Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Paul has spent a great deal of time in this letter addressing righteousness by faith rather than by works. In his argument, he has pointed out that Abraham was declared righteous by faith, long before the Law was in existence. And now, Paul addresses the wonders of having faith in God.
Paul states that we have access by faith to grace! The Greek word for access is “prosagoge”. According to the Vine’s this word is used only three times in the New Testament and literally means:
“A leading or bringing into the presences of”, denotes “access,” with which is associated the thought of freedom to enter through the assistance or favor of another.Vines’s Dicitionary
Access is another way of saying “introduction”, and there are two aspects noted in the commentary to give us insight to Paul’s thoughts. The first image is that of being ushered into the presence of royalty. Faith in Jesus gives us access into the presence of Almighty God. Worship provides access; and Paul is basically stating that Jesus ushers, or leads us into the presence of the Father! Remember Jesus’ words:
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.John 10:9 NKJV
Paul builds on what Jesus was conveying with this statement in John, that He is the door! In using this term, Paul paints the picture of Jesus opening that door for us that we might find grace in the presence of God and we may do so boldly! (See Hebrews 4:16)
The other image the word “prosagoge” may have brought to Paul’s mind, which helps us with this verse, is that of a harbor. A harbor is where ships dock, or come in, when ending a voyage. After ships have navigated through the dangers of the sea, storms, perils, etc., they look forward to making it safely to a harbor. For our spiritual understanding of this word “prosagoge” we get a sense of navigating through life’s storms in our own efforts, and being completely overwhelmed at times with those difficulties, then embracing Jesus by faith and placing the anchor of our lives in Him, finding a safe harbor in which to rest! What a beautiful picture Paul paints of our faith in Jesus! This is why Paul concludes this verse by stating that we can rejoice in hope of the glory of God!
Paul, knowing that the Christian life in Rome, and literally everywhere he goes, is filled with trouble, encourages them to see their troubles “in Christ” as more than simply “going through” and “barely making it”. Paul said that we are to “glory” or rejoice in our tribulations!
The Greek word for tribulation is “thlip’sis” and it literally means pressure or pressing. We get words like persecution, affliction, and burden from this Greek word. Living in this life, we can easily understand the meaning of “thlip’sis” as each of us have encountered our own types of pressures–difficult circumstances, grief, loneliness, financial pressures, and pressure to compromise our beliefs, or to keep silent, or to accept what we are not comfortable with. During a health class, where the teacher was explaining the different sexual orientations, one student said, “I’m not comfortable with this!” In other words, I hear what you are saying, but I am not comfortable with what you are saying, nor that I should accept it at your word!
Paul said that we should understand that our pressures, or tribulations, produces perseverance. Perseverance comes from the Greek word, “hupomone, and it translates as fortitude. This word means more than just endurance. It means to have a spirit that says, “I will overcome!” There is nothing passive about this type of endurance. It doesn’t mean to “hang in there”! No! It conveys the meaning of actively overcoming the trials and tribulation in our lives!
Helen Keller’s story is still a powerful example of overcoming difficult circumstances. After developing a high fever, she became both blind and deaf. Her parents settled into life to endure the hardship of raising a child with limited abilities. Life became even more unbearable as she grew without restraints and without a means of communication. Finally, they found someone who was willing to work with their child. As she learned to communicate, she didn’t wallow in her disabilities and convey her utter shame and disappointment in her condition. No! She developed a spirit of “hupomone” and overcame her disabilities, and inspired others to overcome!
It is said of Beethoven that when he realized that he was going deaf, he refused to lie down in self pity. He lived in the 1800s where deafness was not understood at all. However, he had already begun building a reputation as a musician and composer, and refused to allow his deafness to cause him to give up his love of music. Today, his music is played all over the world; and many know him because he had “hupomone” and learned to overcome in the midst of his challenges! This is not a lying down in the middle of the floor and throwing a tantrum, as Helen Keller started her life type of endurance, it is a “getting off the floor, dusting yourself off, and meeting the challenge head on, as she lived her life!
Well, this should be even more evident in the life of the believer. Paul said that the pressures that come against us will produce a winning spirit with faith in Christ! He continues by stating that “hupomone”, or perseverance would produce in us character! The word Paul uses is “dokime” and it is used of a piece of metal that goes through the fire that it might be purified. Like gold! In other words, the difficulties in the life of a believer should have positive, not negative results. As we face the pressures of life with the intent to win, character is developed in our lives. Not winning at any cost to ourselves or others, not winning at the expense of others, but turning every opportunity of defeat into victory will produce godly character in our lives.
Paul hasn’t finished explaining triumphant faith in Jesus! Not only will we have tribulations that we should rejoice in because they will produce fortitude, which in turn will produce character, but he adds that character will produce hope! Isn’t it interesting that two people can have the same situation to happen in their lives and one will be completely devastated by the experience, and the other will rise above it and come out stronger, closer to God? Paul stated that when we are anchored in our faith in Jesus, the end result of our troubles will be hope!
Hope that things are going to work out for your good, as scripture states! Hope that no weapon formed against you shall prosper, as is found in the word of God! Hope that says “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world”. Hope that shouts, “if God be for you, who can be against you!’ This hope! Hope in God who cannot lose, cannot fail, cannot lie, and cannot be overcome is found in difficult times, when our faith is being tried! Paul said it like this:
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith!1 John 5:4. NKJV
Paul loved being a believer in Jesus! It was everything to him, because Jesus was everything to him. Paul lived a life of victory, and of hope. This rings true in all that he said. I’ll close with these words of Paul:
We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.2 Corinthians 4:8-10 NKJV