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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles

Chapter 46 - Romans 5:2-4 - The Life of a Justified Man Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius

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How simply does the apostle put the "good news" in the conclusion of the previous chapter! "It was not written for his (Abraham's) sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered because we had sinned, and was raised because we were justified." Then in the fifth chapter he thus continues,—"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom we have access (introduction) by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we even glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience (δοχιμή, approval after trial,—approval by God; perhaps here "a sense of approval"), and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed (will not disappoint), because the love of God is shed abroad (poured out of one vessel into another) in our hearts by the Holy Ghost."[7]

Thus, then, all true religion begins with our being justified; this justification is immediate,—by believing; then follows inseparably, peace with God; and this peace is through Jesus Christ, who is our peace, and who has made peace by the blood of His cross. This Jesus who has effected the peace has brought us at the same time into a state of favor, and placed us on a new footing, namely, of grace or free love, so that all our intercourse and transactions with God henceforth proceed on this new footing; God deals with us in free love, and we count on being dealt with at all times in free love; we expect nothing save from free love, and from it we expect everything. This fountain of God's free love, thus opened for us, and to which, we are brought by Jesus Christ, is all we need for the fullest supply of our innumerable wants. Let us give all credit to the divine testimony concerning it; and act upon it continually; so shall we be kept in peace, and strength, and liberty.

But let us look at the second verse a little more closely.

The two things which the apostle brings before us in connection with our justified condition, are the grace and the glory. Let us take up these two subjects.

I. The grace. This means, of course, the state of favor with God; as when we read, "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." It is that state in which we are dealt with by God in free love, and in free love alone; that state in which not law but free love regulates everything, gives everything; so that keeping this in mind, we may live, and act, and pray as those who are entitled to feel themselves absolutely sure of everything that free love can bestow. The apostle refers to two things in our connection with this state, our introduction or access into it, and our abiding in it.

(1.) Access or introduction. It is Christ that introduces us into it, places us in it,—Christ himself; for "through Him we have access by one Spirit unto the Father." Christ is the revealer of the Father, the embodiment of the Father's free love. Christ takes us by the hand, and leads us in to the Father's presence; and thus led in by Him, we find there nothing but grace, favor, love. There is no other Introducer but He; there is no other introduction or recommendation but His blood. He leads us in, saying, Father, here is one who is willing to be indebted to me for everything, to my blood for cleansing, to my righteousness for covering, to my merit for acceptance, receive him graciously, love him freely. Thus by Christ we are introduced into the favor of God.

(2.) Abiding in it. It is a state of permanence, unchanging permanence. It is not free love today and law tomorrow, but free love perpetually henceforth; we are not under the law but under grace; where sin abounded, grace has much more abounded. We are not in favor one hour, and out of favor the next, according to our frames; but always in favor, through Him who has introduced us into a state, out of which we can never be cast. There may be much inconsistency, much conscious evil, much that is in itself fitted to separate us from God, or draw His frown upon us; but we are now in a state of favor,—and God deals with us now only in free love. This free love faith realizes; keeping us ever under a sense of it, "rooted and grounded in love." Out of the happy consciousness of this, nothing but unbelief can drive us or keep us. Let us, then, know our privilege as believing men, and stand in this free love; let "us be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." It is often hard so to abide; to realize God's free love in the midst of much conscious evil; but that is the condition of every one who has believed in Jesus; and on this free love he ever falls back when Satan would prompt him to despond, or lead him to self-righteousness. The remembrance of this free love will alone keep him in perfect peace. Nothing else will avail.

II. The glory. It is "the glory of God"; not the essential glory of the divine character, but the glory conferred on us by God; the glory of His kingdom; the glory of His glorious heaven; the glory of resurrection, when that which is sown in dishonour shall be raised in glory; the glory of the inheritance of the saints in light.

Connected with this glory there is first joy, and then hope.

(1.) Joy. The word is more properly to triumph, or boast, or exult. It is the expression of the soul's exuberant fullness at the tidings of such a glory. It is joy more than sufficient to counterbalance all earthly sorrows, as well as to eclipse all earthly joys. We glory in the glory. We triumph every time we think of what God has promised to us, and will ere long bring to pass.

(2.) Hope. This glory is expressly given us as a hope, as something for hope to feed upon; an object large enough and bright enough to gladden the hoping eye, and fill the hoping soul. It is preeminently the thing hoped for, the "blessed hope." We are men of hope. We are saved by hope. We love by hope. We are comforted by hope. We are sustained and sanctified by hope. It is a hope that maketh not ashamed. It will not fail nor disappoint. It will, when realized, prove itself to be worthy of the joy which it gave us here; worthy of that God who prepared it for us, of that Christ who bought it for us.

The root of all this is faith,—faith beginning at the cross and stretching forward to the throne; faith which brings us into the possession of the divine favor, and keeps us in perfect peace, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God.

Let us live the lives of believing men; at peace with God; rooted and grounded in love; free, happy, earnest, self-denied; never losing hold of the free love of God, and never losing sight of the glory to be revealed; walking not only in the love of God, but in the law of God, which is holy, and just, and good, keeping our eye continually on the "statutes," and "judgments," and "testimonies," and "commandments" of the Lord our God, knowing that "great peace have they that love this law," and that it is to this that we are called,—"that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit."