I was recently speaking with someone about our national holidays. The comment was made, “I wonder how many people really know what we are celebrating.” Yes, we know that many of these celebrations include a day off from work and even a three day weekend. Yet, when we fail to remember what we are celebrating we can often take the privileges enjoyed for granted. The same is true for the follower of Jesus.
My time this past week in Romans 5 preparing for a message for our Celebrate Summer – Gospel 360 series reminded me of several of the benefits of salvation by faith when compared to a salvation by works. I cannot speak for others, but I can speak for myself. I do find that it is easy to take the privileges and blessings of being a follower of Jesus for granted, and when I take them for granted, it is easier for me to be tempted and even to doubt God. The first part of Romans 5 reminds us of several blessings.
The first verse reveals two blessings. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1) The first has been an emphasis in the previous chapters, justification. Briefly, this means to be legally free from any offense. Imagine facing a judge and being caught red handed guilty, and to be given the stiffest penalty for your offense. Then to have him say to you, “my son has already served your prison time for you. You are free to go!” The second benefit is that we are at peace with God. Think for a moment of being at odds with someone and then they take the initiative to deal with the issue so that your relationship can restored. Oh, and I forgot to mention that they do this and you are the one that is guilty of the broken relationship!
The second verse reveals two more blessings. “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:2) The third blessing is we gain access to all the privileges and blessings of a restored relationship with the Creator. This does not do it justice, but imaging being the child of extremely wealthy parents. Imagine for a moment the privileges and blessing that would be yours to enjoy, because of simply being their child. For the follower of Jesus this not only includes the forgiveness of sin, but also many other benefits like supernatural spiritual ability to minister to others and even divine strength to face the difficulties and even life privileges like open access to God and a promise of answered prayers! And a fourth blessing is hope. This is not the wishful thinking kind of hope, but a guaranteed for sure kind of hope. The follower of Jesus has their eternal destiny with Him secure. We can rejoice in looking forward to that day no matter what happens today!
Let me encourage you take some time and ponder these four blessing of being a follower of Jesus. If you get a chance you might want to listen to the full message here, which also includes insights on facing difficulties. When I think about one of these blessings it changes the way that I respond to people and to situations each day. Now, realize that this list of four is only a sample of all the benefits of faith!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson