Peace with God

We begin Chapter 5 with the word “Therefore.” When you hear this word, you should put yourself on alert to look for the important message that’s next because Therefore means subsequently, because this is so, then this is important.

Some of the “therefore” statements Jesus made demonstrate this:

[Mat 6:34 NKJV] “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day [is] its own trouble.

[Mat 7:24 NKJV] “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:

If you notice, many of the therefore statements give you an application or something you are expected to do:

[Mat 9:38 NKJV] PRAY – “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

[Mat 10:31 NKJV] DON”T FEAR – “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

[Mat 18:4 NKJV] HUMBLE YOURSELF – “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

So we have a therefore statement here at the beginning of Chapter 5 – what is the application?

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 the hope of the glory of God. 

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 

If I could sum it up in one sentence, I would say, Therefore, we now have a relationship with God which allows even tribulation to give us hope because of the amazing power of His love.

Let’s break it down:

Chapters 1-4 explain to us that we are only justified by faith – not works, not the law, not anything, but faith alone. Faith in Jesus Christ and the redemptive power of His blood is the only thing that saves us from sin.

So because of that – therefore – we have peace with God.

I found this definition of peace – in Christianity peace is the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fears nothing from God and is content in its earthly lot.

Peace with God is a state of being that occurs when you believe in Jesus. It is a state of grace – nothing you can do results in peace with God – it only occurs when God accepts through Jesus Christ that your sin has been justified by his death on the cross. You accept that justification by faith so God’s wrath is no longer upon you – because of Jesus you are reconciled to God – you have peace with God.

Back in Chapter 3 as Paul describes the unbeliever, he says “the way of peace they have not known.”

Look at all that the Old Testament Jews did in order to try to have peace with God. Read through Leviticus and take note of all the rules and rituals, red heifers and grain offerings, festivals and priestly duties – all to have peace with God.

But peace with God can only come through Christ – the Old Testament sacrificial system was a foreshadowing of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

Now we can have peace with God. It is a state of being, but it can be more and should be more.

This “peace” is first a change in God’s relation to us:

The wretched sinner puts his faith in Jesus and suddenly God no longer sees his sin – it is covered in the blood shed on the cross. The relationship is changed – there is peace with God.

but next, as the consequence of this, there is a change on our part toward God.

I found several Bible scholars who say that the original text can be translated, “let us have peace with God” – in the sense of meaning  “Let us appreciate and realize our peace with God which we have in being justified by faith.”

We have peace with God, but do we realize and appreciate this peace as belonging to us?

We can be saved, but spend years not appropriating the peace of God. We are troubled, we feel guilty a lot, we wonder if God hears our prayers, we don’t trust God to be good to us, we lack faith that He will answer our prayers. We struggle continuously in our relationship with God.

We are like an adopted son or daughter who has been given all rights to the family in name, wealth, position, love, yet he or she cannot rest in it but instead feels and acts like an outsider in his own family.

Have you ever known someone who just seems to be throwing love away when it is freely available to her?

We throw God’s love and peace away too.

Paul goes on in the next few verses to describe how to appropriate this peace with God.

Verse 2 – through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand,

We just need to step inside the circle of grace. Standing in Grace – accepting peace with God means:

I don’t have to prove I am worthy of God’s love.

God is my friend.

The door of access is permanently open to Him.

I am free from the score sheet – the account is settled in Jesus. So not loving God as I should doesn’t change His love for me, So I don’t have to say I’ll do better in the future because that is putting trust in my flesh.

I spend more time praising God and less time hating myself.

Pastor Chuck Smith noted things he learned that when you are NOT standing in grace.

 

1. If I am disappointed with myself, that only shows that I was trusting in my flesh.

2. To be proud is to be blind. It only shows that I have not had a true encounter with God.

3. The lack of blessing comes from unbelief.

 

2 peter 3:18 encourages us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

  1. To have peace with God we need to stand in grace by faith.

 

And the second part of verse 2 – 2. rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Rejoice is to boast or exult in, so I am going to boast in the hope (hope is a favorable and certain expectation) of the glory of God.

What is the glory of God? A manifestation of who He is, what He does, how He reveals Himself.

The root word of glory says to think of a reputation and the root to that root word is to expose, to give evidence to.

As believers we should be continually seeking to understand God’s glory more and more each day. Sandie told you to look up glory for yourself, what did you find?

I always go back to Moses asking God in Exodus 33: Show me your glory! And God responds, I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you.

We find God’s glory in His goodness, in His name. Have you ever studied God’s names? Jehovah – Jirah, The one who provides, Jehovah Rapha – the one who sees. God’s names are amazing and comforting.

[Pro 18:10 NKJV] The name of the LORD [is] a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.

When King Solomon dedicated the temple, the glory of the Lord filled the temple and all fell on their faces saying, For He is good, for His mercy endures forever.”

We can boast or exalt in the certain expectation of who God is. He is faithful, eternal, loving, good, powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing, we can go on and on and on with praises and worship of our God.

This is the result of our peace with God – we stand in grace, we rejoice in the assurance of God – and all that He is.

And because of this – and not only that Paul says in verse 3 – but we also glory in tribulations.

We can rejoice in tribulation – this is not just day to day worries but oppression, affliction, dire straights types of tribulation. It is a strong term. It does not refer to minor inconveniences but to real hardships.

Jesus said [Jhn 16:33 NKJV] “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Jesus said we can have peace in Him despite the fact that we will have tribulation.

