Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; through whom also we have had our access by faith into this grace wherein we stand; and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
And not only so, but we also rejoice in our tribulations: knowing that tribulation worketh stedfastness; and stedfastness, approvedness; and approvedness, hope: and hope putteth not to shame; because the love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us.Romans 5:1-5 ASV
CHRIST AND MAN’S PEACE
Peace is the great legacy of Christ to them that love and obey him. In the annunciation, the angels brought word of “peace on earth to men of good will” (Luke 2:10); Zacharias prophesied of the Dayspring from on high who would “guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:79); and Paul spoke of the “joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13).
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27).
This peace, like every other spiritual blessing, is in Christ (Ephesians 1:3), a thought also expressed thus:
And the peace of God that passeth understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).
The insatiable desire for that heavenly peace is never abated until people rest in Christ.
In the great invitation (Matthew 11:28-30), Jesus spoke of the rest people would find and of the rest that he would give; and both are what Paul referred to here (Romans 5:1).
Despite the eternal truth that no worthwhile peace may be procured by means of any human device, people are, nevertheless, in constant pursuit of it, employing all kinds of strategies in their sad efforts to possess it; and, no matter how frequently time has demonstrated the ineffectiveness of one device or another, people still strive in the same old discredited ways to establish their peace, overlooking the availability of this dearest of all possessions as a free gift from God in Christ.
Note the various ways in which people strive vainly for that peace, a peace which God is willing and ready to give them when they turn to him:
(1) People seek peace by moving to the suburbs, planting a garden, and building a hedge, only to discover that peace is not a commodity that any realtor can sell.
(2) Some seek it by going to a psychiatrist, only to learn that no psychiatrist can convey to another the peace that he does not himself possess.
(3) Some seek peace through the ardent advocacy of this or that social system, or by participation in campaigns for the alleviation of alleged human woes; but it would be just as reasonable to suppose that one could cure twenty cases of measles by putting them all in the same room, as it is to suppose that any scheme for better housing, for example, could cure the agony of human beings whose wretchedness is due to their sin and not to their circumstances.
(4) Others seek peace by means of the bottle, the needle, and the pillbox; but the reliance upon such pitiful devices cannot evoke some miraculous genie, as in Moslem mythology, that can pour the oil of peace upon the turbulent waters of the raging storms that trouble the hearts of people.
Alcohol, narcotics, and drugs produce death instead of life, hell instead of heaven, agony instead of peace.
(5) Still others seek peace through the pursuit of the pleasures of life, only to find as sage, philosopher, and poet alike have found, that peace comes not from pleasures.
But pleasures are like poppies spread, You seize the flower, its bloom is shed; Or like the snow falls in the river, A moment white, then melts forever.
Sooner or later, the mad, whirling dervish of life will slow down, falter, and grind to an irresistible stop, where the facts of unrest and soul disquietude must inevitably be faced.
(6) And some even think to find peace by means of human achievement; but efficacy for the impartation of peace to the. human soul is not found in any such device.
Alexander of Macedon found only dust and ashes at the end of that rainbow, and so will any other who follows that illusion to its wretched end.
(7) Yet another device has commended itself, throughout history as being a source of peace for troubled people. It is a sacerdotal arrangement, in which a human contemporary is given a special kind of education, a special kind of garb, and a special kind of dignity in which such a one is elevated to a position of alleged sanctity, and then commissioned as an agent to procure peace and grant it to his fellow mortals.
As for the old superstition that any man can absolve another of his sins and impart any peace worth having, it is hereby affirmed in the light of that Word that liveth for ever and ever, that the scriptures teach no such thing. “Only God can forgive sins”! (Mark 2:5).
Through our Lord Jesus Christ … The way of receiving that peace is plain. The source is Jesus Christ. It may not be procured, therefore, through people.
Inscribed upon the north facade of the impressive tomb of William Rockefeller in Tarrytown cemetery, Tarrytown, New York, are these words of Augustine:
OUR HEARTS; O GOD; WERE MADE FOR THEE; AND NEVER SHALL THEY REST UNTIL THEY REST IN THEE.
How may people possess that peace of God through Christ?
By means of the obedience of faith so perfectly expounded by Paul in Romans. Atheism is no refuge for the soul.
Even the great achievers among the ranks of atheists, such as H. G. Wells, have confessed that peace is no part of their endowment.
In the beginning of this chapter, Paul enumerated the privileges which belong to believers in general.
