FAITH PEACE GRACE HOPE GLORY

by Eric S. Love
podcast available June 10, 2011

Romans 5:1-2 (NASB)
Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

There are so many amazing spiritual elements found in these two short verses. Faith. Peace. Grace. Hope. Glory. Let’s look at these individually and see what God is saying to us.

FAITH & GRACE

We know that faith is our responsibility. Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) Grace and faith combine to launch us into salvation (Ephesians 2:8) and are thus made into a brand new being (2 Corinthians 5:17). So faith is our end of the bargain. It’s the price we pay. So how much does it cost? It only takes faith the size of a grain of mustard to move a mountain, right? How difficult can it be? (Matthew 17:20)

Well here’s some good news. It’s not as difficult as it seems.

Let’s look at “Abraham’s Unwavering Faith”

Romans 4:18: Against hope, with hope [Abraham] believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what had been spoken: so will your descendants be (Gen 15:5). He considered his own body dead (since he was about a hundred years old) and the deadness of Sarah’s womb, without weakening in the faith. He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, because he was fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

Abraham is also listed in Hebrews 11, twice actually, being cited for his faith. In the case of Romans 4, it says that his faith was counted to him as righteousness. In Hebrews (11:38,39) it says that the world was not worthy of those listed because of their faith, that they had gained God’s approval.

Take a closer look at Abraham:
According to Romans 4, he did not waver in his faith that God would give him descendants that would outnumber the stars, but according to Genesis, he kind of did. He had Ishmael with Hagar, Sarah’s servant. The consequences were, eventually, pretty steep, too (Islam finds its roots in Abraham through Ishmael).

Fuller story, beginning in Genesis 15-17: God promises to Abram several times that his descendents will outnumber the stars and the sands of the sea. Sarai suggests that Abram use her maidservant, Hagar, an Egyptian, since she herself was barren. Abram agreed. Ishmael is born. Thirteen years pass, the number of rebellion. God shows back up and reminds Abram of their covenant. He changes his name to Abraham (exalted father becomes father of many) and Sarai’s name to Sarah. God tells him that he and Sarah will have a child together. They both laugh.

Paul, who wrote the book of Romans, was a Pharisee before converting. He would have had to memorize the first five books of the Bible. He knew Abraham’s story. Yet he said Abraham “did not waver.” How can he say that? Abraham lied in some pretty substantial ways, too. Is Romans wrong? Does Hebrews exaggerate? No.

Consider Abraham: a man of great faith… it’s encouraging. Making all the right decisions and getting everything perfect does not make you righteous. So what does? Commitment to walk out what you’ve promised, even after you may have failed miserably at it.

What Abraham had going for him is that he KNEW God. And to really KNOW God is to love Him. It was that love that bound him to live out the commitment he had made, the covenant with God. God was committed to Abraham.

God is committed to you. What He is looking for is someone to be committed in return. Its not how you start, its how you walk it out that’s important. Read the list of people in Hebrews 11. They were all flawed. But they all made up their minds. They didn’t use their humanity as an excuse to fail. And they didn’t use their failure as an excuse to get out of their commitment. On the contrary, they overcame both. And that is what made them righteous.

Matthew 24:13
Jesus said “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”

And that makes grace God’s part.

Titus 3:4-7
...when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared,
He saved us not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,
who He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

God’s kindness and love brought God to save us. Not our own righteousness - not because we were good. Not even because we are potentially good. It was His mercy.
He accomplished this by the “washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” This word, “regeneration,” comes from two words: genesis again. Genesis means “beginning.” So what is being said here is that we are washed and renewed by the Holy Spirit into a new beginning, a genesis again. This is rebirth, and our rebirth is not the result of anything short of God’s love and kindness.
The Holy Spirit, who washes us into this rebirth, is poured out on us richly - as is God’s custom, He gives in abundance. He is not stingy with His Spirit.
This new birth makes us rightful heirs (justified) according to the HOPE of ETERNAL life. There’s hope again... and it is linked with eternity. We have a living hope which is eternal.

Ephesians 2:8-10
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

We see grace coming into the picture now: saved by grace through faith. Once again, we are reminded that it is not about what we can do. It’s about what God can do: we are His workmanship. We are the fruit of His labor. See that? It’s not about our work... it’s about His work.
Again, He performs the work of regeneration and we are made new creatures - we become the work He shows off. Ephesians 3:10-11 actually says the “manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places” and that this is “in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Jesus.” These “rulers and authorities” are the same ones we “wrestle against” in Ephesians 6.

PEACE
Okay, so what about peace? Where does it come from? We know that our faith justifies us - which simply means it makes us acceptable. (But when you look at it from God’s perspective, we are more than just acceptable considering how hard He fights for us. We are down right priceless.)

Verse 1 of Matthew 5 tells we have peace with God through Jesus. But what exactly does it mean to have peace with God?

