The True Ground of Peace
Any who are strangers to peace, settled peace with God, would do well to read the writings of these Christians on this subject. They give no uncertain sound. "The doubts and fears" which have so long harassed and perplexed even the most godly among the denominations have not entirely passed away, though of late years many Christians have been more clear and certain than formerly.
Many of the most illustrious names in past ages might be given as having been frequently troubled all through their life as to their pardon and acceptance. Real peace was unknown.
But peace with God is the heritage of all His children — as the legacy left by Christ to His disciples. "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you." It was in the midst of this world with all its trials and conflicts that He gave them His own peace — the peace which He Himself had with the Father as He walked in this world. But why is it that so few enjoy this character of peace with the Father as He did? It is ours! He left it to us! No reason can be given but unbelief. We cannot enjoy a blessing before we believe it. And He meant us to enjoy it in this world, and in spite of it, as He did. He is also our peace in heaven, so that is perfect in the light as well as in the world.
Ponder the following quotations on this all-important question, and the reader must judge of the teaching:
"Our peace is not merely a thing of enjoyment within us, but it is Christ outside of us: For He is our peace — a most wonderful expression. And if souls only rested on this, would there be anxiety as to fulness of peace? It is my own fault entirely if I do not rest in and enjoy it. But even so; am I to doubt that Christ is my peace? I am dishonoring Him if I do. If I had a surety whose riches could not fail, why should I doubt my standing or credit? It depends neither on my wealth nor on my poverty. All turns on the resources of Him who has become responsible for me. So it is with Christ. He is our peace, and there can be no possibility of failure in Him. Where the heart confides in this, what is the effect? Then we rest and enjoy peace. But I must begin with believing it. The Lord in His grace does give His people betimes transports of joy; but joy may fluctuate. Peace is, or should be, a permanent thing that the Christian is entitled to have always; and this because Christ is our peace."
"It is most needful to be simple and clear as to what constitutes the ground of a sinner's peace in the presence of God. So many things have been mixed up with the finished work of Christ that souls are plunged into darkness and uncertainty as to their acceptance. They do not see the absolutely settled character of redemption through the blood of Christ in its application to themselves. They seem not to be aware that full forgiveness of sins rests upon the simple fact that a full atonement has been offered, a fact attested in the view of all created intelligence by the resurrection of the sinner's Surety from the dead. They know that there is no other way of being saved but by the blood of the cross; but the devils know this, yet it avails them nought. What is so much needed is to know that we are saved. The Israelite in Egypt not merely knew that there was safety in the blood; he knew that he was safe. And why safe? Was it because of anything that he had done or felt or thought? By no means; but because God had said, 'When I see the blood I will pass over you.' He rested upon God's testimony. He believed what God said because God said it. 'He set to his seal that God was true.'
"And observe, my reader, it was not upon his own thoughts and feelings or experiences respecting the blood that the Israelite rested. This would have been a poor, sandy foundation to rest upon. His thoughts and feelings might be deep or they might be shallow; but deep or shallow, they had nothing to do with the ground of his peace. It was not said, 'When you see the blood and value it as you ought, I will pass over you.' This would have been sufficient to plunge him in dark despair about himself inasmuch as it was quite impossible that the human mind could ever sufficiently appreciate the precious blood of the Lamb. What gave peace was the fact that Jehovah's eye rested upon the blood and that He knew its worth. This tranquillized the heart. The blood was outside and the Israelite inside, so that he could not possibly see it; but God saw it, and that was enough.
"The application of this to the question of a sinner's peace is very plain. The Lord Jesus Christ, having shed His precious blood as a perfect atonement for sin, has taken it into the presence of God and sprinkled it there; and God's testimony assures the believing sinner that everything is settled on his behalf — settled, not by his estimate of the blood, but by the blood itself which God estimates so highly, that, because of it, without a single jot or tittle added thereto, He can righteously forgive all sin and accept the sinner as perfectly righteous in Christ. How can anyone ever enjoy settled peace if his peace depends upon his estimate of the blood? Impossible! The loftiest estimate which the human mind can form of the blood must fall infinitely short of its divine preciousness; and, therefore, if our peace were to depend upon our valuing it as we ought, we could no more enjoy settled peace than if we were seeking it by 'works of law.' There must either be a sufficient ground of peace in the blood alone or we can never have peace. To mix up our estimate with it is to upset the entire fabric of Christianity just as effectually as if we were to conduct the sinner to the foot of Mount Sinai and put him under a covenant of works. Either Christ's atoning sacrifice is sufficient or it is not. If it is sufficient, why those doubts and fears? The words of our lips profess that the work is finished; but the doubts and fears of the heart declare that it is not. Everyone who doubts his full and everlasting forgiveness denies, so far as he is concerned, the completeness of the sacrifice of Christ.
"But there are very many who would shrink from the idea of deliberately and avowedly calling in question the efficacy of the blood of Christ who, nevertheless, have not settled peace. Such persons profess to be quite assured of the sufficiency of the blood if only they were sure of an interest therein — if only they had the right kind of faith. There are many precious souls in this unhappy condition. They are occupied with their interest and their faith instead of with Christ's blood and God's word.
In other words, they are looking in at self instead of out at Christ. This is not faith; and, as a consequence, they have not peace. An Israelite within the blood-stained lintel could teach such souls a most seasonable lesson. He was not saved by his interest in or his thoughts about the blood, but simply by the blood. No doubt he had a blessed interest in it; and he would have his thoughts likewise; but then God did not say, 'When I see your interest in the blood I will pass over you. Oh, no! The blood in all its solitary dignity and divine efficacy was set before Israel; and had they attempted to place even a morsel of unleavened bread beside the blood as a ground of security, they would have made Jehovah a liar and denied the sufficiency of His remedy.
"We are ever prone to look at something in or connected with ourselves as necessary in order to make up, with the blood of Christ, the groundwork of our peace. There is a sad lack of clearness and soundness on this vital point, as is evident from the doubts and fears with which so many of the people of God are afflicted. We are apt to regard the fruits of the Spirit in us, rather than the work of Christ for us, as the foundation of peace. The Holy Ghost is not said to be our peace, but Christ is. God did not send preaching peace by the Holy Ghost, but by Jesus Christ. (Compare Acts 10:36; Eph. 2:14,17; Col. 1:20). My reader cannot be too simple in his apprehension of this important distinction. It is the blood of Christ which gives peace, imparts perfect justification, divine righteousness, purges the conscience, brings us into the holiest of all, justifies God in receiving the believing soul, and constitutes our title to all the joys, the dignities and the glories of heaven. (See Rom. 3:24-26; 5:9; Eph. 2:13-18; Col. 1:20-22 Heb. 9:14; 10:19; 1 Peter 1:19; 2:24; 1 John 1:7; Rev. 7:14-17.)"