April 10, 2018
Confidence: the feeling or belief that you can rely one someone or something. Confidence: a state of feeling certain about the truth of something. Most of the time when we think of confidence, it is about self-confidence. That strong sense that you will be successful about something. Like the conversation I had with one of my golfing buddies the other day. I was telling him I was really starting to feel confident about my putting. Then I proceeded to three putt three times and only make one birdie putt all day. So by the end of the day, my confidence was not so hot.
But that’s self-confidence. The kind of confidence we put in our abilities to succeed: whether that be in golf or friendships, investments, your marriage, your appearance, or just doing life in general. Self-confidence is a great thing. Because when you have it, you feel like a winner, like you can do anything you can set your mind to. Self-confidence just gives you this great sense of well-being. But in life, self-confidence can be elusive. Sometimes we have it and sometimes we don’t.
But this morning, we’re not going to focus on your self-confidence, whether you have it in spades or not. No, the question I have for you is this: Do you have a God-confidence? 1) Do you wake up each day with the confidence that God is on your side? Or do you feel you have to keep earning His approval?
2) Do you go through your day secure in your relationship with God? Or do you feel that if you mess up, He will punish you or maybe even give up on you?
3) Do you have a confidence that God really wants to change your life? Or do you feel like your just stuck on a treadmill and are unsure if anything will ever change?
Well, if you’ve ever felt unsure or insecure in your relationship with God, God wants to change that. That’s why He gave us Jesus. Because when Jesus made us right with God by giving His life for us on the cross, Jesus did so much more than just provide our forgiveness. What He did there was to secure for us a relationship with God that’s unlike any other relationship you will ever experience. That’s what we’re going to look at this morning. So if you brought your Bible, let me encourage you to open it to Romans 5:1-5, where we are going to unpack four realities of your relationship with God that Jesus made possible by dying for us on the cross. And the first reality is this:
He Makes Us Friends With God Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, wehave peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, Romans 5:1
This peace with God is your current relational status with God if you have put your faith in Jesus. This peace with God is not a feeling but a fact. Prior to our faith in Jesus, the Bible tells us that we were hostile to God, that we were enemies of God because of our evil behavior, because of our sinfulness. But once you put your trust in Jesus, your relationship status changed. Because of what Jesus did for you, you status as an enemy of God ended. At that moment there was no longer any discord, hostility or rebellion in your relationship. You were no longer at odds with God, because Jesus reconciled you to God. And at that moment Jesus gave you peace with God, and the result of that peace is friendship. Jesus made you God’s friend.
Now, if Jesus did this for you… If Jesus made you God’s friend, THEN YOU ARE FREE! You no longer need to earn God’s approval. You have it. You don’t have to gain His favor. You have it. NOTHING stands between you and God.
YOU ARE NOW HIS FRIEND. And what that means is this: God is now predisposed to you as His friend. Remember, it is God himself who initiated this relationship. That’s why He sent Jesus. And if He initiated this friendship, and Jesus secured this friendship by shedding His blood for you, then your friendship with God is SECURE FOREVER. And this should give you GREAT CONFIDENCE, because God is a faithful friend.
Think about your life: You will fail God from time to time. You will fall into temptation on occasion, maybe even daily. But because Jesus made you right with God, you now have peace with God. This is un-changeable fact. This is a current reality that began the day you put your trust in Jesus. It’s not based on your feelings. It is not based on your behavior. It is based on what Jesus did for you. And it’s a done deal. So now and always you will have peace with God. And once that truth sinks in you will have great security in your relationship with God. You will always be God’s friend. God will always be on your side, and you never have to earn His approval – you have it now, and you will have it forever, even if you fail Him. Jesus made you God’s friend. You have peace with God. That’s the first reality Jesus secured for you on the cross, now the second:
He Ushers Us Into His Grace we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. Romans 5:2a The picture Paul wants us to see here is how Jesus actually introduces us to God as the giver of endless grace. Picture this: “Christ meets you outside the throne room, takes you by the hand and walks you into the presence of God. Upon entrance you find grace, not condemnation; mercy, not punishment.” Where perviously you would never be granted an audience with the King, you are now welcomed into His presence.
This introduction from Jesus is also meant to give us GREAT SECURITY in our relationship with God. By making you right with God Jesus has secured ongoing access for you into the presence of God. Listen how these other Scriptures put it: For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Ephesians 2:18 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. Ephesians 3:12
And this good news is wrapped up in this little phrase: “into this grace in which we now stand.” This phrase tells us that our place in the presence of God is a permanent reality. From the moment you believe in Jesus, Jesus ushers you into to a place of grace where you get to stand not just once, but for all time. Why? Because where we get to stand by grace is in the presence of the God of all grace, who is the source of endless grace. The image that comes to mind for me is that the presence of God is a refreshing, overflowing fountain of grace.
That’s why the writer of Hebrews encourages believers to “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 God’s outpouring of grace does not stop when you first put your faith in Jesus. Because of what Jesus did, you now stand in the place of grace, where God is always there willing to give you grace. Right now, this moment, if you know Jesus, you get to live in a constant state of grace: where God is always there to forgive you, renew you, restore you, and help you live the life He wants for you.
