March 8, 2010


Are you old enough to remember the two-fingered peace sign that seemed to be all the rage in the tie-dyed, long-haired days of old? Or maybe the peace logo that, if you don’t look really carefully, could double as a Mercedes Benz hood ornament? Even if you’re of more recent vintage, you only have to read bumper-stickers or hang out in a few coffee shops to realize that “peace” is quite a popular word in the post-modern western world (and we should all pray for it, whether we hang out in coffee shops or not!). And, if you are in the T-shirt, bumper sticker, or trinket businesses, "peace" can be quite a profitable word, too!

But before the word “peace” was marketable; before it was popular, the word “peace” was biblical! In Christ, through the gospel … God’s people have peace on several fronts.

Having been forgiven of our sins, we have peace with ourselves. We have been washed clean from a guilty conscience, according to Hebrews 10.22. And isn’t that good news! I know longer have to wrestle with my own guilt the way I once did. There is peace in my soul! In addition, in Jesus we also have peace with one another. The dividing wall between Jew and Greek, male and female, slave and free, black and white, etc. has been broken down by the gospel (see Ephesians 2.14 and Galatians 3.28).

And then, in Romans 5.1-5, Paul speaks of two more types of peace that come to us in Jesus:

In Jesus, we have “peace with God” (Romans 5.1). We were once under “the wrath of God” (Romans 1.18) because, even though we knew God (Romans 1.21), we “did not honor Him as God or give thanks.” So God was our enemy. And what an important doctrine that is! If we believe, with so much of our culture, that God is a leather-faced old grandpa who likes to magically pull nickels out of our ears and who would never hurt a flea … then the whole rest of the book of Romans will fall upon deaf ears. If God is a bleeding-heart pushover, then it’s not really saying much that, in Jesus, we have “peace with God”. For, in that scenario, such peace was never in doubt! But if God hates sin, then it is a remarkable thing that He gave His own Son to die underneath the wrath that we deserve, so that those of us who were one-time enemies of the Lord might now have “peace with God”!

The gospel does not present a mushy, fluffy God … but rather a good, kind, and yet morally perfect and upright Judge. And, therefore, to have “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” is no small potatoes! Indeed, it is far better, even, than the “whirled peas” that so many bumper stickers visualize!

But the gospel does not stop there. Not only do we have, in Jesus, peace with ourselves, and with one another, and (most amazingly of all) with God … but in the latter part of Romans 5.1-5 we discover that, in Jesus, we also have peace in the midst of trials. Not only does the gospel bring us peace with God, but it also enables us (v.3) to rejoice in our sufferings. Why? Because those sufferings prepare us for heaven. How so? By producing in us (vv.4-5) a perseverance that leads to character … both of which together give us a strong assurance (or “hope”) that we really are going to live with God forever.

The gospel promises heaven. And difficulty reaffirms to us that heaven is really our home. And if heaven is really our home, then the stinger of difficulty is dulled quite a bit, isn’t it? If heaven is really our home, then we can make it through the difficulties encountered in this fallen world without breaking down. Our affliction is only momentary if heaven awaits. And therefore, we can have peace in the midst of trials.

So the next time you see a world peace bumper sticker … pray that the dream might someday come true. But thank God that, in Jesus, you have (even today) a foundation for peace that the world knows nothing about … not so much in the peace sign, but in the cross.

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