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Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Gospel of God's Grace # 41

A Study of the Epistle to the Romans

Salvation: The Blessings that Accompany Justification

Peace with God

Peace with God does not mean that we have a feeling of peace. An unbeliever may feel in his heart perfectly at peace, and yet not have peace with God. A Christian who is untaught and does not know the  truth may have peace with God, and yet not feel at peace in himself.

Between the sinner and God there exists a state of enmity. It could not be otherwise. "O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river" (Isaiah 48:18). If Israel had only kept the commandments of God, then there would have been peace. Look at the twenty-second verse: "There is no peace, saith the Lord, to the wicked." Does he mean a feeling of peace? Not at all. Some wicked men are perfectly at peace in their hearts, not disturbed at all by the thought  of facing God in judgment. Even where this is true, there is still a state of enmity between God and wicked men, set forth in Romans 5:10 by the clause, "when we were enemies." In other words, the sinner is an enemy of God. It could not be otherwise. Unsaved men have rebellious hearts. "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God ... [it] is not subject to the law of God" (Romans 8:7). If a man rebels against the government and flees to another country, even though he is a refugee in that country, there exists a state of enmity between him and his original government. It does not matter how tranquil this man may feel in this foreign refuge, he is not a peace with his own government. If he comes back to his own country, the government will immediately initiate action against him.

Here is the point about being justified: when a man is justified, that enmity is taken away and there is peace between the sinner and God. When the justified man realizes that peace has been declared between God and him, the result is peace in the soul; he then feels at peace. However, do not confuse the feeling of internal peace with the external relationship of peace with God, which is the subject about which the apostle is now talking.

A prophecy in Isaiah refers to this peace: "He was wounded for our transgressions, ... the chastisement of our peace was upon him" (Isaiah 53:5). He suffered for our sins. He was punished for our sins, and that brought peace between us and God.

The apostle speaks of this in his letter to the Ephesians: "He is our peace" (Eph. 2:14). Not making you "feel" peaceful, but making peace in your relationship with God. "Having slain the enmity," Paul continues in that thought, "He came and preached peace to you that were near and to them that were afar off" (Eph. 2:17). He took away the enmity and then He preached peace to us.

Whereas in time past we looked forward to someday standing before God in judgment, and if we knew the truth, we trembled. But now we have no dread of Him, because the state of enmity centered in sin has been removed.

As Paul concludes this section, you will remember he says we even "rejoice" in God! We can look at Him and realize that He is a Holy God, and we can rejoice in Him because we have peace in Him.

Access to God

"By whom also we have access." In ancient times a king might have a man who had rebelled against him, but the king would forgive him and peace would be restored. But that pardon did not necessarily carry with it the right to come into the presence of the king. It was perilous to go into the presence of the king without permission. Thus, the man did not have the right of "access."

Paul says that God, in Christ, has not only taken away the enmity, but He has made it possible for the sinner to have access into the very presence of God. The tense of the verb in the original language does not appear in the English version, unfortunately. The perfect tense indicates that Christ has achieved a completed and continuous access for us. He led us into the presence of God and we still have that access today. "We both have access by one Spirit unto the Father" (Eph. 2:18). Peace and access in the Bible always go together.

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 42 - "Our Standing with God")

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