SALVATION IN EPHESIANS

#16 PEACE WITH GOD

Peace is a key salvation concept. The angels spoke of it in Luke 2:14 when announcing the birth of the Saviour - 'on earth peace to men'. Jesus spoke of it in John 14:27 'Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.' Paul included it in his greetings in many of his letters 'grace and peace to you from God our Father'. 

Here is Ephesians Paul sets gospel peace in contrast to the condition the Gentiles were in before they knew and believed in Christ: uncircumcised [that is, not God's people], separate, excluded, foreigners, without hope, without God, far away, the objects of hostility [2:11-16]. This terrible position made the Gentiles the targets of Jewish ostracism and hatred. But Paul includes a deeper truth here that encompasses both Jew and Gentile: the truth that the Jews along with the Gentiles were in this position with respect to God: they too needed to be reconciled to God; they too, just like the Gentiles, needed to be saved from their alienation and separation from God; they too needed to be saved from the wrath of God and from the enmity that existed between them and God. He states that Jesus came and preached peace to the Gentiles who were far away and peace to the Jews who were near [2:17]. Both needed this Gospel peace. Both, through the Gospel, had received this peace.

Paul teaches us that Jesus Christ is our peace [2:14]. Through his blood [2:13], by his flesh [2:15], through his cross [2:16], Jesus Christ demolishes the distance between man and God, destroys the barrier between man and God, abolishes the cause of the hostility between man and God, bringing man near to God, reconciling man to God, making peace between man and God.

We must be careful that we do not understand this Gospel peace as a feeling. In its essence it is not a feeling but a state. Because of the death of Christ, by which he dealt with the hostility and alienation between man and God, there is now a state of peace between God and all who are united to Jesus Christ. The relationship between God and the believer is no longer wrath and enmity, but peace.

Paul explains it this way:

'Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access into this grace in which we now stand.' [Romans 5:1,2]

'For God was pleased ... through him to reconcile to himself all things ... by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross' [Colossians 1:19-20].

We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. It is our present and permanent possession. It is grounded in the legal acquittal [justification] granted to us because of the death of Christ. It depends on God's action, not ours. It originates in God's will and pleasure, not from anything we are or do.

It is actually true and effective whether we feel peace or not.

Having understood that, and only having understood that, we can, and should, also feel peace with God. Any feeling of peace with God that is not grounded in the work of God in the death of Christ can never be a permanent or perfect peace with God. But here, in this peace with God,  there is a ground and a foundation for an awareness and feeling of peace with God that need never be shaken or disturbed. Our feeling of peace with God does not rest on our own spiritual performance or our freedom from real guiltiness, but on Christ alone. Here, in Christ, there is peace. Peace with God in the midst of the Devil's accusations. Peace with God in the context of our own self-knowledge. Peace with God as we read the Law of God, which we have broken and which we continue to break. Peace with God in the presence of our 'spiritual' Christian peers.

Christ himself is our peace. Because of this we have, and we can be assured of and enjoy, peace with God.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2007, 2017