July 19, 2018

Peace with God

Peace with God

by Allen Dvorak

Editor’s Note: Here is an article, written by Allen Dvorak, that appears in the December issue of Truth Magazine. It is part of the theme section entitled "Peace on Earth" that also focuses on "Jesus: Prince of Peace," "Peace with Self," "Peace with Others, " "Peace, Peace, Where There Is No Peace," and "I Came Not to Bring Peace, But a Sword." If you find this helpful, please consider subscribing.  See http://www.truthmagazine.com/ for more information.

Synopsis: Maintaining spiritual focus for you and your family is a constant effort of balancing priorities, activities, and available time.

Synopsis: Through the terms revealed in the gospel, God graciously reconciles sinful men to Himself, thus fulfilling a spiritual need that could never otherwise be satisfied.

When Isaiah saw the Lord on His throne, he said, "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!" (Isa. 6:5, ESV). Isaiah's response was similar to others in the Scriptures who found themselves in the presence of a holy God (Ezek. 1:28; Judg. 13:22; Luke 5:8; Rev. 1:17).

The holiness of God is the most important trait of deity for understanding the dynamics of the relationship between God and man. The Scriptures are replete with affirmations of God's holiness (Ps. 11:7; 116:5; 119:137; 145:17). The seraphim that Isaiah saw proclaimed the holiness of the Lord: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory" (6:3), as did the four living creatures that John saw (Rev. 4:8). Describing the righteousness of God in terms of light and darkness, the apostle John wrote, "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth" (1 John 1:5b-6).

Peter quoted from Psalm 34 to describe the implication of God's holiness for His relationship with man: "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous… but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil" (1 Pet. 3:12). Isaiah explained to the nation of Judah that their troubles were not because God was powerless to help them, but "your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear" (Isa. 59:1-2).

An individual's sin causes a separation between him and God; it fractures an amicable spiritual relationship. Paul described such individuals as "alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds," and "ungodly," essentially causing enmity between them and God (Col. 1:21; Rom. 5:10). When we sin, we become enemies of God by our own actions! To emphasize the seriousness of this separation, the Scriptures describe it as a "death" (Eph. 2:1-2, 5).

What sinful man needs is to be reconciled with God. In human relationships, it is typically the one responsible for the rift in the relationship who must make amends in order for reconciliation to be possible. On one occasion, I bought candy and flowers for my wife. The store clerk, learning that the purchases were for my wife, asked in a joking manner, "What in the world did you do, that you have to buy these gifts?" The assumption is that the transgressor should be responsible for initiating the reconciliation.

But there's the difficulty. Man, by his sin, caused the separation from his Creator, but he is unable to offer what is necessary to mend the relationship. Until man's sin is removed, the relationship between man and God cannot be restored. As Paul rhetorically asked, "What fellowship has light with darkness?" (2 Cor. 6:14b).

The Hebrews writer stated an important principle with regard to the removal of sin: "…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins" (Heb. 9:22b). The Law of Moses illustrated this truth by means of its sacrificial system. Atonement under the Law required the offering by the sinner of a physically unblemished animal, its blood being presented as representative of its life (Lev. 4; 17:11). No three-legged or blind-in-one-eye offering would have been acceptable—it had to be a perfect animal! The Hebrews writer also revealed that the blood of bulls and goats (a reference to the Day of Atonement ritual [Lev. 16]) was actually insufficient, in and of itself, for the removal of spiritual blemishes (10:4). So what can man offer for his sin so that his relationship with a holy God can be restored? No animal suffices and he cannot even offer himself, since he is blemished by sin!

To enjoy peace with sinful man, God did an amazing thing! He provided the perfect sacrifice necessary for the forgiveness (i.e., removal) of sins, thus permitting reconciliation. Speaking of Christ, Paul wrote:

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him (Col. 1:19-22, ESV).

A sinless man, Jesus—God in the flesh, died on the cross, thereby offering Himself as the ultimate sacrifice for sin and "making peace by the blood of His cross." Sinful men can be "reconciled to God by the death of his Son" (Rom. 5:10). Speaking of Jews and Gentiles, Paul wrote that both could be reconciled to God "in one body through the cross" (Eph. 2:16b).

It wasn't sinful man providing a sacrifice to restore his relationship with a holy God; it was a holy God graciously providing the sin offering that could bring peace to the relationship (Isa. 53:5, 10). As Paul wrote, God "through Christ reconciled us to Himself" (2 Cor. 5:18). The story of the cross is the message of reconciliation, a message of grace and love, that appeals to sinful men to accept the reconciliation that God offers to all (2 Cor. 5:19; 1 Tim. 2:3-4; Eph. 2:17-18).

This righteousness provided by God is received through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:21-25). Believers are "baptized into His death" that they may receive the purifying benefit of His blood shed in that death (Romans 6:3). That's how peace is made by the blood of His cross! Having been justified by faith (an obedient faith), we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and we rejoice in God because of the reconciliation He has provided (Rom. 5:1, 11). If separation from God because of sin is spiritual death, then reconciliation through Christ is life and peace!

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