Here’s where God wants to build a God-confidence in you. For when you believe this; when this reality becomes part of your everyday reality, this truth makes all the difference. First, it gives you this amazing sense of security. God’s endless supply of grace means you never have to worry about His forgiveness for you. You will always stand in His grace. He will never say to you, “you’ve gone too far this time.” He will never give up on you, and you will always get to stand in His presence, not because of your righteousness, but because you get to stand in the righteousness of Jesus. Jesus brings you to God and introduces you to the God of endless grace.
That is such good news. And for some of you here today you need to embrace this truth. You need to embrace this reality. For you are insecure before God because of your sin. But when you believe that God’s grace can cover any sin, then you can be truly free. For there is no sin you have committed that is more powerful than God’s grace. Here’s the reality: If there is no sin a person commits before salvation too great for Jesus’ death to cover, then there is no sin you commit after salvation that is too great for God to cover. And Jesus made this possible. Jesus made you right with God and keeps you right with God by grace – so you can find grace whenever you need it! That’s the second reality of Jesus secured for you on the cross. Now the third:
He Gives Us a Sure Hope And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but wealso glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:2b-4
Now,look at that first line: And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. What is this hope? It is the hope of becoming like Jesus. The hope of the glory of God is the beauty of Christ’s life that now resides in us, that God promises to develop within us.
The Bible calls this hope in us a mystery: Something that was hidden but is now revealed to us in Christ. “Christ in you, the hope of glory” Colossians 1:27. You see, the moment you put your trust Jesus, Jesus took up residence in you by His Spirit. You become a new creation in Christ. The old you was gone and the new has come.
The reason the new has come, is that the moment you trusted in Jesus, Jesus gave you His righteousness. Now Jesus is at work in you to complete the work He began in you. He has come into your life by His Spirit so He can change you and make you more and more like Him. This reality has always been God’s plan for your life. God loved you so much that he wanted to save you. And His love for you continues today, because He doesn’t want to leave you the way you were: broken and damaged because of sin. No, He gave you Jesus to transform you. This has always been His plan for you. In Romans 8:29 we are told that one day you will share in God’s glory because you have been “predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son”(Romans 8:29).
That is why our hope of glory is a sure thing. Our hope of glory is based on what Jesus can do through you, not on what you can do. Apart from Jesus you can do nothing. Apart from Jesus we all fall short of the glory of God. We just don’t have it in us to live the life God wants us to live. We fail. We don’t love our neighbors as we should. We covet. We are not always thankful in all things. We say and do things that hurt others. We blame others. We have bouts of selfishness. We have bouts of rebellion. We love only those we want to love, not those who are hard to love. You get the idea.
But when Jesus made us right with God, He gave us the hope that we can live like Him and bring glory to God. And because Jesus lives in you, you have this hope of glory! And that grounds for rejoicing. We can rejoice that Jesus doesn’t leave us the way we are. We can rejoice that Jesus will transform us. And we can rejoice, knowing that whatever we face, God is actually using it to make us like Jesus. That is why Paul says, Not only so, but wealso glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4
God allows us to experience the storms of life so that we can become more like Jesus. As we endure the testing that comes through difficulties character is produced in us, and this character produces hope. I love how Thomas Schneider explains how this works: He says, “After one endures many difficulties, a strength of character develops that was not present previously. Such tested character generates hope. Why does tested character spark hope? Because moral transformation constitutes evidence that one has really been changed by God.” Thus when we experience change, we are assured that our hope of future glory is not an allusion.
So the next time you face a hardship or trial, don’t just pray that God would take it away. Pray that God will give you the grace to endure it with the grace and patience of Jesus. Because when you endure with the grace of Jesus under trial, that’s the best opportunity you have to shine the light of Jesus.
The hope of becoming more and more like Jesus, the hope of glory is a third reality that Jesus secured for us at the cross, and now finally there’s one more thing God does for us to give us a God confidence and that is this:
He Fills Us With His Love And hope does not put us toshame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:5 What Paul says here is that for those who put their hope in God, we can now have a confidence that God is for us even in the midst of trials and hardships.
How can we have this confidence? Because the moment we put our faith in Jesus, God poured His love into our hearts. At that moment, the moment we believed we discovered God’s love. God did for us what we could not do for ourselves. He gave His One and Only Son to die in our place to make us right with Him. He gave us forgiveness of all our sin. He gave us His righteousness so we could stand before Him. He gave us peace to make us friends with Him. He gave us a place to stand in His presence where we can find grace and mercy in our time of need. And He gave us the hope of glory, Christ in us, so that He can change us and make us just like Jesus.
His love for us is the spiritual experience that gives us the assurance that we are His and that God is not only with us but will help us endure whatever we may face. And the result of all that God has done for us in Jesus Christ should give us confidence! A God confidence to live each day as the beloved of God, knowing that God is in control, that God has our backs, and that God will help us in our time of need because He will never stop loving us. That’s the confidence Jesus secured for you at the cross when He made you right with God.
So let me ask you this morning: Do you have this God confidence? Are you certain that God is with you and God is for you? If so, then rejoice in Jesus Christ. If not, then turn away from trusting in yourself and trust in Jesus. For He gave His all to give you all this and more, when you trust in Him.