Peace to You

Ephesians 1:1-2
August 12, 2018
Abraham Hong

 

We are taking the time to consider the greeting or salutation of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians - opening words that are so much more than just a simple hello. And the saints who were in Ephesus received a wonderful blessing and reminder about their peace with God.

Brothers and sisters, dear saints who are in Christ Jesus, we are blessed with God’s peace.

This peace is not some kind of inner meditative tranquility where you let go of all the stress and noise of life and get in touch with a psychological calm as you sit on a yoga mat. And this peace is not something that can be attained by military treaties or economic alliances or resolutions by the Security Council of the United Nations, not something celebrated by the Olympic Games, not something idealized by contestants in beauty pageants.

God’s peace is about this. It is about being right with God. It is about reconciliation. It is about the restoration of a relationship. This is the peace of God. And we are blessed to have this.

This is such good news for us, especially if you consider how bad the bad news was for us. The opposite of peace is war. And before repenting and believing in Jesus Christ, you were at war against God, and God was at war against you.

You were once a sinner who sinned against God. You were terrible. You were the worst. God is holy. God is the best. God made you. God is the king. And you sinned against him. Therefore, you were at war against God. It may not have felt like a war. Satan is good at giving people fake news about who they really are and what they really do. But God says that we were once his enemies.

God’s anger and wrath was once ready to be delivered against you. God is holy. God is just. You were disobedient. You were rebellious. God made you. God is the king. And you sinned against him. Therefore, God was at war against you. It may not have felt like a war. Satan is good at giving people fake news about who God really is and what God should do to us. But God says that we were once deserving of hell and his eternal punishment.

Brothers and sisters, dear saints, this is a serious and sober reminder about our past. We were not at peace with God. Before repenting and believing in Jesus Christ, we were at war against God, and God was at war against us. We were not right with God. We were alienated from him. Our relationship with God was not a relationship of blessing. It was a relationship of curse.

Brothers and sisters, dear saints, is it not wonderful then that the greeting of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians ends with these words? “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

God the Father showed us grace. We received unmerited favor. We got a love that was not deserved. We got an approval that was not fair. God the Father showed us grace.

And God the Father gave us peace. He did it by so loved us that he gave his only Son, Jesus Christ, for us, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

It was the person and the work of Christ that secured our peace. We have peace with God the Father because God the Son died for us. Jesus’ work was very technical. For there to be reconciliation, there had to be a removal of sin from us. Jesus took our sin and credited it to himself and died with it. He removed our sin. For there to be restoration, there had to be an absorption of wrath. Jesus took the wrath and the punishment and the hell that we deserved and died because of it. For there to be a relationship, there had to be He absorbed the wrath we deserve. Because of all of this work, we are now right with God the Father. Because of all of this work, we have peace from God.

God’s peace is about this. It is about being right with God. It is about reconciliation. It is about the restoration of a relationship. This is the peace of God. And we are blessed to have this.

Praise be to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! He is truly the Prince of Peace. Jesus reconciled us to the Father. Now we have a new covenant with God, a covenant of grace. There is no more condemnation. There is no more hostility or enmity. We are not God’s enemies anymore. We are God’s children and family. He is not against us. He is Immanuel. He is God with us.

This is mind-blowing. This peace is the core essence of what our salvation is all about. What have we bascially been saved from? We have been saved from the wrath and punishment of God. This is the whole point of Jesus Christ. Peace. And this peace is the core essence of what was we lost in Adam and what we were meant to have in the first place. Being right with God is not some kind of afterthought or plan B. Being right with God, having a relationship with God and having face-to-face communion with God was the original goal of humanity. This puts our peace with God into proper perspective. Peace with God is the best thing in the whole world because bring right with God is what we were created to have in the first place. This is the whole point of our lives. Peace. This peace is the core essence of the entire Levitical sacrifical system in the Old Testament. So many animals died in order to point forward to how God would make right his relationship with his people. This peace is the core essence of what King David was talking about when he wrote in Psalm 51:11, “Cast me not away from your presence….” This peace is the core essence of why Jesus ate and drank with tax collectors and sinners. This peace is the core essence of what we are going to enjoy in the new heavens and the new earth. And this peace is the core essence of the name Irene. The word peace in the original Greek is eirene. If you know any girls named Irene, now you know the meaning of their name.

Shortly before his death, our Lord Jesus Christ said these wonderful words to his disciples in John 14:27. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” It is absolutely true that the death of Christ secured for us peace. But there is more. The resurrection and exaltation of Christ is the arena and the fountain of our peace. 

We have peace. But it is not our peace. It is literally Jesus’ peace. For he said to his disciples, “…my peace I give to you.” This peace is a peace that uniquely belongs to Christ. And it is a peace that is perfect. Jesus has entered into his sabbath rest. He received the reward of the covenant of works that Adam failed to earn. He has the ultimate peace. And the crazy amazing thing is that he gives it to us as we are united with him and as we wait next in line following right after him to join him soon in his exaltation. We struggle as we live on this old and fading earth. We sojourn as pilgrims and exiles and stranges on this earth. We wait hard. But we wait with the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ. We receive a foretaste of the final peace that is to come. We do not yet have it, but we already have it. The foundation of our peace is knowing that it’s really not our peace. It is Jesus’ peace.

Praise be to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Our peace is therefore not subjective. Our peace is not based on how we think or how we feel during the week. Our peace is objective. Our peace is based on the reality of the state of Christ’s exaltation. Because our peace is not our peace. Our peace is Jesus’ peace. May this fact truly help you in your assurance of salvation and grace. And may this fact truly help you in your contentment and hope over and against temptation and worldliness.

I would like to close now with three points of application.

First, let us not reverse the order of the gospel and the law. If you do, then you will loose all semblance of peace. The joy of the Christian life is based on the blessed foundation of peace and reconciliation and a restored relationship with God. Obeying the law to earn heaven is not reconciliation! Obeying the law to earn heaven is sheer terror and fear. For if you try to be right with God in this way, then you will never be sure if you’ve done enough. Do not reverse the order of the gospel and the law.

Second, let us be reconciled with others. If we have peace with God, if we have the peace of Christ, then we ought to be greatest peacemakers on earth. Our Lord wants us to be at peace with others and he wants us to take his peace seriously. This is why in Matthew 5:21-24, he showed us that it is hugely ironic to worship God while a brother or sister has something against you. Be reconciled with others. Get right with others.

Third, let us be the salt and the light of the world. The world is definitely looking for peace. But it’s looking for peace in all the wrong places and trying to build peace with all the wrong things. And there are only spurts of temporary or counterfeit peace. We are not better than non-believers, but we do know what real peace is all about. Every human being desperately needs to be right with God and come to terms of peace with him. True peace can only being with repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. And true world peace will only happen in the new heavens and the new earth, a time and a place without sin or death. Let us be the salt and the light of the world.

End