Peace with God

Peace with God

All that talk of water makes me thirsty, who’d like a beer?

“Beer,” he proceeded, with cold austerity, “ain’t right. Sinful, that’s what beer is. It stingeth like a serpent and biteth like a ruddy adder.”
My mouth watered a little. Beer like that was what I had been scouring the country for for years. I thought it imprudent, however, to say so.
The Exit of Battling Billson, PG Wodehouse

As much as I love beer, I’d rather have the living water…

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1

When you hear Paul say therefore, you need to remember what he has said just before…

I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes… the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Romans 1:16–17

For the next two chapters we read about how the efforts of people to be righteous, have failed, Paul explains that even the Jews who were given God’s law failed to keep it.

In chapter three we discover that even though humanity has failed to be righteous, God hasn’t. He’s remained faithful to his promise to Abraham to bring a blessing on all of humanity through his descendants.

all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus
Romans 3:23–24

Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.
Romans 4:3

Abraham was justified because he believed God, a gift because he didn’t work for it but due to his faith.  Our righteousness too, is counted to us as a gift because of our faith.

In other words, no-one has to earn their salvation. God gives it to us freely as a gift. All we have to do is to believe.

So, ‘Therefore’, he says, ‘we have peace with God.’

In today’s gospel reading we hear the story of the samaritan woman:

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” … The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” … Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
John 4:7–10

Jesus starts simply with a request for a drink of water, but he quickly moves on from his material needs to her spiritual needs — our spiritual needs.

for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.
Jeremiah 2:13

All throughout history, people have turned away from God’s offer of living waters and attempted to become righteous themselves.  Paul explained that it doesn’t work.  If my salvation depended on my righteousness, I’m going to be toasty warm for an awful long time.

Jesus is the source of living water, many of the old testament prophecies speak about living water

On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem… It shall continue in summer as in winter.
Zechariah 14:8

A water that brings life and cleanses us from sin:

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
Isaiah 1:16

Finally there is the magnificent promise near the end of Isaiah:

“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!…
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live…
Isaiah 55:1, 3

Well, who wants a drink of that water?  I’m getting thirsty right now!

This poor samaritan woman, desperately needs a drink of that living water.

She’s had five husbands already, and is currently living with a de facto, even today, that would raise a few eyebrows but in first century Palestine?  It’s safe to say she had little or no social standing, she would have been looked down on by everyone in town.

And yet despite all that, Jesus sees that she’s ripe for the harvest.

But the grace Jesus is offering is free and without limitation, but it’s not cheap grace. Neither is the living water that Isaiah spoke of:

“Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the LORD, …
for he will abundantly pardon.
Isaiah 55:6–7

And so Jesus says to the woman “Go, call your husband, and come back.”

The free grace that Jesus offers requires one thing. That’s that we acknowledge our sin and turn to God for forgiveness and healing.

That’s not easy is it?  Who likes to admit that they’ve failed?

It’s an unpopular thing today to tell people they need to repent. But the need for repentance is as great today as it was in Jesus’ day and Jesus points out her need for repentance about this serial monogamy.

But Jesus isn’t deflected by her point that Jews and Samaritans believe different things . He brings her right back to the point.  It’s no good trying to argue about religion, because the old beliefs are being turned upside down:

the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father… But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth…
John 4:21, 23

Here is true repentance. It’s only in the spirit of truth that you can truly worship God. It’s no point living in denial. It’s no use pretending you’re OK.

God can see into the depths of our hearts. He wants us to be honest with him. But he doesn’t just leave us there. He also expects us to worship him in spirit. So he gives us his own Spirit to dwell in us, to cleanse us and make us new.

So this woman, that Jesus by rights shouldn’t have talked to at all, having heard the gospel will become an evangelist in her turn.

I think that’s a lesson for us — never pass up an opportunity to share the gospel with others. You never know who will respond until you try.

What an Amazing Grace that saved a wretch like me. You see:

…while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
Romans 5:6

God chose just the right time to show us how much he loved us, while we were helpless, weak.  So far down in the pit that we have no hope of getting out…

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

This shows us three things:

Firstly, it shows the nature of his love for us — it’s unconditional — Christ died for us while we were still sinners, his enemies. That’s the nature of God’s love for us. Even though we rebelliously oppose his rule, even though we stand under his righteous wrath and judgement he sent his own Son to die on our behalf.

Secondly, it shows that our righteousness is all his doing. There was nothing that we could do to make things right with God. In the first couple of chapters of Romans we see that it’s impossible do anything by ourselves to please God. Whatever we try will be flawed. But God does what’s needed. It’s all his doing. It depends on him alone.

Thirdly because he did it while we were still sinners, it assures us that nothing we do can separate us from his love. Too often we fear that God has turned away from us because of something we’ve done. You hear people say “I felt like God was a long way away.” Or “God had abandoned me.”

Just think about yourself when he first called you, when he sent Jesus Christ to die for you. It was while you were still his enemy, when you were still weak, still a sinner, deserving only of his anger and judgement, that he sent Jesus to die, to bring you back to him. So why would he let you go now?

That’s why we can have peace:

…if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
Romans 5:10

The peace we have isn’t just an external peace. It’s an internal peace, a peace of mind, a confidence in the future.  It’s assurance of salvation!

Nothing can separate us from God’s love.

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
Romans 8:31–32

Don’t let anyone tell you that your salvation is in danger, if you are in Christ and he in you then your future is sure:

Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?
It is God who justifies.
Who is to condemn?
Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
Romans 8:33–35

Let’s stand together and read this sentence that declares our assurance of the reconciliation we have in Christ:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38–39


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