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Sermon #51[i] — Romans Series
Title: “Wherein we Stand”
Text: Romans 5:1-2
Subject: Standing in Grace
Open your Bibles with me to the 5th chapter of the Book of Romans, Romans 5:1-2.
(Romans 5:1) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (2) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
You will find the title of my message in this second verse of Romans 5. — “Wherein we Stand.” That is my subject — “Wherein we Stand.”
Proposition: The “grace wherein we stand” is the blessed grace of free, complete, perfect justification in Christ.
In the previous chapter Paul was inspired of God to illustrate this grace, this justification, this standing in grace by Abraham. Let’s read the illustration of this grace “wherein we stand” beginning in verse 1 of chapter 4.
(Romans 4:1) What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? (2) For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. (3) For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. (4) Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. (5) But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
(Romans 4:10) How was it then reckoned? When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. (11) And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: (12) And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. (13) For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. (14) For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: (15) Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
(Romans 4:16) Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (17) (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. (18) Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. (19) And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb: (20) He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; (21) And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. (22) And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. (23) Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; (24) But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; (25) Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
(Romans 5:1) Therefore being justified, by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (2) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
“Abraham believed God!” — What a tremendous declaration that is. Though our faith has nothing to do with the accomplishment of justification, we cannot have justification without faith. Yet, this faith which is exemplified in Abraham is a thing no man can perform. It is not the result of man’s will, decision, or moral and mental determination. Faith is the gift of God. No man can or will believe, except it be by the gift and operation of God the Holy Ghost in him. We believe according to the working of his mighty power. So, when the Scriptures assert that “Abraham believed God,” the Holy Spirit is saying, — Here is a miracle of grace! Here is a sinner doing what no sinner can do, doing what we must do, doing what only the grace of God can enable him to do!
Romans 4:3 is a direct quote from Genesis 15:6. It refers us to that experience of Abraham recorded in Genesis 15.
(Genesis 15:6) “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”
When God the Holy Spirit declares that Abraham believed in the Lord, at least five things are evident.
1. Abraham believed the gospel as the very word of God, as a word directly from God himself.
Paul tells us that the word God spoke to him was the gospel of Christ preached to him. God had said, — “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” Upon the heels of this revelation, Abram asked the Lord to give him a son in whom all his promised mercy might be fulfilled. — “And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.”
Like Saul of Tarsus, Abraham was a man who could declare, — “I certify you, that the gospel I believe is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The gospel came to him, not as the word of man, but the word of God. His faith stood not in the words of man’s wisdom, but in the power of God.
If ever a sinner believes God, he will believe because the gospel has come to him in the demonstration and power of God the Holy Ghost with much assurance, being assured by God himself that it is the very word of God.
(1 Thessalonians 1:5) “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.”
That faith which stands in the wisdom of man is but the faith of a man. That faith which stands in the power of God is the faith of God’s elect.
2. Abraham believed the word of God concerning his Son, the Seed in whom and by whom redemption would be accomplished.
The promise he heard from God, he recognized to be the very same as that made to mother Eve in the Garden. Abraham understood that God’s promise here declared went far beyond the promise of a son. It was the promise of God concerning his Son (Galatians 3:6-16).
(Galatians 3:6) Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. (7) Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. (8) And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. (9) So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. (10) For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. (11) But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. (12) And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. (13) Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: (14) That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (15) Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. (16) Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
True faith is fixed on Christ alone. It is not the faith of this sect or that, but faith in Christ. It is not the faith of this creed or that. It is not the faith of emotion and fear. True faith looks to Christ, embracing him, his person and his work, as the God-man our Mediator.
3. Abraham believed that God could and would do that which was humanly impossible.
Abraham believed God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which are not as though they were.
(Romans 4:18-25) “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. (19) And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: (20) He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; (21) And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. (22) And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. (23) Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; (24) But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; (25) Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”
Faith believes that Christ is able to save! He can cause dry bones to live. He can raise up the dead. He can give life to the corpse, cause the blind to see, the lame to walk, the dead to hear, and the cursed to be blessed.
