The peace1 that is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5.22) is none other than the peace that God, before the creation of the world, decreed to give his chosen people in the covenant of grace.
Jehovah’s blessing his people in the Old Testament was summed up in the Aaronic blessing: “The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (Numbers 6.26).
This blessing—peace with God—is peace that comes from God, provided by the atoning sacrifice that God has provided. “The LORD … give thee peace.”
Our Messiah, our Saviour, has accomplished this peace by reconciling us to God through his crucifixion on the hill outside Jerusalem, about two thousand years ago: “having made peace through the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1.20).
This peace with God through Christ, which is both revealed to us and cultivated within us by the Holy Spirit, becomes increasingly evident in our hearts as we learn that we have this peace. And the more we know our peace with God, the more it transforms our character to that of a Christian, so that we pray, say, and do whatever we can for real peace within the church and with everyone else (Ephesians 2.14; James 4.1,6-12; Romans 12.17-21).
In eternity past, God the Father covenanted with his Son, that he would send him into the world to save sinners. It was decreed that he would be the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13.8). For this reason Christ came as the “last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15.45,47), the one mediator between God and fallen, ruined, spiritually-dead men (1 Timothy 2.5). As the great High Priest of his people, he provided the only blood sacrifice that can take away our sins: the sacrifice of himself (Hebrews 8.1; 9.12,24-26). It was never possible for animal sacrifices to atone for human sins; the Old Testament blood offerings were symbolic of the Christ who was to come—that is, the Christ who has now come (Hebrews 9.11-15; 10.1,10,14).
That is why there are a people living on Earth today who can say with the fullest confidence, “We have redemption through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we have God’s forgiveness of our sins” (compare Ephesians 1.7). We have this “peace with God, though our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5.1).
The peace of reconsiliation (or, atonement2) has been accomplished between God and his elect: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from [God’s] wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5.8-11). “The punishment that bought us peace [with God] was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed [by God]” (1 Peter 2.24; see Isaiah 53.5).
This peace from Christ has brought an end to our war with God (Romans 8.6-7; see also 1.21-25; 3.9-18), because he himself takes God’s wrath against us for our sins (Romans 1.18; Ephesians 2.3). Our Saviour saves us from God’s wrath against us for our sins against him.
This peace accomplished by Christ also becomes the peace known and experienced by Christians: peace planted, nourished, grown, blooming, flourishing, and laden as the Spirit’s fruit within us. When we say “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” we are affirming our belief in this truth.
Jesus first promised his disciples, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14.26-27).
That Aaronic blessing, “The LORD…give thee peace,” is one and the same peace which our Lord and Saviour gives his saved people.
True Christians have peace with God. By our Saviour’s death, in which his blood was shed for us, the broken relationship between us and God has been restored. And because of this reconciliation (atonement), we have been given the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8.15; see also Galatians 4.4-6).
The peace that is in us—the fruit of the Spirit—is our personal assurance of the peace that our Saviour accomplished for us, when he gave his life for us, to save us from our sins. This personal assurance is given to us by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of adoption.
Christian, this is your life. This is what you have, in Christ. We have this God-given belief (Philippians 1.29) that our Saviour has saved us; that he has redeemed us when he took the punishment for our sins; that he has bought us peace with God. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom 5.1-2).
Salvation brings peace with God. This salvation has been accomplished by our Saviour, and this is why we have peace with God. We could not do anything to save ourselves. We did not make any contribution toward our salvation. Our salvation is totally undeserved and unmerited by us.
Our peace with God is through our Lord Jesus Christ alone—because our salvation is by him alone.
(To be continued…)
The word translated “peace” is εἰρήνη (eirene), meaning tranquility, security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony both make and keep things safe and flourishing and prosperity can then happen)—“the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is” and, further, “the blessed state of devout and upright men after death” (Strong’s Concordance, Greek Dictionary, word #1515). ↩︎
The English words reconsiliation and atonement translate the same New Testament Greek word καταλλαγή (katallage), meaning exchange, or settling of differences (Strong’s Concordance, Greek Dictionary, word #2643). The Lord Jesus Christ gave his life for his people, suffering for our sins, in order to reconsile us to God, thereby restoring us to God’s favour. ↩︎