The other day, Fi and I were up on the edge of the Pennines. The sun was shining. The air was clear and clean. And the view across to the Lake District was superb.
As we sat on the grass, there was almost complete silence apart from sound of the skylarks singing, and the lapwings calling. Looking out over God’s creation, I had a wonderful sense of peace.
But when I got home on and switched on the television news, that sense of peace soon evaporated as I looked at a very different world; a world shaped and fashioned by humanity.
The pursuit of peace, like the pursuit of happiness, is perfectly understandable; commendable even. But many find peace, like happiness, to be elusive; … here today and gone tomorrow.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes about a different kind of peace. A peace that lasts!
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1, NIV)
As we look around our world today, we see so much that is broken. We wish it wasn’t so. We yearn to see things put right. You cannot fix this broken world. But you can find peace with God.
When Paul writes about peace with God, he is not writing about a warm, fuzzy feeling; that sense of wellbeing I felt up on the fells. He is writing about a deep peace that comes as a result of being put right with God.
As children, we are told to pull our socks up and to try harder. The Bible tells us that no matter how hard we try we can never earn God’s favour. After all, He knows everything there is to know about us. We can pull the wool over other people’s eyes. But we cannot make our peace with God by impressing Him. Instead, peace with God comes through faith in what God has done for us.
There are 2 parts to being put right with God.
At the heart of Christianity is the cross of Christ. God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NIV)
On the cross, Jesus takes the guilt associated with our all sin upon Himself. All our sin, past, present, and future. The Church boldly declare that “Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
This means that when we stand before God on the last day, even though he knows everything there is to know about us, the verdict on our lives is a resounding, “Not Guilty!” NOT because of anything we have done, but because of what God in has done for us Christ Jesus.
But being declared “Not Guilty” is not all. There is a second part to us being put right with God.
The Bible calls on us to be holy as God is holy. And yet each one of contributes to the brokenness of the world around us. All of us! We are all far from holy.
There is only one man who has kept God’s commandments, and not contributed to the brokenness of the world. That man is Jesus Christ. He lived for us a perfect life of righteousness.
The Christian gospel, or Good News, is that God in Jesus Christ takes our sin upon Himself, and, in its place, credits us with the righteous of Jesus Christ.
So, there are two parts to the God Lord putting us right with Himself. Our sin is transferred to Christ on the cross, and his righteousness is transferred to us. And there is more!
In reconciling Himself to us in this way, God establishes a friendship and peace between Himself and us. This is the “amazing grace” described in the great hymn.
“But vicar,” you may ask, “If God has done all this for us, why is the world still so broken?”
The answer is: Because men and women continue to rebel against God. They reject His offer. Peace with God ONLY comes through faith in Jesus Christ, … and in what He has done for us.
I wonder! Have you accepted our Lord’s give of reconciliation, that lasting peace which is ours when we believe and trust in Jesus? If not, why not? Lasting peace with the one true God is only a prayer away.
Let us pray.
Lord God, I have not loved you with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.
I am sorry for the ways I’ve lived, rebelling against you in so many ways.
I now understand who Jesus is. I understand that when he died on the cross, he was being punished in my place, so that I could be forgiven and have eternal life. I gratefully accept that gracious gift.
From now on, please give me the desire to obey you, and help me live the Christian life, whatever the cost. Amen.
This message is based on Romans chapter 5, verses 1 to 8. If you have found this message helpful, please share it with others.
Revd Stephen Robertson
14th June 2020