Peace, Grace, and Glory

Romans 5:1-11

J. N. Darby.

(Notes of a Lecture)

{Helps in Things concerning Himself Vol. 2, 1892, Pages 124-132.}

The statements in this chapter are founded on the last verse of the previous one. God is calling back our hearts to have confidence in Himself, confidence which man had lost in the garden of Eden. Eve trusted Satan, and thought that God had kept back the thing which would make her happy. No matter how wicked, or how far a person may be from God, he may trust Him. A person that would be ashamed to shew his face to any one in the world, may go to God and trust Him. The gospel wins back the heart to God, "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." What God has done in Christ, is, that before He comes to be a Judge, He came to be a Saviour. He has anticipated the day of judgment, to win our hearts back to Himself, in Christ. If we neglect this salvation, we are doubly guilty. Before ever the day of judgment comes, God has sent His Son, that we might know His perfect grace, and know it in a work which was the most terrible judgment of sin possible.

Having gone through their sinfulness as Gentiles and Jews, in the first three chapters; and in chapter 4, death and resurrection; in the first eleven verses of chapter 5 he applies it. He speaks of the abundant and rich grace of God; and then in v. 11, you may joy in God; not merely in the salvation, but in God Himself; I may delight in my Father. It is all peace as regards the past; favour and grace as regards the present; and glory in the future.

The gospel is not, that some of our sins are hidden, but they are all out, and I have peace about them because Christ was delivered for them. We may have forgotten many things that we have done, but the Lord knows everything, and He has given His Son for me; there I get peace made by the blood of His cross.

Peace is a strong word. I may have joy, and some trouble along with it, but with peace I have no trouble at all. Christ has met God alone on the cross, and, in drinking that terrible cup, He has made peace for us. I see that Christ came down here for my sins, and the holiness and righteousness of God dealt with Him about them on the cross, so I get peace with God. Sins are the things that make us guilty. The fact of the existence of the flesh does not give me a bad conscience; it does so only when I have let it act. I am justified in respect of guilt; with regard to defilement, I am cleansed; I have offended, and am forgiven. If I am born of God, I see what my sins are; for when we get into the light, we see how dirty we are. Holiness comes in along with justification, but it is not the subject of this chapter. The moment I am born of God, the holy desires are there; and then comes in this beautiful chapter; and I am not merely justified, but I have power. I am before God, not according to my sins, but according to the value of Christ's blood. Nobody put it into God's heart to send His Son - Ah, I say, then I find perfect love in God's heart. I have got into God's own perfect favour, that present grace wherein we stand. He loves me as He loves Jesus. God never changes. It is not only that the grace is unchanging, but that I as a present thing am standing in it, and if I look up to God, I have in my soul the consciousness of infinite favour. I know, in thinking of the cross of Christ, that it was God's infinite love which passeth knowledge, that gave Him to die for us. I know God's heart a great deal better than I know my own, for I cannot trust my heart and feelings a moment; but having God revealed to me I know who He is. I cannot reckon on myself; but when I have learnt this love of God I say, Well I know he is not a poor creature like me, for I know who He is. In that work on the cross, I had no part but my sins; nothing but the hatred that killed Christ, and the guilt he bore. He was perfect love, and therefore I am on my face in the dust at the sins He should have had to bear, but He was perfect love. It is not only that the sins are cleared, but I also get the sense of divine favour in my soul; it is my present standing with God. How could poor worms like us talk of being in the glory of God, if God had not brought it about. It is a wonderful thing. Where God has cleared away all the sins, He gives the glory too.

I feel strongly the importance of this present "grace wherein we stand;" it forms the condition of my soul now; I am standing in this favour of God. When I look up to God, and I see nothing but the light of His countenance, the only thought I have is, perfect love and favour. "That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them." We are first put into our place; and then it goes on, You are standing there in favour.

Well, what am I going to get? The glory of God - "Rejoice in the hope of the glory of God."

