2. Peace with God

Short Meditations on Peace 2. Peace with God

Col 1:2 To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ in Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father

In the first introductory meditation we noted a footnote reference that suggested that peace is when a person’s life with God and with everything else is in ordered harmony.  The first area of peace that is important is peace with God Himself. This has to be our starting place. In every one of his letters apart from 1 Thess, we noted previously, this peace comes from God the Father and in most of them Paul also includes, “and the Lord Jesus Christ.” I suggest, therefore, we need to consider that this peace is both in respect of God and from God.

Now I put ‘in respect of God’ first because I think that is the more obvious issue.  So many people are fearful of God, not the respect kind of fear but a fear out of ignorance of what He might be like and what He might do to you. The Gospel brings peace with God. That is the first and most important peace we should be concerned about.  The truth is that since the Fall every single human being without exception (except Jesus!) has been out of sorts with God.  That’s the gentle way of putting it; in rebellion against God is the stronger way of putting it.

We suffer from this inherited characteristic called Sin which I define as self-centred godlessness resulting in unrighteous thoughts, words and deeds. Yet Solomon said that God has “put eternity into man’s heart” (Prov 3:11) which means that deep down every one of us senses that there is something more to life than this short existence of ‘three score and ten years’ (although it tends to be a lot more than that now). In addition to that, there seems throughout history and across the face of the world, that there is something in mankind that wants to worship someone or some thing. It is only in the superficial security of modern Western life that crusading atheists deny this need which, they say, comes from historical insecurity. Yet even they reveal an absence of this shalom peace in their lives. Observe their irrational anger over the follies of ‘religion’ that they observed in childhood or on the fringes of religious struggles and note the lack of peace.

We may disguise our absence of loving relationship with God in a myriad of ways but that’s what we do to disguise that absence of peace that is so normal to us. Of course it was never meant to be like that, and yet while we had free will, it was going to be like that! We choose independence without realising that we are defective without that relationship. Imagine living in a house with someone who is at odds with you and nothing you can do or say will make it better. Absence of peace! That is your friend or family member who does not know God. Stressed! And it is so normal that we take it for granted!

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7. Grace our Resource

Meditations in Romans : 7:  Grace our Resource

Rom 5:1-3  Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings.

To summarise these verses before we look in detail at them, having been justified by God who has taken our faith as the currency of righteousness, that justification has brought about a number of things. The first thing, which we considered in the previous meditation, is that we now have peace with God. The second thing is that because we have been justified by God and brought into a new relationship with Him, which continues by faith, that has given us access to His grace which he provides for us. Now being recipients of His grace means two further things. First it gives us the sense of eternity and we come to realise, probably for the first time, that we are going to be recipients of the glory of God as well. But more than that, this grace is a resource that means we take the hard elements of being a Christian, the opposition and sufferings that come our way, and still rejoice in who we are. Now each of those things is very significant so let’s take them one by one.

Peace we’ve already considered. Now let’s think about “this grace in which we now stand.” Note the words, this grace.” This must, in the context, first mean the whole general state of grace, of being a redeemed and justified believer. A state of grace here simply means a state of being forgiven, cleansed and having had our sin and guilt dealt with by God as a free gift. When Paul says we stand in this grace it always sends me back to his words to the Ephesians: Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then.” (Eph 6:13,14). I imagine the Christian life that we have inherited as a plot of land – the truths of the Gospel – and the enemy seeks to push us off this or deceive us off or scare us off this plot of land, but we have to hold on to these truths. This plot of land is also the state of grace that I referred to – we are there by the free gift of God and we must resist Satan’s urges for us to try to earn God’s love.

So there we are. Our faith has brought us to God and He has given us this ‘plot of land’ called our salvation, or this state of grace, but it is also a place of resource for us because the moment we were justified He also imparted His own Holy Spirit into our lives and so He Himself is the power and wisdom resource who dwells within us. His very presence within me, will enable me to overcome and will grant me the wisdom and direction that I need.

Now being in the state of grace means that suddenly everything about God becomes real. Previously He had been at a distance but now He is as close as it is possible to be. Later in this book Paul is going to write, “those he justified, he also glorified.” (Rom 8:30) What does it mean for us to be glorified? It means that because we are now children of God (1 Jn 3:1, Jn 1:12) we have been given the same glory as God although in such limited measure that it is not see as a bright light – but His own Holy Spirit DOES live within us (1 Cor 3:16) and we are actually God-people (as hard as that is to believe sometimes). TODAY we hold the glory of God (2 Cor 4:7). We are ‘earthen vessels’ but we contain His glory – thus we are glorified – as being seen to be His children and by His presence within us. But because we have His eternal life within us, we too are now eternal beings and so we will go to heaven to be with Him in eternity and that is also part of this concept of being glorified.

But because we live with His presence within to empower us, and because we have an eternal future, it does mean that we can laugh at misfortunes, especially those that come in the form of people stirred against us by the enemy. If we are violently persecuted the worst that can happen to us is that we die and go to be with Jesus. This is not to say that being a martyr is either easy or to be desired, but it does mean that God’s grace will be sufficient to see us through it. It is easy to write these things when not suffering for the Gospel but the truth is that some of the most vibrant Christians in the world at the moment, are those suffering persecution, because they are also experiencing in a deeper way than the rest of us, the grace of God, the presence of God upholding them.

But maybe, if we are not suffering persecution at the moment, we should also consider grace as His resource to see us through whatever other difficulty we face in life, for there are always a great variety of them. This place we live today, this ‘plot of land’, this state of grace, is indeed a place of God’s provision.

When Moses sent the spies into the Promised land, they came back and reported: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large.” (Num 13:27,28) Subsequently they focused on the negatives and forgot the positives. Today some Christians say, “It’s all very well to talk about God’s grace but you don’t know the things I have to put up with in my life.” That’s true but realise that the ‘milk and honey’ of God’s grace are there to give you strength to deal with the ‘giants’. Focus on the facts of your salvations, the truths of the Gospel – and live according to them – including the truth about the Holy Spirit who is the source of grace within you. Turn to Him, lean on Him, receive from Him and the ‘giants’ will soon shrink in size and be manageable – with His grace!