romans 5:2 ...


... through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Romans 5:2


     Both the verb “we have” (ἐσχήκαμεν) and the verb “we stand” (ἑστήκαμεν) are cast in the Greek perfect tense. The meaning of Romans 5:2 is, therefore, much better rendered ...


   
 ... through whom also we, by faith, were put into a state of grace and are now forever established in it, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
                                                                                                                                                                                      Romans 5:2


     We are forever established in a state of grace - meaning we have forever escaped God’s condemnation and are no longer in danger of his wrath; we now live in that state - and draw our being from it. 

 
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Footnotes for Lesson 4
 
  1. Justification, as a whole, extending all the way back to Romans 1:16, is, of course, its actual basis, not just its summary in Romans 5:1-11.
  2. The word “wrath” in the New Testament, when applied to God, is a technical term meaning “execution of the sentence of death.” Anyone “under the wrath of God” is awaiting execution of that sentence.
  3. The sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.
  4. For a complete explanation of redemption - its Biblical meaning, see Douglas Shearer, Calvin on the Ropes (Xulon Press, 2009), pp. 165-188. 
  5. Romans 8:15
  6. Once again, anyone “under the wrath of God” or “in a state of wrath” is awaiting execution of the sentence of death pronounced against him.
  7. The word “blessedness” is more accurately translated “blessing.”
  8. ... which, of course, is entirely in keeping with the teleological mind-set of the ancient Greeks; cf my book Calvin on the Ropes, pages 17 ff.
  9. Eugene Van Ness Goetchius, The Language of the New Testament (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1965) 293-6.
  10. Ibid., pp. 293-6.​

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