Finding Peace With God

 "Therefore remember, that you, once Gentiles in the flesh--- who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands--that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broke down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far off, and to those who were near." Ephesians 2:11-17

     A while back I preached in a Bible Conference with three men called to preach in the early days of my ministry. One of the preachers was named Bob Hamblen. He has been a very effective pastor and evangelist for a number of years. As I prepared for this message I thought back to the night Bob got saved. I came to Bobís house on visitation. He welcomed me into his house and later I began to witness to him. I asked, "Bob, if you were to die tonight do you know for sure that God would receive you into His heaven?" He looked at me with such an intensity I thought I had made him angry. He then blurted out, "Preacher, I would give anything in the world if I knew that. At night I lie awake in terror that I will die unsaved and spend eternity in a burning hell." It was my privilege to share with him and his wife, Rose, the old story that "Jesus died for our sins and rose again, able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him." That night Bob and Rose entered into a relationship of peace with God.

Mankind Began In Peace With God

     Molded by God from the dust of the earth and made alive by the breath of God, man opened his eyes for the first time in fellowship with God. In the first surgical operation of humanity God took a rib from Adamís side and fashioned for him "a completer" that God called Eve. Together, they lived in a paradise called Eden and evenings were spent walking and talking with God.

The Peace Between Man and God was Broken by Man

     Eve was deceived by the subtle serpent to violate the one prohibition God had given. Adam loved his wife more than the God Who had created him and given him his wife. He willfully chose to join his wife in violating Godís command and thus join his wife in spiritual death rather than remaining spiritually alive and in peace with God.

     Man turned his back on God and the holy and righteous God had to turn His back on man. All of manís posterity would be born with a nature in rebellion against God and unless reconciled to God, would live under the wrath of God.

     "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." John 3:36.

God Made Provision For Mankind To Be Restored To Peace With God.

A Covering for Adam and Eve
     Manís attempt to make himself acceptable to God fell short. Adam and Eve made coverings out of leaves. God rejected those but provided coverings from the skins of animals. These skins suggested that peace with God would be provided by an innocent substitute receiving the death penalty for sin in the place of sinful man.

Abelís Sacrificial Lamb Accepted
     The first two sons of Adam and Eve brought Godís provision into focus. Cain, the firstborn son, offered to God the fruit of the ground because he was a tiller of the ground. Abel offered a lamb because he was a keeper of the flocks. God accepted Abelís offering, but rejected Cainís. Both young men offered what was convenient, but God sent a message that convenience is not a factor in man being restored to peace with God. The New Testament gives this explanation of Abelís offering. "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the witness that he was righteousÖ" Hebrews 11:4. Since "faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17) we can believe that God had given revelation as to how He would make it possible for mankind to be restored to peace with Him.

Isaac Spared By A Ram Substitute
     God told Abraham to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah. The heavy hearted Abraham was willing because God had given Isaac to Abraham by a miracle birth and promised that through Isaac Abrahamís descendents would "become a great and mighty nation and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him". Genesis 18:18. (See also Hebrews 11:18, 19). At this point Abraham took the knife in hand. God restrained him and provided a ram as a substitute. However, the major point is easily missed. By putting Genesis 24:8 and 14 together the following truth can be seen "God will provide Himself the lamb (Jesus Christ)ÖAnd Abraham called the name of that place THE LORD WILL PROVIDE as it is said to this day (the day Moses wrote Genesis) "In the mount of the LORD it will be provided." In 30 AD Jesus, "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29) was offered as a sacrifice for the sins of the world on Mt. Moriah. Jesus was crucified on Golgotha, a northern portion of Mount Moriah.

