The apostle John wrote in his first epistle, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13, NASB). The believer has peace with God, eternal security independent of any feelings. Though are feelings or doubts cannot affect our security in Christ, it can affect the assurance of salvation that the Lord wants us to experience. There are a number of certainties in the opening verses of Romans 5 that assures the believer that they have been permanently reconciled to God.
The Assurance of God’s Final Verdict (v. 1)
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Justification is a legal term describing the verdict God has rendered concerning the sinner who has put their faith in Christ. Having had our sins imputed upon Him at Calvary, the holy Christ paid the penalty for them. On that foundation, when one puts their trust in Christ, God declares them positionally righteous imputing Christ’s perfect righteousness to them.
In our legal system, after a judge or jury delivers a verdict, the case can be appealed to a higher court which will either uphold or reverse the verdict. If the case continues to be appealed to higher courts, it could eventually be heard by the Supreme Court. Once this highest court rules, the verdict is final. In the believer’s case before God, the highest court in the land has ruled and declared the believer righteous. The verdict is irreversible (Rom. 8:33-34).
The Assurance of God’s Favor (v. 2)
“Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand.”
Estranged people find themselves uncomfortable in each other’s presence and find it hard to communicate. Similarly, two countries with strained relations may break off talks, and in some cases even recall their ambassadors. Something has come between the two parties and until the obstacle is dealt with there can be no peace. For the believer God has removed the obstacle of sin. Consequently, we are no longer alienated from God for He has reconciled us to Himself (Col. 1:21).
Since we are in Christ, God grants us 24-hour, 365-day access to Himself, welcoming us into His presence. He looks upon us with His favor, the same favor He has for His Son. Therefore, we have boldness to come into His presence (Heb. 10:19).
The word translated “boldness” signifies a confidence that we have the liberty to come before Him and the freedom to speak openly. Therefore, we should draw near with a true (sincere) heart, asking Him to examine us so that we can confess any known sin in our lives (Psa. 139:23-24; Heb. 10:22). With the expectation that He hears, listens, and answers, we can bring our adoration, thanksgiving, and supplications to Him. Unlike Esther who came to the king unsure if he would extend the golden sceptre and receive her into his presence, we are exhorted to draw near “in full assurance of faith,” with an understanding of our position in Christ, and a confidence that God receives us wholeheartedly into His presence (Est. 4:11; Heb. 10:22). Since we stand (eternally continue) in His grace, our access will never cease.
The Assurance of His Future Glory (v. 2)
“and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
Being imperfect, sometimes we pray in the will of God, other times we do not. The Lord always receives our imperfect prayers, answering them in our best spiritual interest—yes, no, or wait (Rom. 8:28).
On the other hand, the eternal Son knows the mind of the Father. Being in perfect unity with Him, His prayers were always in conformity with His Father’s will. Just before Calvary in His High Priestly prayer, He prayed for our future presence with Him in glory. The Lord Jesus expressed His desire that we would be with Him, see His glory, and be glorified ourselves (John 17:22, 24; 1 John 3:2). The Lord has promised us that someday we will attain the completion of our salvation. At the rapture Christ will glorify us and later when He returns to setup His kingdom on earth we will appear with Him in glory (Col. 3:4).
We are assured of its fulfillment because the promises in the written Word of God cannot fail and the Son’s prayers to His Father are always answered in the affirmative. All of God’s promises find their fulfillment in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20).
The Assurance of His Presence in Trials (vv. 3-4)
“We also glory in tribulations.”
Since we have a sure hope of future glory we can have a settled peace in the midst of life’s inevitable trials (John 15:20; 16:33). Indeed, any trial is light compared to the glory that will be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:17). As we patiently go through suffering we can bear witness to a darkened world that will often ask the question, “How could a loving God allow this?” Looking to Christ for strength, we bring glory to Him and exhibit spiritual growth to a watching world. As they see Christ’s power manifested in us, it can lift the veil from their eyes obscuring the glorified Son and His gospel (2 Cor. 4:1-6).
Our trials can also be an encouragement to our fellow believers when they see Christ’s presence and strength manifested in us. Our example will instill confidence in them that they too will be able to stand in their trials.
Thomas Haukes was condemned in 1555 to be burned at the stake in England for his faith. Some of his friends had heard that God gave a special grace to endure the flames and they asked him to give them a sign so they would have confidence that they too could endure it. Thomas told them he would lift his hands to heaven to indicate God’s help. As Thomas was chained to the stake and the fire lit, he continued preaching until he could preach no longer. Just before he died, Thomas’ hands rose above his head to God in praise and thanksgiving, clapping loudly together three times. A shout arose in the crowd and Thomas passed into the presence of His Lord.1
Whatever trials the Lord allows into our lives He promises His presence and help (Psa. 46:1; 2 Cor. 12:9; Heb. 13:5) so that we can be a testimony to a lost world and be an encouragement to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
The Assurance of His Life (v. 10)
“We shall be saved by His life.”
To be our Savior and the source of eternal life, Christ had to first be perfected on earth or in other words accomplish the goal of His first coming (Heb. 5:9). This meant bearing our sins, experiencing death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. What infuriated the Jewish leaders is that the early church proclaimed the resurrection of Christ (1:22; 4:33; 17:32; 23:6; 24:2). For without the resurrection there is no gospel. We have been saved, are presently kept, and will someday be glorified by the resurrected life of the glorified Christ (Gal. 2:20; Col. 3:4; 1 John 5:11-12).
Explains one commentator, “He could not be a high priest after the order of Melchizedek if He was not raised from the dead. Sinful man needs a living Priest to give life to the believing sinner, not a dead priest merely to pay for his sins. Thus, it was provided within the New Testament that the priest who offered Himself for sacrifice would be raised from the dead.”2
Christ died for our sins and was raised for our justification (Rom. 4:25). Since He eternally lives, we are eternally saved (Heb. 7:23-25; Rev. 1:18). Let these five assurances bring peace to our hearts about the salvation we eternally possess.
1. Fox’s Book of Martyrs
2. Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995), e-Sword X electronic version