Summary: This message is from my expository series through the book of Romans.
“Amazing Grace, Amazing Gifts”
December 7, 2008
William Randolph Hearst, the famous newspaper publisher and a collector of rare art, heard of a particular piece of art that he determined was a “must-have” piece, and so a search was initiated to find this rare work of art in order that it could be purchased and added to his collection. Finally, after an exhausting search, the report came back that the piece had indeed been found—stored in one of Hearst’s own warehouses! He had acquired the piece previously, but forgotten the purchase. He didn’t know what he had…
And then there’s this certain young lady. We move into the house in early September, but for a couple of months, she sleeps on the mattress and box springs, but without the frame, because we cannot find the nuts and bolts anywhere. “Are you sure they aren’t in your room, dear?” “No, I’ve looked, and they aren’t there,” came the reply. And then a certain girl’s mother decides to do some work in this certain girl’s closet, and…you know how this one turns out, don’t you?
What do these illustrations have to do with our text today? I’m concerned that many Christians understand some of the basics of their salvation but do not realize that along with God’s amazing grace comes some amazing gifts from God—and that’s our topic today!
Today, we reach a new movement in Paul’s argument; he’s gone to great lengths to build his case for justification by God’s amazing grace through faith alone in Christ; now, he moves to the amazing gifts that are ours as a result of our salvation in Him.
God’s Salvation Gifts include:
I. Peace with God
A. The nature of this peace
The hippies of the 1960’s hung out in Greenwich Village with the Beatles in their brains and LSD in their veins, but they all were looking for “peace, baby!” Today, the New Agers ask us to “visualize world peace”; some wags have taken off on this and ask us to “visualize whirled peas”, and probably, we’ll accomplish as much good doing the latter as doing the former!
What is this peace? Is this “peace” referring to feelings or fact? The Eagles sang about having a “Peaceful, Easy Feeling”; is that what’s in view here? We also use “peace” to describe an absence of hostilities between nations, between previously warring parties. To what does “peace with God” refer? In this case, it refers to established fact, done deal, settled transaction. Scripture tells us that the natural man is alienated from God because of sin, and under His righteous wrath. “Peace with God” refers to the settled state between God and an individual, whereby there exists no breach at all between the two.
B. What causes a lack of it?
Colossians 1:19-22 tells us that we are by nature “alienated”, “enemies of God”. Before coming to Christ, we are positioned as the enemies of God. That is our natural status. We may not feel that way…we may have no overt hatred, no outward animosity; we may even have strong feelings of sentiment toward God—how many people do we know who will talk about “the good Lord”, but have no real interest in a committed discipleship relationship with Him?
But remember: the issue is not our feelings. Before Christ, every person is in a state of either conscious or unconscious rejection of Him. What’s more, God’s righteous wrath, as we’ve said before, is directed at your sin. So the question, “what causes a lack of this peace” is answered by remembering the alienation from God that is true of every person because of sin. And if there is a God in Heaven, and the Bible is true, then this is the biggest problem man faces, bar none.
C. What is the means of peace with God?
The basis is Christ’s work on Calvary and His resurrection. The means is my simple faith. I cannot accomplish this through self-improvement. God justifies the believing sinner, and in chapter 4 we’ve seen that Abraham is used as an example of this.
D. What are the results of this peace?
In one sense, we could point to everything else in this message as flowing from this peace with God, and we’d be correct in that assessment. But we will treat the other things separately, and only mention one result of peace with God: the peace of God. The Old Testament Hebrew word is “shalom”, a deeper word than our notions of peace, and it’s NT equivalent refers to the full sense of peace that we feel because of our relationship with God in Christ; it is this “peace of God” that Paul tells us we need to allow to rule in our hearts. Here’s the promise from Philippians 4:6, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” One of the worst things we could wish for someone would be “peace of mind” absent peace with God! Think about it: having peaceful feelings which are not based upon the reality of peace with God would only be to have an anesthetic, rather than a cure. If I have a cancer, I don’t want a pain killer, at least not first and foremost; I want a cure! Feelings of peace which flow from the reality of peace, though, are a blessing from God reserved for those who are followers of Christ. Peace with God is a major blessing of His grace.