Subject Five: Peace With God

 •  14 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Questions by W. E. Powell; answers by H. P. Barker.
It is the happy privilege of every true believer in Christ to enjoy peace with God. Not that every believer does enjoy it, but it is possible for each one of us to have solid, settled peace with God as to our sins. Is not the thought of it enough to make every heart burn with ardent desire to possess and enjoy this great blessing? May the Lord help us in our consideration of the subject.
We Sometimes Hear of “True Peace” and “False Peace.” What Do These Terms Mean?
We fear that a large number of people are spending their lives in false peace, that is, a peace which is born of indifference. They dwell in a fool’s paradise and pass on heedless of their souls and ignorant of their awful danger. Lulled to sleep by the devil, they dream their days away, absorbed with their business, their duties, their pleasures, their friends, their cares and their sins.
True peace — divine peace — peace with God — is a very different thing. It is the result, not of ignorance or indifference, but of knowing that one is beyond the reach of danger. The one who has peace with God has faced his own condition in God’s presence. He has seen the enormity of his sins and owned himself a guilty, hell-deserving rebel. He has believed the glad tidings which tell of Christ’s dying for sinners and being raised from the dead for their justification.
If you ask him where his sins are, he can reply, “They are gone. They were all laid on Christ, and He made atonement for them by His blood. Today He is in glory. The One who had my sins on Him has them on Him no longer. He is free from the load He bore at Calvary, and because He is free, I am free also!”
Are you able to speak like that? It is the language of one who has true peace.
Is It Possible to Have Peace With Regard to Some Things and Not Others?
I believe it is. I was visiting a poor man the other day who, through an accident, had lost his job. He was in great poverty and hardly knew where the next meal was to come from. But his confidence in God’s goodness was unshaken. “I do not worry,” said he; “I leave my troubles to God. He will bring me through.” The man could, in that way, rest in peace as to his cares and his needs.
A little further conversation, however, revealed the fact that he was not at peace with regard to his sins and his state before God. While acknowledging God’s goodness, he mourned over his own lack of goodness and sometimes feared that he would never get to heaven. He did not understand that his acceptance with God depended not on the state of his heart, important as that is in its place, but on the work which Christ did. Hence he was a stranger to real peace with God. As to his troubles and cares, he could be calm and peaceful, looking to God to keep him, but as to his sins and his state before God, he was full of unrest.
This man’s case is by no means uncommon. There are many who can pass through the storms of life in peace, with a sense of God’s goodness in their hearts, who have never yet learned the secret of peace with God, through the death and resurrection of Christ.
Is “Peace With God” the Same As Assurance of Salvation?
Hardly. The fact is that there is not very much said in the Bible as to “assurance of salvation,” for the very simple reason that in the days of the apostles, when the gospel was preached in its unadulterated simplicity, those who received it and believed in Christ were saved and, as a matter of course, knew it. But in our days a very different state of things exists. Owing to the distorted way in which the gospel is often presented, mixed with law and Jewish principles, thousands are found who in a measure trust in Christ and build all their hopes upon His precious blood, but who cannot speak with certainty of their salvation. Hence the need nowadays of pressing assurance and of showing how it comes through simply taking God at His word. Take, for example, that well-known verse, Acts 13:3939And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. (Acts 13:39): “By Him all that believe are justified from all things.” What an efficient weapon such a scripture is for putting doubts and fears to flight!
But peace with God goes further than keeping doubts and fears at bay by the help of some precious passage of Scripture. It is the result of knowing what has been accomplished through Christ’s death and resurrection for the believer. Through that work all our sins have been put away; we have been justified from every charge. In other words, the disturbing element has been removed, and peace with God is the blessed consequence.
Let me make my meaning clear. Some months ago I was living in a house surrounded by pastures in which a large number of cattle were kept. The path from the house to the neighboring village led through these pastures. There was no other way of getting there.
