“We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:1)
When you think of peace, what springs to mind? Perhaps you think of the enmity that exists in the Middle East between Israel and her Arab neighbors and the recently brokered peace deals. Or your mind may go to something closer to home in the internecine political landscape of our country. You want the parties not only to get along but to work together. You want the hateful rhetoric to stop. Or something even closer to home may occur to you. You yearn for peace in your marriage or peace in your family where recent hostilities have made life unbearable.
But there exists a ruptured relationship even closer to home. It reaches to core of our being. That relationship is with the God we were created to glorify and enjoy. Not only are we born estranged from Him in our sin, our lives are empty and aimless apart from Him.
Peace deals can be brokered in the Middle East. Civility and bipartisanship can be pursued in political circles. Couples can gather around the table for counseling and mediation. But there is nothing we can do to pursue peace with God. In fact, we are not even inclined to do so. We remain ignorant and indifferent in our estrangement, even though our lives are at stake.
Yet while we were disinclined, disinterested, and deceived, God took initiative. While we could do nothing to commend ourselves to a holy God, nothing to make amends for our rebellion, God set His love upon us and sent His Son to save us. The heart of that salvation was reconciliation. God took it upon Himself to do what was necessary, what was possible only for Him to do, to reconcile sinners and restore us to relationship with Himself.
In his letter to the church at Rome the apostle Paul describes our predicament. We were created for relationship with God. That relationship was broken by our sin. Sin incapacitates us for any hope of our achieving reconciliation. But God in His eternal purpose and sovereign love determined to pursue us.
What we would not and could not do in ourselves, God did. Paul explains how God was able to maintain His justice while at the same time justifying the ungodly.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” (Rom. 5:8–11)
In this reconciliation, peace was not simply pronounced. God could not look at the record of our sin and rebellion against Him and let it slide, sweeping it under some cosmic carpet. He had to address it. His holiness required that His wrath against sin be satisfied and His righteous demands be upheld. So He sent His Son who became incarnate, like us in every respect. He lived a life of perfect righteousness and arrived at the cross a lamb without blemish, able to stand in our place. On that cross, He atoned for our sin and suffered the wrath of God in our stead.
By that justifying work, Jesus paid the debt of our sin. He took our record of sin upon Himself. His record of obedience was credited to us. Reconciliation is accomplished. Peace was not simply pronounced; it was procured.
Peace with God is not a brokered peace. It is a bestowed peace – by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. And that peace with God is foundational to knowing the peace of God in our own hearts. Only through union with the Prince of Peace can the unwilting, unfading, glorious bloom of peace be ours as a fruit of the Spirit.
(For an overview of God's peacemaking work in Christ see God's Good News.)
- What is peace with God?
- Why can peace with God not be a brokered peace?
Father, by the Holy Spirit fill me with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of Your name.
For study of the fruit of the Spirit through abiding in Christ see A Vine-Ripened Life (Stanley D. Gale, Reformation Heritage Books)
Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Those marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.