Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 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.
No Uncertainty about this Being the Will of God
My aim this morning is that you will "exult in the hope of the glory of God." I pursue it with great expectation because I know it is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. This is the goal of God in these two verses. Verse 2b: "We exult in the hope of the glory of God."
There are many things in life that we are not sure about. Should I live here or live there? Should I change jobs or stay where I am? Should I go to school here or there? Should I be a goer or a sender in missions? Should I date this person or not? Should I eat this or that? Read this or that? Talk to this person or that person? Watch this show or not? There are many choices that we wonder about - which would please the Lord more? But of some things we may be absolutely sure. And one of them is this: it is God's will that you "exult in the hope of the glory of God."
Whatever else you do, whatever else you say, whatever else you feel, whatever else you wonder about when you get up or when you lie down, of this you need have no uncertainty whatsoever. God wills that you exult in the hope of his glory. Therefore it makes sense to give yourself with energy to pursuing this. The other things are not so clear and not so important as this. This is sure and this is paramount. "Exult in the hope of the glory of God."
To do this you have to see the glory. You have to hope in the glory that you see. And then you exult in the hope of the glory that you see. There is God's glory. There is hope for God's glory. There is exulting or boasting or rejoicing in the hope of God's glory.
Where do you see the glory? Mainly in the gospel story of Christ's life and death and resurrection for us sinners. When the story is told and the gospel is preached, what shines out from it, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:4, is "the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." The gospel is the "gospel of the glory of Christ." And this glorious Christ is "the image of God." So the glory of Christ that we see in the gospel story of his life and death and resurrection is the glory of God. God stands forth from the history of his Son's life and from the preaching of this greatest story in history. His glory shines through the gospel.
And when we see it for what it is, we see that the glory of God is the greatest value in the universe. Nothing is more to be desired than the glory of God. Romans 8:18, "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us." No pain would be too great to endure if it brought us to the glory of God. And not only will it be "revealed to us," but we will be caught up into it. Romans 8:21, "The creation itself will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God." We are going to share in the glory of God. We will ourselves be glorified.
The greatness of the joy of this experience is beyond all imagination. That's what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:7-9, "We speak God's wisdom . . . which He predestined before the ages to our glory. . . . 'What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, God has prepared for those who love him.'" When Paul was caught up into heaven to see it, he was forbidden to put it into words. He says he "was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak" (2 Corinthians 12:4). In the midst of his sufferings he said that this "momentary, light affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison." According to Romans 9:23 the final goal of all creation, judgment, and salvation is this: "To make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory." Not just glory, but "riches of glory." You were made to enjoy the riches of the glory of God.
For Paul, who perhaps had tasted more of this glory than anyone, it was so precious that he said, "I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:8). And what do we gain when we gain Christ? Simply this, according to 2 Thessalonians 2:14: "It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." And that is the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:4,6).
Loving God's Glory
When you see this and taste this for what it really is, you set your hope in it. Nothing compares with it. All is loss and rubbish by comparison. And in this hope you exult. What does that mean? You've all seen shadows of what it means. You've all had foretastes of it. For example, back near the end of the Vietnam War, many of us remember certain video clips that nobody but the most unemotional could watch without tears. It had been three years, four years, six years since certain American prisoners of war had been captured. Wives had been faithful. Children had grown up. And then comes the news. Your husband is alive. Come to San Diego on such and such a day and you will meet him. Those scenes of reunion on the aircraft carrier were overwhelming with emotion.
But think of the emotional experience between the time the phone call came to say, "He is alive," and the actual meeting on the ship. Nothing had changed, except one thing: news. "He's alive. He's coming home. You will see him." And that news (that gospel!) created assured hope. Hope changes everything. Nothing remains the same - if you really hope for what you really love. Do you love the glory of God?
That is the goal of this text: that you may "exult in the hope of the glory of God." O, that God would open the eyes of our hearts to see "the hope of his calling and the riches of the glory of his inheritance" (Ephesians 1:18). I call you this morning - whatever else you may be uncertain about, whatever else you may fail to do, don't be uncertain about this, and don't fail to do this: "Exult in the hope of the glory of God!"
Five Steps to Exulting in the Hope of the Glory of God
Everything else in this text is a means to that end. There are five steps in this text that lead to the final step of exulting in the hope of the glory of God. Three of them we have been thinking about for many weeks. Two of them are new and I will focus on those. Let me mention what they are, not in the order that they come in the text, but the order in which they happen.
1. The saving work of Jesus Christ.
You see at the end of verse 1: ". . . through our Lord Jesus Christ." The first and most important means to the end of our exulting in the hope of the glory of God is that Jesus Christ has come into the world, lived a life of perfect righteousness, died in our place to bear the condemnation for our sins and risen to vindicate the success of his work. Everything good that happens to us is owing to this. Without the work of Christ, all would be justice and wrath, but no salvation. That was the point of Romans 3:24-26.
2. We see the truth and beauty of this great work of redemption and believe on Christ.
We see this in the little phrase "by faith" in verse 1: "Therefore having been justified by faith . . ." Our connection with the righteousness of Christ and the sin-bearing death of Christ is by faith alone. That has been the point of Romans 4.
3. We experience justification.
Verse 1: "Therefore having been justified by faith . . ." Justification is a sentence of acquittal, and the imputation of God's righteousness in Christ - not guilty before God's justice, but righteous. "God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Those are the three steps that we have spent many weeks on. Now come two more that we have not focused on yet:
4) Because of justification we now have peace with God; and 5) through this peace with God we have entered into a sphere and power of grace which keeps us standing until we inherit the glory of God.
