When I was a child growing up in the late sixties and early seventies, the youth culture was preaching peace. There has never been a beauty queen devoid of the plea for “world peace” amidst the vast possibilities of desiderata. “Peace, man…” was a common greeting by those who lived on a higher plane. The peace sign was visible everywhere. We sang songs about peace, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
“Peace, peace, but there was no peace (Jer 6:14).” It was a time for war (Eccl 3:8), and it has been a time of war for most of my life. The Vietnam War gave way to the Gulf War, which led to the War on Terror, which we have been losing ever since. All the while the “war on drugs” was much closer to home, as was the fight against cancer, heart disease, and the fight against crime.
My point is that peace is very elusive in a culture with so much fighting and war. Christians will look to the Bible to find shalom (Hebrew) and irene (Greek), and there are 353 references to peace found on its pages. There are some essential truths about peace, and our objective here is to consider a few.
First, Yahweh is called, “the God of peace” (Rom 15:33; 16:20; Phil 4:7, 9; 1 Thess 5:23; Heb 13:20). This is comforting, especially when we grasp the enmity sinful man has against God (Rom 5:10; Eph 2:15–16). God sent the prophets, even His only begotten Son to preach peace (Acts 10:36; Eph 2:17). Jesus did not just preach peace, but He became the way for man to be at peace with God (Jn 14:6). The Lord will bless His people with peace (Ps 29:11).
We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 5:1). Peace was achieved through the blood of His Cross (Col 1:20). It was God’s eternal purpose to redeem and justify a people for Himself through the precious, atoning blood of an eternal covenant (Heb 13:20). It is Jesus’ blood, sprinkled on us (1 Pet 1:2), that justifies us by grace and through faith (Rom 3:24, 28), which are His terms of peace (Lk 14:32). God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor 5:19). He now sits on His throne as King and Priest, “…and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices (Zech 6:13).”
Some understand the peace of God Jesus brings (Lk 19:38), as the Prince of peace (Is 9:6), but others have peace hidden from their eyes because of pride and disobedience (Lk 19:42), “And the path of peace they have not known (Rom 3:17).” Their minds are set on the flesh, which is death, not peace (Rom 8:6). If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 Jn 2:15). They do not understand the way of peace (Is 59:8), nor the promise given to believers, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet (Rom 16:20).”
Peace with God is enmity with Satan and the world, but peace with the world and Satan is fleeting and leads to destruction (1 Jn 2:17). Men of the world make the nugatory claim, “Peace and safety!” Doom is pending (1 Thess 5:3), however, with God’s removal of peace from the world in coming judgment (Rev 6:4). There is no peace for the wicked (Is 48:22).
Second, when the God of peace makes peace with us, we make peace with one another (Mk 9:50) so we can live in peace (2 Cor 13:11; 1 Thess 5:13). There is peace on earth among men with whom God is pleased (Lk 2:14). Jesus extended the peace of God to those needing healing and forgiveness. He then encouraged them to “go in peace” (Lk 7:50; 8:48). Jesus gave His disciples His peace on the night of His betrayal (Jn 14:27), speaking words of peace to them (Jn 16:33). Jesus greeted them with peace after His resurrection (Jn 20:19) and sent them out into the world with His peace (Jn 20:21). Therefore, the church had peace at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:33). It also had peace as it grew outward from Jerusalem (Acts 9:31).
Third, the tenor of Christian communication is peace because God has called us to peace (1 Cor 7:15), by speaking peace to His people, His godly ones (Ps 85:8). Paul’s letters are rich with salutations of, “Grace and peace to you” (Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Phil 1:2; Col 1:2; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:2; 1 Tim 1:2; 2 Tim 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philemon 1:3). Peter opened with a peace greeting (1 Pet 1:2; 2 Pet 1:2), and closed a letter with one, too (1 Pet 5:14). The same is true of the apostle John (2 Jn 1:3; 3 Jn 1:15; Rev 1:4) and Jude (1:2). Our greetings include peace, and so do our benedictions of blessing upon others, “Now may the God of peace be with you all. Amen (Rom 15:33).” See other peace benedictions at Eph 6:23; Phil 4:9; 1 Thess 5:23; 2 Thess 3:16; Heb 13:20. We are to love truth and peace (Zech 8:19) and communicate them with the brethren.
The goal is to be at peace with all men as much as is possible (Rom 12:18), and the Lord will make the enemies of him with whom He is pleased to be at peace with him (Prv 16:7). “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called, ‘Sons of God’ (Mt 5:9).” Church elders should be peaceable men (1 Tim 3:3; Titus 3:2), which demonstrates their peaceable wisdom is from above (Jas 3:17).
Fourth, the Holy Spirit produces peace (Ps 147:14; Is 26:12). It is one fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in the believer’s heart (Gal 5:22). The peace of Christ is to rule in our hearts (Col 3:15), and our Father’s discipline produces the peaceful fruit of righteousness (Heb 12:11).
The kingdom of God is realized through righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17). In other words, God is giving us a sample of His eternal kingdom now. Righteousness and peace are said to have kissed one another (Ps 85:10). They go together (Is 32:17). The kingdom is recognized by His giving peace that passes all understanding to His people on earth (Phil 4:7). They are bound together in the bond of peace by the Spirit (Eph 4:3).
Christians are taught to pursue peace (Ps 34:14; Rom 14:19; 2 Tim 2:22; Heb 12:14; 1 Pet 3:11) and preach the Gospel of peace (Ps 120:7; Is 52:17; Eph 6:13). This is only possible when God fills us with His peace (Rom 15:13), for He Himself is our peace (Eph 2:14), and we proclaim Him. The good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been preached to both Jew and Gentile (Eph 2:17), who are united together in Christ.
Pursuing peace also includes our fellowship with one another and our worship services (1 Cor 14:33). It also applies to our doctrinal disputes (Gal 6:16), and racial distinctions (Eph 2:15). Peter encourages us to be found by Him in peace (2 Pet 3:14); therefore, we pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Ps 122:6).
Fifth, it is the God of peace who preserves us to the end, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess 3:16).” Paul’s benediction blessing is very comforting. God has made peace with us through the blood of Jesus Christ (Col 1:20). Peace with God prevails throughout our Christian lives, even elongates them (Prv 3:2), because Christ is permanently in the holiest place of heaven, making intercession for us in our weakness (Heb 7:25).
Nothing can break the covenant of peace God has cut with Jesus Christ (Is 54:10), who represents us, and who will present us holy and blameless before Him (Eph 1:4; 5:27). We have eternal peace. Paul also blessed the Thessalonians with a permanently realized, present peace, “Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all! (2 Thess 3:16). Peace is ours through joy and suffering.
There is a time for peace (Eccl 3:8) when God speaks peace to the nations (Zech 9:10). People from every nation are already experiencing the headwaters of peace like a river extended to us (Is 66:12). Now may the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace (Num 6:26). He has come in peace to you, will you come in peace to Him?
Spokane Valley, Washington
February 18, 2021