"And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also." May be, there is more evil in my heart than I have yet discovered," He withdraweth not his eye from the righteous." He is always looking at me, perhaps to correct me and help me. Job was getting into a subtle kind of self-righteousness. With Job, it is God who begins the battle, not Satan. God corrects and disciplines him, and sends all these things to help him; until, instead of saying, "When the eye saw me, it blessed me," he says, "Now mine eye seeth THEE, wherefore I abhor myself." "Ah," God says, "now you know yourself, and that is all I wanted to teach you; now I can bless you." That is the end of the discipline. Having this perfect love in the heart, we have the key to all these tribulations.

"Patience worketh experience." If I get my will broken, I know myself better, and I know God better. The effect of all this is to break my will, and to purify me of things that I wanted to get rid of. I get broken and exercised, and at the same time know the grace and love and faithfulness of God.

Then I get back to hope. I have the key in the perfect love, to all that comes upon me, and I say, In that, God has been thinking of me to do me good. I have the certainty of God's love, for He gave His Son for me; and if I were to ask God to give me proof of His love, He would say, He must give me a less proof than before, for He has already given me the greatest. The proof of the love is, that He has given His Son. The Holy Ghost is power; He is given us, so that there is the revelation of this love; I am in true liberty. In virtue of the blood of Christ, the Holy Ghost comes, and dwells in me. "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?" How can you go and use your body for sin, when it is the temple of the Holy Ghost? The Holy Ghost makes me know that I am a child. I get the love of God shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Ghost; He seals us too, and is the earnest of our inheritance.

Tribulation works patience, because it breaks my will. I kick against the tribulation if I do not see the key to it. A naughty child, put in the corner, knows very well that his father would not put him there if he did not need it. So with us, the Lord puts us in the corner, and there we must stay till He lets us out. I get the experience of God's faithful love, for I am sure He would not put me there if I did not need it. "He withdraweth not His eyes from the righteous." He is constantly and unceasingly watching for their good. In Job 33 it is inward things that have to be corrected; it is correcting a disposition, to withdraw man from his purpose. In Job 36 it is actual failure, discipline for positive faults, "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth." The Lord has laid His hand upon me, and I must bow. It may not be for a positive transgression, but perhaps a disposition to be corrected. He has something for me to learn; there is something wrong, so He puts His hand on me in discipline. The Holy Ghost being given me, I have the key to it all, in the love of God, and I believe in this love. There are many things to correct in me, which hinder me feeling the love. I know it better, the more I am disciplined and exercised; but I have learnt it in God's having given His Son.

We have the threefold blessing; peace, favour, and glory; then tribulations. How do I know He loves me? "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." He gave His Son for me. If I have the Holy Ghost I am enjoying the love (though that is no proof); but I know He loves me because He gave His Son for me when I was alienated. "God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." His love is emphatic here. God loved those ungodly sinners, who were in one sense a horror to Him. He gave the best thing in heaven for this vile thing on earth. So we joy in God. I have first got to know the blessings then the patience and goodness of God, and then I say, "Well, but what a God I have!" And that is everlasting blessedness. So I joy in God Himself. I have got to know God in this. Just think what a Father I have! My joy is in Himself, and though we have it in an earthen vessel, yet we have it still. Along the road to the glory, He never withdraws His eyes from me. What a wonderful God I have! I do not glory in myself, I glory in the tribulation, because it is a proof to me that God is thinking of me.

"We which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake." It was a great deal to say, I always got the trouble for Jesus' sake. We get them for our own sake, often. In the thorn in the flesh that Paul had, it was for Christ's sake and his own as well. The highest kind of tribulation is the tribulation for Christ; only we need other kinds. The principle of sin working in us, often troubles people much. The remedy is, I am crucified with Christ; I reckon myself dead. I am alive to God in Christ, not in Adam; and as regards this old man I say, "I do not own you." Not only Christ is my life, but I am crucified with Him. I am the same person living by the life of Christ, not by my own life. As a child of Adam I own myself totally lost. God comes and gives me a new life in Christ. All Christ's death is available for me; so I reckon myself crucified with Christ. I not only have a new life, but I reckon the old one dead. I say to the flesh, You have been judged on the cross, I have nothing more to say to you. Then I ought to be "always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus," always living in this way. I am not in the flesh before God; I am in Christ, and I know it in the Holy Ghost. Colossians 3:3 is God's statement about death. Romans 5 we believe it, reckon it true. 2 Corinthians 4, we carry it out in practice.