Give Peace a Chance (John 14:27)
People often protest for peace. Whether on college campuses, at embassies overseas, or at Hollywood fundraisers, many often petition our leaders for peace.
Those who protest for peace, it seems to me, overlook a couple important things:
One: War will be a way of life until the Lord returns to this earth.
In speaking of signs preceding the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus said, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matt 24:7). Although this prophecy does not apply to our modern age, the nature of man has not changed; thus, there will continue to be “wars and rumors of war.”
Two: The absence of war is not necessarily peace.
Just because there is not a military conflict does not mean that people can dwell in peace and security. We thought on September 10, 2001, that we dwelt in peace and security, but we quickly learned otherwise.
But what these peace activists really overlook is that true peace only comes through the Lord Jesus. The night of his betrayal, Jesus met with his disciples, and he said to them, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let is be afraid.”
Peace was a virtue highly respected among Jewish leaders; Jesus as the “supreme” Jewish teacher gives his disciples peace. The prophets had spoken of the Messiah as One bringing peace. Isaiah 9:6. “I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them” (Ezek 37:26). Here we see Jesus fulfilling those prophecies and bestowing peace upon his followers.
Jesus gives unto his disciples his peace. The most interesting part of Jesus’s bestowing peace is that he gives his peace when he is in the midst of personal horror. He is about to go to the Garden where he will plead with the Father to spare his life (Matt 26:28-44). He is about to be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be killed for the sins of the world. But even in the midst of such horror, Jesus is able to give peace unto his disciples.
the peace Jesus gave to his disciples was not as the world gives. The peace of this world is not everlasting; it is fickle and ever-changing; not so the peace of Jesus. The peace of this world is maintained through the sword. The Pax Romana was won and maintained by brute force. Even today we hear about “Peace through Strength.” But the peace of Jesus is neither given nor maintained by force.
This morning, we want to examine the peace that Jesus gave his disciples that we, too, might have peace.
What is Peace?
We can safely deduce from what Jesus said that peace is not necessarily the absence of all personal trial, for he was undergoing a great trial when he gave his peace to his disciples.
One definition of peace in Scripture is being right with God. Jesus came in order that we might have that peace, in order that we might be right with God. “Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace” (Eph 2:14). Jesus has “made peace through the blood of His cross,” and he has reconciled us, even though we were once enemies of God (Col 1:20-21).
It is impossible to have any measure of peace if we are not right with God, for if we are not right with him, God’s wrath rests upon us. “He who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (Jn 3:36). The one who does not believe the Son is not right with God, he does not have peace with God.
But the main definition of peace in Scripture is quiet and tranquility. The basic meaning of the term shalom, the Hebrew word generally translated “peace,” is healthy, prosperity, and welfare. The New Testament writers generally followed that definition. Although the prosperity and welfare, can be external, more often than not, the New Testament uses peace in an internal manner. Peace, then, is generally internal welfare and prosperity. Peace is that Christians are able to have even when the world is falling in around them.
An examination of the New Testament shows this to be the primary meaning of peace. “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7). “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” (Col 3:15).
Now that we have an understanding of what peace is, how do we come to have peace?
How to Have Peace
We cannot depend on external circumstances to bestow peace upon us. The world is not a very peaceful place. With all the conflict we endure—whether it’s conflict at home, at work, in our nation, or in our world—if we depend on externals to have true peace, we will be sorely disappointed. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).
We can find our peace by being right with God.
“Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1). Justification, then, results in peace?
Just what is justification? The Greek term for justify means “to declare to be in the right, to treat as just, to vindicate.” Justification, then, is God’s declaring that we are free from sin, that we are right before him.
Thus, if we are right with God, we have peace. We have the peace of knowing that al our sins have been removed, we have the peace of knowing heaven awaits us. Do you have that peace? Have you been justified?
We also find peace through the Law of God.
The Scriptures affirm that in them we find peace. “Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble” (Ps 119:165). “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace” (Jn 16:33)—Jesus spoke to the apostles in order to impart peace to them.
We find great peace through the Scriptures. Through the Scriptures, we learn of the love of God, we learn how to have a relationship with that loving God, we learn about the forgiveness of sins, and we learn of our future in heaven. What peace we find through the Scriptures! Do you study the Scriptures in order to have peace?
We also find peace through prayer.
Philippians 4:6-7. No wonder the peace “which surpasses all understanding” comes to those who pray! In prayer, we go before the throne of the Almighty God, and we leave our cares and petitions there.
We know that God hears us, and that he will answer us. Luke 11:9-12. Do you pray often? Do you know that God hears you? Do you have the peace “which surpasses all understanding?”
“O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer.”
We also find peace through keeping God’s commands.
The Scriptures say that we can find peace in doing what God has instructed. “Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, And your righteousness like the waves of the sea” (Is 48:18). “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil 4:9).
Oh, what peace we have when we follow the commands of Jesus! Did you ever have more peace than when you obeyed the Lord Jesus in baptism? Wasn’t it the fact that you were obeying the Lord that gave you peace? When you’re not doing what you know you need to do, do you have any peace?
The Holy Spirit produces peace in the life of Christian (Gal 5:22). The Holy Spirit is given to Christians at the point of baptism (Acts 2:38). Through the indwelling of his Spirit, God gives us peace.
Do you have peace? Do you have the indwelling of the Spirit?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Alum Creek church of Christ in Alum Creek, West Virginia.