Access by Faith
“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.”- Romans 5:2
Peace with God in Christ, we noted yesterday, must be understood according to the Jewish notion of shalom, which Paul as a Jew knew quite well. Since shalom is not a pause in hostilities but a full and complete state of well-being, we cannot see the peace that Jesus established for us with our Creator as ephemeral and fleeting. When Paul says that we have peace with God in Christ, he means that we have a peace that can never be lost.
If justification results in this permanent peace (Rom. 5:1), all those who are in Christ by faith alone are permanently declared righteous. Since peace is permanent and peace relies upon being justified, we cannot ever lose our justification. There is no person who is justified but is not at peace with God, nor is there a person who is at peace with God but is not justified. The status of righteousness and shalom stand or fall together, and if one is permanent, both are permanent. This is confirmed by Paul’s use of the Greek verb tense in Romans 5:1. He says that “we have been justified,” indicating a past, completed act with ongoing ramifications. God justifies us only once. We cannot be re-justified. Before His heavenly bar of justice, we are justified once for all, and peace ensues forever.
In addition to peace, we see in today’s passage that justification also grants us “access by faith into this grace in which we stand” (v. 2). Our peace with God having been secured, we need not fear coming into His presence. Indeed, because He alone has done all the work necessary for our salvation, this presence is one of sheer grace. His favor rests upon us when we come before Him, for He has opened up the way into heaven through Christ, and to turn us away or condemn us if we are in Jesus would be to deny the sufficiency of His Son’s work. Christ has brought us in, and He will keep us in, for His Father will not diminish the glory and honor of His Son’s work by letting even one of Christ’s sheep fall away forever (8:29–30; see John 6:35–40). John Calvin aptly comments, “Perseverance is not founded on our power and diligence, but on Christ.”
Nevertheless, we “stand” in this grace (Rom. 5:2). Christ guarantees that all those who are really His will stand, but it is as we stand that we prove we are really His own. Calvin writes: “It is then not he, who by a sudden impulse is led to believe, that has faith, and is to be reckoned among the faithful; but he who constantly, and, so to speak, with a firm and fixed foot, abides in that station appointed to him by God, so as to cleave always to Christ.”
The biblical doctrine of perseverance gives us confidence without presumption. We know that nothing can snatch us out the hand of our omnipotent Savior if we are in Him, but we do not presume to be in Him unless we see daily faith and repentance. We are not looking for the perfect manifestation of such things. We only need to find their presence. If we have any sorrow for sin and love for Christ at all, we are His and we will endure.
Passages for Further Study
Philippians 1:6; 2:12–13