The Christian's State
James Smith, 1861
The believer's state, is a state of true blessedness. But it is to be feared, that many who profess Christ, do not understand it; and that some who seem to understand it, do not live in the enjoyment of it. May the Holy Spirit use my pen faintly to represent it, and so to represent it, as to lead some of the Lord's feeble ones into the enjoyment of it. Hear the apostle as he describes it. "Being justified by faith — we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." Romans 5:1-2
Faith in Christ.Christ is revealed in the gospel as a great and glorious Savior, as able and willing to save any and every sinner to whom the gospel comes. He is set forth as God's appointed Savior, and he is set up on high that all may see him, betake themselves to him, and be saved by him.
Faith is looking to Jesus — looking to Jesus and expecting to be saved by him, just as the dying Israelites looked to the brazen serpent in the wilderness, and expected to be healed by looking.
Faith is taking the eye and the hope off of every other object and subject — and fixing it on Christ alone.
Faith is personal appropriating of Christ — taking him as God's unspeakable gift, presented to us in the gospel. For as we cannot be healed by a medicine unless we take it, or be strengthened by bread unless we eat it, or be refreshed by water except we drink it — no more can we be benefitted by Christ, unless we appropriate him to ourselves.
Faith is resting on Christ, placing our whole trust and confidence in Christ, and leaving ourselves in his hands to be washed in his blood, to be clothed in his righteousness, to be sanctified by his Spirit, and to be admitted to Heaven in his name.
Faith is putting our persons and cause into his hands, that he may deliver us from wrath, save us from sin, and rescue us from the grasp of all our foes. Then comes,
Justification Before God."Being justified by faith," or by believing. When we believe in Christ, or put ourselves into the hands of Christ, he engages to carry our cause; and in order to this, he makes over his righteousness to us, and entitles us to all the merits of his death.
This being the case, we are acquitted at the bar of God, and are pronounced righteous — yes, "the righteousness of God in him."
We are accepted at the throne of God, and "have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him."
We are placed among the children of God, and are taught to look upon God as our Father, and to believe that he looks upon us with loving eyes. Henceforth God-speaks to us as unto sons, he deals with us as sons, and loves us as his sons. He has no charges against us, as the just Judge; he arranges all things for our good, as the God of providence; and he will at length receive as to Heaven, as the God of glory. Hence we have,
Peace with God.Viewing God as love, believing that his anger is turned away from us, realizing that he rejoices over us to do us good — the enmity of the heart is slain, all our prejudices against God die out, and love to him springs up in the soul. Seeing him hold out his loving hand, inviting us to come near to him, and ever beseeching us to be reconciled to him — we can hold out no longer, but we fall before him, confess our sins, deplore our misconduct, and yield ourselves to his will. We soon find ourselves in the arms of his love, and while he whispers, "I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you" — peace, a peace unutterably sweet, springs up within us. Our fearful restlessness now ceases, our mental nervousness departs, and holy tranquility pervades the bosom. We are at peace with God. Our reconciliation is perfect, a friendship is commenced that is to last forever. Grace reigns, mercy triumphs, and now we —
Stand in the Favor of God.We have access by faith into his grace, and can rejoice in the favor he bears to his people, being visited with his salvation. We are now delivered from the law, being dead to that wherein we were held — and are under grace. We are done with the old covenant, and are done with it forever. We are now under the covenant of grace, that everlasting covenant which is ordered in all things and sure. We are received into the favor of God and know it, for his love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. We now feel that in his favor is life, and to be God's favorites is the highest honor that can be put upon us.
Henceforth we are treated as children:
if sick, God pities us;
if ignorant, God instructs us;
if poor, God supplies us; and
if in fault, God corrects us.
He holds our right hand,
leads us in the way we should go,
guides us by his counsel, and
afterwards receives us to glory!
To us, he is the God of all grace; on us, he confers the riches of his grace; and however highly we may be exalted, we shall still have to say with the apostle, "By the grace of God — I am what I am." Therefore we can look forward to the end, and,
Rejoice in Hope of the Glory of God.Glory is promised, as it is written, "The Lord will give grace — and glory." Saving grace received, glory is certain. Being one with Christ in grace now, we shall also be glorified together. The members will all share in the glory of the head. "The righteous shall shine forth as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father." We therefore expect glory. Though now despised, persecuted, and afflicted: yet we believe, that our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, it shall cover the earth as the waters cover the seas, and we shall share in it, partake of it, and be adorned with it. Living in the prospect of this we rejoice, and rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. O bright, beautiful, and blessed prospect, "when Christ, Who is our life, shall appear — then shall we also appear with him in glory."
Observe then, the believer is righteous before God. The righteousness of Christ is his. It was wrought for him. It is imputed to him. It is received by him. He trusts in it, he wears it. and he pleads it before God. It is "the righteousness of God by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all those who believe — for there is no difference." In this righteousness he is justified. His justification is not by the act of faith, or for his believing; but by the object of faith, or that which faith receives, even the righteousness of Christ. Every believer can say, "In the Lord I have righteousness and strength." To every believer, Jesus is, "The Lord our righteousness." "In the Lord, shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory."
Being righteous, the believer has peace with God. A friendship exists between God and his soul. He has nothing to fear from God — but may ask and expect every blessing of God. Like the prodigal, when clothed with the best robe, seated at his father's table, feeding on the fatted calf, and enjoying his father's smile — felt perfectly peaceful, so does the believer who is justified by faith.
Being at peace with God — he has access to God. He can enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, and cast his anchor on that which is within the veil. He views God on the mercy-seat, or throne of grace, and knows that coming to it he shall meet with sympathy, and find grace to help him in time of need. He needs no medium of access but Jesus, who is the one All Sufficient, and all glorious Mediator.
Having access to God — he enjoys the favor of God. The favor of God, is to him, like the dew to the mown grass; like the light of the sun, to the poor prisoner just liberated from a gloomy prison cell; or the flowing spring, to the thirsty exhausted traveler. Being assured of it, he thoroughly enjoys it, and therefore rejoices in it, and makes his boast of it.
Enjoying the favor of God — he joyfully anticipates the glory of God. He perceives that his salvation is bound up in God's glory, and that in the revealed glory of God he shall share; for when the glory of God, and of the Lamb shall be the light of the holy city, he, as one among the nations of those who are saved, shall wait in the light of it. God will be his glory, his crown of glory; and he will be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of his God.
Joyfully anticipating the glory of his God — he bears and is benefitted by all he passes through. This enables him to bear all with patience. Yes, at times it makes him exceeding joyful in all his tribulations, so that he can glory in tribulations also.
With his eye fixed on the end — he bears all things, endures all things, hopes all things. With his eye fixed on the end — he carries his cross, faces his foes, masters his difficulties, and presses on toward the mark, looking for that blessed hope, even the glorious appearing of the great God our Savior Jesus Christ.
Happy Christian — justified, peaceful, and rejoicing in hope! Happy Christian — God's favorite, Christ's servant, and Heaven's heir! Happy state — righteous before God, reconciled to God, at peace with God, standing in the favor of God, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God!!
Reader, is this happiness yours? It may be; if you receive the gospel, and exercise full confidence in Jesus — it will be. All who believe are justified. All justified people are at peace with God. All such may, should, rejoice in hope of glory, for it is their unquestionable privilege.