|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2007|
|What is the difference between the peace OF God and peace WITH God? How can you live in peace with God? What can disrupt your perception of that peace? Can you lose it?|
We have been talking about the Details of God’s Good News. We started that in Romans 3:21 and we are continuing in it even into chapter 5. The main detail of this discussion has been justification by faith and by faith alone and all that means to you and me. The good news just gets better and better.
In chapter 4 we saw that Abraham needed to be justified. If Abraham needed to be justified, certainly we need to be justified. We saw in Romans 4:1-8 that works didn’t justify Abraham. We saw in verses 9-12 that divine ordinances such as circumcision didn’t justify Abraham. Baptism does not save you. Divine ordinances do not save or justify anybody. In verses 13-17 we saw that the law did not justify Abraham. And in verses 18-25 we saw that human effort did not justify Abraham. Faith and faith alone justified Abraham.
I think it would be good right now to go back over some of the words we have been using to be sure we don’t forget what we are talking about.
First of all, there is justification. What does it mean to be justified? It means “just as if I had never sinned;” to be acquitted; for all the charges against me to be dropped. Now, how in the world can we be guilty before God (which we are and Paul clearly lays that out in 1:18-3:20) and have the charges dropped? That is only possible if someone did something for us that we could not do ourselves. That someone could not be one of us. It would have to a God-man because man alone could not do it. He would not qualify.
So Jesus Christ came and redeemed us. What does it mean to be redeemed? It means that somebody came and paid the debt that you owed. He purchased you by the shedding of His blood upon the cross. The fact that He redeemed us causes us to be able to be justified. Therefore, when we put our faith into Him and what He did, we are reckoned as righteous. What does that mean? It means that when we put our faith into Jesus Christ, in the divine accounting book in heaven beside our name it is written, “Justified, made righteous, acceptable because he put his faith into Jesus Christ.”
Propitiation is another big word. It means the Father accepted what Jesus did, and therefore, He satisfied the Father’s demand for the law’s penalty to be carried out. When He died upon the cross, He satisfied that in the Father. Not only that, it also means to expiate: He did for us what we could not have done for ourselves.
The next word is forgiveness. There are two words for forgiveness. One word means to do a favor for someone that they could never deserve. It comes from the word “grace.” But the word that is used in Romans is the word that means to send away, never to return again. Isn’t that wonderful? The sin that we had before we came to know Christ and put our faith into Him never comes back to condemn us. He picks that theme up in chapter 8 and says, “There is, therefore, now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Then there is the word grace. The word grace means two things. One is His undeserved favor that He gives to us. That is what we have seen so far. But it has another meaning. It also means the transforming power of God that we will see more and more about as we progress in the book of Romans.
Well, what are the results then of being justified? What are the results of putting my faith into Jesus Christ, having the charges dropped? Look how Paul starts out in Romans 5:1: “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now any time there is a “therefore” you always look to see what it is there for. We already know that. Paul is summing it up now. He has already taken us through and shown us that even Abraham had to be justified and man is guilty before God and man cannot in any way justify himself. So now he takes us to the other side of what it means to be justified.
There are three things on the other side that we haven’t even talked about yet. The first thing is seen right in verse 1. When we have been justified, when the charges are dropped, when we put our faith into the Lord Jesus Christ, all that we have just discussed, first of all we have peace with God. Look at the verse: “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” That little verb there, “we have,” is in the present indicative active. That means that I have it today. I will have it tomorrow. I will have it the next day. I will always have it. Present tense means continuous duration of action. Indicative voice means that is a fact, take it to the bank. Active voice means the subject is acted upon or doing the acting. We have peace with God.
I don’t know about you, but that completely blows my mind because there are a lot of people today who try to tell me I can lose my salvation. But the Word of God says when I put my faith into Jesus Christ, I eternally have peace with God. What does it mean to put my faith into Jesus Christ to get this peace with God? I have to realize my guilt before God. I have to realize I cannot do one single thing to justify myself. I have to realize what Christ came to do for me. Then when I put my faith into Him, when I surrender to Him, I have peace with God.
