One of the supposed Bible contradictions that people use to denigrate the Bible’s authority is centered on the question, “Is God peaceable?” Detractors will cite verses like Romans 15:33 where God is called “the God of peace” and hold that against Exodus 15:3 where it is said, “The LORD is a man of war”. The question then becomes, “Which is God? A God of peace or a God of war?” The answer, however, is a relatively simple one: God is both.
It’s like asking the question, “Which is God – holy and just or merciful and loving?” The answer, again, is both. He is loving and merciful and He is, at the same time, holy and just in His punishment of sin. Consider the way in which the following two verses from the Gospel of John illustrate both realities:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (Jn. 3:16 ESV)
He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (Jn. 3:36)
God’s love is demonstrated in His sending His Son to the cross for sinners – that is incredibly kind and loving; but, when that offer is perpetually and ultimately refused, God does not sweep a person’s sins under the proverbial rug of the universe, His just wrath remains on anyone who spurns His ultimate offer of mercy (Jn 3:36).
Back to the question at hand…
The answer, then, is found in understanding that God’s attributes do not outweigh each other. Each attribute of God is coterminous with God. He is the God of peace who promises peace to all who are justified by faith in the person and work of His Son (Rom. 5:1); and, at the same time, He is the God who promises that He will judge the world in righteousness through His Son (Acts 17:31). He promises peace to those who walk in the light of His countenance and cast their cares upon Him in prayer (Gal. 6:16; Phil. 4:6-9), while He also says – there is no peace for the wicked (Isa. 48:22; 57:21). Likewise the believer can say of Christ, “He Himself is our peace” but to those who persist in rebellion against Him, to them He is not the Prince of peace (Isa. 9:6), but the One who judges with true righteousness and wages war (Rev. 19:11). Both aspects are a part of God’s character.
In conclusion, then, for all who by God’s grace come to Him through Christ for mercy and reconciliation, there is peace (Rom. 5:1); and for all who spurn the Gospel and do not see their desperate need for a Savior, their own sin condemns them before a holy God and the wrath of God abides on them (Jn. 3:36). As a result, one of the most important questions that a person can ask is, “Do I have peace with God?” And the way to have peace with God is found solely by repenting of one’s sin and self-righteousness and by placing one’s faith for the forgiveness of sins upon the person and work of Jesus Christ alone for salvation (Jn. 3:16;6:47; Acts 4:12; Rom. 3:21-26; 5:1; 10:9,10; Eph. 2:8-9; Gal. 3:10-13, etc.). For it is through the blood of the cross, where the justice of God was both demonstrated and satisfied, that a sinner can enjoy reconciliation and everlasting peace with God.