We all have turning points in our lives and in our careers that shape the way we end up handling the future. And we all have past experiences that we draw from in order to deal with present realities. One of those turning points for me was the season of 2006 when I had statistically the best offensive season of my career.
I was coming off what was one of the worst seasons of my career, but then out of nowhere in 2006, I got hot in Spring Training and stayed hot until the season’s end. I hit over .300 that year with over 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases while playing for three different teams in two different organizations. I gained a confidence in my playing ability that season that would carry with me throughout the rest of my career. That season would end up being the fountain I would draw from anytime I felt myself struggling or suffering in the game. If things weren’t going well, I’d remember that season, and it gave me the peace and confidence I needed in order to see past my current circumstances.
Recently, I was reading through the apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans, and I discovered a specific spiritual turning point that he mentions should shape the way we handle future realities. The turning point he is referring to is that moment we come to understand our justification before God as a justification based solely on God's grace. That it is based on a righteousness from God that He freely gives to us through faith; not on our good works or what we assume we can accomplish on our own.
Paul goes on to give three big promises that this type of justification provides, and then he explains how this ought to radically alter our perspective on life.
First, our justification based on God's grace gives us peace with God. I’m not talking about a feel good calming of the heart that satisfies our soul. That would more appropriately be called the peace of God. Peace with God refers to the reconciliation of two sides that are at war with one another. On account of who Jesus is and what He has accomplished for us, we are no longer God’s enemies. There is peace. We are no longer His rebellious opposition. We are now considered friends.
Second, our justification based on God's grace gives us access to God. The original meaning of the word access used here means to bring near or to introduce. We can’t approach a person of great power unless we know somebody (have a connection). We can only develop a personal relationship with a person of great power if someone introduces us to that person.
For those of us who have been reconciled, Jesus is our connection. Jesus brings us into the presence of God where we can develop a relationship with God. This relationship allows us to go to Him with requests, concerns, problems and failures. We’ve been given access to the Creator of the universe. The sovereign God over all things hears us and will always be willing to help us.
Lastly, our justification based on God's grace gives us hope of future glory with God. It gives us confidence in God’s love for us, and that He is always working towards what’s best for us eternally. The Christian can see past the here and now and look out onto the horizon of where He’s going. There’s a greater place and a greater life and it’s with a great God and it lasts forever.
Understanding the depth of these three truths and our justification by God’s grace alone ought to be a turning point in life that shapes the way we live the present.
Our justification is the fountain from which we should constantly draw from whenever we're thirsting for some refreshment in life.
Drawing from the fountain of our justification allows the Christian to experience great peace and confidence in the midst of current circumstances. The Christian always has a reason to rejoice no matter the present reality. The truth of our reconciliation, relationship and future with God is the comforting hug from God that holds us whenever we’re hurting.
Facing suffering by drinking from the fountain of our justification by grace alone will leave us refreshed and revitalized. Facing suffering by drinking from the fountain of a justification by works will always leave us dry and exhausted.
When we view life through the lens of working for our justification, we’ll begin to run the religious gauntlet… “I’ve got to do more. I’ve got to do better. God is displeased with me. God is punishing me. I’ve done something wrong. God’s not listening to me. I’ve got to try harder.” … until we’re crushed and buried by the weight of what’s happening to us.
The Christian may not know the reason why he's suffering, but justification by grace alone assures him that his suffering can’t be because God doesn’t love him.
God doesn't punish Christians; He's already placed that punishment on Christ.
Our justification by grace alone gives us reconciliation, relationship and hope for a future with a God who loves us more than we ever dared to believe. We can rest assured in this hope because God’s amazing love was declared and demonstrated in an unprecedented way. While we were His enemies, Jesus still died for us. No one but the Christian can claim such a great love from such a personal God. If while we were His enemies, God extended His hand of peace and offered us a seat at His table, how much more now as His friends can we trust that God is surely looking out for us with nothing but love?
Only the Christian can draw from the fountain of justification by grace alone and drink the refreshing reminder that God’s love supersedes our present realities.
We’ve been given peace, we have access, and there is hope for the future.