Pastor’s Class Notes
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 5:2a “By Whom also we have access by faith into
this grace wherein we stand,”
Introduction: Paul is discussing the results of Justification by faith. He began by mentioning peace with God because that is the first realization that comes to the mind of a new convert. The saved sinner immediately senses that all is well with regard to God. Divine anger is abated; justice is satisfied.
Paul now calls our attention to another immediate result of justification by faith. In addition to peace with God, the believer also receives a whole new world. In our text, we see three important lessons regarding this new realm:
I. THE ENTRANCE
The new world for believers is access to the blessings of God. The saints live before His smiling face and commune freely with Him. Entrance to this new world is gained only through Jesus Christ. He holds the key that unlocks the door of the treasurers of God. Jesus alone holds the key to the very heart of God.
Jesus did not come merely to show us the way. He is the way. There is a big difference between showing the way and being the way. Go climb a street sign that serves as a direction marker, sit on it, and see how long it takes you to reach your destination. A sign shows the way, but is not the way.
Jesus does more than point men to God. He brings them to God. There is no other way. A man must come to Jesus, and then Jesus provides entrance to the Father. Once a Southerner sought access to President Lincoln, in order to intercede for his brother, who was in a prison camp. The White House guards would not let him in. The dejected gentleman sat on a bench nearby and began to weep. Just then, Tad Lincoln, the President’s son, came by. He saw the crying man and asked him what was wrong. Upon learning that the man desired an entrance to the President, Tad took the man by the hand, and led him past the guards into the presence of his father.
In the same way, your only hope for access to the Father is through the Son. If you want an audience with any person of renown, the main problem to overcome is access, how to get the person’s attention and gain an interview.
The same concern over details of protocol is essential when considering an approach to God. People cannot enter His presence on their own terms and in their own way. No sinner has automatic access to God.
In our natural state we are sinful, vile, defiled, polluted. Even our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Our clothing is completely unsuitable and inappropriate. And not only must Someone prepare us, He must also take us by the hand and lead us because we are blind, weak, lame, and undeserving. It requires a miracle for undone sinners to enter the presence of holy God.
Fortunately, Jesus performs miracles. He provides us with the possibility of “access.” This was the regular word for ushering someone into the private chamber of a king. And it becomes reality for men through Justification by faith.
The sinner who repents and trusts Christ for salvation receives the miracle. His sins are forgiven; Jesus clothes the new convert with His righteousness. Jesus takes him by the hand and leads him to the door which opens into the presence of God, the King of Kings. Jesus opens the door, and ushers us in; and we find ourselves amazed at. . . .
II. THE ENVIRONMENT
Instead of condemnation, the believer finds himself in a room of grace. Can this be? Is it possible for a sinner to stand before God, and instead of lighting and fire find a throne room filled with grace? Not only is it possible; it is a reality. Believers live in a palace, a treasure house filled with grace.
Attribute all you are, all you have, all you enjoy, and all you ever hope to be, to grace. Testify without ceasing to the incredible kindness of God. We have nothing of which to brag. It is all of Christ. “Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe.” He has made it all possible.
Now, believers, let us all learn a valuable lesson. Jesus has provided us entrance into a beautiful environment. Hence, let us all learn to enjoy it. He did not bring us into the throne room of God to make us miserable.
I fear that we are not celebrating what is rightfully ours to enjoy. Do you sense that God is looking upon you with favor? Do you sense His smile? Do you truly view Him as “Father”? Believers usually live below their privileges. We limp and halt rather than soaring aloft on eagles’ wings. It is sad to have the possibility of so much, and yet the experience of so little.
Access to grace means access to God. We are no longer alone, forced to face life on our own meager ability. We can now reach out and receive help from God. We can count on it. It is ever present. We live in it.
You are no longer an outsider, but rather an insider. You are a child of the King. Straighten up and stand tall, as a prince or princess should. You did not sneak into God’s presence, or shuffle into it. You did not slink in, creep in or, or crawl over a back fence. Jesus introduced you. And when you entered, all of heaven broke loose in rejoicing.
You have as much right to be in God’s presence as anyone else. Jesus brought you in, and you cannot have a better reference on your resume than Him.
Realizing your condition, your spiritual birthright, should help you have more confidence with regard to your relationship with God. You should be enjoying a blessed parent-child relationship with God. You should never have to hesitate a moment to decide whether or not you deserve to come before Him.
I once counseled a young Christian lady who had a definite sin problem. I asked her to pray with me for the Lord’s forgiveness. She abruptly said, “I can’t pray.” She was a preacher’s daughter, and a good friend of mine. I was shocked and encouraged her again to pray. She told me 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. I’m sure that God’s main complaint about His people’s relationship to Him is that they don’t pray enough.
If access to grace means anything, it means the privilege of prayer. God does hear our prayers, and always answers them in whatever way is best for us. We have this assurance because our prayers are not offered in our own name for our own sake. Rather, it is all because of Christ, in whose name, and for whose sake, we pray. It is a wonderful environment; enjoy it.
III. THE ENTRENCHMENT
Once you enter this new realm, you are well entrenched. The word “stand” implies resistance and stability. We cannot be knocked down by the power of our enemies.
This environment is not a precarious one. We have firm ground on which to stand, and also divine strength is given to enable us to keep our foothold. In any effort to stand, footing is very important. It is hard to resist a foe while standing in slippery mud or on ice. But if your foot is planted on the grace of God, you will be able to withstand any assault.
The word “stand” also carries the connotation of dignity and honor. We are not thrown to the ground as abject rejects. What a contrast to the unredeemed: “. . .the ungodly cannot stand before God.” In the day of Judgment, when the charge is read against them, they shall collapse. But believers stand before God in confidence, as children before a father.
The word “stand” should also give us a sense of permanence. This realm is ours forever. It is not a temporary thing. The believer is just as secure as if he were already in Heaven.
God wants us to feel confident about our tenure with Him. He desires that we be assured. If you do not have assurance, you will doubt, and doubt undercuts faith and joy.
It is no coincidence that Catholicism refuses to teach that one can have assurance regarding his everlasting destiny. As long as they can foster doubt in a person’s mind, they can keep him dependent upon the church for salvation. However, the New Testament rings out a clear note regarding security of the believers: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (1JN 5:13). God “. . .hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (HB 13:5). “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (JN 10:27-28).