At great cost to himself, God removed our sin and guilt and made peace with us, so that we have access to him. Hebrews 4:16 states the application: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” We need not panic or tremble speechlessly, for we approach a throne of grace.
As I begin the New Year, I find myself meditating on the fruits of justification by faith, especially the great principle that it brings us access to God. Paul says that through Christ, “we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Rom. 5:2a). Peace with God creates access to God, so that we can stand before him fearlessly. By grace, we can stand calmly before God. Illustrations may help us take this benefit to heart.
My wife once had an accident while driving at dusk on a rain-slicked road. Our young daughter distracted her and she didn’t notice a stop sign, at the bottom of a hill, until it was too late. She skidded into the car ahead of her—driven by a police officer. He was not in a forgiving mood; he wrote a ticket that landed her in traffic court. She was already nervous and when she caught sight of the tattoos and scars that accented her seat mates, it didn’t help her settle down. She planned to make a middling plea that the court allowed—“guilty with an explanation.” Yes, she hit the car, but she wanted the judge to know she was not reckless. This was her first ticket and her first accident. Her child distracted her, she would never do it again, and so on.
But when the moment came to approach the judge and speak, she couldn’t speak. She opened her mouth, but nothing happened. She tried again and made choking sound “Aaagh. Aaagg.” I half-expected a puff of dust following by a cloud of gnats. She looked like she wanted to fall through the floor, so I spoke for her. “Your honor, my wife wants to say that she did hit the officer’s car, but it was a rainy night, and…” The judge had as much mercy as the law allowed.
Now God is the judge of all flesh. As he surveys our life, we are guilty of more than distracted driving. But we have a friend, an advocate, in Jesus. He does not plead, “guilty with an explanation,” he presents us as innocent, with an explanation. Yes, he nods, this man, this woman, did much that merits punishment, but he bore that punishment and paid for all the damage we create when he offered himself as an atoning sacrifice for our sin.