Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
The "All Access" Pass to God
Do you ever go to concerts? Sometimes before or after the show you see these guys and gals walking around with T-shirt carrying the logo of the band's tour, and a whole bunch of ID cards around their neck. If you look closely at one of those badges it will say: "All Access." It means they can go wherever they want back stage. They get to rub elbows with the star and see how the show is put on from behind the scenes.
I've always wanted to have one of those passes - and now I do - not for some famous rock star, but backstage with the star of all time - the "bright and morning star" - the God who lives in "unapproachable light" - let's take a look how.
5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
These are some of the most comforting words ever written. It's like Paul has been building up through chapters 1 - 4 this big case of why we are sinners separated from God and why faith in Jesus apart from our own rightness is the only way back.
Now he says "therefore." Because of this justification - what is the result? Peace. Peace through Jesus. You've seen the bumper sticker: "No Jesus N-O? No peace. Know Jesus K-N-O-W, know peace." This word "peace" is interesting - amazing really. It is the Greek word eirene. It means "to set at one again."
What sin did by separating you from God - and just how Paul gets into later in the chapter - Jesus undid and made us one again with God, our Creator. It's not just the ceasing of hostilities, like a cease fire. We join His family, become His children.
Paul says we have "access" into His grace. Grace is the unmerited favor of God on us. This verse is another of many in the book of Romans that ought to be on the "must memorize" list.
The result of Jesus' death is justification, peace with God, and access to His favor - but its more - "we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." What is that? It's the hope that His wonderful character, so pure, perfect, real - will be ours as well. 1 John 3:2 says "But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." Not only did He save us from wrath, not only did He grant us a place in His family, at His side - but He is changing us - 2 Corinthians 3:18
"18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."
So how does this happen? Partly through difficulties. What? Paul says
3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings,
What? Rejoice in sufferings? Are you kidding? No, we get upset with suffering, we get angry at suffering, we rail against suffering - but rejoice? Yes. Why?
because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us
If you lie on your back all your life watching TV your muscles will atrophy and you'll get fat and probably die at a young age. But if you put your muscles under stress by exercising, they will grow strong. It is exactly the same way spiritually. The more we experience suffering - the stronger the Lord makes us. I know that seems weird - but look at the fourfold progression Paul lays out: suffering, perseverance, character, and hope.
God teaches us through difficult times to rely on Him. The more we rely on Him to get us through the more we develop perseverance - a fancy word for "endurance." I started lifting weights a few months ago - I started out at a smaller weight for 10 repetitions - but the more I lifted the more weight I can keep up for longer periods of time. It happens because as I put resistance to the weight. Muscles grow when you put tension between fibers for a certain amount of time. Once I get comfortable with a weight I have to work harder to get muscles to grow more.
That's how it is with suffering - it seems like the last trial is worse than the one before - and the tension grows. Suffering can do two things - it can drive us from God or drive us to Him. Peter writes: "Cast your care on Him for He cares for You." The Lord doesn't want to see how we can suffer, but how much we can cast our cares and difficulties on Him and trust in Him.
Do this long enough and you begin to act like that a lot of the time, then a majority of the time, then most of the time - poof - it has become part of your character. Who you are becomes changed. This character builds hope because based on experience you know how God works. You know that relying on Him doesn't mean suffering ends - but you know that He is present and working in suffering. Now - does this mean we become self reliant? No - as Paul illustrates next:
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Again, a "wow" verse. We were powerless to save ourselves - and just at the right time that God foretold by many many prophecies Jesus died for us - the "ungodly" Paul says - without God, alone, and incapable. In most religions you must better yourself - whether through good works, or obedience, or meditation, or reincarnation - slowly getting better and better to merit God's favor. As we've seen from the previous chapter - it just doesn't work that way. You can have the most wonderful philosophy in the world - but does it work? Is it efficacious? How can you know? Only one way - test it. Die and see if your religion gets you to heaven or Nirvana. The only problem is - what if you're wrong? You see Jesus tested His way - and it worked. God's wrath over impurity has been taken by Jesus:
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Did you know you were an enemy of God? We see the amassing of a great army in preparation for possible war in Iraq. The military might of the United States is something to behold. But it is nothing and less than nothing compared to the power of God Almighty. If you don't want to face the U.S. army in battle - you really don't want to have God as your enemy. And the fact is we were also antagonistic towards God - rebelling against His authority.
