Have you not heard? Do you not know? — We’ve been “justified by faith.” And what’s more — because “we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God.” How has this justification occurred? Our justification and therefore our peace with God has been secured “through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We stand in this grace. And in this grace which we have obtained through faith, “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:2)
Therefore, we stand in faith, in grace — justified fully before God the Father — in total peace with Him. We stand in joy because we have this hope of glory within us.
Sometimes, I believe we underestimate the state of joy in which we stand. Either we do not recognize it, or we fail to grasp its fullness. Now someone might say, ‘well, then how is that being in a state of joy?’ Of course it’s not. Joy comes with first knowing the weight of our sin and then recognizing the lifting of that weight. And joy is sustained by refusing to allow that weight of guilt to return to us, knowing that Christ carried that weight on the tree at Calvary. Like a garment, He has taken our sin from us and literally nailed it to the cross.
Taking it down, putting it back onto ourselves is the ultimate betrayal of grace. Have you not heard? Do you not know? “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. They who wait for the Lord renew their strength; they mount up with wings like eagles; they run and are not weary; they walk and do not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-29,31)
Nothing need be added to Christ’s finished work — the redemptive work He completed on the cross.
“[God] has set eternity in the hearts of men, yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Men — that is humankind — desire God; they feel an emptiness when they are without His intimate presence.
Solomon reminds us that “God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time for every deed.” (Ecclesiastes 3:17) Because all will stand before the judgment seat of God Almighty, humankind needs One who will stand in the gap for them — One who has taken upon Himself the sins of the world.
Nothing is more powerful than the shed blood of Jesus Christ crucified. No “good deeds” compare to His effort on the cross of Calvary. Add nothing to His work, for it is not only unnecessary, it is worthless.
Paul says, “You must work out your own salvation in fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you, inspiring both the will and the deed, for His own chosen purpose.”
Here Paul shows the unique cooperation which occurs in the Christian life between us and God — we work out our salvation while God simultaneously works out our salvation. We believe while He provides the faith. We love because He first loves us. Without God, there is no salvation.
In Eden, God has already decided the means for our salvation — He even warns the serpent that Eve’s child will crush Satan’s head while Satan will only bruise the heel of her Son. God has a plan — a plan He demonstrates repeatedly throughout history until the birth of His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ.
Who works out our salvation “in fear and trembling?” The person who feels and displays the greatest “fear and trembling” for our salvation is Jesus as He kneels in the garden of Gethsemane wrestling with His dread of suffering, death and separation from His Father. What could be more terrifying? Nothing we experience can compare to the fear Jesus feels that night and on that cross. Whose purpose is being fulfilled? God the Father plans everything out to the last detail. He knows all; nothing takes Him by surprise.
For our part, Paul exhorts — “Show yourselves guileless and above reproach, faultless children of God in a warped and crooked generation, in which you shine like stars in a dark world and proffer the Word of Life.” (Philippians 2:14-16)
Jesus prays for all believers before His death on the cross of Calvary. First He prays for His disciples, then He takes time to pray “for those who believe in [Him] through [the] message” of His disciples. He prays to His Father, requesting, “May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I Am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me.” (John 17:21)
“Holy Father, protect them by Your Name that You have given Me, so that they may be one as We are one.” (John 17: 11) “I pray for them… for those You have given Me, because they are Yours. Everything I have is Yours, and everything You have is Mine, and I have been glorified in them.” (John 17:9-10)
Believers belong to God, the Father. We have belonged to God from “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4), having been “predestined…to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace.” (Ephesians 1:5-6)
Believers are “also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession,” once again, “to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14)
Finally, “together with Christ Jesus [God the Father] also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6-7) “For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
“When [Jesus] comes within sight of the city [Jerusalem], He weeps over it and says, “If only you knew, on this great day, the way that leads to peace! But no; it is hidden from your sight.”
He says, “You do not recognize God’s moment when it comes.” (Luke 19:44)
Jesus weeps over those who do not see; those who do not recognize “God’s moment.” Jesus prays for those who crucify Him, saying to His Father: “Forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) He says to the criminal dying beside Him on Calvary, “I tell you this: today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) To the other who taunts “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself, and us;” we can only assume Jesus weeps for this man in the same manner He weeps for those who drive the nails, and wield the lash. Jesus weeps for us, for all of us. Every human being who ever lives on this earth shares in the crucifixion of Jesus.
Some of us, however, recognize “God’s moment.” Some of us know “the way that leads to peace.” We acknowledge “[that] great day.”
Like the criminal on the cross next to Jesus, we cry: “Jesus, remember me when You come to Your throne.” (Luke 23:42) And Jesus kindly tells us, “I tell you the truth.”