One afternoon I was walking to the village with a lady who was very much afraid of cows. When she saw that our path led right through a herd of these animals, she became extremely nervous and wished to turn back. I did my best to reassure her. I told her that I had passed that way numbers of times and had never observed any signs of ferocity in the cows and that they were perfectly harmless and would be more likely to run away from her than run after her. At length my friend gained confidence and proceeded on her way, not at first without some misgivings, but with increasing boldness. She believed my word when I assured her that there was no danger and banished her fears when she found that there really was no cause for alarm. In this way she got assurance.
On returning from the village later in the evening, we found that all the cows had been driven into another section of the estate. Not a hoof or a horn remained.
My companion’s face broke into a smile as she exclaimed, “Why, the cows are all gone!”
“Yes,” I replied, “but you would not be afraid to pass near them again, would you?”
“No,” said the lady. “I know they would not hurt me and that my fears are foolish and groundless, but I am glad that they are gone, for all that.
Now I think this illustrates the difference between assurance of salvation and peace. Emboldened and assured by God’s own Word, we may proceed on our way knowing that fears are foolish and groundless. But when we see that all that we feared is gone, that our sins have been put away, the judgment that was due to us endured, the claims of divine justice fully satisfied — then it is that we have peace indeed. The source of our fear has been removed. And this is just what the work of Christ has accomplished for us.
Why Are Not All Believers in the Enjoyment of Peace With God?
Multitudes lack settled peace because they are unbelieving believers. When the Lord Jesus joined the two wanderers on the road to Emmaus, He found them, true disciples though they were, full of unbelief. “O fools,” He said to them, “and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.
Many today are in just the same condition. They trust in the Lord Jesus as their Saviour and build all their hopes of future bliss on His precious blood, but they are slow to believe what the gospel assures them is the result of His death and resurrection. They do not see that, as a consequence of His work, all their sins have been eternally put away and that they are righteously cleared by God Himself from every charge.
Most of us are familiar with the story of David’s conquest of Goliath. An Israelite, seeing the fearless youth advance towards the haughty giant, might exclaim, “I trust in that young man. I know him to be a man of God, and I have every confidence that by his means God will give deliverance to Israel this day.”
The man who speaks thus is obviously a believer in David. He builds his hopes of deliverance on his ability to overcome Goliath.
But by and by, when shouts of triumph rend the air and David returns to the camp with the giant’s head in his hands, that selfsame man is sitting in his tent with an anxious look on his face. Why does he not share in the joy and help to swell the song of gratitude? Because he does not know the significance of those shouts. He does not realize that the giant is slain. The moment he comprehends, not only that David is a trustworthy deliverer, but that he has actually accomplished the work of deliverance and that the foe is gone, peace and joy will be his.
It is thus that many are kept from the enjoyment of peace. They have faith in Christ as a trustworthy Deliverer, but they do not comprehend the full result of the work that He has accomplished. Perhaps it has never been set before them. As soon as it dawns on them, peace will be the blessed result.
Self-occupation is another cause of unrest. Worldly-mindedness, too, is a great hindrance to the enjoyment of peace.
Is It Ever Too Late for a Sinner to Begin to Make His Peace With God?
Definitely too late. In fact, it is an utter impossibility for a sinner to set matters right between himself and God. But he does not need to despair on that account, for Christ has done the necessary work, and peace is to be obtained, not by the sinner’s doing anything, but by his enjoying the results of Christ’s work.
Christ has made peace, once for all, by the blood of His cross (Col. 1:2020And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:20)). He has laid the broad foundations of our blessing. We have no part in the doing of the work.
To get “peace with God,” then, let the sinner cease from trying to make it, and let him, through faith in Christ, appropriate the results of His death and resurrection. It is never too late, while life remains, for that.
We Read in Psalm 119:165165Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. (Psalm 119:165), “Great Peace Have They Which Love Thy Law.” What Does That Mean?
