The Glorious Gift of Peace
Unwrapping the Christmas Gift -3
TITLE: The Glorious Gift of Peace
TEXT: Luke 2:14; John 14:27
TASK: Emphasizing the peace that Jesus brings into our lives, amidst the chaos of the world.
TEACH: Often when we consider the Protestant Reformation we think of it as largely a series of investigations, debates and discoveries relative to important theological and philosophical issues. Without a doubt this mighty movement of God was the climax of many years of intellectual and spiritual struggles over issues pertaining to the Bible and man's relationship with God. We owe much to the Reformers for their insistence on the authority of the Bible, the priesthood of the believer, the spiritual nature of the church, and justification by faith. These great and glorious truths have come down to us as recoveries of what we know the Scriptures to teach so clearly.
But what we sometimes forget is that the Reformation was not just born out of doctrinal and ideological struggles, but it was also the fruit of the very personal and subjective conflicts which some of its primary agents experienced. Issues such as whether an individual can come directly to God without the mediation of an earthly hierarchy, or whether we are saved by grace or by works – these matters affect individual souls who long to enjoy peace with God and assurance of salvation. It is, after all, out of the throes of personal fears, doubts, longings and searches that great movements which shake the world develop.
No one in the period of the Reformation illustrates more vividly the importance of the personal struggle for hope and peace than the German monk, Martin Luther. Actually the mighty movement he initiated did not begin with any intellectual doubts about the authority and validity of the Roman Catholic Church which controlled the religious world of his day. Rather it came initially with his revolt against and disgust with the indulgence system which was carried on by the Vatican. Those reactions emerged from his own inner struggle to come to a settled peace about his relationship with God. In this article I wish to focus on Luther's personal journey, which began with an intense devotion to Romanism, evolved into a period of fear, doubt and uncertainty, and climaxed in a glorious experience of joy in the marvellous grace of God.
TRUTH: Christmas reminds us that Jesus came to reconcile us with God, offering a transformative peace that surpasses all understanding. This sermon will encourage believers to find peace in Christ and share it with others.
A Broken World: The world as it was when Christ was born.
During the time of Christ's birth, the world experienced various dynamics politically, socially, economically, and spiritually. Let's take a brief look at each aspect:
1. Politically: The Roman Empire held control over a significant portion of the world, including Judea, where Jesus was born. In Judea, the region where Jesus was born, the Herodian dynasty ruled under the authority of Rome. Herod the Great, known for his extensive building projects, was the ruler during Jesus' birth.
2. Socially: The Jewish society was divided into different sects and religious groups, such as Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots, with differing beliefs and practices. Society was hierarchical, with a clear distinction between the elite ruling class, religious leaders, and the common people. Social mobility was limited.
3. Economically: Rome imposed heavy taxes on its provinces, including Judea.
4. Spiritually: The primary religious group in the region was Judaism, centered around the Temple in Jerusalem. Jewish religious practices were regulated by laws and rituals. Jewish people held expectations for the long-awaited Messiah, hoping for a deliverer who would liberate them from foreign rule and usher in a new era.
It was also a time of relative peace known as the Pax Romana. It was during this time that the birth of the Prince of Peace was announced. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “God cannot give us joy and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”
The Glory of the Lord at our Saviors Birth
The "glory of the Lord" is a term often used in religious and spiritual contexts to describe the divine radiance, majesty, and magnificence of God's presence. It represents the transcendent and awe-inspiring nature of God's power and holiness. Throughout various religious texts and traditions, the glory of the Lord is depicted as a radiant light or a celestial manifestation that signifies God's divine favor or presence. It is often regarded as a sign of God's power, majesty, and sovereignty, and is associated with experiences of awe, reverence, and worship. The glory of the Lord is seen as a tangible expression of God's transcendence and is often understood as the highest and most splendid aspect of God's divine nature.
The point being: the angels desired that man glorify God as they did. However, peace between God and man must be restored. For this reason, Jesus, is prophesied by Isaiah as the “Prince of Peace” in Isaiah 9:6
Yet, He is not the Redeemer of angels, but ours. They glorify God for the goodness shown to us. God cannot be glorified through man unless peace with man is brought.
I. Peace with God
a. Man, by his nature is an enemy of God. Their enmity appears in five areas.
