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Unwrapping the Gift of Peace

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Romans 5:1

There is no lasting peace in our lives without having peace with God. And that blessing of peace with God is ours through faith in the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.


If you look up the definition of peace, you will find it defined as “the ending of a state of war.”[1] That is a pretty good definition of peace—and our world has rarely experienced it. The headlines constantly announce another conflict, another war at hand. Mankind has discovered, as one political leader once said, “Making peace is much harder than making war.”[2]

The same problem existed back in the ancient world. The world longed for peace. Their hopes seemed realized with the rise of the mighty Roman Empire. The emperor, Caesar Augustus, established the Pax Romana—the peace of Rome. It brought order and freedom from warfare for many years, but it eventually disintegrated back into bloodshed and war. 

It is ironic that during the reign of Caesar Augustus, the emperor who created the peace of Rome, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, was born. The only hope the world had for peace rested on the Roman government, but in God’s plan, the only hope for lasting peace was now lying in a manger.

And to this day, Jesus gives to all who put their trust in Him this priceless gift that the apostle Paul now writes about here in Romans 5:1. And, beloved, this is the most important peace you will ever find. 

Paul writes, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” So far, Paul has shown us the need for justification in the first three chapters of Romans. He has also illustrated justification—being made right with God—in chapter 4. Paul does not just want to explain justification and illustrate justification, however; he also wants to give us the blessings of justification. And the first blessing he brings up here is “peace with God.”

I want to point out two characteristics of this peace we have through Christ. First, peace with God is absolutely free. Paul writes that this peace is based on being “justified by faith.” He has already emphasized that salvation is by faith alone. Back in chapter 3, he wrote this:

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (verses 23-24)

This gift of peace is free!

The trouble is that people want to earn their way into heaven. And that is because they think they can. They do not believe they are all that bad. They do not want to hear that heaven has to be free because they are not going to be good enough to earn their way in. And they certainly do not want to be told that they are at war with God—that they are His enemies.

The Bible makes it very clear that there is enmity between God and mankind. There is, literally, a state of war between sinful humanity and almighty God.

Paul describes it over in Romans 8:5-7:

Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh . . . the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God.

The word translated “hostile” could be translated “hateful.” The mind, the heart, of the unbeliever is hateful toward God.

Let me tell you, there is no such thing as neutrality. You are either God’s friend or you are His enemy.

Now if you ask the average person on the street if he considers himself an enemy of God, he will say, “Of course not.” You ask the average unbeliever, “Do you hate God?” and he will answer, “Of course I don’t hate God!”

But if you correctly describe to him the God of the Bible—a holy and righteous Judge who will one day send the unbeliever to an eternal hell—well, he hates that kind of God. 

I read 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 into the world of drugs and gambling, and ultimately he became the leader of an international smuggling network. He was eventually arrested and sentenced to several years in prison. Angry at God and mankind, locked in his cell, his heart was full of hatred and emptiness. Even though he knew the gospel, he wanted nothing to do with God.

Well, he liked to smoke, but cigarettes were not allowed in prison. So, his friends smuggled in tobacco, and Jacob would roll it in the pages of a Gideon Bible and smoke it. One day he fell asleep while smoking; and when he woke up, the cigarette had burned out, but a little scrap of charred paper was lying there curled up. He unrolled it, and it simply read, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Jacob asked for another Bible and found the full account in Acts chapter 9—the conversion of someone who hated Jesus Christ. Jacob realized that if God could save an enemy of Jesus like Saul, God could save him as well. There in his cell he knelt and asked God to save him and forgive him. He began to cry. His heart was flooded with peace. God had redeemed him.

He began sharing his story with other inmates, and some of them believed in Christ. He would laugh as he told how he saw the truth of God because he smoked the Word of God. When Jacob was released from prison, he joined a Bible-believing church. He married a young Christian woman, and they went on to serve as missionaries in the Far East.[3] 

Jacob had been given the gift of peace. This peace with God is absolutely free.

Here is the second characteristic: peace with God is an absolute fact. It is absolutely free, and it is an absolute fact.

Paul writes here, again in verse 1, “Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace.” He does not write, “We will eventually get peace” or “We are working toward it”—no, “We have it.”

The past tense verb indicates that this is an established fact. You do not grow into peace with God. You do not work your way to peace with God. It is a free gift given to you the moment you turn your heart toward God and say, “Oh God, I am a sinner, and I depend entirely upon Your Son to save me and forgive me.” At that moment in your life, you are justified.[4] Peace with God becomes an absolute fact.

Now keep in mind, beloved, Paul is not talking here about a peaceful state of mind and heart—that is the peace of God, when you give your anxious thoughts to Him (Philippians 4:7). Paul is not referring here to the peace of God but peace with God—the hostility between you and God is forever settled.

I have talked to unbelievers who say they have a sense of peace. They experience a peaceful state of mind through transcendental meditation or yoga or sitting out by a lake in the evening. They feel at peace.

Well, it is possible for an unbeliever to experience feelings of peace, but that peaceful feeling is misleading, and it is temporary. Peace with God is not a temporary feeling; it is an eternal fact!

If you have not trusted in Christ, understand this: you cannot have true peace with God until you accept the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, as your Savior and Lord. You see, the Prince of Peace wrote the peace treaty between you and God. He wrote it at His cross. You sign it when you ask Him to become your Savior, your Redeemer.

And when you sign it—when you accept His free gift of salvation—guess what happens. The gifts keep coming; and this first gift is the gift of peace—peace with God.

[1] New Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus of the English Language (Lexicon Publications, 1995), 738.

[2] Kenneth Boa and William Kruidenier, Romans, Holman New Testament Commentary (Holman Reference, 2000), 151.

[3] Robert J. Morgan, Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations, & Quotes (Thomas Nelson, 2000), 148.

[4] Alva J. McClain, Romans: The Gospel of God’s Grace (BMH Books, 1973), 123.

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