Peace: A Precious Gift from God
Peace with God, Peace with God-fearers and Others, and Spiritual Peace in Christ
Most of us are aware that the Jews greeted one another with the Hebrew term, Shalom. This word means peace, from the word denoting health, well-being, welfare, or prosperity. The Greek term is eirene and it is found multiple times in the New Testament.
All of us want to have a life of peace and not all of this is wrong. But it must be properly understood. We offer the following points that should aid our understanding:
1. Peace of the world
The world around us craves for peace. By this they mean an absence of national conflict along with prosperity and well-being in the various countries of the world. The world also means an inner attitude of tranquility, a peace of mind. However, Jesus made it clear that He didnt come to bring this kind of ephemeral peace. He explained, Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you (John 14:27).
Many people have misunderstood the matter of earthly peace because of the angels message to the shepherds, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men (Luke 2:14). Did Jesus come into the world to bring the earth peace? The NAS has a better translation: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased. So is peace guaranteed? One source explains: Peace is not assured to all, but only to those pleasing to Godthe objects of His good pleasure (NASB Study Bible note).
Well have reason to return to John 14:27, but for now, notice that Jesus said that He brought a peace that is unlike that of the world. The world says that it wants peace on earth, but Jesus said, Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34). But we often do hear that Jesus came to bring earthly peace. No, says our Lord, He didnt come to bring peace. Rather, He came with a sword. What is a sword used for? It is used for cutting or dividing. In another passage, Jesus explains, Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division (Luke 12:51). When Jesus came, He knew that families would be divided (vv. 52-53). Groups would be divided. Trials would come. There was hardly peace through our Lords coming.
2. Peace with God
Because of our sin, we have come to a place of alienation from God. It is the separation of sin. As God puts it, Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear (Isaiah 59:2). In the New Testament, Paul speaks of the same alienation: You were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds (Colossians 1:21). A real gulf or chasm divides the human race from God; God is holy and we are unholy, thus we cant dwell in His holy presence.
Christ came to this earth to deal with the sin problem. Through His death on the cross (and His resurrection), Christ reconciles sinful man to a loving God. Paul says that God reconciled us to Himself through Christ. . . . God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). In another place, the apostle says, While we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son (Romans 5:10).
When we are reconciled to God, we become friends again and this establishes the condition of peace. When we respond with a repentant and obedient faith to Christ, we enter a state of peace with God from whom we had been separated by sin. Thanks be to God! Thanks be to a merciful Christ who brought peace. Through Christ we have reconciliation, for He made peace through the blood of His cross (Colossians 1:20). Paul tells us, Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). We have peace only because of Christ who Himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14).
3. Peace between the saints
You and I are not the only ones who have been reconciled to God through Christ. All others who have been thus reconciled are part of the one body of Christ, the family of God. Within this family, God establishes sweet peace or harmonious relationships.
As we leaf through the New Testament writings, we find various admonitions to live in peace with other believers. Paul writes, Live in peace with one another (1 Thessalonians 5:13). The Hebrew writer says the same: Pursue peace with all men (12:14). Even the Lord Jesus told His disciples, Be at peace with one another (Mark 9:50). Generally the one another passages refer to fellow-believers and that is the case here. In the world, there will be persecution and suffering, but within the family of God, brothers and sisters should dwell in sweet peace.
Although people continue to be in the flesh, we (Christians) walk by the Spirit, and this should contribute to peace between true believers. We need to pursue this even when it comes to controversial matters. Paul tells us, So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another (Romans 14:19). Lets manifest the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, Galatians 5:22-23) for in this way we will be peaceable people.
4. Peace with all people
This may not immediately come to mind, but we should have a desire for peace with all people. Since people in general are not at peace with God, we cant expect them to be absolutely peaceable people. However, Paul instructs us: If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men (Romans 12:18). If we have a spiritual wisdom, a wisdom from above, we will be peaceable people (James 3:17). We will do all we can to dwell peaceably with others as well as try to be peacemakers wherever we may beon the job, with neighbors, in businesses, and in all other areas (Matthew 5:9).
Go out of your way to treat your fellow-workers, your fellow-students, your neighbors, your family members, and others with kindness, gentleness, patience, and outgoing love. This may foster an attitude of peace in their heart!
5. Peace of heart and soul
The world cant give peace, but God Himself establishes peace with Himself through the death of Christ; those who are in Christ find peace reigning with one another because of their mutual relationship to God through Christ. But lets discuss another aspect of peacean inner peace of heart and soul that comes through Christ in the Holy Spirit.
The Lord Jesus speaks of this in John 14:27: Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled nor let it be fearful. Christ gives His followers an inner peace that is unlike anything that the world can offer. With this peace, the heart will not be troubled; it will be at rest. Did you notice that Jesus said we could have His peace? He said this as He approached the saddest day of all history and the most tragic event everthe suffering and death of the Son of God. Yet He could have peace!
Christ said further, These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take course; I have overcome the world (16:33). We find peace in Christ Himself.
Paul writes that the kingdom of God consists of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). This shows the connection with the Holy Spirit. You will remember that the apostle says that love, joy, peace . . . are fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). When we allow the Holy Spirit to richly dwell in us, we will have an inner peace of heart that comes through the work of the Spirit.
Paul the apostle tells us how to deal with troublesome circumstances in our life. He says to be anxious for nothing but let our prayers be lifted to God (Philippians 4:6). If we do this, the apostle promises the following: And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (vv. 6-7). God is a God of peace (1 Thessalonians 5:23) and He grants us a heart-peace through Christ Jesus our Lord. When trials come into our lifewhether it be caused by our commitment to Christ or caused by our life on earthwe can find spiritual peace. As Paul puts it, May the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance (2 Thessalonians 3:16).
Do you know this inner peace today? We can have such a peace only if we have accepted peace with God that comes through Christ Jesus (Romans 5:1). And this is possible only because Christ, as the Prince of peace, has established peace through His death on the cross. Wont you come to God through Christ by faith and only then will you find true and lasting peace!