Consider what the new testament says about peace:
Luke 2:14 – Jesus is announced by angels for the first time on earth: Glory to God and PEACE on earth (Emanuel, God with us, has come – and with Him: peace)
John 14:27 – Jesus said: My peace I give you and I don’t give like the world gives
John 16:33 – Jesus said: I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.
Romans 14:16-18 – The Kingdom of God is righteousness (right relationship with God), peace and joy.
Romans 16:20 – It’s the God of peace who crushes satan under our feet
Phillipians 4:7 – when we choose thanksgiving over anxiety, God’s peace converts our hearts and minds into strongholds of faith and love
Ephesians 2:14 – Jesus is our peace
Colossians 3:15 – God’s peace should rule our hearts

So what is peace? It is Jesus ruling our hearts, fortifying our hearts and minds, setting us free so we live in confidence – that defies our understanding at times – in God’s unalterable love for us.

This is how it works:
Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Our TRUST leads to JOY AND PEACE which results in us overflowing with HOPE as the result of Holy Spirit POWER

Being at peace with God means we’re cool with Him and He’s cool with us. It’s like justification or righteousness. All these terms are talking about us having a good, healthy relationship with God. We know that peace is given to us as an act of war (The God of Peace crushes satan and that same peace is part of our battle wear in Ephesians 6), but what of that? The point is: God is fighting on our side. He is making the impossible (us having a right relationship with Him) possible. He’ll just turn us into something we’re not if that’s what it takes. (And isn’t that what it means that we are made new creations?)

It’s this kind of peace we have through Jesus that causes us to come boldly before the throne.

HOPE

So now we come to hope.

Sometimes hope for us, like faith and love, must be a choice. But just because you choose to believe or choose to love doesn’t mean it is less substantial. In many cases, that is when they are at their purest forms. And it is the same with hope.

God is made up of those things. For Him they aren’t choices. They are part of his character. In fact, God is love (1 John) and hope reverberates throughout every syllable uttered from His mouth, from every move of His Spirit, from every thought in His heart. And He never stops believing in us (Jesus washed Judas’s feet in the midst of his betrayal).

That is why we choose to believe. Choose to love. And choose to hope. We are prisoners of a hope that will not let us go because we understand God’s heart, even when we don’t understand His actions.

Zechariah 9:12-13:
Return to the stronghold you prisoners of hope. Even today do I declare that I will restore double your former prosperity. For I have bent Judah for myself as my bow, filled the bow with Ephraim as my arrow, and will stir up the sons of Zion against the sons of Greece, and will make Israel the sword of a mighty man.

This falls between the first and second exodus BACK to Israel following the deportation of Israel into Assyria and Judah into Babylon. Most of the Jews are now exiled under Persian rule (since Persia conquered both Assyria and Babylon). This happens somewhere in the sixty or so years when nothing seems to happen at all. Persian rule is suffocating. The hope that had been restored with the rebuilding of the Temple is dampened by the obvious resuming of life as normal under the tight fist of a foreign oppressor.

And yet, God calls His people “prisoners of hope” because the hope born in them is not something they can quit. Zechariah’s message in the ninth verse of this chapter begins: “Rejoice greatly, o daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem. See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey.”

The hope they are prisoners to is not just a hope that will rescue them from their current prison, but will see them through to the coming of their Messiah - Jesus, who brings with Him their ultimate salvation.

Because God is a God of hope, and we are prisoners of that hope. It was in this hope that we were saved (Romans 8).

We keep walking “by having the eyes of you heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which he has called you...” (Ephesians 1:18)

And what does Romans 5:2 say we hope for?

GLORY

Romans 5:1-2 (NASB)
Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 8:11
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through the Spirit who indwells you.”

Jesus is the resurrection and the life. The power of the resurrection is something we can lay hold of. The same Spirit that raised Christ form the dead now LIVES in US! There is something key, something essential, something PROVISIONAL about the power of the resurrection!

vs 15: “You have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption...” (we hope for an inheritance reserved for us in heaven)

vs 18-25:
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us. (This suffering is a part of life, but it is nothing compared to the glory that is coming.)
For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. (The manifestation of us walking in the reality of our NEW Selves, our immortal origin, this new creature that we’ve become)
For the creation itself was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope
that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (we see freedom here again, and the glory of God revealed through His children)
For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, (Jesus being the firstborn of a new race of being - the word says we partake of this nature)  even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly (this is hope) for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”

Here is the suffering again: life brings suffering, but we have a choice. We can suffer till we die or we can suffer with Christ, clinging to the hope in which we were saved, and be resurrected again and again and again and again into LIFE.

We hope for this not because we have it already, but because we are CONFIDENT that we will know its completion. It’s okay not to have all of this stuff in life worked out. It’s okay. But we press on, we keep our eyes on the things above, we fight to lay hold of that thing that - through hope - has laid hold of us. And through this, we experience life after life after life in the reality of our new selves.

This is the power of the resurrection working in us.

Let’s go back to Romans 5 and read verses 1-11 in the Message.

Eric Love, 7/10/2011