How can a human being stand in the presence of the holy God? How can a guilty sinner stand before the just Judge?

By personal merit? On the basis of good works? By religious performance? On our own two feet trusting in our own personal righteousness?

No. Only by grace. Only in grace.

To stand in God’s presence, to survive in God’s presence, can only be a gift, never a deserved or earned outcome, never a reward for what we are or what we have done.

Paul wrote in Romans 5:1-2: ‘There, since we have been justified through faith, 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.’

We stand in God’s presence in this grace.

We see in these two verses something of the way that grace operates for those who believe in Jesus Christ:

  • It involves a legal acquittal that comes through faith, not through our own works – ‘justified through faith’.
  • It establishes a permanent relationship/status of peace between the believer and God – ‘we have peace with God’.
  • It is achieved by and through Jesus Christ – ‘through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access’.
  • It is effective only by faith in Jesus Christ, the essential connector which links all that Jesus Christ is and all that he achieved to the individual human being - ‘by faith’.

The effect of all of this is that we now stand in this grace.

No longer need we approach God wishing that our small handful of personal or religious merit might possibly gain us acquittal, acceptance and access, but fearing his wrath and rejection.

We stand, rather, in this grace, empty of any expectation of meriting God’s acceptance, but full of confident rejoicing because of this immoveable certainty: that we now stand, by sheer gift, sheer grace, in the presence and the glory of God and are not afraid – ‘we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God … we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ [Romans 5:2b,11].

Thus the writer of the letter to the Hebrews wrote:

‘Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need’ [4:16].

This is where God’s has placed those who believe in his Son: in this unassailable position from which neither our own personal guilt, nor the destructive accusations of Satan, nor the just requirements of God’s Law can remove us.

This is the position of grace – this grace in which we now stand.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2009