Rev. VanderWal is pastor of Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Redlands, California.
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Peace with God! Wonderful gift!
Peace in the midst of great wrath and hot indignation! For, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.
The child of God lives in the midst of a world that is at war against God. He lives among the workers of iniquity. He dwells among the rebellious. He works among those that blaspheme and reproach the living God.
Is there any peace?
The child of God also lives in a world against which God is at war. He sees and knows the judgments of God. He knows it from the Scriptures: the wrath of God is revealed. He sees the judgments of that Word of God executed in the world about him.
He sees that war in the catastrophes in the world. He sees it in the devastations of floods and famines. He sees it in the diseases that visit the bodies of men. They bear witness that God is angry with the wicked.
In the present he sees God’s anger in the removing of peace from among men. He observes God’s judgment in the horror and brutality of war. The bodies not only of men but also of women and children are torn apart by violence. Screams and groaning rise up loudly from the dying and from them that mourn their dead. Both sides inflict great pain and anguish. Both sides commit great atrocities. The depravity that lurks in the heart reveals itself in conflict.
Is there any peace?
The child of God knows that warfare within himself. He seeks to be pleasing to God, the blessed result of God’s grace within Him. He strives to do the will of God, delighting in that will in his inmost heart. At the same time, he knows the lust within him. The flesh wars against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, so that he cannot do the things that he would. This he knows to be his deepest wretchedness: he is unable to be wholly pleasing to God.
Is there any peace?
The absence of peace is the result of sin and of the guilt of sin. As long as the sinner remains in the state of guilt, it is impossible that he should have any peace with God. God is righteous! He cannot deny Himself. In His righteousness He is against the guilty sinner. According to His justice He must pour out upon that sinner His wrath. There is no peace of God to the wicked.
Is there any peace?
There is peace! Even peace with the living God!
This peace overcomes the warfare, the hostility and the enmity, even between men and God. Peace is reconciliation with God. It is the turning away of His wrath. Peace is the end of all warfare between God and man. Peace puts all of those things in the past.
Peace is far more than the ending of all hostility. God shows to man the peace that He has made with him. He brings man into harmony and fellowship with Himself. In peace He comes to men. To them He declares peace and seals it upon their hearts. By sovereign grace He gives His elect a desire for peace. That desire He fills, giving peace. Man enjoys, in his heart and soul, that peace with God. No longer man’s avowed enemy, God is now his sovereign Friend.
What things that peace brings! It brings health and strength to the bones. Possessing this peace, man has everlasting comfort and security. He has joy and good cheer. Peace is the countenance of God shining upon him with everlasting, unbroken light.
So great is that peace that it stands firm against all the trouble and warfare of the world. The man that enjoys this peace is of the party of the living God. His former friends, the world, the devil, and his own flesh, now conspire against the peace that God’s reconciliation brings. These new enemies seek at every turn to rob God’s child of his peace. They would drive him to despair. They would receive him back into their rebellion, disobedience, and blasphemy. Yet he remains in that peace, let the enemies attack with all their power!
That peace is strong. It cannot be broken. For it is peace both with God and from God.
The establishment of that peace is wholly secure. That peace is not grounded in the work or effort of man. It does not depend in any way upon the child of God. Peace with God is the result of justification. The cause of enmity between God and man, the revelation of God’s wrath from heaven, is guilt. Justification clears away that guilt. In that great work of God, He declares the ungodly sinner free from that guilt. God also declares the sinner righteous. Righteous just as God Himself is righteous! His declaration is mighty and sovereign. It is the judgment of the living God in the courtroom of His justice.
Righteous God and righteous man, by God’s justification. There is agreement and harmony.
There is peace!
Justification is rooted in God’s eternal decree of election. All those He predestinated He also justified. From eternity the living God beheld His elect in Christ, His righteous, only-begotten Son. In that decree He determined to give them peace, even through the dark night of sin and guilt.
Justification is grounded in the righteousness of God, given through our Lord Jesus Christ. In the fullness of time He sent into the world His righteous Son. By His obedient, consecrated suffering and death on the cross, He purchased that peace by His precious blood. By that blood we are justified! By that sacrifice God brought an end to all enmity, bringing about a lasting peace between Himself and all His elect.
But justification is also given to us, for us to receive and be assured of. According to the decree of God’s election, and grounded upon the blood of His Son, He causes us to hear that righteous sentence. He causes that judgment to live in our hearts.
The mighty way of our justification is by faith. Faith is also the gift of God, wholly antithetical to the works of man. Faith is the means by which God seals it upon the hearts of His individual elect. By that marvelous gift they are brought into communion with the righteousness of Christ. They know His righteousness to be their everlasting possession. On the ground of that blessed possession, they have true, everlasting peace.
We have peace! Peace with the living God.
Because that peace is through justification by faith, that peace ever abides. That peace cannot be broken any more than election can be changed or annulled. That peace cannot be broken any more than the sacrifice of Christ on the cross might be revoked.
Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Peace remains the believer’s ever present possession because he remains in fellowship with Jesus Christ. Joined to the Son of God, having His righteousness imputed, all by faith, that peace continues. It is never withdrawn. It is never broken because the believer should forget or neglect some important work. He cannot appear before God’s throne of judgment on the last day, only to find that God’s sentence has been revoked, and that he is no longer justified.
We have been justified by faith! Therefore we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ!
We have peace now, though we live in the midst of the great conflict of the ages. We have peace in the future, come what may. For the God who has given this peace is the same God that rules all, even through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have peace into the endless ages of eternal life. All warfare, all bitterness, all strife will come to its end. It must all yield before this peace. The peace we have with God is everlasting!
We have peace, though we still sin against God. Daily we sin, committing the same sins over and over. Our sins trouble us, for they cloud up that peace. Yet, as we humble ourselves before God, casting ourselves upon His mercy alone, we receive the same sentence in our hearts. We are justified by faith. We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. A peace greater than all our sins!
Blessed peace! Everlasting peace! Cause for joy before God, our sovereign Friend! Cause for thanksgiving and praise to Him alone who has given us this most precious treasure!
Peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ!