Peace, peace all we are looking for is peace. We all realize the need for peace when it seems that all around us is hatred, hostility, enmity, conflict, and fighting. It isn’t just what is outside ourselves that drives this need. It is what lies within that leads us to cry out for peace. It is the anxiety and turmoil that is within. It is the anger, rage, malice, and bitterness, which find their way outwardly in what we say and what we do. We all realize the need, so the proper question isn’t: What’s wrong? The proper question is: What do we do about it? We live in consumerism therefore need sells. There are those who would be out of a so called “job” if the racial tensions came to an end. So instead of bringing a solution they bring more conflict. There are many such positions within society. With the internet everyone can enter into the conversation and give their two cents. With all the so called solutions that are postulated, if God is found wanting then there will be no peace. In other words, the sole solution is God. Therefore, any so called solution advanced that does not involve God it is right out. If the solution involves God and something else then it is not sufficient either. God is the sole solution. There can be no peace in our lives unless we are rightly related to God. And the answer to – what does it mean to be rightly related to God? – can only be found in the word of God, the Bible. And before there can be peace on the horizontal level there must first be peace on the vertical level.
Romans 5:1 states, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is one of the most significant statements made in the Bible and it is one of the most significant statements for our time and any time for that matter. The words “having been justified” in the original language is an aorist passive participle emphasizing something that has already taken place and that the agent of the action is God Himself. In other words, we cannot justify ourselves. We cannot make ourselves right with God on our own. There is no DIY (do it yourself) when it comes to salvation. In chapter 4, Paul under the guidance of the Holy Spirit presented several irrefutable reasons why justification is by faith and faith alone: (1) Since justification is a gift, it cannot be earned by works (Romans 4:1-8). (2) Since Abraham was justified before he was circumcised, circumcision has no relationship to justification (Romans 4:9-12). (3) Since Abraham was justified centuries before the Law, justification is not based on the Law (Romans 4:13-17). (4) Abraham was justified because of his faith in God, not because of his works (Romans 4:18-25). In this statement, “having been justified through faith,” the apostle Paul is looking back to a time when these people believed. It occurred at the time of faith. This is a testimony to the fact that justification is what takes place instantaneously. It is something that takes place suddenly, instantly, in the moment that one looks to God and says, “I receive Your Son.” At that moment a believer is justified.
“Now then,” says the apostle Paul “having been justified through faith,” we turn to the experiential results (suggested by the connective “therefore”) of the believer’s justification – God’s declaring them righteous – on the basis of faith (Romans 3:21-4:25). The participial clause “since we have been justified (see 5:9) through faith” describes antecedent action to the main clause, “we have peace (echomen) with God.” The first result, the first benefit that accompanies salvation is “peace with God” (Romans 5:1). This peace is not a particular momentary feeling. There was a young pastor who visited a dear elderly saint who was on her deathbed. The young pastor asked: “Don’t you think that it would be wise for you to make peace with God?” “No,” she responded. That, of course startled the young pastor. He could not understand why she did not feel the need to make peace with God. She said, “young man, I do not have to make peace with God; Jesus Christ made peace with God in my behalf, so I already have peace with God.” She understood a very significant truth – our relationship with God depends on what Christ has accomplished for us, and we receive that gift through faith. If it depended on us, we would never have peace with God. If there is no peace with God then there is no subsequent peace that everyone is longing for. Without peace with God there is not internal nor external peace. Peace with God becomes the basis for all other forms or expressions of peace.
Some ungodly people seem to have peace in their hearts and do not appear to be disturbed by the fact that they will someday face God in judgment. Theirs, however, is a false peace, for without Christ a person is the enemy of God. Romans 5:10 reveals that before salvation all of us were enemies of God. Romans 8:7 says, “the carnal mind is enmity against God,” so this shows there is no possibility of peace for the person who has not trusted Christ as Savior. Ephesians 2:12-14 reveals that every person without Christ is really alienated from God, but through Christ we have peace because “He is our peace” (v. 14).
There is a distinction between peace with God and the peace of God. Peace with God, as stated in Romans 5:1, is the peace that Jesus Christ has made with God in our behalf. This is a settled matter that has taken place once for all. Some refer to this as a “judicial peace,” since it is what Jesus Christ has done and what has now been applied to the account of those who believe. The peace of God is a personal peace. This has to do more with emotions or attitude. One of the most significant steps to experiencing personal peace (peace of God) is to recognize that Jesus Christ has obtained judicial peace (peace with God) for us. Jesus spoke of personal peace when He said: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). Because of one’s relationship with Jesus Christ, he/she can have this settled peace in his/ her heart. Jesus also spoke concerning peace when He said: “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Were it not for what Christ did for all mankind when He died on the cross, we would all still be the enemies of God. But because of what He did, we have peace with God by exercising faith in Christ as personal Savior. This is where the world’s pursuit of peace must begin.