Let's take these one at a time and see how they help us exult in the hope of the glory of God.
4. Because of justification we now have peace with God.
Romans 5:1, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." How are we to understand this peace with God? The picture I think Paul has in his mind is brought into sharper focus in verse 10: "If while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." What this shows is that the picture in Paul's mind is that there is enmity between us and God. God is angry at us for our sin (Romans 1:18) and we are hostile to God in rebellion against his authority (Romans 8:7-8). Romans 1:18 says, "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness." God's anger at our ungodliness is our main problem in life. If God is resolved to pour out his wrath on us we are in a terrifying position.
Imagine the power of God behind his wrath! When you look up into the sky on a clear night you can see what is called the Milky Way, the name of our galaxy. It has about 200 billion stars in it, they say. You can see maybe a 40-millionth of them on a good night. The disk of the Milky Way is about 100,000 light years across (about six hundred thousand trillion miles) and 2,000 light years thick. Our sun will take about 200,000 years to make a circuit. And besides our galaxy there are, some estimate, 50 million other galaxies.
Now, the God we are talking about here in Romans made this universe with a mere command. He simply spoke and all the galaxies came into being. And he holds them in being by the word of his power. This God is so great that any attempt to portray his greatness falls infinitely far short. But what we can see and feel is this: that if such a great God is angry at us, and has such indescribable power to back up his anger, then we are in the worst of all possible conditions. Nothing could be worse than to be opposed by the wrath of infinite power.
And that is our situation. God is revealing his wrath against our ungodliness now and will bring it to a climax in the last day of judgment (Romans 2:4). Our only hope is if God may provide a way of reconciliation. Verse 10 says that he has: "We were reconciled to God through the death of his Son." This happened because Christ bore our sins and fulfilled our righteousness. Now by faith we are united to Christ, so his righteousness is imputed or credited to us. And the result is peace. God is no longer angry with us. We are reconciled. There is no condemnation. That is step four on our way to exulting in the hope of the glory of God.
Now here is the best thing about this situation, and it leads directly into the fifth and last step toward exulting in the hope of the glory of God. All the power that once stood in the service of God's anger against us now stands in the service of his grace toward us.
So Paul says in verse 2, "Through [Christ] 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." Notice the word "also" (the NIV drops it). Not only do we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, but also through him we have something else, something more. What is that? That is the fifth step.
5. Through this peace with God we have entered into a sphere and power of grace which keeps us standing until we inherit the glory of God.
Peace is one way to describe our new relation to God. We have peace with him. But there is something greater that this peace or this reconciliation leads to, namely, an experience of the omnipotence of God acting not against us but for us. We are brought into the omnipotent sway of sovereign grace.
This is something more than justification, and something more than peace. This is the mighty sphere and influence and dominion of transforming, empowering, preserving grace - God's infinite power no longer against us but for us.
Why do I say this? First, because that is where Paul is going with grace in this chapter. Verse 21: "As sin reigned in death, even so grace [will] reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Notice that grace reigns. It is an exercise of power, not just a disposition. Grace is a sphere and reign of God's infinite power working for us and not against us. And, second, a few verses later in Romans 6:14 Paul puts it this way, "For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace." Grace is the sphere and power that masters us in Christ and works to free us from the dominion of sin and bring us to eternal life. We stand in this grace, and we stand by this grace. Romans 14:4,5 says of every Christian: "To his own master he stands or falls, and stand he will, for the Lord is able to make him stand." This is the sovereign sway of grace.
But even more relevant than these two verses about grace is what we saw just a few verses earlier in Romans 4:16: Grace is the guarantee of our inheritance. Recall these words: "For this reason [justification and our inheritance of the world is] by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed . . ." Recall the faith-grace-certainty connection. It's God's sovereign grace that makes our future inheritance of the promise certain or guaranteed. Why? Because of the power of grace that we see in verse 17b: it's the grace of "God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist." God's grace fulfilled the promise because Abraham was justified and had peace with God and therefore the omnipotent, dead-raising, creating-out-of-nothing power of God worked for him and not against him.
That is what we have entered into, according to Romans 5:2. That is where the justified people of God live. We live in the sphere and reign and power of omnipotent sovereign grace. That is where we stand. And that is why we "exult in the hope of the glory of God." The thought is the same as the faith-grace-certainty connection in Romans 4:16: "Justification is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed."
Most Urgent News for the Nations of the World and You
Here the sequence goes like this (putting all six steps together):
- Christ died for our sins and fulfilled a perfect righteousness;
- we saw it and believed;
- we were justified by this faith; the righteousness of Christ was imputed to us;
- the enmity between God and us was taken away and there was peace;
- we entered through that peace into a sphere and reign of grace where the infinite power of God no longer works against us, but for us, so that the promise is guaranteed - grace will reign unto eternal life (Romans 5:21), the justified will be glorified (Romans 8:30) and therefore
- "we exult in the hope of the glory of God."
This is a great salvation. It is a great prelude to Missions Fest beginning next Sunday. This is the most urgent news for all the nations of the world. Without it, they are under the wrath of God, just as you are this morning if you don't trust Christ. So, for your own sake and for the sake of the nations, believe in Christ, receive peace with God, enter into the sway of omnipotent grace, and exult in the hope of the glory of God.