“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”
A few years back, a good friend of mine was applying for a new job. When he returned from his interview he was very excited. Naturally, I asked him how it went. He replied, “It is such a good job! Because of the company’s connections, I will get deals on hotels, flights, cruises, and be able to travel for a fraction of normal rates.” After describing, in much greater detail, many of the peripheral benefits of his new job, I did not have the heart to ask him what he would be doing everyday; or to remind him he would only have one week of vacation to enjoy all these benefits. Sometimes, a reminder of the benefits is all we need to keep us pressing on through the difficult times.
The Roman believers, to whom Paul is writing, are facing their share of difficult times. He speaks of the tribulations they are facing. There are many words that can be used to describe difficulties, but it is hard to think of one with deeper meaning than ‘tribulations’. In order to encourage them in the struggles they are encountering, Paul reminds them of the benefits of following Christ. Allow me to draw your attention to four of them.
First, we are reminded that through faith in Christ, we have peace with God. No longer are we living as the enemies of God, warring against Him, and living opposed to His Word; now we are the friends of God. As a result, all the resources of God are available to give us victory in the battles of life. In Romans 8:31 we are told, “If God is for us who can be against us.”
Second, we have access to God. The cross is the doorway to the throne of God. His throne is described as a place of grace and mercy where, from the giving nature of God, everything the child of God needs is poured out. If we need mercy, peace, encouragement, forgiveness, comfort, healing, power, provision, or any other thing, we will find it there.
Third, we have hope in God. This hope is expressed in two ways. One, we have the hope of glory, the hope of heaven, the hope of one day standing in the presence of God; having shed these earthly tents, that are wearing down, and being dawned in glorious bodies designed for eternity. As we stand in glory, we will be face to face with Jesus. No more will we be looking at God as “through a glass dimly”, but we will see Him as He really is. Oh, for that day! When all questions are answered and all sin removed, when we stand glorified in glory! Two, this hope also has benefits today. Because of Christ, the difficulties we face are not just obstacles or struggles, they are means for God to produce His character within us. Only God can take a trial and use it positively in our lives, to make us more like Christ.
Finally, Paul declares, “much more then… we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” (Romans 5:9) The greatest of all benefits is the fact that, as a result of receiving Christ, we will not face eternal judgment, but instead, receive eternal life. Sometimes, in the midst of the struggles of life, and the temptation to turn from Christ, we need to be reminded that Christ alone can save us from the wrath of God, and the judgment we all deserve. Take some time to look at your life through the prism of the benefits of following Christ.