It is not exactly “peace with God” that is referred to there. The “law” in this passage is a much wider thing than the Ten Commandments. It was the revelation of God’s ways (so far as He saw fit to make them known in those days) and indicated the way of wisdom, righteousness and peace for man. Those whose hearts were influenced by it enjoyed the blessing inseparable from the knowledge of God and His ways, however partial that knowledge necessarily was.
In our day, the starlight of Old Testament times has given place to the glorious sunlight of the full revelation of God. God has made Himself known and has given His Holy Spirit to lead our hearts along the line of His revelation. If we are subject to that blessed Holy Spirit and allow Him to direct our hearts into what God has revealed for our blessing, great peace will assuredly be our portion, just as it was the portion of the saints in David’s day who loved the things of God.
And therefore we read in Romans 8:66For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Romans 8:6) that “the minding of the Spirit is life and peace” (see margin).
But such peace must not be confounded with the peace of Romans 5:11Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (Romans 5:1), which is the result of our being justified. It is a peace which is the opposite of that morbid state of self-dissatisfaction which is often the fruit of brooding over our own coldness and sinfulness.
What Does “Peace With God” Depend on?
If you will turn to Romans 4:24-2524But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Romans 4:24‑25) and connect it with the first verse of the following chapter, you will have an answer in the very words of Scripture. “Jesus our Lord,” we read, “was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Peace with God immediately flows from the fact of our being justified, and that depends upon the death and resurrection of Christ. In this way the claims of divine justice have all been met, and peace is ours in consequence.
What Is the Difference Between “Peace With God” and the “Peace of God,” of Which We Read in Philippians 4:77And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)?
“Peace with God” has reference to our sins and our state of guilt before Him, and it is the result of what He makes known to us.
The “peace of God” has reference to the circumstances of life, circumstances of difficulty and trial, and is the result of our making known to Him our requests.
Care is a thing that grinds the brightness out of many a Christian’s life. He has peace with God as to his sins, but in order to pass through this world of trial and sorrow, he needs to cultivate the habit of taking everything to God in prayer.
The result will be that his heart and mind shall be kept in peace. God’s own peace, which passes all understanding, shall reign within. He will accept every circumstance as ordered by the One who makes all things work together for our good, and instead of worrying and murmuring, he will be kept in calm confidence and peace.
That is what the passage in Philippians 4 means.
The thought is very much akin to that of which we have just spoken. But the trials and troubles of life are common to all — the unconverted as well as the children of God, though only the latter have the “peace of God” to keep their hearts in the midst of them.
But there are certain things which only Christians have to contend with, such as persecution for Christ’s sake and the suffering of loss through faithfulness to Him. These things, the result of Christ’s rejection here and absence from us, were foreseen by Him, and He warned “His own,” whom He was leaving behind, that they must expect to be opposed, reviled, persecuted and evil spoken of. But in the midst of all that they should suffer for His name’s sake, they should taste the sweetness of heavenly peace, His own peace. If earth was to be a place of rejection and sorrow for them, a place in the “many mansions” above would be prepared for them. If He was leaving them a legacy of suffering, a precious legacy of peace accompanied it. It was a peace that the world could never give and a peace that the world could never take away.
We have spoken of four different kinds of peace.
1. Peace with God, as to our sins and guilty state, the result of our being justified on account of Christ’s death and resurrection (Rom. 5:11Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (Romans 5:1)).
2. Peace inwardly, in contrast to morbid self-disappointment, the result of the “minding of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:66For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Romans 8:6)). It is a peace that depends not so much on our faith in Christ as on our daily occupation with Christ, through the Holy Spirit.
3. The peace of God, which keeps the hearts and minds of those who cast their cares on Him amid the ordinary burdens and perplexities of life (Phil. 4:77And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)).
4. The peace of Christ, the precious portion of those who are left here to represent Him in His absence and who often have to bear reproach and persecution for His name’s sake.