We believe that such confusion as regards even the subject of what Paul was writing about is due to the preoccupation of scholars with what some people believe, that this new method of salvation, which, of course, means the wonderful proposition that people are justified by faith alone!
It is apparently a lost fact so many are unaware of, that there is no “new method” of salvation, but only one, namely, justification through obedient faith, a truth Paul went to great lengths to demonstrate in his appeal to the example of Abraham, showing at last that we too are saved just like Abraham was (though through meeting DIFFERENT tests), by WALKING “in the steps of Abraham’s faith” (Romans 5:4:12); in short, by believing, and proving it by obedience as he did.
Paul’s subject matter in the entire epistle to the Romans is not any new method of salvation, but the inherent righteousness of God.
It is, thus, the failure of scholars to identify properly Paul’s subject matter in Romans 4 that leaves them confused and contradictory as to what Paul had under discussion in Romans 5.
The same problem of how God can be righteous in allowing the tribulations and death that are the badge of all mortality is also within the focus of the first paragraph (Romans 5:1-11), where the true answer to the enigma lies in the fact that people may yet achieve eternal life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Justified by faith … has invariably the meaning of “justified by an obedient faith,” as in the case of Abraham. See the preceding chapter.
Both at the beginning and ending of Romans, Paul defined “faith” in the sense of its being “the obedience of faith”; and although this has been cited before, the extravagant and vociferous claims to the effect that Paul really meant “faith only” require repeated attention to the truth.
Through whom we received grace and apostleship, unto obedience of faith among all the nations, for his name’s sake (Romans 1:5).
But now is manifested, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, is made known unto all nations unto obedience of faith (Romans 16:26).
One may not enter or leave this epistle without confronting the fact that it was “the obedience of faith” which summed up the end and all of Paul’s apostleship (Romans 5:1:5), and that it is “the obedience of faith” of all nations which enables them to participate in redemption (Romans 16:26).
Thus, “obedience of faith” must be understood as included in Paul’s salvation “by faith.”
The following example from Paul’s writings shows how and when faith makes one a child of God:
For ye are all sons of God, through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ (Galatians 3:26,27).
Thus, faith saves one by leading him to accept forgiveness of sins in God’s appointed institution, the spiritual body of Christ; and salvation is accomplished when faith becomes obedient to the degree of causing him to be baptized into Christ, and to put on Christ.
Even in the very epistle we are studying, and where so many allegations to the contrary are allegedly grounded, Paul went so far as to define exactly the point in the time sequence of the believer’s obedient actions when his salvation actually occurs.
But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being THEN made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness (Romans 6:17,18 KJV).
The omission of “then” in some of the translations does not remove the meaning, for it is implied anyway; and even Phillips retained it in his rendition.
Thus, a man is saved “by faith” WHEN he obeys the gospel, and not before.
It is not amiss, then, to declare unequivocally that baptism for the remission of sins on the part of a true and penitent believer is salvation “by faith.” If that is not true, how could Christ have said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16)?
We have peace with God … should read “Let us have peace with God,” according to many scholars; and that rendition is given as an alternate reading in the English Revised Version (1885) margin.
The difference turns upon two very similar Greek words, [ECHOMEN] and [ECHOOMEN], the latter meaning “we have,” and the other meaning “let us have.”
The scholars assure us that the preponderance of manuscript authority favors the first, “let us have”
The assertion that textual authority for “we have” is also good is not true.
A number of expedients are advanced in order to justify the use of the indicative (“we have”), such as that, when speaking, Paul had in mind the short vowel, but that his amanuensis Tertius wrote the long vowel by mistake.
The sense must conquer the letter, we are told; but the letter alone conveys the sense, and we change the sense when we change the letter.
The actual letter of what we have received from them, must take precedence over what any man thinks they might have meant!
The application of this principle will resolve the question of “faith” vs. “faith only,” since it was of “faith” that Paul wrote, and never of “faith only,” the latter being urged as Paul’s “meaning,”
Peace with God … means that the fierce rebellion against God is no longer within the heart; the war is over, and man has submitted to his Maker; and the ensuing new status changes everything.
God is angry with the wicked every day; and Paul described the Gentiles in their state of rebellion as “children of wrath.”
That wrath pertains to every man who has not come into the inheritance of peace with God in Christ.
It was to that peace which Augustine referred when he said, “Thou, O God, hast touched me and translated me into thy peace!”