Jesus died on the cross to purchase peace with God for me—and he’s in heaven now to maintain that peace, for me and in me. The peace we have with God through Christ distinguishes our faith from all other religions.
In every other religion besides Christianity, the sin question is never settled. Sin’s dominion simply hasn’t been broken. Therefore there can be no peace: “There is no peace, says the Lord, for the wicked.” (Isaiah 48:22). But we have a God who provides peace by pardoning sin. This is the very reason Jesus came to earth: to bring peace to troubled, fearful humankind.
How does Jesus maintain God’s peace for me? He does it in three ways:
First, Christ’s blood removed the guilt of my sin. In this sense, Paul says, “He is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). Jesus made peace for me through his blood.
Second, Christ maintains my peace and joy in believing: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans15:13).
Third, Jesus causes me to rejoice at the hope of entering glory: “We…rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).
Simply put, peace is the absence of fear. And a life without fear is a life full of peace.
When Jesus ascended to heaven, he didn’t just bask in the glory that God bestowed on him. No, he went to the Father to maintain the hard-won peace he achieved for us at Calvary.
Our Savior is alive in glory right now. And he’s both fully God and fully human, with hands, feet, eyes, hair. He also has the nail scars on his hands and feet, the wound in his side. He has never discarded his humanity; he is still a man in glory. And right now, our man in eternity is working to make sure we’re never robbed of the peace he gave us when he left. He’s ministering as our high priest, actively involved in keeping his body on earth full of his peace. And when he comes again he wants us to “be found of him in peace” (2 Peter 3:14).
Forgiveness is not just a one-time act, but a way of life, meant to bring us into every blessing in Christ. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45).
According to Jesus, forgiveness isn’t a matter of picking or choosing whom we would forgive. We can’t say, “You’ve hurt me too much, so I’m not forgiving you.” Christ tells us, “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (5:46).
It doesn’t matter who our grudge might be against. If we hold onto it, it will lead to bitterness that poisons every aspect of our lives. Unforgiveness brings on spiritual famine, weakness, and a loss of faith, afflicting not just us but everyone in our circle.
Over the past fifty years of my ministry, I have seen terrible devastation in the lives of those who withheld forgiveness. Yet, I also have seen the glorious power of a forgiving spirit. Forgiveness transforms lives, causing the windows of heaven to open. It fills our cup of spiritual blessing to the brim with abundant peace, joy and rest in the Holy Ghost. Jesus’ teaching on this subject is very specific, and if you want to move in this wonderful realm of blessing, then heed and embrace his words.
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15). Make no mistake: God isn’t making a bargain with us here. He is not saying, “Because you’ve forgiven others, I will forgive you.” We can never earn God’s forgiveness. Only the shed blood of Christ merits forgiveness of sin.
Rather, Christ is saying, “Full confession of sin requires that you forgive others. If you hold on to any unforgiveness, then you haven’t confessed all your sins. True repentance means confessing and forsaking every grudge, crucifying every trace of bitterness toward others. Anything less isn’t repentance.”
This goes hand in hand with his Beatitude: “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). His point: Forgive others, so you can move into the blessings and joy of sonship. God can then pour on tokens of his love. And when you forgive, you’re revealing the Father’s nature to the world.
"That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:21-23).
Jesus says, in essence, “The glory that you gave me, Father, I have given to them.” Christ is making an incredible statement here. He is saying that we’ve been given the same glory that the Father gave to him. What an amazing thought. Yet, what is this glory that was given to Christ and how do our lives reveal that glory? It is not some aura or emotion; it is unimpeded access to the heavenly Father!
Jesus made it easy for us to access the Father, opening the door for us by the Cross: “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). The word “access” means the right to enter. It signifies free passage, as well as ease of approach: “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him” (3:12).
Do you see what Paul is saying here? By faith, we’ve come into a place of unimpeded access to God. We’re not like Esther in the Old Testament. She had to wait for a sign from the king before she could approach the throne. Only after he held out his scepter was Esther approved to come forward.
By contrast, you and I are already in the throne room. And we have the right and privilege of speaking to the King at any time. Indeed, we’re invited to make any request of him: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
When Christ ministered on earth, he didn’t have to slip away to prayer to obtain the Father’s mind. He said, “I can do nothing on my own. I do only what the Father tells me and shows me” (see John 5:19). Today we have been given the very same degree of access to the Father that Christ had. You may say, “Wait a minute. I have the same access to the Father that Jesus did?”
Make no mistake. Like Jesus, we’re to pray often and fervently, seeking God, waiting on the Lord. We don’t have to slip away to beseech God for strength or direction, because we have his very own Spirit living within us. And the Holy Spirit reveals to us the mind and will of the Father.
God is a promise-maker and a promise-keeper and he has spoken to my heart about four things God’s people should trust him for. These expectations are based on promises God has made to us.
1. Expect to be rewarded as you diligently seek the Lord. “[God] is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
You can ask in faith for a token for God to encourage and rekindle your confidence. Expect him to keep his promise to reward you now when you are in greatest need. God cannot lie. He said he rewards those who diligently seek him.
2. Expect to see evidence of a progressive miracle in your life. “With God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27).
I believe in instantaneous and progressive miracles. Progressive miracles start in unseen, quiet ways and unfold little by little, one small mercy at a time. Expect to see God working in mysterious ways, unseen to the human eye.
3. Expect to enter into God’s promised place of rest. “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God…enter into that rest” (Hebrews 4:9,11).
The Lord desires that you believe him to bring you into his promised rest. God never intended that his children live in fear and despair. We need a reckless faith and trust in God in the face of fear, trouble and death itself.
4. Expect the Holy Spirit to be always in his temple. “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).
The Holy Spirit abides in the heart of the believer. He is omnipresent throughout the world. He desires that you expect him to make his presence manifest to you, and more so each passing day. He wants to bring you into unshakable faith, just as he did his disciples.
Believe these promises! Lay hold of these expectations and you will see God do marvelous things.
2 Samuel 19:11 “King David sent this message to Zadok and Abiathar the priests: ‘Say to the elders of Judah, "Why should you be the last to bring the king back to his house, when the word of all Israel has come to the king?”’”
Christ is king. Christ is Lord, whether you choose that or not. He always has been; he is now, and he always will be. The Lord of heaven and earth—nothing can rob him of that. Nothing can put him on the pedestal or take him off that pedestal. He is your Lord whether you serve him or not.
I love the fact that when we read these books that Paul wrote — Philippians, Colossians and Ephesians — that he takes a moment in every one of those books just to talk about the grandeur and the majesty of Christ. He began all things, and he’s through all things. He created all things, and nothing exists without him. He will reign throughout all eternity. Every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is — not becoming, not being made — Lord. Hallelujah!
The question then is where is our loyalty? Where is our worship? Are we ambitious for his kingdom? Are we living a life as our Lord and king desires for us? Are we in alignment with his heart and desires?
How often does an Absalom arise in our life? The Bible talks pretty extensively about when Absalom conspired against King David. Absalom sat at the gate, and he took people who had a complaint against the king, and he told them, “Oh, if only I were king, I would hear this complaint.” In other words, “He’s leaving you in your pain. He doesn’t care about you.”
If we’re not very careful in our pain, an Absalom will come along and whisper, “Jesus isn’t listening to you. Why don’t you try this instead?”
If you’ve followed this voice, if you’ve become lost following an Absalom instead of the true king, turn back! Turn yourself over to the lordship of Christ. Allow his authority to be demonstrated in your life. Acknowledge the true king and bring him back into your house.