As Jesus stands before Pilate, Pilate asks if He is a “king”. And Jesus replies, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:37 NASB) At this, Pilate seems to mutter under his breath, or at least ask rhetorically, “What is truth?” Too few people today ask this question because our culture declares that truth is unknowable.
Paul, in his letter to the disciples in Rome, writes of a relationship with God restored. He continually uses the term “justified”, or in the Greek of the day, “dikaioo”, to make or declare righteous. Only in verse 1, it’s a passive participle, “having been made righteous”. “Having been made righteous”, means that we didn’t make ourselves righteous. It means that whatever made us righteous happened already, not some future event. It means that our relationship with our Creator has been healed.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2 NASB)
Having been justified, we stand, and we exult in the future we have with our Maker. Having been justified, we have peace with the One having formed us. Hopefully, that gives you chills. It should, because the alternative is drug along with justification, and lays on the stage just behind the statement. There is an alternative in which there is no peace with our Creator.
What should we call this state of “having been justified”? Do we call it “the state of peace”? That is too long. Perhaps we can call it “the state of grace”? But, that’s still long. Perhaps Paul solves this problem for us later in the chapter. On in verse 9, Paul says we have been saved from God’s wrath. The terrifying alternative raises its head and winks, then lies back down. Still, that’s not a name, not really.
And then, in verse 12, the terrifying alternative rises to do a little dance number.
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned– for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. (Romans 5:12-14 NASB)
“The law is no excuse, and the lack of law is no protection.” So the song goes, and then, after a final twirl and a bow, the horror stands mute again in the background. Still, to the fore, this “having been made righteous” stands proud. But, what do we call this character?
But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. (Romans 5:15-16 NASB)
Again, justification, the “having been made righteous” is our state, and it’s called a “gift”! The gift isn’t like the failure, which is good, because they look nothing alike. One is creepy and dark, and with an unnerving smile. While the other appears strong, even glowing slightly, with a look of serenity about them. But, what is this character’s name?
For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17 NASB)
Houston, we have a name! Life. What do we call the state of this “having been made righteous”? We call it life. Which means that the character of wrath, lacking peace, that one is death. The terrifying alternative to the peace of being made righteous is death, and now we know we live. That seems to make the alternative a lot less frightening. I live, and this life is through my Master, Jesus. But how long? How long will it last? Does nothing good last forever?
The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:20-21 NASB)
Life eternal, life is eternal, the peace and restored relationship we have with our Creator is eternal, it lasts forever (for those who didn’t know what eternal meant). Well, I believe that’s the cue for the exit of death, stage left. See ya, creepy. The truth Pilate was so sure was unknowable was unfolding right before his eyes. Pilate could have a restored relationship with his Maker. Who would have thought?
The crowds shouting for Barabas could have a restored relationship with their Maker! Even they, those who were so sure their relationship wasn’t broken, even they could have peace with their God. Even you. Even me. Even that militant atheist pseudo-intellectual philosopher so comfortable in ignorance, so blind, and so wretched, and so intent on keeping themselves that way; even they can be restored to their Maker.
Whether we know it or not, whether we want it or not, regardless of how far or how deep runs our rebellion against our Maker, we can all have a restored relationship with our Creator. Our Creator is revealed as our Savior, and He brings us into life, eternal life. We don’t have to, I suppose. The militant atheist philosopher doesn’t seem to want to, and those who don’t realize they’re dead, they don’t want to either. Even so, it’s still available. Which one are you? Do you live? Would you like to?
Curtain, house lights down.