4. Abraham believed the promise made to him by God in the gospel, though vast and sublime beyond measure, to be a matter of absolute certainty, because God had spoken it.
(Romans 4:8) “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”
(Ephesians 1:3-6) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
5. Abraham believed the gospel as the word of God to him.
· “Thy Shield”
· “Thy Great Reward”
· “Thy Savior”
He heard God speak the gospel to him as the word of his salvation.
(Ephesians 1:13-14) “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (14) Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”
Believing God, Abraham was justified. By faith he received the blessedness of sins forgiven, righteousness imputed, and immutable, perfect acceptance with God himself, through the blood and righteousness of Christ. That is what verse 6 declares
(Genesis 15:6) “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”
Now, beginning at Genesis 15:7 and going through to the end of the chapter, we see a believing sinner standing before God in grace, justified, righteous, forgiven, accepted in Christ, and saved. This is the grace of God “wherein we stand” (Romans 5:2). Oh, what a blessed place in which to stand! Once a sinner believes God, he sees what he could not see before, understands things which mystified and dumbfounded him before, and rejoices in things that either bored him to death or stirred his hatred of God to the boiling point before.
Standing before God in this grace, justified and righteous, born again, being taught of God, the most uneducated, illiterate believer sees with perfect clarity what the most brilliant and most educated unbeliever cannot even imagine, because faith understands all things. — “We have the mind of Christ!”
(John 14:26) “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
(John 16:13) “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.”
(1 Corinthians 2:9-16) “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (10) But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. (11) For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. (12) Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (13) Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (14) But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (15) But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. (16) For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
(Hebrews 11:1-3) “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (2) For by it the elders obtained a good report. (3) Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”
(1 John 2:20) “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.”
Now, if you will hold your Bibles open at Genesis 15, let me show you what Abraham saw and every heaven born soul sees by the grace “wherein we stand.”
Standing before God in grace, as a sinner accepted in Christ the beloved, faith sees the value of God’s call and prizes it (v. 7).
(Genesis 15:7) “And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.”
· The Distinctiveness of It
· The Blessedness of It
· The Result of It – Faith in Christ!
Believing God, the saved sinner realizes his privileged separation and discerns why he was convinced of sin, why he was led away from self-righteousness and the pleasures of this world, to faith in Christ. Now he sees his high calling and the prize of it, and from the one blessing of justification he argues the blessedness of all the inheritance to which he is called. The more clearly we understand our justification the more we will prize our calling, and the more earnestly we will seek to make it sure by perfecting his separation from the world and his conformity to his Lord.
Am I justified by grace? Then will I not go back to that bondage in which I once was held. Am I now accepted of God through faith? Then will I live no longer by sight, as I once did as a carnal man, when I understood not the blessedness of trusting in the unseen God. One Christian grace helps another, and one act of divine grace casts light upon another. Calling gleams with double glory side by side with the twin star of justification.
Justifying faith receives more vividly the promises. — “I have brought thee,” said the Lord, “into this land to inherit it.” He was reminded again of the promise God made to him years before. Beloved, no man reads the promises of God with such delight and with such a clear understanding as the man who is justified by faith in Christ Jesus. “For now,” he says, “this promise is mine. It made to me. I have the pledge of its fulfilment in the fact that I walk in the favor of God. I am no longer obnoxious to his wrath. None can lay anything to my charge, for I am absolved of all sin through Jesus Christ. And, if when I was a sinner he justified me, much more, being justified, will he keep his promise to me now. If when I was a rebel condemned, he nevertheless in his eternal mercy called me and brought me into this state of acceptance, much more will he preserve me from all my enemies, and give me the heritage which he has promised by his covenant of grace. A clear view of justification helps us much in grasping the promise! — All of grace, it’s all of grace!
Glory of the Atonement
Standing in grace, justified before God, trusting Christ, faith sees the glory of God in blood atonement (vv. 8-11).
(Genesis 15:8-11) “And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? (9) And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. (10) And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. (11) And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.”