What is peace? Peace, in the Greek, is the word eirene. It comes from the root word that means to join together. Have you ever tried to glue something to a surface that was dirty? Perhaps you want to apply a new top to a table. The first thing the instructions tell you to do is clean the surface you are going to glue something to, because if you have any debris, any irritant, of any kind on that surface, it will not adhere. They will not come together. They will not join together. Therefore, you have to make sure it is clean. You see, the word means when two things come together and there is nothing in between that would stop the cohesion that is about to take place. Once they are glued together, they are one, never to be separated.
“Do you mean to tell me that when I surrender, when I put my faith into Jesus Christ, a peace with God that is a ‘glued together’ peace and it will never come apart?” Yes!That is my relationship with Jesus Christ. It happens when I put my faith into Him. Peace with God. Two things glued together. This is why it is so important to understand that sin is the irritant. That sin has to be cleansed in order for the two to come back together. Peace is when there is no more war with God. There is no more conflict between the Father and me.
Someone told me that for years they used the book of Romans to teach lawyers how to present a case. If I ever get into trouble I wish the Apostle Paul could come and represent me because the way he does it in Romans is incredible. He assumes that you are asking a question: When did man and God ever get separated? If God created man and they were one in the garden, whatever happened to cause such a rift between the two that peace would have to come through someone to put them back together? Paul is going to answer that question in verses 12-21. We will get to that. Paul shows us in verses 12-21 that sin is not just an action on man’s part. Sin is the attitude of man’s heart, born of Adam. It is not just something a law can come and convict you of. It is something in the heart of man. The nature of man is to sin.
He takes us back to when the fall came, back to where the peace was interrupted. The fall happened back in Genesis chapter 3. In Genesis 2:16, God warned the first primitive historical family on this earth, Adam and Eve: “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.”
That word “die” in the Hebrew is the word thanatos in the Greek. It means to die. What does die mean? Well, it means to die! But it has the idea of being separated from. You have to study when that word is used in scripture to find that. For instance, in First Corinthians when a man dies what happens? There is a separation. The spirit goes to be with the Father, and the body goes into the ground. However, one day the body will resurrect. There is a separation. So it is not just “die,” but it also has the idea of separation.
What happened when Adam sinned? God said, “You are going to die.” Did he die physically? No, not immediately but his body began to die. We are born, and in the moment we take our first breath we begin to die. Death became a reality, physical death. Mental death became a reality, for man was no longer able to think like God wanted him to think. He was separated from that ability. But the instantaneous death that took place was spiritual death. A rift between God and man developed. An irritant had come in and now there could be no peace between God and man.
It is like you are standing on the edge of a cliff and you look across to where you want to be, but there is no way to span that cliff, there is no way to get across, there is no way to get down. How will you ever get from one side over to the other? God is on one side and you are on the other side. Sin has caused a separation between God and man. What the Apostle Paul does so beautifully in Romans is to show that there are no bridges that a man can build. There is nothing man can do on his side. But there is something God could do on His side. He came and the cross became a bridge. It is through Jesus Christ that we can once again have peace with God and once again be reconciled to Him. That is a word that will come up later on in chapter 5.
This conflict is the reason Jesus came to die for our sins. In verses 23-25 of chapter 4 Paul has led us right to it: “Now not for his [Abraham’s] sake only was it written, that it [righteousness] was reckoned to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be reckoned, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” You see, that is why He was raised. The whole reason for Jesus to come was because man could not bridge the gap. There is no way man could establish peace with God. God had to come to man. By dying for his sin, which was the irritant, now man and God through man’s faith in Jesus Christ can be at peace with one another.
That is why Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Colossians 1:20 says, “and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” Look at Ephesians 2:14, 17-18: “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall.... And He came and preached peace to you who were far away [Gentiles],and peace to those who were near [Jews]; for through Him [Jesus] we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.”
