Tuesday, March 16, 2010

YOU CAN HAVE PEACE WITH GOD: Through the Provision of the Cross

We want—we need—peace with God. In the fifth chapter of Romans, the Apostle Paul tells us that it comes through the provision of the cross, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1-2).

Underscore the word “through” which is repeated twice in two verses as the writer reminds us of what God has provided through the cross of Christ. He asserts that “we have peace with God” and “we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand.” That we have peace with God is a wondrous, astonishing thing!

Did you note the word, “Therefore” and did you follow the rule of Bible interpretation, that when you see the word “therefore” you always ask, “What is it there for?” Paul has been writing of the amazing grace of God that puts us in a right relationship with the Holy One. He begins by painting a dark picture of a broken relationship with God—a gulf so great that no mere mortal can span it. As a prosecuting attorney, Paul has presented the undeniable evidence of our crimes against God. We are guilty. Our natural inclination is toward sin and self. We are born in this condition, separated from God by our sin. As we practice sinful acts, we get quite proficient at it.

Religion tries to find a way to placate God’s wrath, achieve release from the penalty of sin, and bring us back to whatever particular deity that religion worships. Islam says submit to the five pillars and you can earn Allah’s favor. Hinduism says go through reincarnations until you get it right. Roman Catholicism says keep the sacraments, spend a little time in purgatory and God will accept you. Mormonism has its moral code to follow and Jehovah’s Witnesses send you door to door with Watchtower tracts, trying to obtain a standing as one of the 144,000 who make it in. All this, and every other religious system is an exercise in futility. Paul declares that no one can be just before God this way.

Yet what religion and morality cannot do, God has done in sending His Son to be our Savior. Paul tells us that by simply placing our faith in the finished work of Christ, we are justified before God. The war is over; peace is provided.

Recall how Adam and Eve were in harmony with God in the garden. There was no death, no violence. Nature was at peace—lions lying down with lambs. Then sin disrupted that harmony—Adam hid from God; a curse descended and blood was soon shed. Peace was gone. A sword barred the entrance into the place where Adam once walked with God.

Yet God came seeking His creation and He always does. Once more we have access to Him. The veil of the temple was torn with the tearing of Christ’s flesh and the way was opened into the Holy of Holies. As the Apostle puts it, “we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Rom.5:2).

It comes by faith in Christ. You may ask, “How much faith do I need?” It isn’t a question of how much faith, but is the faith in Christ? He alone can save us, but He will save us! Cast yourself on His grace! Then rejoice in this hope that is sure. Biblical hope is steadfastly promised. It isn’t wishful thinking—not hope so, maybe so. That’s not what the word means. Rather, it is an anchor for our soul—so that in the storms of life, we can have peace.

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