1. In their judgements: Very low view and thoughts of God.
2. In their desires: He is averse to communion with God.
3. In their wills: He is contrary to God and hates His will.
4. In their affections: He has malice against God. His heart is like the devil.
5. In their practice: He walks contrary to God. Jonathan Edwards Vol.2 (pg. 130).
Man is totally destitute of the love of God. Every faculty is under the dominion of sin. Jonathan Edwards Vol. 2 (pg. 131).
Romans 5:1 - "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Colossians 1:20 - "And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross."
Ephesians 2:14 - "For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility."
Isaiah 53:5 - "But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds, we are healed."
“If there be any mystery in Christianity more admirable then another, it is this, reconciliation.” Stephen Charnock Vol.3 (pg. 336).
Charnock also wrote, “Reconciliation implies former friendship. By God’s creation Adam was a child of love, by his corruption he became a child of wrath, an enemy of God. Adam, while he stood, he was the possessor of paradise and peace, an heir of Heaven. However, when he fell, God sealed the lease of ejection from the Garden and man became an heir of hell. He turned rebel and joined with Satan.” Vol. 3 (pg. 342).
1. Recognize your need for peace: Acknowledge that you have sinned and fallen short of God's perfect standard (Romans 3:23), and that your sin separates you from God.
2. Believe in Jesus: Understand that Jesus is the only way to have peace with God. He came to this world, lived a sinless life, and died on the cross to pay for our sins. Believe in His sacrifice and resurrection.
3. Repentance: Repentance means acknowledging your sins, turning away from them, and seeking a changed life with the help of the Holy Spirit. Repentance involves a genuine desire to live in alignment with God's will.
4. Personal confession and surrender: Confess your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Surrender your life to Him, inviting Him to be the center of your life and to guide your thoughts, words, and actions.
5. Accept God's forgiveness: Trust that through Jesus' sacrifice, your sins have been forgiven, and you are now reconciled to God. This assurance brings peace to your heart and soul.
There are several verses in the Bible that teach about eternal security, which is the belief that once a person is genuinely saved, their salvation is secure and cannot be lost. Here are a few examples:
John 10:27-29: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand."
Ephesians 1:13-14: "In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory."
“The peace which comes from God is according to His good pleasure and free grace.” Richards Sibbs Vol. 6 (pg. 315).
Peace with God also produces………
II. Peace Within
a. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace, I give to you: not as the world gives, give I unto you.” He offers peace that surpasses understanding, transcending our circumstances. The peace that comes through Christ extends beyond a restored relationship with God. It also offers inner peace and a transformed perspective on life.
Men of the world offer their sons: Estates, Land, Big Houses, Vast Wealth, Jewels. But none of these things can be compared to blessed peace Christ has left for His followers. Edwards stated, “these things are but empty shadows, whereas Christ is the bread. Vol 2. (pg. 91).
Even though Jesus would no longer be physically present with His disciples, yet His peace would remain. It is His own peace. Jesus had no silver or gold. He was poor during His earthly humiliation. He even said, “The birds of the air have nest, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” But He does have peace to give. “Though he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and was everywhere hated and persecuted by men and devils, and no place to rest in this world, yet in God, His Father, He had peace.” Jonathan Edwards Vol. 2 (pg. 132).
b. Characteristics of peace
1. God's Presence and Power: Discuss the source of peace, which is found in the presence of God. Explore verses like Psalm 29:11 and John 14:27 that emphasize God's ability to provide peace.
2. Freedom from Anxiety and Fear: Examine the harmful effects of anxiety and fear on our well-being. Versus such as Philippians 4:6-7 and Isaiah 41:10 that offer the antidote to anxiety through God's peace.
3. Rest and Renewal: Discuss verses like Psalm 23:2 and Matthew 11:28-30 that highlight God's invitation to find rest and renewal in Him. Release from Burdens; Spiritual Nourishment; Assurance of Salvation; Guidance and Direction; Confidence in God's Plan and Provision.
Peace within produces………
a. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Nothing shows a man to be fonder of peace than when he seeks peace between others. When others have offended him, he endeavors to make peace between himself and them.” We are to love others as Christ has loved us, seeking forgiveness and reconciliation in relationships. Living in unity, compassion, and understanding, promoting peace in our families, communities, and beyond. (sermon: The God of Peace).
