Romans Lesson 60 - Peace
Paul is not talking, in Romans, chapter 5, about an internal subjective peace, but an external, objective peace. He is not talking about the peace of God; he is talking about peace with God.
Webster defined the word peace as “the condition that existed when nations or other groups were not fighting; the ending of a state of war.”
New Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus of the English Language (Lexicon
Publications, Danbury, CT), 1995, p. 738
That’s a good definition – and one that we have never fully experienced on planet earth.
One author wrote that the only time mankind has any peace is both sides stop to reload.
However, as Gerry Adams, the president of one of Ireland’s political parties was right when he said, “Making peace, I have found, is much harder than making war.”
Kenneth Boa & William Kruidenier, Holman New Testament Commentary: Romans
(Broadman and Holman Publishers, TN), 2000, p. 151
Following World War 1, so shocked was the world community at the carnage of war, it formed the League of Nations in 1919 to make sure it never happened again. It failed as Adolph Hitler brought the world to war again. After World War II, during the 1930’s, the United Nations was formed for the purpose of maintaining international peace . . . which it also has been unable to do.”
Ibid, p. 151
Even today, the headlines of our newspapers tell of the nuclear buildup in North Korea and the rumbling of tanks as America prepares for war with Iraq.
Our capitol city has a large assortment of peace monuments – we build one after every war.
Charles R. Swindoll, Tale of the Tardy Oxcart, Word Publishers, p. 432.
Was it any different in the Apostle Paul’s day? Oh no. The world longed for peace. And their hearts soared with hope when the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus instituted the Pax Romana – the peace of Rome.
When Paul was dictating the letter called Romans, written to the believers living in the capital city of the great Roman empire, there in Italy, the great Pax Romana had existed for 90 years.
But it too, would end in bloodshed as one Roman emperor after another would kill their rivals and battle within their borders.
Go all the way back to Jeremiah and he said it well, “Man may say, “peace, peace . . . but there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11)
I think it is incredibly ironic that the same emperor who created the Pax Romana – the Peace of Rome, was the same Caesar Augustus who demanded a world wide census that forced a young couple named Joseph and Mary to register in Bethlehem.
And there, under the orders of the Augustus, who had earlier instituted the altar of peace and offerings for peace, Mary would give birth to the Prince of Peace.
The only hope the world had for peace, rested on the Roman empire; but in God’s plan, the only hope for peace was resting in a manger.
And the very first song, sung by the hosts of heaven at the birth of this Prince were the words, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace . . . among men with whom God is pleased.” (Luke 2:14)
The world has never been able to achieve it . . . but God has just announced it.
And God will be the one to give it . . . it happens to be one of His most priceless gifts.
Those who believe in the Prince of Peace are given the perfect gift of peace.
In fact, there are several gifts, given by the Father, to those who trust in His Son.
The very first gift that Paul reveals to us as we begin our study of Romans chapter 5, is the gift of peace.
Notice what Paul writes in Romans 5:1. Therefore (stop). I promise we’re going to cover more than one word today, but by now, you remember, that whenever you see the word therefore, you need to know what it is there for, right?!
This is the fifth therefore in Paul’s letter. Each time, he has summarized some great truth and moved to another point in his logical, clear, inspired declaration of man’s ruin . . . and God’s remedy.
In chapters 1-3, Paul explained mankind’s sinful heart and need of redemption. In chapter 4 he illustrated salvation as a matter of grace and not good works, through the life of Abraham.
But Paul doesn’t just want to explain the background of justification, or simply explore some biography of justification. He wants to examine the blessings of justification.
So in chapter 5 he begins by writing, “Therefore.” In other words, on the basis of what I’ve just explained, and what we’ve just explored, there is now something for us to experience.
So he writes, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I want to cover two things about the perfect gift of peace;
- First, peace with God is absolutely free.
- Second, peace with God is an absolute fact.
Peace with God is absolutely free.
Paul writes, “Therefore, having been justified by faith...”
You remember in chapter 3 Paul wrote in verse 23. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24. being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.”
Verse 28. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.”
In chapter 4 verse 5, “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.”
This gift of peace is free!
Frankly, the reason mankind wants to earn his way into heaven is because he believes he can. It isn’t that he just doesn’t want anything for free, it’s just that he thinks he doesn’t need it to be. He believes he should be able to earn all the points he needs to have God one day say, “Man, I’ve been waiting for you – heaven just hasn’t been what it could be, but now that a great guy like you is here, heaven will really be special.
Mankind doesn’t believe he’s all that bad.
The truth is, the human race would rather not be told that heaven has to be free because nobody will ever be good enough to deserve it.
