“Peace With God”     Romans 4:25-5:5       March 16, 2008

 

SCRIPTURE INTRO:  Today, Palm Sunday and next Sunday, Easter, I want us

   to look at one of the great passages in Romans that tells us what Jesus

   accomplished for us through his death and resurrection. 

 

INTRO:  When I was in India in January my friend Paul Billy and I were

   driving from one city to another, passing through a number of towns on the way.

We were coming up to a town called Tiru-van-nam-malai.

   Paul Billy said:  Let me tell you about this place.

   Do you see that mountain up above the town? 

It’s one of the holiest spots in the Hindu religion.

   They believe that mountain puts off a spiritual aura.

   So people come from all around to look at that mountain and meditate.

 

He also said when we drive through this town you will see lots of Americans and

   Europeans looking for spiritual enlightenment.  Sure enough, it was like we had

   stepped back into the 60s.  There were lots of long haired hippies dressed in

   Indian clothes, just soaking in the good vibes coming off the mountain.

 

We stopped to eat and I saw an advertisement with a picture of a man—

   either English or American—he had a beard, long hair and a robe.

This poster went on and on about how he had found peace through his

   expanded consciousness of the unity of all things.

And he was once Paul Jones but now he was guru swami Banaswadi

   and if you joined him at his retreat center—he would become your

   spiritual guide so that you could experience this peace too.

 

I thought—isn’t that interesting.  This man came to India, found peace,

   and now he is preaching about the peace he has found.

Here I am, in India.  And that very morning I preached in a little church

   and my sermon text was the story of Jesus calming the storm: 

   When Jesus said, Peace, be still.

And the theme of my sermon was that we can have peace in the storms of life

   because Jesus is in control.  He was preaching peace and I was preaching peace.

 

One thing all religions of the world have in common is that they offer peace.

   They offer some way to calm the restlessness of the human heart,

   and bring tranquility to the troubles of life. 

All people want peace.  You want peace.  I want peace.

   Nobody likes turmoil.  And if our circumstances can’t be peaceful—

   then we want some way to experience inner calm so that we don’t fall apart,

   and are able to deal with things.

 

So all the religions of the world offer peace.

But the kinds of peace they offer are very different.

   Hinduism has one kind of peace, Christianity has another.

And nowhere is the Christian peace more clearly stated than in Romans 5:1.

   “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith,

   we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

 

Peace with God.  That’s the Christian peace.

   It is absolutely unique.

It is the peace that Jesus brought to this world

   through his life, death, and resurrection.

 

And this is the peace that you must have. 

    Because peace with God through Christ not only calms the restlessness

   of your mind, and gives you inner calm in times of turmoil—it goes much deeper. 

It decisively deals with the foundational issue of your life.

   That is that your relationship with God.

   Jesus brings peace with God—and all sorts of good things come from that.

Easter is a time to remember and celebrate that peace Jesus brought

   through his death and resurrection.

 

Do you have peace with God through Jesus Christ?

   Let’s study that peace this morning.

 

Three questions:

1.  Why do we need peace with God?

2.  How do we get it?

3.  What benefit to we receive from it?


MP#1  Why do we need peace with God?

Because we are by nature at war with God, and as judge he is at war with us.

 

A few weeks ago we went to Hurricane Creek Park with my sister

   Anna and her kids.  She has a three year old named Kate.

As we were walking into the park, you know if you’ve been there,

   that there are places where the trail is narrow and you are walking on cliff’s edge.

Well Anna took Kate’s hand but she pulled her hand away.

   So Anna grabbed her hand again and this time she screamed and pulled away.

   And when her dad picked her up she bucked and screamed to be put down.

 

In her three year old way she was saying: 

   I want to do what I want to do.

   I know what I must have in order to be happy.

This person who keeps trying to hold my hand and restrain me

   is standing between me and my happiness and I will not put up with that.

 

It doesn’t matter that this person is my mother—

   that she loves me more than anything and that she wants the best for me,

   or that she is older and wiser and sees the big picture.

None of that matters. 

   I’m just mad at this person who is the enemy of my happiness.

 

It’s not just three-year-olds who think like that—big people do to.

   It’s the nature of the human heart.

We all want to have things our way—we don’t want to be restrained.

   We want our idea of happiness to be fulfilled.

There are things we want out of life—certain achievements

   or possessions or relationships—or we want our life to work out a certain way.

   And if denied those things, get mad.

 

It may be anger at other people who are denying us what we want—

   or it may come out by being frustrated, envious, irritated, cynical or bored.

