Benefits Of Justification
Peace With God
In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 21a of 83


1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:1-5).

The heart of the book of Romans is the doctrine of justification by grace through faith in Christ alone.

In our last tranche of studies, we saw the doctrine expressed in a nutshell as Paul wraps up his formal presentation of it. But we have not seen the end of the doctrine in this book. It is but the beginning. From now on, we shall see Paul building upon the doctrine of justification in Christ to explain every other aspect of our Christian life. Our justification in Christ, as we saw, is the basis and fountain-head of our relationship with God. Every blessing that we receive from God, we receive on the basis of our justification in Christ.


All our legitimate spiritual experiences as Christians are founded upon our justification in Christ.

In this current three-part exposition of Romans 5:1-5, we shall consider three of these benefits. These verses are very rich and would require several sermons to expound them adequately. Dr Martin Lloyd-Jones had seven messages! But, as we shall see some of the things taught here again as we move down the letter, we will not tarry too long on each benefit.

The first of these benefits is…

1.   Peace with God

Paul says:

1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:


Paul begins with the word “therefore” to indicate that he is beginning now to speak about the benefits of justification. One of the first benefits is “peace with God.” But what is it to have “peace with God”?

When two parties are at peace with one another, they are not at war with one another. Therefore, to have peace with God is to be not at war with God.

The natural man is at war with God. He hates God. He loves Satan and Sin; but he hates God. The natural man may deny it, but whom should we believe—God or man? God’s Word tells us that natural men are “haters of God” (Rom 1:30; Lk 16:30).

Likewise, the Scripture tells us that God is at war with the natural man. Men by nature are “children of wrath” says Paul (Eph 2:3). There is, therefore, mutual hostility between God and the natural man. The natural man is hostile towards God in his heart. And God’s wrath is against the natural man.

But what does Paul mean when he says “we have peace with God”? Is he speaking about the removal of the hostility in our heart against God? Or is he speaking about the removal of God’s enmity against us?

We have no doubt that in the present context, he is primarily concerned about God’s enmity against us. This is why he speaks of our being “reconciled to God” in verse 10. By nature we are children of wrath. By nature we are God’s enemies. God is against us because our sin makes us hateful in God’s sight. Yes, by nature we hate God too. But He is the Almighty Creator, while we are but creatures of dust. Our hostility against God is nothing compared to God’s wrath against us. A giant is not bothered if an ant is angry against him; he just squeezes it with his little finger.

Man’s anger against God is insignificant compared to His anger against us. In order that we may have peace with God, God’s wrath against us must first be propitiated. To propitiate is to appease or to placate. God is a just God. He cannot simply overlook sin. Therefore if His wrath is not propitiated, God must maintain a righteous anger against us.

But how is God’s wrath propitiated? Paul tells us earlier that God Himself set Christ Jesus our Lord to be our propitiation. A propitiation is a sacrifice to turn away God’s wrath. Christ our Lord stood in our place to be punished for our sin.

Because of what He has done, we are justified. He rose from the dead because we are justified in God’s sight. But God does not declare to us that we are just until we receive Christ by faith. Until then, we do not individually enjoy justification, and we remain, in a sense, unjustified. Until then, we have no peace with God.

But when by faith we embrace Christ Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we are justified and have peace with God.

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” says Paul.

It is not faith that brings us peace. It is our Lord Jesus Christ. But faith is the hand by which we receive this peace. By faith we know we are righteous in Christ. By faith we know that God is no longer against us. By faith we know that we are no longer enemies of God, but are friends, nay, sons and daughters of God. A remnant of corruption still remains in us so that we know we do not love God as we should. But we know that God’s love for us transcends our corruption. We have been reconciled to God by Christ Jesus our Lord. God no longer deals with us as sinners deserving damnation, for our sins have been paid for. It was paid for at the Cross of Calvary!

But let us pause for a moment to consider what Paul is saying. We know in theory what it means to have peace with God. But what does it mean to have peace with God in practice? How does having peace with God shape our thinking? How should it affect our lives?

Notice how Paul writes in a way that assumes we all know what he is talking about. He does not say: “Therefore being justified by faith, let us have peace with God.” No, no; he says, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” And it is not just an intellectual notion. It is something we enjoy.[i] Elsewhere Paul speaks of how the peace of God surpasses understanding. If it surpasses understanding, it is not an intellectual notion. It is an experience.

Now, we must understand that there is a difference between knowing that we are justified and experiencing peace with God. Knowing we are justified is to know an objective fact. Experiencing peace with God is to enjoy a friendly, loving relationship with God without any fear or suspicion.

You know what it is to enjoy peace with someone, don’t you? Have you ever quarrelled with someone? I am sure you know how terrible it feels.

 

 
If you know that someone has anything against you (Mt 5:23-24), it is bound to affect you,—unless your heart has hardened into apathy. And the more important the person is to you, the more you will be affected. Now, when you know that such a person has something against you, you can have no peace in your heart with him.

Now, the natural man is estranged from God in this way. By nature our hearts are spiritually dead. But God has left in every heart a conscience and a sense of the knowledge of God. The natural man senses that God is against him. He has no real peace in his heart. If he has any peace at all, it is a false peace. The unconverted person may not normally admit that he has no peace with God. But let God smite him with a terrible illness or loss of property, and immediately he will feel God’s wrath. Immediately, he will confess that he has no peace with God.

Augustine of Hippo speaks of our hearts being restless until it finds rest in Christ. Every converted person knows that he had no peace until he was reconciled to God in Christ. It is when we are justified that we look back and know what a terrible conflict we were in. It is like: None of us really know what real quietness is until we go to a foreign country. I remember the first night I arrived in London some years ago. The silence was so deafening we could not sleep! We do not realize how noisy the environment in Singapore is until we travel overseas. So too the unconverted does not know what great conflict they are in until they taste the peace of God.

But now as believers, we enjoy real peace. We know a peace that the world does not understand. The world is used to conflict. It does not understand the peace of God. But all Christians know this peace. And we thank God for this peace.

This peace, says Paul, comes through the Lord Jesus Christ. This peace is a real and lasting peace. It does not depend on circumstance. It transcends circumstances, for Christ is above circumstances. It is He who bring circumstances to pass, for the Scripture teaches us that He is upholding the world by the word of His power!

When trouble comes upon an unconverted man, he feels that God is against him. But when trouble comes upon us, we can hide in the shadow of Christ and know that God will not harm us. The justified man has peace with God. Yes, we will often be troubled by circumstances. But we need not be. We can, and we should turn our eyes to the Lord Jesus. If we would do so, we will know that all which God brings into our lives, are for our good.

Dear Christian reader, are you anxious because of anything? Oh do not let Satan destroy the peace that you enjoy with God. Look away from yourself. Look away from the wind and the waves. Look beyond the mountain in your path. Look beyond the critical eyes and pointing fingers. Look to Christ! See that He is sitting on the throne as the administrator of the world. He is upholding all things by the Word of His power. He laid His life down for you. Do you think He will turn against you? Do you think God will turn against you?

If you are justified in Christ, you already have peace with God. Do not live as if you do not have it. Learn rather to enjoy your peace with God.

But “peace with God” is not the only benefit of justification.

…to be Continued Next Issue

—JJ Lim



[i] We know this because Paul would say near the end of his letter: Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing… (Rom 15:13).

If ‘joy’ is not an intellectual notion, then ‘peace’ is not. In fact, elsewhere, Paul shows us that he is concerned not about intellectual notions of peace, but real experience of peace, for he says: And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7).

The peace of God which passeth all understanding cannot be an intellectual notion of peace. Paul is concerned about real experience of peace with God!