I tell you, this is good news. When you realize that you have been separated from God because of Adam’s sin and that as a result you continue to sin to show you that you are a sinner, then you realize there is not one thing you can do; and you realize what God took the initiative to do even before the foundations of this world. He came to die for us so that irritant of sin could be dealt with and then man and God through Jesus could have peace once again. It is Jesus holding us together, not me and my obedience. He is the glue that causes us to come together, and we have peace forever with Him.
When I have faith in Him, when I exercise my faith in Him, then He gives me peace with God, and He is the one who keeps that peace. He is the keeper of all peace and the maintainer of all peace. That is why Isaiah called him Prince of Peace. It is through Him that we have peace with the Father.
There is one thing you can’t mistake here because it will cause problems in your theology. You cannot join together the peace with God and the peace of God. Some people are confused there. The peace of God is what we enjoy when we continue to walk by faith with Him day by day. It is subjective. It is relative to each individual. We are told in Philippians that we are not to be anxious over anything. We are not to worry but to trust God and to pray. Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I may have peace with God. It can never be interrupted. It is through Jesus Christ. He keeps it and maintains it. However, I may be very distraught in my spirit because I have made a choice that wasn’t very smart. I chose not to believe His Word and I chose to look at my circumstances and try to go the route of my flesh. As a result, I have no peace. Now when I come back to my walk of faith, Romans 1:17 says, “From faith to faith the righteousness of God is revealed.” When I come back to living by faith and trusting Him which is the way I got saved to start with, then that peace that is already there begins to quiet my spirit and I walk in the assurance and the hope and the confidence of who God is and what God says is right.
The peace with God and the peace of God are two different things. Be very careful. Just because you don’t feel like you have peace with God does not mean you don’t have it, because peace with God is based on your faith that you placed into Jesus Christ. He is the one who maintains and holds that peace together. I have an eternal peace with the Father through Jesus Christ His Son. Hallelujah! I have the peace of God. That is on the other side of being justified by faith.
Well, it gets better. In verse 2 we find something else that we have: “through whom [speaking of Jesus] also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand.” We not only have the peace with God but we have an eternal standing cemented into it, into the divine favor of God, eternally we stand in the grace of God.
Let’s look at this verse carefully. What does “obtained our introduction by faith into this grace” mean? Well, I think literally it should read, “We have our access by faith into this grace.” In other words, people who hear the message of grace and say, “How can I have peace with God?” Well, it is by God’s grace. “How can I have access to that grace?” Put your faith into Jesus Christ and you will have access into this grace. That is how you get into it. That is how we have it. It is in the perfect tense, which means something happened back here. The next phrase, “in which we stand” is also perfect tense. We have entered into it and have access to it. You put your faith into Jesus Christ and you were justified by that faith. Peace with God. That happened back here. As a result of that, way up here you are still standing in that grace and nothing can remove you from that grace in Jesus Christ. In other words, God’s face is always towards us. God is for us in and through Jesus Christ.
You may have peace with God and you are not recognizing the fact that you are standing in that grace because you are frustrating the grace of God which Paul said he did not do in Galatians 22:1—”I do not frustrate the grace of God.” You can frustrate it. You can decide not to let God transform you. You can decide not to let God do what He wants to do in and through you. You can go your own way as a believer and still not realize you are eternally standing in that grace. It is an eternal thing. It describes the state of one’s being based on what happened back here.
The reason I brought that up is because in the Old Testament they had the idea that whenever God’s face was towards you, God was blessing you and whatever He was doing was for you. That is why consistently they said, “Oh, God, don’t turn your face from me.”
Let me point out some of those passages. When Cain sinned, the first thing he said when God banished him is found in Genesis 4:14: “Behold, Thou hast driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Thy face I shall be hidden.” In their minds when sin had entered, automatically God turned His back on them and His face was not toward them.
The Psalmist says in Psalm 13:1, “How long, O Lord, wilt Thou forget me forever? How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me.” Psalm 27:9: “Do not hide Thy face from me, do not turn Thy servant away in anger. Thou hast been my help. Do not abandon me nor forsake me.” Psalm 30:7: “O Lord, by Thy favor Thou hast made my mountain to stand strong.
Thou did not hide Thy face from me. I was dismayed. Thou didst hide Thy face and I was dismayed.” You know, there are a lot of Christians still living in the Old Testament, still thinking He does that.
In Daniel 9:17 Daniel is praying for the people of Israel. “So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Thy servant and to his supplications. For Thy sake, O Lord, let Thy face shine on Thy desolate sanctuary.” Now I want to remind you we are in a better covenant than they were in the Old Testament. We are in the New Covenant and Hebrews says it is a better covenant. We don’t have to worry because of Jesus Christ and Him being in our life. We never have to worry about God turning His face from us. He is eternally looking at us. He is eternally for us through Jesus Christ. We have divine standing in grace.
Do you know what that means? That means that whatever comes into my life I can count it all joy, as James said. I can thank God in every situation, as Paul said to the Thessalonians. I can be thankful in all situations, as you put Ephesians with Thessalonians. How do you do that? Because I know I have peace with the God of this universe through His son. I know the God of the universe is for me through His Son, Jesus Christ. He is not out to get me. He already has me. Whatever He does is for me. In Romans 8:28 Paul will bring it out again. He says, “We know that God causes all things to work together for them that love Him.” Do you know that? Do you know that God is eternally loving you even when He brings chastisement and discipline? He says in Hebrews 12:6, “He chastens and disciplines and scourges those whom He loves.” I am eternally in the favor of God.
That means I can go through a bad circumstance and see God do something good.There is no conflict. I am His child. He is my Father. Through Jesus Christ He stands for me and I stand in the midst of His grace. Grace is not only His undeserved favor but grace is also His transforming power. Whatever I need in my weakness He is there to give it to me because I stand eternally in the grace of God. Romans 6:14 says, “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but you are under grace.” So, I have God’s peace through Jesus Christ with the Father, forever.
Thirdly, I have a glorious future. We have a glorious future in the Lord. That is brought out also in verse 2. Look at the whole verse: “through whom [Jesus] also we have obtained our introduction by faith [or our access into faith] into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.” That little term “we exult” is present indicative middle. Present tense means we are doing this all the time. It is just something inside of us. It is an attitude. It is a rejoicing attitude. Middle voice means that nobody has to make us do it. God has done something in our lives and now it is sustained within us. We have something that others don’t have. We have a reason to exult. The word “exult” is kauchaomai. It doesn’t actually mean rejoice. It means to boast. We are eternally boasting in what God has done. I don’t think it is so much what you say outwardly that you have to go around doing that. I think it something inwardly that continues to motivate us as we go through difficult times while we are here on this planet.
We know something. What is it that we know? Not only do we know that we have peace with God and we have a divine standing in His favor, but we also know we have a glorious future to look forward to. The word “hope” there he says in verse 5 never disappoints. It is a certain hope based on what God has said. So it is not uncertain like the world knows hope. We exult in hope of something that is to come, of the glory of God. I believe “the glory of God” refers to that one time in the future that we are going to get to see Him in all of His glory, the day when our Lord Jesus will reveal Himself to us. We have hope of one day seeing Him in all of His glory. Philippians says that when He came to this earth He emptied Himself of His glory. We are going to see Him one day in all of His glory. On that day, we will be glorified with Him. We will be changed with a resurrection body to be like Him.
Colossians 3:4 says, “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” In John 17:24 Jesus was praying to the Father. He says, “Father, I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am, in order that they may behold My glory.” We look forward to that day when we will be able to see it, to be changed by it and to enter into it and to live in it forever. Romans 8:17 says, “and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.”
God has a message for you. Don’t miss it. If you have put your faith into Jesus Christ, He is not mad at you. He is not at war with you. He is not out to get you. He didn’t give you a bad deal. You are eternally at peace with Him. Second message, you are eternally in His favor. God loves you and I don’t care how you interpret your circumstances, God says, “You are eternally standing in My grace and in My favor.” My prayer is what Paul’s prayer was. I pray that the eyes of your heart can be open so that you can see what you have in Jesus Christ.