· The only ground upon which God can save a sinner is blood atonement. — “The precious blood of Christ.”
· All the sacrifices point to one sacrifice.
· Faith drives away every unclean foul of the air which would take away or turn it from the sacrifice.
· Faith sees itself involved in the sacrifice.
Abraham, being justified by faith, distinctly beheld the efficacious power of the Sacrifice God required, provided, and accepted. By God’s command he killed three bullocks, three goats, three sheep, with turtle doves and pigeons, being all the creatures ordained for sacrifice. The patriarch’s hands are stained with blood. He handles the butcher’s knife. He divides the beasts. He kills the birds. He places them in an order revealed to him by God’s Spirit. There they are. Abram learns that there is no meeting with God except through sacrifice. God has shut every door except that over which the blood is sprinkled. All acceptable approaches to God must be through an atoning sacrifice; and Abram sees this. While the promise is still in his ears, while the ink is yet wet in the pen of the Holy Spirit, writing him down as justified, he must see a sacrifice, and see it, too, in emblems which comprehend all the revelation of sacrifice made to Aaron. Justifying faith sees the glory of God in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The purest and most bracing air for faith to breathe is on Calvary. I do not wonder that your faith grows weak when you fail to consider well the tremendous sacrifice which Christ Jesus made for his people. Turn to the annals of the Redeemer’s sufferings given us in the Evangelists. Bow yourself in prayer before the Lamb of God. Blush to think you should ever forget his death, the center of all history. Contemplate the wondrous transaction of substitution once again, and you will find your faith revived. It is not the study of theology, the reading books upon points of controversy, searching into mysterious prophecy which will bless your soul, but looking to Jesus crucified. That is the essential nutrition of the life of faith.
As a man already justified, Abram looked at the sacrifice, all day long and till the sun went down, chasing away the birds of prey as you must drive off all disturbing thoughts. So must you also study the Lord Jesus, and view him in all his characters and offices, be not satisfied except you grow in grace and in the knowledge of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Standing in grace, justified before God, faith sees God in covenant grace, a covenant ratified by blood (vv. 12, 17, 18).
(Genesis 15:12) “And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.”
(Genesis 15:17-18) “And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. (18) In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.”
Perhaps even more important was the next lesson which Abram had to learn. He was led to behold the covenant. These pieces of the bullock, the lamb, the ram, and the goat, were so placed that Abram stood in the midst with a part on this side and a part on that. So he stood as a worshipper all through the day, and towards nightfall. When a horror of great darkness came over him, he fell into a deep sleep. Who would not feel a horror passing over him as he sees the great sacrifice for sin, and sees himself involved therein? There in the midst of the sacrifice he saw, moving with solemn motion, a smoking furnace and a burning lamp, answering to the pillar of cloud and fire, which manifested the presence of God in later days to Israel in the wilderness. In these emblems the Lord passed between the pieces of the sacrifice to meet his servant, and enter into covenant with him. This was the most solemn of all modes of covenanting. The sacrifice is divided and the covenanting parties meet between the divided pieces. The profane interpretation was, that they imprecated upon each other the curse that if they broke the covenant they might be cut in pieces as these beasts had been; but this is not the interpretation which our hearts delight in. It is this. — It is only in the midst of the sacrifice that God can enter into a covenant relationship with sinful man. God comes in his glory like a flame of fire, but subdued and tempered to us as with a cloud of smoke in the person of Jesus Christ. And he comes through the bloody sacrifice which has been offered once for all through Jesus Christ on the tree. Man meets with God in the midst of the sacrifice of Christ. Now, my brother, my sister, understand that God is in covenant bonds with you. He has made a covenant of grace with you which never can be broken. The sure mercies of David are your portion. He has promised — “A new heart also will I give them, and a right spirit will I put within them. They shall be my people, and I will be their God.”
