After arguing for how one is justified by faith alone apart from the works of the Law—which include circumcision—in chapters (3:21-4:25), Paul now shows the kind of life that’s produced in a justified soul:
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.”
Justification by faith entails trust in God’s word of promise to Abraham concerning the coming seed (Christ Jesus), which would make him a father of many nations. This word of promise is fulfilled in Christ’s work of redemption. Thus, the one trusting (faith) God’s promise fulfilled in Christ is legally made right (justified) before the court of heaven. Several observations can be noted.
First, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the ultimate key, not our faith but our Savior. That is, without Christ’s high priestly office, we have no hope. The writer of Hebrews accentuates this by saying that:
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb.4:14-16)
That is, we come boldly to the throne of grace through Christ alone. Without Jesus, there is no hope, there’s no access to God—forever. But for those who have been justified by faith, access is always granted.
Second, because we’ve been justified by faith, we not only have peace with God, but we also have our introduction into this grace by faith in which we stand. That is, grace is our foundation, never Law. Once we were God’s enemies (Rom.1:18-20), but now we are His friends.
Third, we exult in the glory of God. This is a peculiar phrase. What is it about God’s glory that causes us to exult in hope? I think this refers to the gospel itself which Paul is eager to preach. Because of rebellion, wrath has been poured out, because of Christ’s obedience, wrath has been satisfied. Because of the lie, the truth is suppressed and God’s wrath is revealed. Because of Christ, both Jew and Gentile have access and are justified by faith. God loves to justify rebels which He demonstrated by sending Christ to the cross!
To exult is depicted in the joy and praise fans express in crescendo fashion when their home team scores a goal (soccer or futbol). They leap for joy! In a very similar way, believers in Christ joyfully rejoice in the hope of God’s glory which is revealed in the gospel. Paul now brings a twist to this exultation:
“3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Paul reveals a kingdom truth the unregenerate can’t grasp: that we as those who have peace with God can leap for joy in our tribulations. Not because of it, but because of the fruit tribulation produces in the believer. There’s a cluster of fruit, or a string of pearls tribulation seems to produce in those who love God.
First, tribulation produces perseverance. No pain no gain is usually a good maxim. The goal of perseverance is to finish well the race set before us. This means that we finish definitely! In this race the course presents perilous scenarios. At times these make us feel like we’re about to be swallowed up. But it won’t because secondly, perseverance produces proven character. That is, our souls demonstrate a Godward resolve that’s produced in the grind of the race we will finish. That’s because thirdly, proven character produces hope. Hope in what? In God’s word of promise yet to be fulfilled even as Abraham demonstrated. The reason hope does not disappoint is because we’re born-again. God’s Spirit indwells the believer.
Unlike what a Law-keeping Jew might think (that justification by faith will embolden people to sin later), true saving faith produces the life of God’s kingdom where trust in His word of promise marks the believer (Hope). Thus, the life of one at peace with God issues forth a holiness of life which emulates Christ Jesus. It’s a life which continuously finds strength and joy in the God who is there, in the One who rescued us while we were clueless of our doom. (SDG)