Peace by Jesus Christ

Acts 10  •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 5
In this chapter we have the foundation truth of the reception of the Gentiles into the Church. And one thing very marked in the narrative is, how very present a thing salvation is. Cornelius was an officer, a devout man, who gave alms, &c. God was working graciously in his heart; yet still he had one thing to learn, and that was salvation. I do not say that in God's sight he was not saved, but he had to learn to know his relation with God as a present thing. So with the jailor. His heart was touched, yet he says, What must I do to be saved? Now when God begins thus to work, He finishes what He begins. Here we have the full bringing out of known salvation in order that there may be the enjoyment of God. A father may have forgiven a repenting child in his heart, yet if this forgiveness is not made known, the child cannot be happy.
Here then we have the first case of the Gentiles being brought into the full knowledge of salvation. This is not simply conviction-a man's being regenerated so as to desire to have peace with God. There must be that, but the gospel is the answer of God to all these desires of the heart. The poor woman in Luke 7 was evidently renewed in heart when she went to Jesus. She felt such an attraction in Jesus as drew her to Him, but she had not the answer of Jesus, " Thy sins be forgiven thee, go in peace"-you are saved. That answer is the foundation of all the hopes and joys of the believer. The thing which characterizes a Christian arises from the knowledge of present salvation. It is not a desire after righteousness and a fear that if I do not attain to it, God will be against me as a Judge. It is salvation brought to me, not merely as a possible attainment, but as God's answer to all this felt need of the soul.
Peter speaks to Cornelius " the word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ."
Mark, the Apostle at once speaks peace. Peace is a wonderful word. It is a far greater thing than joy. It excludes everything that would disturb. I may have joy, but then I think of this trial or the other and my joy is damped. But it is not so in peace. If I have sorrow, joy coming into my presence will but embitter my sorrow. But in peace there is the absence of everything that would disturb. God is never called the God of joy, but He is the God of peace.
Peter does not say, Keep on and you will get to peace, but he brings peace with him. He brings God's answer to all the need of this man's soul.
There may be peace in providence, but this peace goes a great deal further. It is peace with God. There are two things in this peace. But first let me say, it is with God that this peace is. The soul when awakened wants to have a perfect, thorough satisfaction that God has nothing against it. When the soul comes to know God at all, it is with God it wants peace. We are content naturally to have it without God, but now it cannot have peace without God. We may try to distract the mind, but let the thought of God come in, and all our peace is gone. Now it must have peace with God. Conscience must be perfectly satisfied that God is satisfied. It may be laboring to satisfy God itself, for a time under law, but when really awakened and in earnest it soon finds that this it cannot do, and yet it feels that He must be satisfied. Do you think that if I have offended a father I can be happy without the certainty of his being satisfied? The conscience takes satisfying God as the measure of right and wrong. There is no peace till then. Then all is peace. Then it does not care though all the world is against it. It does not care for character. It is conscience the soul cares for. Now it can be honest about itself and acknowledge itself to be what it is. There is also a quiet sense of being in favor. There is the heart's assurance of having perfect peace with God. Now there is not a cloud on my soul before God, for conscience has been cleansed in the fountain opened. I have been there alone with God and all has been opened up and the whole thing has been settled. His love I know, and know just where I most needed to know it-about my sins-and that is peace. It is not trying to get on the best way I can and hoping that God will overlook the rest; no, it is with the knowledge of good and evil and with it peace in God's presence. It is not a negative thing merely, but something positive, something which God can delight in. He not only sees no spot, but He sees what gives Him delight. Now the conscience and the heart are both satisfied. Bring in the light and it only brings out my righteousness. Now if my conscience knows God as love, I cannot but wish Him to love me. When I know that God loves me as God only knows how to love, I am not only in the light but in the warmth, and sunshine of His love. There is peace. Conscience in the light, and not having one thing with which to reproach me, and feeling conscious of this; and on the other hand the heart in the perfect consciousness of His perfect love resting on me. Where that is not known there cannot be peace.
Now Peter does not preach a quantity of things in us, which, if we manage to get, we may have hope; but he comes and tells these needy awakened sinners " Here is peace for you, a made peace." It is made, and perfectly accomplished and now preached through Jesus Christ. Well, now the Lord says you are not at peace with God. He comes and says, " I am come to give you peace." He does not say, " Make your peace with God," for He, Himself, has made it. We are preaching a thing that is, not a thing that is not. Who was working in the cross? God's holiness. There peace was brought by the blood of the cross. The thing was settled by God and the Lamb alone, and about our sins too, when and where we could have no part. There righteousness was dealing with Christ about my sins, and the result I see in resurrection. "He shall convince the world of righteousness, because I go to the Father." If I own the sins through grace for which Christ suffered, and put myself in His place, I get in Him and His place before God, for He has borne the sins. I own these sins in the presence of God. I deserved that cross. But now I am in His presence in Christ, and righteousness gives peace to the conscience.
I wish to get peace in the heart. Well, where is there love as in the cross? The best thing God. had given for the worst thing I had done. Will my sins hinder? Why they are the very things which have brought out God's love to me. I take Jesus as the measure of all the love of my Father. He gave Jesus for me. There my heart has peace-peace unspeakable. If a man knows God he wants Him all. The desires are now infinite, in object at least, the heart having been touched with the love of God. If we want love it is in God-joy, it is in God. And of course all this will manifest itself in life.
Upon the perfect remission of sin comes in another thing, the perfect power of enjoyment. As long as a man is trying to make terms for himself, be will resist the simplicity of grace. If I have anything to do in it I must pretend to satisfy God as to my part in it, and if I am trying to de this I shall never know God. No, it is by faith that I come to know God-faith which teaches me that it is done. I have but to believe-Christ thus gets all the glory, and I all the good. " Whosoever believeth in Him shall receive the remission of sins." Not, whosoever believeth in the remission of sins. It is a joyous thing to know the remission of sins, but the soul will soon get weak if thinking of that. " Whosoever believeth in Him" turns the soul to God. I look to Jesus, and that is what gives joy, and changes me into His image.
Now, when Cornelius believes in Christ, as preached for the remission of sins, the Holy Ghost comes-in a peculiar manner it is true then, because God was showing that He would receive the Gentiles. So it is not merely the knowledge of remission, but the love which was proved in the death of Christ. The Holy Ghost sheds it abroad. in my heart, and peace flows as a river. He gives the apprehension of God's love,, the spring of joy and the living power of glorifying Christ. The moment Peter says, " Through His name, whosoever believeth in him, shall receive the remission of sins"-and we know the words went into Cornelius's heart-the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. Thus we have first peace, then the ground of it, God's love and Christ's work; and then the power of enjoyment, the Holy Ghost.
Are you laboring to get peace? If so I am glad, in one sense, for you know your need, but you will never get it so. Do you think that God would have bruised Christ to make peace, if you could make it for yourself, or even with the help of the Spirit? " To him that worketh not but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." The heart's intercourse with God is with the God of Peace.