That covenant is made with you over the slaughtered body of the Son of God. God and you cross hands over him who sweat, as it were, great drops of blood falling to the ground. The Lord accepts us, and we enter with him into sacred league and amity, over the victim whose wounds and death ratify the compact. Can God forget a covenant with such sanctions? Can such a federal bond so solemnly sealed be ever broken? Impossible! Man is sometimes faithful to his oath, but God is always so; and when that oath is confirmed for the strengthening of our faith by the blood of the Only-begotten, to doubt is treason and blasphemy. God help us, being justified by this “grace wherein we stand,” to have faith in the covenant which is sealed and ratified with blood.
· Here Abram fell into a deep sleep. — Rest, Blessed Rest in Christ our Sabbath!
· Yet, a horror of great darkness fell upon him. — At what a great cost our souls have been redeemed!
Immediately after, God showed Abram that all the blessing that he promised, though it was surely his, would not come without an interval of trouble. — “Thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.”
Standing in grace, justified by the righteousness and blood of God’s darling Son, faith sees that every trial, every trouble, every affliction, and every sorrow we experience in this world of woe is ordained of God in covenant mercy and comes to pass according to the purpose of God’s grace in the covenant (v. 13).
(Genesis 15:13) “And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.”
Our trials are as much a part of our blessedness as our justification.
(Romans 5:1-5) “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (2) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (3) And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; (4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
When a sinner is first l brought to Christ he is often so ignorant that he thinks, “Now my troubles are all over. I have come to Christ and I am saved. From this day forward I shall have nothing to do but to sing the praises of God.” But that is not the case. A conflict remains. We must know of a surety that the battle now begins. How often does it happen that the Lord, in order to educate his child for future trouble, makes the occasion when his justification is most clear to him the season of informing him that he may expect to meet with trouble! Did you hear what we just read? —— “Therefore being justified, by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” See how softly it flows, a justification sheds the oil of joy upon the believer’s head. But what is the next line? — “And not only so, but we glory in tribulation also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience.” Justification assures us of tribulation.
Oh! Yes, the covenant is yours. Grace is yours. Christ is yours. You shall possess the goodly land, but, like all the seed of Abraham, you must go down into Egypt and groan, being burdened. All the saints must smart before they sing. They must carry the cross before they wear the crown. You are a justified man, but you are not freed from trouble. Your sins were laid on Christ, but you still have Christ’s cross to carry. The Lord has exempted you from the curse, but he has not exempted you from the chastisement. Learn that you enter on the children’s discipline on the very day in which you enter their standing.
One more thing. — Standing in grace, faith sees and is assured of the fact that our ultimate salvation and triumph in Christ is sure (vv. 14-16).
(Genesis 15:14-16) “And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. (15) And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. (16) But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.”
The Lord God gave Abram an assurance of ultimate success. He would bring his seed into the Promised Land, and the people who had oppressed them he would judge. So let it come as a sweet revelation to every believing soul, that at the end we shall triumph, and those evils which now oppress us shall be cast beneath our feet. The Lord shall bruise Satan under our feet shortly. We may be slaves in Egypt for a while, but we shall come up out of it with great abundance of true riches, better than silver or gold. We shall be prospered by our tribulations, and enriched by our trials. So, let us be of good cheer. If sin is pardoned, we may well bear affliction. “Strike, Lord,” said Luther, “now my sins are gone; strike as hard as thou wilt if transgression be covered.”
These light afflictions which are but for a moment, are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Let us make it the first point of our care to be justified with Abraham’s seed, and then whether we sojourn in Egypt or enjoy the peace of Canaan, it matters little. We are safe if we are justified by faith which is in Christ Jesus, by “grace wherein we stand!”
Would you be found standing before God in grace? Then trust his Son. — “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved!” Standing in grace, believing God, saved sinners…
· See the blessedness of God’s call.
· The glory of God in the sacrifice of Christ.
· God joined to us in covenant mercy.
· The blessedness of our present troubles.
· Sure triumph in Christ.
[i] Danville — Sunday Morning — April 19, 2015
Millsite Baptist Church, Cottageville, WV — April 17, 2015
Reading: Genesis 15:1-21 and Romans 4:1-5:2