Pastor’s Class Notes
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Part 1: WHAT PEACE WITH GOD IS
Romans 5:1 “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace
with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Introduction: Paul has explained the need for justification by faith, defended it, and illustrated it. Now in this fifth chapter he calls our attention to some of the wonderful results of being justified by faith.
The first benefit is peace with God. Sin causes antagonism and tension between a man and God. The Lord loves us, but evil is a formidable barrier. However, through faith in Christ, our sin is forgiven, our debt is paid, and friendship is established with God. Peace with God–let us examine it under three headings:
I. PEACE WITH GOD IS RARE
Man everywhere is haunted by miseries when he stops to consider the thought of God. When pondering Him, men become uneasy and apprehensive. Hence, they try to blot God entirely from their mind. Every day, the rising sun casts a shadow of the volcanic Mt. Etna across the plains of Sicily. It is the ever present reminder of the doom that might erupt at any second from the crater. It is a grim thought, and the inhabitants refuse to so much as mention the giant phantom mountain. Even so men ignore God, but the shadow of doom daily inches across their soul. They feel as if some doom is ever on their trail.
Men apart from God think of Him as angry with them. And that is exactly the case until one finds peace with God through faith. Until then men dread to talk about God, sin, death, and judgment to come. Watch the lost man at the funeral of a loved one. There is mental fidgeting, despair, distraction. Unsaved people quake before death because of a fear of the unknown and a dread of the God who rules that unknown.
A pastor once visited in the home of a lady whose husband had just recently died. For the first time she was forced to ponder death and God. The pastor found her in deep mourning not only for her loss of a husband, but also for her lack of peace about death itself. After listening to the gospel story, with all its simplicity and beauty, she received Christ, and her mental anguish was dissipated. Oh that the same would happen to you today. It is rare to find someone whot is comfortable with God, but by faith it can happen to you.
II. PEACE WITH GOD IS REQUIRED
Peace with God must come first if you are to have a personal relationship with God. It is no accident that Paul listed this as the first blessing that issues from salvation.
Unfortunately, many people want a lot of other things before they want peace with God. They want everything to work out okay in the end, but right now peace with God is not a priority. They want fun and gifts from God more than they want God Himself. But salvation must begin with God Himself. You must deal with Him first, and then consider receiving good things from His hand.
Way down deep, in a man’s heart of hearts, his primal desire is to be right with God. It is a God-given desire. However, the Devil dupes us, and poisons our minds into thinking that pleasures should come first, peace with God can wait. The result of such thinking is deadly: Men want to go to Heaven, but live Hellish lives here; men want to live with God there, but dance with the Devil here. Foolishness! Friend, the most pressing and urgent message of Christianity is that you desperately need peace with God. The man who is more interested in pleasures than in being right with God is foolish.
You may not be here tomorrow to enjoy fun and games. But you are without a doubt going to meet God someday face to face. Your life is uncertain. The Bible calls it a vapor. The one and only thing you need to be concerned about is whether or not you are right with God. It is the one essential. Peace with God is required.
III. PEACE WITH GOD IS RESTFUL
Being right with God is desirable. It assures and satisfies. Peace with God means that all of one’s life–past, present, future–is covered and taken care of by Jesus.
A. THE PAST
Peace with God means that the sins of the past have been forgiven. It is hard to enjoy the presence of one who holds a grudge against you. Social contact is much easier when the burden of past guilt is gone. That is exactly the case of the man who has found peace with God through justification by faith. God forgives the past and throws it behind his back.
C. S. Robinson used to illustrate this truth by using a story from the life of Martin Luther. The Reformer once dreamed that Satan entered his room with a vast roll of parchment, on which was written every one of Luther’s former sins.
With a burst of hellish laughter, the adversary threw it on the floor, still holding one end in his hand that the scroll might unroll its full length. The frightened man was compelled to read, hour after hour, the terrible list of all the wicked deeds he had done in all his life. The longer he read, the weaker his heart became. The gravity of his sins weighed him down.
Suddenly the devil called him by name, and pointed to some words along the top of the roll. Luther looked up and read aloud, “All sin.” Then he realized that none one of his evil deeds had been left off that scroll.
It was more than Luther could bear. Hell appeared opening at once under his feet. His agony was intense. As he began to sink, the devil tried to make his agony even worse by saying the scroll had been made by God Himself. The Lord knew about every sin Luther had ever committed.
The mention of God brought Luther to his senses. He snatched the list from his enemy, and unrolling it one more turn, in the other direction, discovered the remainder of the inscription: “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” Luther immediately realized that God had massed together all his sins in order to declare forgiveness for them, to state that they were covered by Jesus’ blood. The devil immediately retreated, and with a shout of joy Martin Luther woke up.
If God has forgiven you, no longer worry about your past sins. Don’t let them keep you from enjoying the Lord.
B. THE PRESENT
Peace with God involves a confidence at all times about one’s relationship with God. You can have peace only with someone whom you feel comfortable with. The heart of the believer should rest in Jesus as a bride rests in a love she cannot explain, but is experiencing and enjoying.
The Devil taunts, “You are no angel.” But the believer responds, “I know. I am a sinner, and Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Peace with God teaches us that He loves us in spite of the fact that we are sinners. He loves us even when we sin. There is ever a source of wonder and amazement, never a license to sin.
God was meant to be enjoyed by man. You should have that kind of relationship with Him.
C. THE FUTURE
Peace with God involves an assurance that the relationship will remain secure forever. You can have peace with someone only when you can trust that person to remain faithful through all future years to come.
For the believer, the future looks good. From the moment of conversion, God protects and safeguards our lives. Even when we sin, He disciplines us as children rather than punish us as criminals. And what about beyond this life? Even the threat of everlasting vengeance is no longer considered. The danger of Hell is forever removed.
A young sailor was once about to leave for his first cruise. He became concerned about his everlasting destiny, and stopped in the East End of London to speak with a clergyman. The sailor listened to the way of salvation but did not surrender to Christ. The pastor used Romans 5:1 repeatedly, but in vain.
Months later another sailor came to the preacher’s home. The visitor asked if the pastor remembered speaking to another sailor in the past. The clergyman did remember, and asked what had become of the lad.
The sailor said that he, too, had tried to win the young man to Jesus. But there had been no evidence of repentance in the lad’s life. One day there was a sudden catastrophe on the boat. The young lad was separated from this comrade who lived to tell the story.
The living sailor had made it just in time to one of the small boats. As they were pulling away, the young lad who was left behind called out his comrade’s name. As he clung to the rigging of the sinking ship, he yelled out this message, “Good-bye, mate! If you get ashore safe, inquire for the Reverend of Limehouse Docks in London. Tell him that here in the presence of God I can say at last, ‘Being justified by faith, I have peace with God through my Lord Jesus Christ.'” As he finished the words, the ship gave her last lurch and the ship disappeared in a watery grave.
Peace with God involves confidence about your future with God. Do you have it?
Conclusion: Peace with God is not natural to us. We are not born with it. It is a gift that must be received by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is a seething world of discontent. And the disturbing force is a lack of peace with God. Men hate to confess it, but it is nevertheless true. Your first need is to confess lostness and find peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.