Peace, contentment and boasting of hope in Jesus Christ

Text Romans 5:1, 2 Time 09 07 17 Place Childs Hill Baptist Church

I want us to consider this morning the matter of peace and contentment and abounding hope. Now these are subjects that we are all interested in. We all want to be at peace. We all want to know health and blessing. We want peace. We also want contentment. We want to know grace resting on us and giving us a sense of well being. We want to know that all will be well. Similarly, confidence is something that concerns us all. We want to be hopeful. We want to be confident bout the future.
Now the great question is, of course, as to how these things can be experienced. There are various ideas about as to how these things are gained. Some are very vigorous and active. They throw themselves into life and they believe that they have the means thus to make themselves healthy and contented and confident. Others take a much more cautious approach. They believe that a slow and careful approach is by far the better way to attain such things. Others simply throw up their hands in despair and say 'How can anyone know with these things? Peace and grace and confidence are such elusive things. What guarantee is there that this road or that will lead to them?'
So what is the answer? What is the way to peace and contentment and confidence? Well, the answer to that question is found in the text I want us to consider today, although that is not really the way the matter is tackled. The text is Romans 5:1, 2 and whereas I suppose the text might have said we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand and boast in hope of the glory of God because we have been justified by faith it is actually the other way round
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, … we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have access by faith into this grace in which we now stand and we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
Paul does not begin his great letter to the Romans by talking about peace and grace and hope and how we can know these things. Rather, he begins by showing us that we lack those things because of sin. What fear and what evil and what discontentment there is in this world and it is because of sin. It is because no-one seeks God, not one. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The wages of sin is death. However, the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Paul explains that this gift is received from Christ by faith in him. It is only when he has set out the way to be justified by faith that Paul comes, in Chapter 5 to say that because we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have access by faith into this grace in which we now stand and we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
So the first thing we have to say about this important subject is obvious
1. Recognise the basis of all lasting blessing – justification by faith
One of Paul's favourite words in Romans is the word Therefore, and as I have said many times before to you, when you see it you need to ask yourself 'what is the therefore there for?' Clearly what Paul says in Romans 5:1, 2 is dependent on what he has been saying in the previous chapters where he has been demonstrating that justification before God or being right with him is not a matter of what we do. It is not a matter of law. It is a matter rather of faith in Jesus Christ.
So when Paul says Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,through whom we have access by faith into this grace in which we now stand, etc he is saying that it is on the basis of what he has already said that he can speak of the peace and grace and hope that he has known in his life. If you said to Paul 'You seem to be a man at peace with God, a man of grace, a man who is always confident, why is that?' Paul would be in no doubt whatsoever. 'It is because I have been justified by faith' he would say. 'Though I am a sinner by nature and deserve God's wrath and I have no hope of establishing my own righteousness, I have put my faith in Jesus Christ. Like Abraham and David and all those who have gone before, I have not sought to set up my own righteousness but have looked to God for his righteousness. By trusting in Jesus Christ and what he has done in living and dying as he did I have found a way to be right with God. My sins no longer count against me. I am forgiven and that has changed everything.'
Perhaps the passage that sums it up most succinctly is 3:21-26
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets (the OT) testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace (a free gift) through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. He then explains redemption (the buying back) of the redeemed briefly God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, (a propitiation to turn away his wrath) through the shedding of his blood - to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, (in that he does deal with sin) because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished - he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Now the obvious question here then is, are you also justified by faith in Christ? Have you put your faith in Jesus Christ and what he has done? There is no other way to be right with God. It is the only way. Furthermore, none of these blessings that I want to speak about is available to anyone except those who put their faith in Jesus Christ. There is no other way to them. You know the expression 'to put the cart before the horse' well, to think about peace and grace and hope before thinking about faith in Christ is just that – to put the cart before the horse. These other things cannot be known without this first. It is like the way into the upstairs of a house. Before you can go upstairs in most houses you first have to come through the front door. So if you want to know joy and peace in Christ, you first have to trust in Jesus Christ, believe in him. Until you do that, none of these other blessings can follow on. It is like the foundation. When a building is being put up then nothing can be built until the foundation is laid. In the same way, it is not until the foundation of justification is known that the peace and the hope and contentment can follow on.
2. Consider the peace with God that belongs to all who are justified by faith
So let's look at these blessings then that follow on from justification. We want to ask two questions really. If we say we are Christians then do we know these blessings? If not, then either there is something wrong with the way we are living the Christian life or we are not Christians at all. If we are not Christians then I want you to see what the gospel has to offer for all who are justified by faith. So first Paul says Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. What we actually have here is Therefore, having been justified by faith, have peace with God (command rather than the indicative) but the context suggests we need to understand it as indicative. If justified, we have peace that is to be enjoyed.
Perhaps this is the most obvious and immediate effect of justification. By nature we are not at peace with God and he is not at peace with us. Indeed, God is angry with us, whether we realise it or not. It is only when we are justified by faith that we can find peace with God or any sense of true and lasting peace. Cf 9, 10 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, while we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Isaiah 32:7 The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.
James 2:23 "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend.
John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Of course, peace means much more than a cessation of hostilities. Peace stands for all sorts of blessings that come also from God.
So if you are a believer, be thankful that your war with heaven is over. You are at peace with God. Without that sort of peace no other lasting sort is possible.
Ephesians 2:13-17 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
Finally here, do note that through our Lord Jesus Christ. Just as justification is possible only through Jesus Christ so is the reconciliation and the peace that follows from it. He himself, as we have just said, is our peace.
3. Consider the access to God's grace that belongs to all who are justified by faith
Paul goes on through whom we have access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. The Christian, the person justified by faith, is not only at peace with God but he is, as we say, in a state of grace. He knows God's favour. The believer has been introduced to God's grace. It is only to those on whom God's favour rests that peace is granted. They are no longer beaten down by Satan and by sin and by fear and degradation but they now stand up because of God's grace.
How does one have access to this grace? How does one receive it or get introduced to it? It is just like justification itself which precedes it. On one hand, on God's side, it is through Jesus (through whom we have access ...). He is the way, the truth and the life no-one comes to the Father and his blessings except through him. On the other, on our side, it is by faith, by looking to him.
True contentment is no easy thing to find but if we are in God's favour, if his grace is on us and we are standing and so all is well. God's grace comes to all who are justified. It comes through Jesus Christ and all he has done and like other blessings it is received by faith in him.
Are you standing by God's grace? Through Christ and through faith in him are you under God's favour? Are you standing strong because of him? Then praise God it is so!
4. Recognise the blessing of confidence arising from the hope of God's glory, the right of all who are justified by faith
The third thing Paul adds here is and we boast (or rejoice) in the hope of the glory of God. Not only peace and grace but also the hope of glory is the right of every truly justified believer. The believer is a confident person particularly in the hope of the glory of God. Faith leads to hope and that hope will lead eventually to glory in God and with God and to God. In the succeeding verse Paul has something to say about the struggles of this life but for the moment his focus is on heaven and the glories of that place. Oh what a glorious hope is stored up for the believer. No wonder he is confident. Cf 1 John 3:1-3 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

There is an ebbing and flowing in the confidence of the justified believer but he has a hope that cannot be taken from him and that goes on forever.