“My Peace”

In a world fraught with trouble and distress, in a society plagued by anxiety and mental illness, the promise of our Lord still comes to the believer: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”, John 14. 27. The Lord is careful to distinguish between His peace and the peace current in the world. The world’s peace is fragile, a mere absence of trouble; as soon as trouble arises the peace is shattered. But the Scriptures explain that the divine peace given by Christ is of a more robust nature. The New Testament teaches that the peace available to the Christian has three aspects which cover the whole range of experience in daily life.

Peace with God.

Firstly we read, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”, Rom. 5. 1. What exactly is peace with God? The Holy Spirit uses the law, 7. 7, to awaken the conscience to an understanding of righteousness, and so to a realization of personal failure and guilt; also to an awareness of judgment and punishment, John 16. 8. Such revelations bring with them fear, “For fear hath punishment” 1 John 4. 18 R.V. Faith in the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ brings peace from the anguish of guilt and the fear of punishment. The blood shed upon the cross is the visible and historical guarantee that the penalty for sin has been paid and exhausted, “having made peace through the blood of his cross”, Col. 1. 20. So completely, finally and utterly has Christ dealt with the guilt of sin that God has already given to the believer the verdict: “Justified”.

Peace with God has one solid and eternal foundation, the perfect work of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross. The perfection of His work may be viewed from two aspects; firstly, that it needs no addition to it; secondly, it is in itself complete. Firstly, it is not the death of Christ plus religious ceremonies, or plus a good life, or plus joining a religious organization, or plus the acceptance of the correct creed, it is not even the work of Christ plus our faith; faith is but the acceptance of a salvation already completed before we were ever born to exercise faith! It is the atoning work of Christ plus nothing. Secondly, the atoning work of Christ is complete in itself. Man is not condemned by his sin, but by the law of God which condemns his sin, “sin is not imputed when there is no law”, Rom. 5. 13. The Lord Jesus Christ in His death has met and exhausted the penalty of the law, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree”, Gal. 3. 13. The believer in Christ therefore takes up a perfect position in relationship to God, “For by one offering he (Christ) hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified”, Heb. 10. 14. Therefore the Christian’s peace with God is unchanging and unchangeable for time and for eternity. For salvation is an accomplished fact, “for by grace have ye been saved”, Eph. 2. 8 R.V.; “he (Christ) is our peace”, 2. 14.

The Peace of God.

There is not only peace with God; there is also the peace of God. This second aspect of Christ’s peace is described thus in Scripture, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”, Phil. 4. 6-7. What is the peace of God? God reigns in heaven from eternity to eternity, controlling the course of history towards its destined end. Nothing can occur which is unexpected in the divine purpose. No situation can arise which is beyond the capacity of God to control. The eternal tranquility of heaven is never rippled by uncertainty, perplexity or crises. This is the peace of God. The promise is that if we share our lives with God, “everything by prayer … be made known unto God”, He will share His peace with us, “the peace of God … shall keep your hearts”.

If we were called upon to make a journey through unknown country, unarmed in the presence of wild animals, then anxiety would naturally follow. But if we were to undertake this journey in the company of a competent guide, who enjoyed the reputation of being a marksman, then peace would replace anxiety. How much better the lot of the Christian. He is called upon to journey through the dangers of life in the company of God, the One who is supremely able. “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms”, Deut. 33. 27. It is not that God will save us from trouble, but He will always preserve us in the midst of trouble.

This peace, which is “through Christ Jesus”, Phil. 4. 7, does not disappear in the midst of trouble, for it will “keep” our hearts. The word “keep” means “to garrison”, as when soldiers defend a city, preserving it against the enemy attacking its walls. The world is filled with every peace-destroying circumstance that can be imagined. But the heart garrisoned with the peace of God is unconquered by the surrounding troubles.

Peace with Ourselves.

But there is a final aspect of “the peace of Christ”, Col. 3. 15 R.V. This is peace with ourselves, or as it is commonly called, contentment. This aspect of peace is so rare in our society, and seemingly so hopeless of achievement, that the world defends itself against its failure by ridiculing and dismissing contentment as mere lack of ambition! But it is the mind at peace with itself which is free to pursue noble ambitions. It is the ignoble ambitions which produce discontent. And so in Scripture contentment and love of money are often placed side by side as mutually destructive. Materialism is our society’s wellspring of discontent.

The Bible says, “be content with your wages”, Luke 3. 14, a revolutionary concept, even by revolutionary standards! Our society is so busy lusting after the things it does not have, that it is too busy to enjoy the things it possesses. The mental attitude of contentment produces the practical financial success of living within one’s income.

Again the Scriptures say, “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content”, 1 Tim. 6. 8. So it is not a doctrine of being satisfied with anything; food and clothing (and shelter in our inclement climate} are necessary for the preservation and well-being of physical life. Without these, contentment is impossible. But once physical life itself is adequately maintained, the pursuit of wealth (or anything else) is not necessary to contentment. For the Scripture continues, “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows”, vv. 9-10. The ratrace of materialism ends in “coveting”, “pierced hearts” and “many sorrows”, the destroyers of contentment. True contentment lies in the quality of living; this is the true wealth, “But godliness with contentment is great gain”, v. 6, not the mere acquisition of objects.

Finally we read in Holy Writ, . . without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear”, Heb. 13. 5-6. The truly soul-satisfying experience of life is walking with God, not striving after wealth. Contentedness is a form of worship. The contented heart, by its very attitude, is satisfied with what God has provided and is grateful to Him for His provision. “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and ye be thankful”, Col. 3. 15 R.V.

So the peace promised and given by Christ is a solid peace. It is solid because it is not a passing attitude of mind during periods of congenial circumstances. It is a perpetual experience built upon the foundation of unchanging facts.

In Summary

The Christian has peace with God because the Lord Jesus Christ, through His blood being shed on the cross, has so perfectly atoned for sin that God has justified the believer. The Christian shares the peace of God because he enjoys the constant companionship of God who dwells within his life in the person of the Holy Spirit. The Christian is at peace with himself, for he cannot be torn by the common lusts of the world, as his whole heart is set upon the ambition to live well-pleasing to God; “flee these things; and follow after righteousness”, 1 Tim. 6. 11.

“Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all”, 2 Thes. 3. 16.


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