Sunday, May 3, 2015, 6:00 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “When in The Stillness.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 5 (quoting vv. 1-11 ESV). Access By Faith Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, he took upon himself the sins of the entire world so that when he died, our sins died with him. When he was resurrected, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. Through what Jesus Christ did on the cross for our sins, God has made a way for us to be forgiven of our sins, delivered from the penalty of sin (eternal damnation), and set free from slavery to sin. As well, his grace frees us to walk no longer according to the flesh but according to the Spirit, and it promises us eternal life with God. All of this, though, requires that we accept what Jesus Christ did for us by faith. This faith is not a one-time decision which guarantees us heaven, though. The Greek NT is clear in stating that salvation and eternal life is promised to those who continue in faith, i.e. to those believing. This faith, Biblically speaking, reveals itself via us turning from sin, i.e. dying with Christ to sin, and via us turning to God to follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his will and to his purposes for our lives. The grace of God is not a “get-out-of-jail free card.” It is not merely an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we die. It is not “carte blanche” to continue in willful sin against God, claiming God’s grace covers it all, either. The grace of God which brings salvation teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, godly and upright lives while we wait for Jesus’ return. These words, “In which we stand,” stood out to me as I read this passage this morning, so I would like to take a few minutes here to examine what that might mean. To take a stand on something means “to adopt a firm position” and “alludes to the military sense of stand, ‘hold one's ground against an enemy (dictionary.com).’” It is the opposite of compromise. It means to hold to; to stick to like glue; to adhere to (See: Ro. 12:9; 1 Co. 15:1-2; Phil. 2:14-16; 1 Tim. 6:12; Heb. 3:5-6). This entails so much more than just words, though. If we truly stand in God’s grace, it means we say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions, we do not compromise with the world around us, and we choose to live godly, upright and holy lives, in the power of the Holy Spirit, until Christ takes us home to be with him. (See: Luke 9:23-25; John 6:35-65; 10:27-30; Ac. 26:16-18; Ro. 8:3-14; 2 Co. 5:15; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:8-10; 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24-25; & 1 Jn. 1:5-9). We Rejoice in Sufferings Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Part of this walk of faith and obedience to our Lord Jesus involves suffering, but suffering is for our good. One of the ways in which we are called to suffer for Christ is in suffering persecution for the sake of his name, and for the sake of the full gospel message, because when we truly do stand in the grace of God, as taught by Christ and the apostles, we will be hated, resented, rejected, mistreated, mocked, falsely accused, and strongly opposed by those who don’t want to hear the truth of what the Word teaches about grace. They want to hear what tickles their ears and that removes all consciousness of sin against God so that they can continue in sin and claim that God’s grace covers it all, or that Jesus does it all and that nothing is required of us – no repentance and no obedience, etc. Yet, if grace does not deliver us out of bondage to sin, then it is not grace. While We Were Still Sinners For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. We can do nothing to deserve or to earn our salvation. We will never be good enough. Our good will never outweigh our bad. When we were born into this world, we were born with sin natures, in the image of Adam (See: Romans 5; 1 Corinthians 15). We will always, in our own flesh, come up short of attaining God’s approval and acceptance (See: Ro. 3:23). So, that is why God the Father sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to the earth, to take on human form, and to die on the cross for our sins. He was the perfect sinless sacrifice to take away the sins of the world. He didn’t die because we deserved his death, because of our own righteousness, which in his sight is like filthy rags. He died for sinners like you and like me while we were still dead in our sins. Amen! And, I am so thankful! So, what does it mean to be reconciled to God? It means “to bring into agreement or harmony” (dictionary.com); to restore a penitent to fellowship with God; “to settle or resolve a dispute” or “to reestablish a close relationship” (thefreedictionary.com). Because of Adam’s sin against God, all of mankind has been separate from God, without hope, in slavery to sin, and doomed to hell for eternity. Through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for our sins he reconciled us to God, i.e. he bridged that gap between us and God so that we could be made right with God and have our fellowship with our creator restored. Yet, again, we must accept this great salvation by faith, which is continuous (persistent), and is repentant and is obedient, not in absolute perfection, but in continuous submission to Jesus Christ in daily putting off the flesh and in daily putting on the Spirit in walking no longer after the flesh, but after the Spirit and by the Spirit. Our salvation is not a one-time event that takes place at some point in our lives and then one day we go to heaven when we die, either. Not only is our faith continuous, i.e. salvation and eternal life is promised to those who are believing (present/active/continuous), but our salvation is also a continuous process. Scripture teaches that we have been saved, we are being saved (present/active/continuous), and we will be saved (See: (Ro. 8:24; 13:11; 1 Co. 1:18; 15:1-2; 2 Co. 2:15; Eph. 2:5; 2 Tim. 1:8-9; Heb. 5:9; 9:28; 1 Pet. 1:5, 8-9). This is not works-based salvation, as some have accused us of teaching. We do not obey Jesus to earn our salvation. And, we don’t perform in the flesh to be acceptable to God. No, we humbly submit to Christ and we surrender to the cross of Christ in our lives in dying with Christ to sin, in being resurrected with Christ to new lives in Christ Jesus, and in walking no longer according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (See: Ro. 8). Yet, we don’t do any of this in our own power or strength, but only in the power and working of the Holy Spirit within us, as we cooperate fully with God’s work of grace in our lives. So, all the glory goes to God – great things He has done in saving us and in molding us into the image of Christ. When in The Stillness / An Original Work / September 26, 2011 When in the stillness Of this moment, Speak to me, Lord, I humbly pray. Be my desire, Set me on fire, Teach me to love always. Help me to walk in Fellowship with You, Listening to You; Sit at Your feet. Whisper Your words to me, Oh, how gently, Guiding me in Your truth. While we are waiting For Your blessing, Lord, in our hearts Be King today. Help us to live for You ev’ry moment, List’ning to what You say. May we not stray from Your word within us, Help us obey You, Lord, in all things, Walking each moment, Lord, in Your presence, Our off’rings to You bring. Help us to love You, Lord, our master; Be an example Of Your love, Helping the hurting, Lift up the fallen, Showing them Your great love. Teach them to love You, Follow You always, Bearing their cross and Turning from sin; Walking in daily Fellowship with You, Making You Lord and King.