Each one of us has tribulation – either past, present or future. And more than one tribulation too. It’s part of the fallen world we live in. We could go around this room and each one has experienced real tribulation – a loved one who has died, the loss of a job and financial security, the loss of health, loss of a relationship.

But as we read here, there are benefits to tribulation when it is accompanied by God’s peace.

Knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character and character, hope.

Christian maturity follows a progression. Tribulation brings about that progression of increasing faith in God’s ability to take care of you.

Tribulation brings about patient endurance, or longsuffering – this tells us in itself that trials don’t always go away quickly.

Paul asked three times for the thorn in the flesh to go away. But God said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

You have heard the quote: “You don’t really know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.”

Perseverance, character – that character is proven experience, tried character.

I worked on Tuesday morning and came home with my back hurting so bad. The cancer has moved into my spine, ribs, shoulder and hip and bones hurt! But I had to walk the dogs, so I did. And then I worked on this study and tried various ways to appease the pain but nothing worked. Finally as it got darker out, I just went to bed, waiting for Tom to get home, forgetting about trying to make supper – It was cold and dark and lonely in my house and I was in pain. I didn’t feel like God was with me. I wondered if He would heal me. I cried out. But in the midst of it, I remembered the verse God gave me at the beginning of this trial a year ago. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all things for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

So I started giving thanks. I thanked God that I felt so good for so long and that the pain has only come this fall. I thanked God that I had a husband who would come home – even if it felt like it was taking forever. I began to thank him for everything.

God gave me that verse a year ago, but it is now in the painful part of the trial that I am learning what it really means to give thanks in all things.

What character is God building in your trial? Ask Him to show you.

I’ve had other trials – one where I came out of it knowing that God is good no matter what. I’m in other trials – 28 years of sorrow that my husband is an unbeliever. What character is God building in me out of that trial?

Because when we see the character that God is creating in us – we place our confident and joyful expectation – not hope so, but know so – in God.

2 Corinthians 4:6 says, For God, who said Light shall shine out of darkness, is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

His light shines in the darkness of our affliction, our tribulation. That light is a beam onto the knowledge of who God is; it is a spotlight on the face of Christ.

[Psa 27:8 NKJV] [When You said], “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.”

His face is upon you dear sister in your trial.

[Psa 22:24 NKJV] For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from Him; But when He cried to Him, He heard.

And when you see His face, you will become like him.

[Psa 17:15 NKJV] As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.

2 Cor. 3:18 says But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

That is why Paul can state in this passage in Corinthians: We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed;

That is why James can say in 1:2 – Consider it all joy my brethren when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

And this kind of character brings hope.

This is the character and hope of the afflicted, of paster Saeed, of Corrie Ten Boom, of Brother Yun in China, of the thousands of saints who are being persecuted right now for their faith in Christ despite living in a Moslem world.

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

This hope will not disappoint. It is sealed by the love of God, which we know to be an everlasting love.

If you doubt God’s love, the rest of Chapter 5 here tells us how strong that love is. But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Verses 6-18, explain how sin entered the world through Adam, but life came through Jesus Christ as a free gift.

This is the love of God to you, picture yourself here: The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy. He will be quiet in his love. He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. (Zephaniah 3:17)

God love’s to you. And He will pour out that love, not trickle, not scoop, but overwhelmingly pour out that love to you!

A lack of awareness of God’s love can often be credited to a failure to be constantly filled with the Holy Spirit and to walk in the Spirit.

This is how it all works – by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

None of this character building, certainty of hope in afflictions is even possible without the Holy Spirit who is given to us. Tribulation cannot produce hope without the Holy Spirit being active in our lives.

Romans 15:13 – May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Do you see in this verse? It is God who fills us with joy and peace. He does this by the power of the Holy Spirit.

What is our part? Believing.

Charles Spurgeon said, ” ‘Tribulation worketh patience,’ says the apostle. Naturally it is not so. Tribulation worketh impatience, and impatience misses the fruit of experience, and sours into hopelessness. Ask many who have buried a dear child, or have lost their wealth, or have suffered pain of body, and they will tell you that the natural result of affliction is to produce irritation against providence, rebellion against God, questioning, unbelief, petulance, and! all sorts of evils. But what a wonderful alteration takes place when the heart is renewed by the Holy Spirit!” (Spurgeon)

We can rejoice in our trials – because the Holy Spirit is in our hearts and minds, transforming our thoughts, turning despair into hope, and changing who we are. This is the process of Christian maturity – of sanctification.

[1Jo 3:3 NKJV] And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

But more than this, it allows us to have joy in a trial.

But joy is also a choice. We choose to trust and believe God that He is working all things out for good. We choose to allow His love to be poured into our hearts. We choose to walk in the Spirit. We choose Hope. We chose to rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

Jesus chose joy too. For the joy set before Him, he endured the cross, Hebrews 12 said. We are his joy and He chose us.

We don’t walk in our trials alone. We walk with Jesus. Last week Rick Wilson said in church that God was holding me in the palm of His hand. I have chosen this week to picture myself in the palm of His hand – frequently.

[Psa 16:11 NKJV] In Your presence [is] fullness of joy;

The joy of the Lord is my strength. Nehemiah 8:10

Nothing should rob you of joy. This book has plenty of reasons to be joyful – no matter the circumstances.

This is no box made by God nor us but that the sides cannot be flattened out and top blown off to make a dance floor to celebrate life. (You Gotta Keep Dancing by Tim Hansel)

I want to dance in joy don’t you?

[Psa 30:11 NIV] You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.

 

 

 

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