Though it was years ago, I remember the morning as if it were yesterday. It was still dark and as normal as any other morning driving to work. In an instant, my windshield was covered with debris and gravel so that I could barely see anything, yet I noticed a pair of headlights heading straight towards me just as fast as I was driving towards the oncoming vehicle. Just before we collided, the vehicle swerved and missed me by just a few feet. I can still feel the chilling gust of wind that shook my vehicle as the other vehicle nearly removed my driver side mirror. As I looked back through my rearview mirror, I saw the vehicle swerve off the freeway, plow through the fence, and make its way safely onto the frontage road. Whether the person was texting, falling asleep, or drunk, God knows.
That morning I was struck like never before by the reality of death and the brevity (and uncertainty) of life. I really believed I was going to die that morning and leave my wife and children without a husband and a father. As I continued the commute to work, the words of 2 Peter 3:14 flashed across my mind like a bolt of lightning.
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. (2 Peter 3:14)
I remember honestly asking myself that morning, “Am I really at peace with God?” Can we be certain? How can we be sure that we’re at peace with Him? The answer to the question can be found in something I read concerning David Dickson, a Puritan pastor from the seventeenth century. A friend went to visit Dickson on his death bed and asked Dickson how he was doing. The godly man, about to die, responded in these words:
I have taken all my good deeds, and all my bad deeds, and cast them together in a heap before the Lord, and fled from both, and betaken myself to the Lord Jesus Christ, and in him I have sweet peace.
We can know that we’re at peace with God when the Lord Jesus Christ is our only hope in standing before the living God. We can leap off the cliff of time and plunge into an endless eternity with strong confidence when our confidence in standing before God is grounded in and founded upon Christ’s person and work.
Like Dickson, have you taken all your good deeds and all your bad deeds and have you cast them in a heap before the Lord, fleeing from both of them in order to lay hold of Christ and Christ alone? If so, you’re entitled to know and enjoy the sweet peace that comes from having been forgiven by God and reconciled to God (Rom. 5:1). Oh the joy of knowing that for every repentant, believing sinner,
It is not death to die
To leave this weary road
And join the saints who dwell on high
Who’ve found their home with God
It is not death to close
The eyes long dimmed by tears
And wake in joy before [God’s] throne
Delivered from our fears
For us who believe, death is a chariot to take us to our eternal home where our Savior is.
However, if you’re still trusting in your good deeds, refusing to place them in the same pile with all the sinful things you’ve done, you may be experiencing a sense of peace now but you can be assured that its a peace that will wither away and shrivel up the moment you stand before God. Trusting in your goodness (which, according to Romans 3:10-18, is non-existent) is just as bad as attempting to gain God’s acceptance by placing your hope in your bad deeds. Why? Because your good deeds aren’t good enough to receive the approval of an infinitely good and righteous God. Your only hope of salvation and of being accepted by God is in turning from your good deeds and your bad deeds and placing your hope and trust in God’s beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who lived the life we could never live and died the death His people should’ve died. Are you at peace with God? The good news is that in and through Jesus Christ, you can be.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)