 

Why are we like that? 

   In another part of Romans, Paul says:  “The sinful mind is hostile to God.”

All of us are born with a sinful nature that is hostile to God. 

   We resist his restraint, his guidance, his authority over us.

   We want to live our lives our own way.

This is what theologians call “original sin.”

 

But what is most important, whether you realize it or not—

   is that this anger is really directed at God. 

Anger at parents or spouse or circumstances is ultimately anger at God.

   God, you have ruined my plans, squashed my happiness,

   made impossible demands, hemmed me in—and I’m mad.

 

This is the natural, sinful condition of every person—mad at God, at war with God.

   Unless something changes, people who are mad at God

   will become increasingly angry and restless.

People choose hell.  Chose to be in a place where they can rage and curse God.

 

But that is just half the picture.

Not only are sinful people at war with God, He is at war with them.

   “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and

   wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.”

 

The wrath of God, is a difficult doctrine.  It’s even difficult for Christians.

   The Bible says “God is love” and we like that so we want to ignore

   the Bible when it says things like:  “God is angry with the wicked every day”

 

The Bible consistently teaches the wrath of God. 

   You have to understand that God’s wrath is part of his justice.

He’s not cruel or vindictive.  He is simply being just.

   “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right.”

 

All people are by nature hostile to God.  We resist his rule, his restraint.

   We want to live our lives as we want to live them.

God’s justice prompts him to condemn rebellion.

 

So the biggest need that we have is peace with God.

   There has to be some way for us to be reconciled to our Maker.

   This is even more important than inner tranquility.

Might be perfectly calm and peaceful within, with yourself—

   but if not at peace with God, then at foundation, things not right.

 

 

 


MP#2  How do we get peace with God?

Look at 5:1 again:  “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith,

   we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Peace with God comes from begin justified by faith and it comes

   through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Let’s look at both statements.

 

First, being justified by faith.

What is justification?

If you justify something you’ve done, you don’t try to change the facts—

   you try to change someone’s view of the facts.

 

If you told your son to be home at midnight—and he got home at 1:00.

   You would say:  Son, what do you have to say for yourself?  An hour late.

   He wouldn’t try to change the fact, wouldn’t say:  I’m not late.  Not 1:00.

He would try to change your view of the facts.

 

I started home at 11:45 and I came up to this terrible wreck—

   car was in flames, a person was trapped in the car.

   I stopped and rescued the person, time got away from me, just got home.

You would say:  Son, you have been justified.  You declare him righteous. 

   Justification doesn’t change what happened—he was one hour late.

   But it changes your view of what happened.

 

When the Bible speaks of justification it means that

   God declares you righteous in his sight.

Your record doesn’t change— you have sinned and are still a sinner,

   but God’s view of you does change. 

   He sees you as right, beautiful, and good.

 

You probably see a big problem with my illustration.

   It’s one thing for the dad to change his view of son getting home one hour late

   if he actually saved someone from a burning car.

But it’s another thing entirely for God to change His views of our sins.

   They are absolutely wrong and totally deserving of his punishment.

 

There is nothing we can say or do to justify our sins.

   We might try to justify our sins to other people but God sees through all that.

And we can’t make up for the things we’ve done.

   God can’t just change His mind about them.

A judge can’t just change his mind about a crime that has been committed.

   God is just and must punish sin.  He has to exercise his wrath.

 

So here we get to the mystery of justification.

Justification happens through a transfer in which we switch places with Jesus. 

    Luther:  “by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s,

    and the righteousness of Christ is not Christ’s but ours. 

 

He got our sins and we get his righteousness.

   We really broke curfew because we were rebellious and hated God’s rules.

   Jesus is the one who lived the heroic life, gave himself for others.

But in the Gospel the guilt of our curfew breaking was laid on him.

   His heroic life is credited to us—and that is how God looks at us now.

 

Although we were born sinners and have sinned our whole lives—

   God looks at our lives and sees the life of Jesus Christ.

Through justification God no longer looks at us as rebels but as his Son.

   That’s how we have peace with God.  Rebels and sons, sinners and saints.

 

And faith is the way we receive this incredible gift of justification. 

   We are justified by faith. 

This doesn’t mean that God rewards us for our faith.

   We can’t say:  God, I have faith so you owe me.

 

Faith is simply resting and trusting in Jesus Christ.

   It’s believing that Jesus has lived and died for me, so I can have peace with God.

Paul says that this peace with God comes “through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

   It comes through the work of Christ. 

   But I think he also means it comes though faith in Christ.

