Romans 5:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 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.
Over the past few weeks, we explored the saving faith that connects us to the righteousness of God.
- Of the many things we uncovered, one was that this faith consisted of new knowledge, new affections and new hopes.
As Paul transitions from chapter 4 to 5, he spells out the content of our new hope.
- Specifically, he fleshes out the now and not yet aspects of our new hope.
N.T. Wright says there is a good reason for Paul to speak of the content – the facts – of our hope.
“We mustn’t imagine that our feeling of being close to God is a true index of the reality. Emotions often deceive. Paul is summoning us to understand the reality, the solid rock beneath the shifting sands of feeling” – N.T. Wright.
If our faith is not blind, the hope of that faith is not blind either!
- This is especially important to know during times of suffering.
- We will see this next week.
Therefore – Peace:
Romans 5:1 (ESV) — 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
So in 3:21, Paul transitioned from God’s judging righteousness into His saving righteousness as found in Jesus Christ with “but now”.
- Here he transitions into the new reality of the “righteoused” with a “therefore”.
- This new reality is why our future hope has real, actual content.
A first new reality for the “righteoused” that gives content to our hope is…
- “We have peace with God” (vs. 1).
Now what this means for the “righteoused” is powerful.
- The idea here pertains to the nature of our relationship with God – Moo.
- Instead of being at enmity with God, we are now reconciled to Him – something Paul will talk about a lot in the coming verses.
- Paul uses “peace” to describe this reconciled relationship.
This relationship of peace is an objective fact.
- It was made possible by the historical work of Christ.
- And it becomes ours through faith.
- This reality can and should bring feelings of peace.
- But it does not find its reality in feelings.
- It finds reality in the facts of the Gospel – the new knowledge of saving faith.
To flesh out the meaning of this peace we have we can look to the OT.
- Tom Schreiner points out that…
- “In the OT peace is the gift of the end time when God fulfills his covenantal promises to his people” – Tom Schreiner.
In other words, peace is covenant language with both a present reality and a future hope.
- The reality of our present peace with God points to the complete consummation of peace with God.
These OT passages will help us here:
- Zechariah 8:12 (ESV) — 12 For there shall be a sowing of peace. The vine shall give its fruit, and the ground shall give its produce, and the heavens shall give their dew. And I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.
- Ezekiel 37:26 (ESV) — 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore.
- We have peace with God now, but more is coming.
- Namely the heaven on earth stuff.
BTW – If only the “righteoused” are at peace with God, what are we to say of the “none righteoused”?
Therefore – Grace:
Romans 5:2a (ESV) — 2a Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand,
A second reality that gives content to our new hopes is grace.
- The “righteoused” are ushered into a new realm or domain of grace.
- And, “It is the realm in which ‘grace reigns’ (5:21), a realm that is set in contrast to the realm or domain of the law” – Doug Moo.
We explored this domain of grace some weeks ago as an introduction to Romans.
- So I will not cover it here.
- Needless to say, however, that the implications of this new domain are huge!
Therefore – Hope in Glory:
Romans 5:2b (ESV) — 2b and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God
A third reality that gives content to our new hope is the idea of glorification.
- Paul says we have a “hope of the glory of God”.
What we need to understand right away is that…
- Paul is talking about a glory of God that will be restored in us.
- The “righteoused” of God will actually be changed – ontologically (our being).
And this coming change of our being is something about which we are to rejoice.
- This literally means that we are “to take pride in something, boast” – BDAG.
- We are to boast about this coming transformation.
What is this coming change; what is this glorification?
- What is “hope of the glory of God”?
It is both incredible and bizarre sounding at the same time.
- “‘The glory of God’ is that state of ‘God-like-ness’ which has been lost because of sin, and which will be restored in the last day to every Christian” – Douglas Moo.
- This is not just a spiritual and ethical state, but a physical state as well.
- It is also known as theosis or deification.
Paul speaks of this in a variety of ways.
- 2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV) — 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
- 1 Corinthians 2:14–16 (ESV) — 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
- 1 Corinthians 15:42–44 (ESV) — 42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
- 1 Corinthians 15:49 (ESV) — 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
Peter speaks of this:
- 2 Peter 1:4 (ESV) — 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
John tells us Jesus’ hope concerning His glory.
- John 17:24 (ESV) — 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
And he later tells us what this means for us!
- 1 John 3:2 (ESV) — 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
Take It Up a Notch:
Greek theologian Panayiotis Nellas calls all of this our “Christification”:
- He says that Paul doesn’t speak of this glorification “for reasons of external piety and sentiment; he speaks ontologically. He is not advocating an external imitation or a simple ethical improvement but a real Christification” – Panayiotis Nellas.
- And as we just saw in 1 Corinthians 15, our resurrection will complete our “Christification”.
A similar concept is present in the OT.
- Scholars see it present in the radiant “star” language describing the heavenly host who live in the presence of God.
Here are examples of referring to members of the heavenly host as celestial beings.
- Psalm 148:1–4 (ESV) — 1 Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! 2 Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! 3 Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! 4 Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!
- Job 38:7 (ESV) — 7 when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Then Daniel uses this language to describe the elect.
- Daniel 12:3 (ESV) — 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
But with Paul, glorification (shining/ruling like the heavenly host), like just about everything else, has been redefined entirely around Jesus Christ and His resurrection.
- Yahweh’s intent to glorify the people of God is accomplished in and through Jesus.
- In a sense, through Christ, we become the heavenly host – God’s rulers (Michael Heiser).
- Revelation 3:21 (ESV) — 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
This is why Paul can say (Michael Heiser):
- 1 Corinthians 6:3a (ESV) — 3a Do you not know that we are to judge angels?
- Colossians 1:12 (ESV) — 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light [holy ones – heavenly host].
So much more can be said of the NT’s concept of glorification and its connection to various OT ideas.
- Needless to say, this is a topic neglected in the modern western church.
Michael Heiser quotes Robert Rakestraw to make this point:
“The idea of deification, of redeemed human nature somehow participating in the very life of God, is found to a surprising extent throughout Christian history, although it is practically unknown to the majority of Christians (and even many theologians) in the west” – Robert Rakestraw.
Indeed, I found that from Augustine to Calvin, this concept was taught and understood.
- Some considering it “the greatest possible blessing” – Carl Mosser.
- For example, Calvin says about 2 Peter 1:4…
- “We should notice that it is the purpose of the Gospel to make us sooner or later like God; indeed it is, so to speak, a kind of deification” – John Calvin.
BTW – “The Mormon concept of deification (‘eternal progression’ or ‘exaltation’ in LDS parlance) is very different from anything in the orthodox Christian tradition” – Carl Mosser.