1. Transformed Attitude: When we have peace with God, it changes our perspective and attitude towards others. We become more compassionate, forgiving, and understanding towards those around us, as we receive God's grace and forgiveness for ourselves. Our hearts are filled with humility, which helps us reconcile differences and seek harmony in our relationships.
2. Love and Kindness: Peace with God enables us to love others unconditionally, just as God has loved us. God's love fills us, and we can extend that love to others with compassion, empathy, and kindness. This love helps us bridge divides and heal wounds, fostering an atmosphere of peace in our interactions.
3. Conflict Resolution: When we are at peace with God, we are more equipped to handle conflicts and disagreements in healthy ways. God provides guidance and wisdom on how to strive for resolution, understanding, and reconciliation. Through prayer and reliance on God, we can approach conflicts with a spirit of humility, seeking understanding and striving for empathy.
4. Forgiveness: Peace with God teaches us the importance of forgiveness. Jesus, through His sacrifice on the cross, shows us the ultimate example of forgiveness and reconciliation. When we receive God's forgiveness, it becomes easier to forgive others who have wronged us. By extending forgiveness, we break the cycle of bitterness and resentment, choosing instead to promote peace and unity.
5. Empathy and Understanding: Peace with God enables us to have a heart of empathy and understanding towards others. We recognize that every person is created in the image of God and has intrinsic value. This understanding helps us listen intently, seek to understand different perspectives, and approach others with grace and compassion.
Five Enemies of Peace
Continual bickering and jealousy bring open disgrace upon the holy name of Christ.
Peace with God, peace within, and being at peace with others produces…….
IV. Peace in the World
a. Ultimately, biblical peace envisions a world where justice, righteousness, and peace reign. It is a vision of a restored creation where wars, conflicts, and suffering cease. This ultimate peace is eschatological, pointing to the future return of Christ when all things will be fully reconciled and perfected.
Spurgeon, on this topic wrote, “Whenever I see peace I ascribe it to God and if it is continued, I shall always believe it is because God interferes to prevent war. I do not account it wonderful that one nation should strive against another. I count it far more wonderful that they are not all at arms. Why? Because wars are born out of lust. Sin is the mother of all wars.” (sermon: The God of Peace).
Biblically speaking, the concept of future peace in the world is a central theme found throughout the Scriptures. Here are some key aspects of future peace in the world according to biblical teachings:
1. The Reign of the Messiah: The Bible speaks of a future era when Jesus Christ, the Messiah, will establish His kingdom on earth. Isaiah 2:4 prophesies that in this time, nations will no longer engage in warfare and conflicts: "They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore."
2. Restoration and Renewal: The biblical teachings anticipate a complete restoration and renewal of all creation. Isaiah 11:6-9 envisions a future time when predators and prey coexist peacefully: "The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them."
3. The New Heaven and New Earth: Revelation 21:1-4 describes a future reality where God will create a new heaven and a new earth. In this new creation, there will be no more tears, pain, or suffering, and God Himself will dwell with His people, bringing an everlasting peace.
4. Universal Worship and Reconciliation: The future peace is depicted as a time of universal worship and reconciliation among all people. Psalm 86:9 declares, "All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name." This speaks of a harmonious unity among nations, where people from every tribe, tongue, and nation gather to worship and honor God together.
5. Triumph of Good over Evil: The future peace entails the ultimate triumph of good over evil, with evil being completely eradicated. Revelation 22:1-5 portrays a world where there is no more darkness or sin, and God's light illuminates everything.
“One day peace shall be perfected at last. There is war in the world; there is an evil spirit walking to and fro, a restless being, eager, like a lion ready to devour…and there are men bewitched by that evil spirit who are at war with one another and God, but there is a time coming when there shall be peace throughout the earth in every dominion.” Charles Spurgeon (sermon: The God of Peace).
TAKE-AWAY: In a world full of chaos and war believers must realize…
1. We have the blood of Jesus to plead over us.
2. We have His righteousness to cover us.
3. We have His atonement to satisfy us.
4. We have His protection so nothing can hurt us.
TIE-UP: Martin Luther eventually emerged from his night of darkness and despair, but not in the way he had supposed. Peace did not come through obedience to the demanding laws of the Vatican, or even from devotion to the perfect commandments of God, but from a rediscovery of the message of the apostles of Christ: salvation through trust in the mercy of God through Christ.