peace with God

I remember sitting in the auditorium listening to a sermon. The pastor was talking about something, I cannot remember what exactly, but it was related to our struggles in life and we can the peace of God the Father through His Son Jesus. The Holy Spirit within enables us to receive that same peace Jesus had and what He had promised to His disciples in the upper room discourse before His crucifixion. The issue I had with the sermon was not the actual message but one particular verse the pastor used in support of his point. He also used this same verse in other sermons in the same way and the way the verse reads and the context in which it is found does not correlate with Jesus’ promise in the Gospel of John.

The verse is Romans 5:1, and it reads:

1 1Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, 2wea have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  

As can be read in the verse, we now have peace with God. What does that mean? When there are two opponents intent on ending a war they sit down and sign a treaty. The meaning of this is that the winner of the war dictates the terms of the treaty of their opponent. Once the treaty is signed they’re no longer at war with one another but are at peace with one another. In order for them to be at peace with one another there has to necessarily be a disagreement and/or rebellion that precludes the peace agreement.

This isn’t a perfect analogy but it does illustrate my point. We have been at war with our Creator since Adam’s rebellion in the Garden of Eden. It may not be accurate at war. It is probably much more appropriate to say that we acted like spoiled entitled children and God in His infinite patience endured our tantrums and childish antics. Suffice it say the line was drawn east of Eden and paradise was closed to all of mankind. As it is said in the NT, if we are not living in obedience to God then we are effectively living in opposition to Him (rough paraphrase). We are not at peace with God but we are at war with God, albeit a one-sided one.

We cannot win this rebellion on our terms. We cannot initiate an offensive that will assault and overrun heaven and force God to come to terms with us. There is no flanking maneuver, no tunneling and no airstrike we can launch that will not even momentarily turn the tide in our favor. Our battle was already lost. Who is man that he should believe that he could prevail against God?

We needed someone to fight for us in this rebellion that we had started. The Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord, is that Someone. He did not fight as much as He endured. His Father raged against His Son for six hours. He hung between us and the wrath of His Father, the Creator defending His creation. He did not fight our battle but He did win a victory for us. We still have to surrender to God on His terms but we have a Savior and Mediator who agreed to those terms on our behalf. What terms? The deserved consequences of the Father’s holy wrath for our outright rebellion against His sovereignty were the terms. We were meant to endure hell because of our transgressions, destined to die for all eternity.

Jesus died on that cross for the sake of a pathetic human race. Ungrateful as we were He still went to that cross of His own volition. He not only secured our salvation by satisfying the just wrath of His Father but He also made peace with the Father on our behalf.

Paul spent the first four chapters explaining the depravity of man in all aspects of his existence. How we are unregenerate and unrepentant sinners who spent none of our energy seeking God. But in His mercy through His Son, God the Father redeemed us. Through our faith and belief in the redeeming work of the cross and the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the grave, we can have peace with our Creator.

To go back to what I said in the beginning, the pastor used Romans 5:1 incorrectly in relation to what his message was. We cannot have the peace of God until we have surrendered to God on His terms, and have made peace with God through faith in His Son.

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