Our Whole New World
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 5:2a (Holman) Also through Him, we have obtained access by faith
into this grace. . .
Paul ranked peace with God (5:1) as the initial benefit of justification by faith. A new convert first senses all is well with God. Paul listed in verse 2 a second immediate result of justification by faith. In addition to experiencing peace with God, a new believer receives a whole new world named Grace. Dorothy found Oz, Alice entered Wonderland, the Pevensie children found Narnia, believers find Grace.
The word “access” referred to being ushered into the presence of a king. If we want an audience with any person of renown, our main obstacle is access. How can we capture the person’s attention in order to gain a face-to-face interview?
A similar concern over protocol occurs when approaching God, the sovereign King of the universe. People can’t enter His presence on their own terms. No sinner has automatic access to God. Sins must be forgiven; robes of righteousness have to be donned. In Heaven, we’ll wear robes, denoting righteousness was not inherent in us, but something we put on; our robes in Heaven will be white because Jesus’ is red.
Sinners access God’s presence only “through Him,” by faith in His Son Jesus.
A man once sought access to President Lincoln to intercede for his brother in prison. When guards turned him away, he sat on a bench and wept. Tad, the President’s son, happened by, and asked what was wrong. When the man said he wanted to see the President, Tad took the man by the hand, and led him past the guards to the presence of his father. Similarly, our only hope for access to the Father is through the Son.
Jesus did not come to show us a way to Heaven. He is the way. He alone can provide entrance into the presence of the Father, where instead of condemnation, new believers find themselves in a world of grace. Can this be? Can sinners stand before the holy God, and instead of enduring lighting, fire, and thunder, find a throne room filled with overwhelming undeserved love? Yes. Believers live in a treasure land called Grace, where everything we have is due to God’s unmerited favor toward us.
All we are, have, enjoy, and hope for is due to grace, to God’s kindnesses we do not deserve. Never brag. “Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe.” He made access into Grace possible. “I owed a debt I could not pay; He paid a debt He did not owe.”
Jesus ushered us into a beautiful environment. Have we learned to enjoy this wonderful new world? Jesus did not bring us into God’s grace to make us miserable.
Believers too rarely celebrate what is rightfully theirs to enjoy. Do we sense God looking on us with favor? Do we detect His smile, and view Him as “Father”? We know He loves us; do we think He likes us, knows our address, and cares where we are? Believers often live way below their privileges. We limp rather than soar. It is sad to have within us the possibility of enjoying so much, yet experience so little.
We live in a new world, but are not outsiders. We are insiders, children of the King. Straighten up. Stand tall in your heart, as a prince or princess should. We did not sneak into God’s Kingdom, or shuffle into it. We did not slink in, creep in, or crawl over a back fence. When we entered, all of heaven broke loose in rejoicing. Jesus Himself brought us in. We will never have a better reference on our resume.
We each have as much right to be in God’s presence as anyone else does. Even those perceived as better than the rest of us do not deserve Heaven one whit more.
Never hesitate to come before Him in prayer. I once told a young Christian lady who had a serious sin problem to pray for God’s forgiveness. She abruptly said, “I can’t pray.” She was a preacher’s daughter, and a good friend of mine. Shocked, I again encouraged her to pray. She said she had not prayed a single prayer in years because she felt unworthy to do so. Fortunately I was finally able to convince her that prayer is the right of every believer. We should always pray, and do so with confidence. God’s main complaint with His people may be, they don’t pray enough.
If access to grace means anything, it includes for believers the privilege of free, uninhibited prayer. Our new world is a wonderful fun environment; enjoy it.
Romans 5:2b . . . in which we stand, . . .
“Stand” implies stability. In our new world called Grace we are entrenched. This environment is not precarious. We plant our feet on firm ground, and cannot be destroyed by enemy attacks. In any effort to stand, footing is vital. It is hard to resist a foe while standing in slippery mud or on ice. But if our feet are firmly planted on God’s grace, dependent on His righteous not ours, we will withstand any assault.
“Stand” gives a sense of permanence. This realm is not a temporary abode, but ours forever. Believers are as secure as if they were already in Heaven. If this were not true, we would have to say we are saved by a place, Heaven, and not by a Person, Jesus. Always remember, the demons sinned and fell while in Heaven.
I do embrace eternal security, though I am not a 5-point Calvinist. I am a 2.6 pointer. This at least puts me closer to Calvin, who believed in eternal security, than to Arminius, who did not, which is where I want to be. But I hasten to add; I know many wonderful Godly Arminians and plenty of stodgy Calvinists. My friend Bob Cirtin well says, when it comes to the debate between eternal security and falling from grace, we ought to be living in such a way that it doesn’t matter which is true.
Romans 5:2c . . . and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
“Hope” implies something anticipated or desired in the future. Salvation always gives us a look forward. For believers, the best is always yet to come.
God’s “glory” is His immediate presence: splendid, dazzling, overwhelming. Paul was saying we should look forward to seeing God, to perfectly fulfilling an enjoyment we imperfectly experience now. Enjoying God is meant to be the high point of our existence. This has become my life pursuit–to know, and rest in, God.
Do we share Paul’s hope? Is it well developed in our heart? Are we confident about the future? Are we absolutely sure all is well? We should be. “Hope” in the New Testament does not refer to wishful thinking. It is confident faith extended.
Christian hope is a sure hope, no doubt regarding its fulfillment. We have guarantees in God’s promise, Jesus’ resurrection, and the Holy Spirit’s presence in us.
We are not left to subjective conjecture as to whether or not we have true hope. We can know our hope is the real deal if we are becoming more and more like Christ.
“We are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure” (1 J 3:2-3). If we have true hope, it is purifying us. Genuine hope longs to be like God tomorrow so desperately that it transforms us more and more into His image today.
We cannot honestly claim we want to be like Him someday if we do not want to be like Him today. Real hope is an ever active, current influence for holiness.
Ultimately, God’s glory is beyond our comprehension, but God has at times granted masked glimpses of it. Some experienced enough of it to whet our appetites.
In the cleft of the rock, Moses was allowed to see the afterglow of God. As a result, the prophet’s face shone. He was forced to wear a veil (EX 33:23; 34:30-35).
Paul our author knew about the glory. On Damascus road he caught a glimpse of God. A bright light from Heaven, brighter than the sun, surrounded him (AC 22:7; 26:13). It was so overpowering that he could not see for three days (AC 9:9).
Somewhere in this explosion of light, Paul glimpsed a face (AC 9:17, 27). He saw the Lord, and witnessed a glory he could never forget. All he could do was utter, “Who are You, Lord?” He had experienced the glory. All he needed was a name.
Paul only caught a momentary glimpse of the glory, but was blinded 3 days by it. The moment stalked his memory. For the rest of his life, he looked forward to the time when Jesus would be fully displayed. He longed for new eyes that could look on Jesus forever, yet not be hurt. Paul had tasted it, and longed for–yea, craved–the day when all constraints would be removed, and he could enjoy the glory forever.
For all who desire it, a measured portion of this blessed hope can be ours now. We can experience and enjoy the glory of God in this lifetime. We cannot have all of Heaven here, but we can draw very near Heaven here. God wants us to enjoy Him.