And they certainly don’t want to be told the fact that, according to the Bible he is actually an enemy of God. Paul has explained in his letter to the Romans that there is enmity between God and man. There is, literally, a state of war.
Every sin in an unbeliever’s life on earth is a missile fired against the holiness of heaven. Every evil thought is another round of ammunition aimed at the righteousness of God. Every perversion and immorality is an offensive maneuver against the purity of Christ.
That’s why Jesus Christ could come and announce in John chapter 3 that mankind is condemned already (John 3:18) – in deep trouble before a holy God.
Paul wrote in Romans 8:5. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7. because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God.” The word translated hostile is ecqra – which could be translated, hateful. In other words, the mind and heart of the unbeliever is hostile and hateful and at enmity toward God.
Earlier Paul had preached to the Athenians and told them that one day God would judge the world. He said to them, “
Acts 17:30. God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31. because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world. . .”
There is no such thing as neutrality. You are either God’s friend, or you are His enemy.
But wait a second. You ask the average man on the street if he considers himself an enemy of God and he’ll say, “Of course not.” You ask the average unbeliever, “Do you hate God?” and they’ll answer, “Of course I don’t hate God!”
But then describe the God of the Bible to him as a holy and righteous Judge who will one day send the unbeliever to hell – and he will hate that God.
Talk about God in general and you might be quoted favorably on Donahue, but specifically talk about His son, Jesus Christ as God incarnate, before whom the world will one day stand and give an account, and you’ll be ridiculed as an intolerant Bible thumper.
Mankind will say they are the friend of God, but the God they are friends with is one they’ve invented in their own imaginations and speculations.
Describe to them the God who is revealed in this Book and they will inwardly hate Him and inwardly and maybe even outwardly, they will hate you too.
In their hostility toward God and His free gift of salvation, they tragically forfeit the privilege; they miss the blessing; they never get to open the gift of peace.
I read recently the testimony of Jacob Koshy who grew up in Singapore with one driving ambition; to be a success in life, to get all the money and possessions he could. That led him eventually into the world of drugs and gambling, and eventually he became the leader of an international smuggling network. In 1980, he was caught, arrested and placed in a government drug rehabilitation prison in Singapore. Frustrated and bitter, locked in a tiny cell, his heart was full of hatred and emptiness. He wanted to smoke, but cigarettes were not allowed in this prison; so his friends smuggled in tobacco and he would roll it in the pages of a Gideon Bible. One day he fell asleep while smoking. He awoke to find that the cigarette had burned out, and all that remained was a scrap of charred paper. He unrolled it and it simply read, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Jacob asked for another Bible and read the story of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. He realized that if God could save an enemy like Saul, He could save him, too. There in his cell he knelt and prayed, asking God to save him and forgive him. He began to cry and couldn’t stop. God had redeemed him. He started sharing his story with the other prisoners and some of them believed in Christ as well. When he was released from prison, he became involved in a Bible believing church - met a Christian and married her – today he is serving as a missionary in the Far East. He tells people wherever he goes, “Who would have believed that I could find the truth of God by smoking . . . the Word of God!”
Robert J. Morgan, Stories, Illustrations & Quotes (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville,
TN), 2000, p. 148
An enemy of God became a friend of God . . . at peace with God.
Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God!
Peace with God is absolutely free.
But it’s more than that . . . Peace with God is not only absolutely free, it is an absolute fact.
Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace!
He did not say, “We’ll eventually get it . . . we’re working toward it . . . ” No! “We have it!”
The tense of the Greek language indicates that this is an established fact. You do not grow into peace with God. You do no work your way to peace with God. It is not a continuous process. It is something that is given to you the moment you turn your heart toward God and say to Him, “Oh God, I am a sinner and I now depend entirely upon Your Son to save me and forgive me.” At that moment in your life – you are justified.
Edited from Alva J. McClain, Romans; The Gospel of God’s Grace (BMH Books,
Winona Lake, IN), 1973, p. 123
“Therefore, being justified by faith, Paul declares, you have peace with God.”
Now don’t confuse peace with God with another kind of peace the Bible refers to – which is the peace of God.
The peace of God is the kind of peaceful state of mind that comes whenever you commit your anxieties to the will of God; Paul wrote about the peace of God in Philippians 4:6. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The peace of God is an internal feeling . . . a peaceful state of mind and heart.
Paul is not talking in Romans 5 about an internal subjective peace, but an external, objective peace.
He is not talking about the peace of God; he’s talking about peace with God.
And the reason I stress this point is the fact that an unbeliever might say to you that they already have peace. They can say that they experience, at times, a peaceful state of mind. They are involved in transcendental meditation, or yoga, or they sit by a lake in the evening or read the Dalai Lama and feel at peace and they may even say it is a peace that God has given them.