Godís Covenant With Abraham
     Godís covenant (agreement) with Abraham is of supreme importance because it is the covenant upon which all following covenants between God and man are based. There are several aspects of Godís covenant with Abraham, but the most important one is, "And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." Genesis 12:3b. That promise was made more specific after Abrahamís faith and obedience. "And in your seed (a particular descendant) all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice." Genesis 22:18 (See also Genesis 26:4 and 28:14). Who was this "seed" through whom all nations of the earth are blessed. It is the descendant of Abraham after the flesh and Godís Son by miracle birth. We know Him as Jesus Christ. Our New Testament makes this abundantly clear. See Acts 3:25, 26; Galatians 3:16-19. What is the blessings that all nations receive through Him? It is the provision for even the worst of sinners in every nation to be restored to peace with God through the sacrifice Jesus made for their sins on the cross.

Godís Covenant With Israel Through Moses
     The Mosaic Covenant (agreement) is primarily composed of the Law, the Priesthood; the Sacrifices; the Tabernacle (and later, the Temple).

     The law reveals 1.) that God is perfectly holy and just 2.) that man is sinful and totally incapable of saving himself by fully obeying Godís commands, and 3.) that sinful man desperately needs a Savior. "Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith." Galatians 3:24

     The priesthood and the tabernacle/temple reveal that an innocent substitute must receive the full condemnation of the law in the place of the sinner. Only this understanding unlocks the meaning of the Day of Atonement, the Trespass offering, the Sin offering, and the morning and evening offering of a lamb. It is even more clear in the offering of the Passover Lamb which was incorporated into Godís covenant with Israel through Moses.

     Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of every teaching, every symbol and every ritual in Godís covenant with Israel through Moses. Many Israelites have come to see the truth down through the centuries and found peace with God. Unfortunately, even more have not seen this truth yet.

The Prophecies
     Josh McDowellís book, "Evidence That Demands A Verdict" lists 333 prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Let us briefly consider three events:

The Birth of Christ
     "Therefore the LORD Himself will give you a sign: Behold a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14. When Matthew quoted this in regard to Jesus he pointed out that Immanuel means "God with us". Matthew 1:23 (See also Isaiah 9:6,7 and Micah 5:2)

The Death of Christ
     I would like to quote and comment on the entire 53rd chapter of Isaiah but space does not allow. Please think deeply on verses 5, 6 for they tell clearly what God has done to make it possible for man to experience peace with God. "But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him."  (NASB)

The Resurrection of Christ
     King David was inspired to write, "Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forever more." Psalm 16:9-11

     Both Peter and Paul quoted these verses in their public preaching to Israel. They pointed out how Jesus Christ was the only person in history Who could have fulfilled them because He rose again before His body saw corruption to live "forever". See Acts 2:25-36 and Acts 13:33-39.

The Official Introduction Of Jesus

     All four gospels tell us that John the Baptist was chosen by God to officially introduce Jesus Christ. His introduction is most concisely stated in John 1:29 " ÖBehold, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world." As a sacrificial lamb Jesus would receive the punishment for the sins of the entire world of mankind, past, present and future. This is what He had been fore ordained to do before the creation of mankind and was a settled fact in the mind of God. This is the reason God could turn His face back towards man in all ages and offer even the worst of sinners forgiveness and salvation. (See 2nd Peter 1:18-20).

The Testimony of Jesus

     To one of the respected leaders in Israel named Nicodemus Jesus said, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:14, 15. Jews and Gentiles, nice sinners and wicked sinners may all receive eternal life and peace with God through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

The Resurrected, Living Christ

     How important is it to have a resurrected, living Christ? Paul wrote, "Öif Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vainÖwe are even found to be false witnesses of GodÖyour faith is worthless; you are still in your sinsÖ. (1st Corinthians 15:14-17 NASB).  Then he adds, "But now Christ has been raised from the deadÖ" Verse 20

     The cross is empty because the wrath of the lawís condemnation has fallen once for all. The tomb is also empty and we have a resurrected, living Savior able and willing to save all who come to God by him. Those who trust Him by faith to save them can claim Romans 5:1 "Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scriptures quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted

 

 

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