   Notice he is “our Lord Jesus Christ.”

We see that we are in union with him.  And that makes all the difference.

 

So by faith we rely on Jesus to provide everything we need

   to get us peace with God.

We don’t get peace with God. 

   We can’t do anything to justify ourselves.

   We can’t be good enough to cover over past sins.

But as we put our faith in Jesus, God in grace declares us to be

   justified and at peace with him.


MP#3  What benefit do we receive from peace with God?

The most unique thing about the peace that Jesus brings is that it is objective.

   It’s not first and foremost about how you feel—having an inner sense of calm.

   It’s about a change in your status. 

 

You might not even feel any different. 

   Might still feel restless.

   You might still feel all worked up about a situation in your life.

But because you have peace with God—

   your life has fundamentally changed.

   Things are really different.

 

So what you have to do is take this promise—that you have peace with God—

   and believe it and preach it to yourself so that it starts to change you.

I’m not at war with God, he’s not at war with me.

   Through Christ I have peace with God.

   And as that sinks in, you will start to experience peacefulness.

There will be a tranquility that comes into your life

 

The Bible has a name for this:  It’s called the peace of God. 

   “May the peace of God that transcends all understanding . . .”

Peace of God is that calmness that descends on the mind

   of God’s people in times of turmoil and distress.

   It’s a gift that God gives when his people don’t expect it.

 

But the way you open yourself to receive the peace of God—

   is to know and believe that you have peace with God.

You prepare yourself by believing and reminding yourself,

   that you are at peace with God and He is at peace with you.

   That means he’s for you.  His plans for your are good.

He doesn’t act toward you as a judge, but as a Father.

   Believing that will make your heart receptive to experiencing the peace of God.

 

There’s an old story Martyn Lloyd-Jones tells in one of his sermons about

   a couple named John and Mary Carpenter. 

   John Carpenter was the head of the Salvation Army in England.

They had one child, a daughter—she became very ill.

   Carpenters began to pray.  Both felt, even though couldn’t explain it,

   that they should pray:  Lord, you can heal her if you will.

Prayed that way for six weeks, and then their daughter died.

   Morning she died, John Carpenter said to his wife,

   “You know, I am aware of a strange and curious calm within.”

Mrs. Carpenter replied, “I feel exactly the same.” 

   Then she said to him, “This must be the peace of God.”

 

Two things interesting about that story.  \

So confident of their peace with God—so confident of their standing with God—

   that God was only looking at them and acting toward them in love, not judgment,

   that they were able to pray in the way they did.

Lord, you know what we want, we trust you to do what is best.

 

Other thing is how the peace of God descended on this couple

   who were so confident of their peace with God.

   Their hearts and minds were prepared for it—and it flowed over them

 

This is the very same testimony you often hear from Christians—

   in times they need it most, get the peace of God.

When you talk to them, realize that they have made hearts receptive to this peace

   because they really believe they have peace with God.

 

I love the way JC Ryle puts it.  I’ve read these words to you a dozen times.

“For a child of God the great business of life is a settled business, the great debt a paid debt, the great disease a healed disease, and the great work a finished work; and all other business, diseases, debts and works are then by comparison small.  This makes him patient in tribulation, calm under bereavements, unmoved in sorrow, not afraid of evil tidings, in every condition content; for it gives him a fixedness of heart.  It sweetens his bitter cups; it lessens the burden of his crosses; it smoothes the rough places over which he travels; it lightens the valley of the shadow of death.  It makes him always feel that he has something solid beneath his feet and something firm under his hands—a sure friend by the way, and a sure home at the end.

 

If you really believe that the big problem has been solved—at peace with God—

   then that gives you peacefulness in all the lesser problems of life.

If you get into a conflict with another person, and it is tearing you up inside,

   how do you get peace and calm?  God gives you peace.

But you prepare for it by reminding yourself that the big conflict has been solved.

   God only and always looks at you one way as his beloved son or daughter. 

 

Or if you are in turmoil over your financial future, how do you get peace?

   God alone gives you peace that passes understanding.

But you prepare for that experience by really believing

   that your future is absolutely secure in Christ.

   God has only the best planned for those at peace with him.

Have to continually come back to that over and over.

   Through Christ the big problem has been solved.

   In spite of everything, I am at peace with God.

 

Knowing that gives you a foundation for a settled peace of mind.

Do you have peace with God?  If you have faith in Jesus then you do.

   Believe it, claim it, appropriate it—

   and experience the calmness that it brings, even in troubled times.