Paul in 1st Timothy tells us that God lives in "unapproachable light." You can't exist with God and be impure. The only way is come through the blood of Christ. What this gives us is something called "reconciliation." The idea is of a mutual change. God changes from enemy to friend through the blood of Christ, and we change from rebellion to submission by making Him our Lord.
So how did this happen - how was it that we were enemies of God?
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned-
Sin entered the world through Adam in the Garden of Eden. Lucifer, taking the form of a serpent, deceived Eve into doing the one thing God had told Adam not to do - eat of a particular tree in the garden. Eve gave some of the fruit to Adam - who knew better, but decided to rebel against God's authority. This single act brought impurity to Adam, broke his fellowship with God and, by the way, broke yours as well - That's the "death" - separation from fellowship with God.
Even if you live a perfect life it has still been stained with that rebellion from conception - but no one except Jesus has lived a perfect life anyway - all have sinned. Pastor Chuck Smith likes to use this analogy - don't you find it interesting that you never have to teach a child to lie? They seem to master that skill all on their own. "Did you write on that wall with your crayon, Jimmy?" "No," they say. We have a predilection to sin - sinning doesn't make us a sinner - we sin because we are a sinner. We come to recognize it when we know the rules - "It's wrong to draw with a crayon on the wall, Jimmy." So the next time - even the child recognizes that it's sin.
13 for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.
What's this here? Without going into a lot of detail - Paul is saying that just because there was no law telling people they had sinned - people still sinned - and died in that sin before the law was given. Adam, Paul says, was a pattern of the one to come - of Jesus.
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
So even as Adam's sin infected us all - Jesus obedience and gift of His life healed us all of that same sin.
18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
Notice that not just anyone could bring us this life - even if someone had obeyed every law and regulation - which is impossible - they could not have saved themselves nor anyone else. But Jesus - who was born of a woman, but not of a man - was free from the sin of Adam passed down. His death counts - God accepted it.
20 The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
So again, the law came to bring attention to sin - to turn it really from sin to trespass. The difference is that one is done without knowledge, the other is done with full knowledge.
In conclusion I want to make a couple of points about this wonderful chapter.
1. Peace with God means no more hiding
Remember the backstage "All Access" pass? Through Jesus, we have access to God - an incredible thing, really. But we can wear that badge around our necks all we want, but if we never use it we will never see backstage in God's kingdom.
I don't mean to make this analogy "walk on all fours," but simply speaking, we like to stay in the audience - watching the show as an observer. But God wants us to be a participant in his grand drama - fellowship with the Father, and the saving of the world. Going backstage in God's kingdom means you get close to the "star" - you see Him as you worship, pray, read His Word - and you let Him get close to you - warts and all. Don't hide out in the back rows - go backstage and become part of God's production, letting Him change you, and then using you.
2. Peace with God means no more flirting with the enemy
When you gave your heart to Jesus you changed sides, you got drafted into the other army, and you made an enemy. It's not that Satan ever loved you, he just had you. Now that God has you, Satan hates you and wants to make trouble for you.
It means attack - through which the Word tells us we must 1. resist, and 2. stand firm. But more than that we need to make sure that don't continue to flirt with the enemy - going to those places, doing those things that God has told you not partake in because they are of the enemy. Make peace with God, not with Satan.
3. Peace with God means no more striving to be good.
What? How could that be? Look back at verse 15. "The gift is not like the trespass." Sometimes we feel like this: we try to be good but we can't - and it doesn't matter 'cause we're all sinners. Then we come to Christ and he sets the dials back to zero with God, but then we've got to go out and be really really good.
In reality what we need to do is simply have a vibrant relationship with God, asking His Holy Spirit to fill us and change us into His image. Becoming like Jesus isn't like following the law, it's like osmosis. You immerse a plastic bag of air in water and the water seeps in through the tiny cracks until it fills the bag, replacing the air with water.
Paul said it well later on to the church of the Galatians:
Galatians 2:17-20 "If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
So don't seek to justify yourself before God - don't "try" to be good - try to live close to God and let Him fill you up - then you will become like Him.