Has it ever occurred to you that it’s possible for an unbeliever at times to experience more feelings of peace than a believer?
But that is part of their deception. Their peace is temporary and misleading.
Alva J. McClain illustrated it this way when he wrote, “If a man breaks the law and then flees to another country, there exists a state of enmity between that man and the American government. It does not matter how tranquil [or peaceful] this man may feel in this foreign refuge, he does not have peace with America. And if he comes back to the United States, the government will immediately initiate action against him.”
Ibid, p. 124
Likewise, the unbeliever may say he experiences tranquility and peace on earth, but when he arrives on that eternal shore, the law of God’s holy justice will immediately initiate action against him.
Peace with God is not a temporary feeling . . . it is an eternal fact! The enmity between you and God has been removed forever by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
He made peace for us by the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1:20)
Peace with God is absolutely free! Peace with God is an absolute fact!
And there is only one of two responses that everyone of us can have to Romans chapter 5 verse 1.
If you’re an unbeliever – you can accept it . . . you can accept the gospel!
You can stuff everything you possibly can into your life and you will not find lasting peace with God.
H. G. Wells once summed up mankind’s frustration with it’s lack of lasting peace when he said, “The time has come for me to reorganize my life, my peace. I cry out. I cannot [seem to] adjust my life to secure a fruitful peace. Here I am at 64, still seeking peace. It is a hopeless dream.”
Charles R. Swindoll, Tale of the Tardy Oxcart, Word Publishers, p. 432.
My friend, you cannot have peace with God until you accept the Son of God.
You cannot ignore the Prince of Peace and ever hope to unwrap this gift of peace.
In his commentary on Romans, John MacArthur repeated an illustration of Donald Grey Barnhouse about the famous missionary David Livingstone. After spending several years among the Zulus of South Africa, David went with his wife and young child into the interior to further serve the Lord. When he returned, he discovered that an enemy tribe had attacked the Zulus, killing many of the people, and even taking the chief’s son captive. The Zulu chief did not want to make war with the other tribe, but he sincerely asked Dr. Livingstone, “How can I be at peace with them while they treat my son this way.” If this attitude is true in the heart of an unbelieving tribal chief, how much more is it true of God the Father toward those who trample under foot His Son, who count the blood of the covenant an unholy thing and despise the Spirit of grace.”
John MacArthur Jr., Romans (Moody Press; Chicago IL) 1991, p. 273
It’s true…you cannot reject the Son of God and have peace with God.
If you’re an unbeliever, accept the Son as your peace treaty and receive from God the Father the eternal, perfect gift of peace!
If you’re an unbeliever, accept the gospel!
If you’re a believer, you have already accepted the gospel . . . so announce it!
Did you know that the word “gospel” originally came out of the context of war and peace. It was originally the word used for the message of victory in battle that a messenger would deliver to the people.
Kenneth Boa & William Kruidenier, Holman New Testament Commentary: Romans (Broadman and Holman Publishers, TN), 2000, p. 155
You and I have been given the incredible privilege of delivering the news of Christ’s victory over death and the grave.
But there’s more to it than that!
In 2 Corinthians 5:20 Paul gives us our unique job description as agents of God. “Therefore [Paul writes], we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were begging through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”/
Larry Richards explained that most Christians read these words through our modern understanding of the role of an ambassador. They picture the ambassador as someone who represents goodwill between countries. That isn’t the concept Paul had in mind. In Rome, an ambassadors were messengers sent from a victorious army to one that was about to be destroyed. The ambassador brought terms of surrender and if the defeated enemy accepted the terms, the conquering army would grant them peace and allow them to live.
Lawrence Richards & Gary J. Bredfeldt, Creative Bible Teaching, (Moody Press,
Chicago, IL), Revised Edition. 1998, p. 55
Something like that happened when Colin Powell served as an envoy to the country of Haiti, in 1994. Powell’s message to the Haitian Dictator was one of impending destruction. He informed the dictator that if he did not agree to the United States’ terms of peace, an invasion would immediately take place. As a matter of fact, the invasion force was already in place and, at the word of the president, utter destruction hinged on this man’s response to Colin Powell.
This is what it means to be an ambassador of Christ. Destruction is just around the corner. But God is offering terms of peace.
So we, as God’s ambassadors, beg you, on behalf of Christ, the conquering King, you don’t stand a chance!
I stand here today as His ambassador to beg you on behalf of Christ – lay down your arms . . . surrender to Him and He will let you live forever with the victorious hosts of heaven!
Surrender to Him and He will save you . . .and so much more.
For starters, He will allow you to unwrap the perfect gift of peace.
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