PEACE WITH GOD

Paul is not content to tell us that we are justified by faith and not by works.

Because he knows only too well the self-oriented, legalistic mentality of the human heart and mind, he sees it necessary to also spell out the significance and implications of justification by faith. So he says: 'Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.' (Romans 5:1)

On the basis of justification through faith Paul makes the statement that we have peace with God.

'We' includes all who believe in Jesus Christ

'have' indicates that right now, at this present moment of existence, and at every moment of existence, we possess peace with God.

Because it is 'through faith' and 'through Jesus Christ' this present peace is not conditional on our goodness, not conditional on our degree of sanctification, not conditional on our present sinlessness. It is grounded in Christ.

What is this'peace with God'?

This possession of peace is an objective fact, not a subjective feeling, though the subjective feeling of peace does issue from it.

Peace with God is the removal of the enmity, alienation and hostility between us and God.

It is the freedom from the necessity to strive to gain or maintain our acceptance with God.

It is being able to live in his presence without fear of rejection, condemnation and punishment today or in the future.

It is the fact that yesterday, today and tomorrow, irrespective of our performance, we can rest with absolute confidence in the completeness and permanence of the work of Jesus Christ for us, fearing no reduction or alteration of our access to God, because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

It is the certainty that, even when we are acutely aware of our sin and real guilt, God is still for us, and that this sin and this real guilt make no difference to his relationship with us, because that relationship is anchored in the cross-work of Jesus Christ by which our sin is forgiven and our guilt robbed of its power of accusation.

This peace is a fact. It has nothing to do with our feelings: it is all about what God did for us in and through Jesus Christ.

This peace with God is, Paul says, 'through our Lord Jesus Christ.' Through him, because he is who he is, because he did what he did on the cross, those who believe in him possess, right now, this objective peace with God, whether they know it or not, whether they feel it or not.

Paul is endeavouring to assure his readers of the existence and reality of this objective peace with God. He has described justification by faith (gospel righteousness), and now he says 'Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ'.

Out of this objective peace with God comes a subjective peace with God which will (apart from fluctuations due to our emotional or physical condition) be directly proportionate to our understanding of and confidence in the objective peace with God gained for us by Jesus Christ. The firmer and clearer our understanding of justification by faith, the firmer and clearer will be our understanding of our peace with God. And the more firmly and clearly we understand and have confidence in that peace gained for us by Christ, the more we will live our lives in the reality of it. Out of this objective peace, subjective tranquillity, concord, unity, rest, security and contentment - all in the presence of God - will issue.

Christians, knowing that this objective peace has been established through the death of Christ, need no longer fear God's wrath, judgement and condemnation, and need no longer fear that some real personal guilt or real personal unworthiness will separate and disqualify him/her from access to God. This is the subjective peace with God that issues from a firm grasp of the gospel.

Read Isaiah 9:6; 53:6; Matthew 11:28-30; Luke 1:77-79; 2:14; John 14:27; Acts 10:36; Ephesians 2:14-17; 6:15 (where 'peace' is a one word summary of the Gospel); Philippians 4:4-7; Colossians 1:20; 3:15; Hebrews 3 and 4; 10:19-23.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2020