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The Gift of Peace

The Gift of Peace

For to us a child is born,

    to us a son is given,

    and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the greatness of his government and peace

    there will be no end.

He will reign on David’s throne

    and over his kingdom,

establishing and upholding it

    with justice and righteousness

    from that time on and forever.

The zeal of the Lord Almighty

    will accomplish this.

(Isaiah 9:6-7)

We are looking at what the incarnation brings.  The gift of love, the gift of joy, and this week the gift of peace. 

Two of the most important doctrines of Christianity, the incarnation and atonement, are emphasized during the seasons of advent and lent.  This is the time of the year we focus our hearts on the meaning of advent.  

The term incarnation is of Latin origin, and it means “becoming in flesh.” While the word incarnation is not contained within Scripture, the doctrine of the Incarnation certainly does convey scriptural truth. The Christian doctrine of the Incarnation teaches that the Eternal Word, the second person of the Trinity, without diminishing His deity took upon Himself a fully human nature. Specifically, this doctrine implies that a full and undiminished divine nature as well as a full and perfect human nature were united in the historical person of Jesus of Nazareth. According to the Bible, Jesus Christ is God the Son, in human flesh.

Why is incarnation important to know and believe?  All of our theology hinges on this belief.  In order to believe in atonement we have to believe that God became man.  For God to become man we have to believe in virgin birth. All of our doctrine flows out of this belief. What does incarnation demonstrate to us?

What Incarnation means: 

  1. The goodness of the physical 
  2. God cared enough to come to us
  3. It brings reconciliation

That reconciliation brings love and joy and peace and faith into our lives. That is what we are focusing on. 

Isaiah the prophet prophesied that there would be one who would come who would bring about peace. What does this mean to us? Let’s look at the meaning, the source and the result of peace. 

1. The meaning of peace

The Hebrew Bible uses a familiar but significant word, shalom. In its purest sense, shalom means "peace." The connotation is positive. That is, when someone says, "Shalom," or, "Peace unto you," it doesn't mean, "I hope you don't get into any trouble"; it means, "I hope you have all the highest good coming your way."

Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. 

Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full. 

In modern Hebrew the obviously related word Shelem means to pay for, and Shulam means to be fully paid.

Shalom:  “Abundant human flourishing in every way.”

It is the state of being within which we were created to live.  Most people think of peace in the negative connotation  -they think of absence of conflict.  But the biblical understanding of peace is more than that – it is abundant human flourishing. 

The New Testament speaks of two kinds of peace—the objective peace that has to do with your 

relationship to God, and the subjective peace that has to do with your experience in life.

This is what God’s peace brings to us- both peace in a objective and subjective sense. It reconciles us with God and restores our hearts. 

The natural man lacks peace with God. We all come into the world fighting against God, because we are a part of the rebellion that started with Adam and Eve. Romans 5:10 says we were enemies of God. 

10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Romans 5:10)

It is in our very nature to war with God.  How can this be?  Isn’t it true that when you identify someone in your life as a rival, you feel at war with them?  What if you were a ceo and your company named a new one.  What if you were a coach and the AD decided to find another one.  That person taking your place would become like your enemy.  

That is what the human heart does with God. In our nature, we want control and want to play God.  In our nature, we hate God- we want to throw him out. 

This means there is no one person who is purely objective. Our hearts don’t want God. 

I heard a lecture by an atheist recently who made this admission: he said “I don’t just believe that a god is not possible, I don’t want there to be a god.”  

That is the nature of the human heart.  

But when we receive Jesus Christ, we cease being enemies of God—we make a truce with Him. 

We come over to His side, and the hostility is ended. Jesus Christ wrote the treaty with the blood of His cross. That treaty, that bond, that covenant of peace declares the objective fact that we now are at peace with Him.

That's what Paul means in Ephesians 6:15, when he calls the good news of salvation "the preparation of the gospel of peace."

 The gospel is that which makes a man who was at war with God to be at peace with Him. This peace is objective—that is, it has nothing to do with how we feel or what we think. It is an accomplished fact.

Romans 5:1 says, 

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God." 

We who trust Christ are redeemed and declared righteous by faith. Our sins are forgiven, rebellion ceases, the war is over, and we have peace with God. That was God's wonderful purpose in salvation.

Colossians 1:20-22 says that Christ "made peace through the blood of His cross.... And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach."

2. The source of peace

This subjective, experiential peace—the peace of God—has its foundation in the objective, factual peace—peace with God. 

The peace of God is not obtainable by those who are not at peace with Him. God alone brings peace. In fact, in Philippians 4:9, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, and Hebrews 13:20, He is called "the God of peace."

So when the prophet declared:

And he will be called

    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the greatness of his government and peace

    there will be no end.

He was referring to the coming of Jesus, who would establish a new administration of peace in the human heart. Jesus said it like this:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:1-3)

Our lack of peace is the result of our idols. I feel anxious when my idol is threatened. I read an amazing observation of Ralph Waldo Emmerson this week:

“The gods we worship write their names on our faces, be sure of that.  And a man will worship something have no doubt about that, either. He may think that his tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of his heart but it will out. That which dominates will determine his life and character.  Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming.”  (Ralph Waldo Emmerson)

Peace comes with putting Christ at the center of your heart:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-34)

3. The result of peace 

How does this kind of peace the Bible speaks of work on a practical level? Four things:

4. Trust in His word

Psalm 119:96 says, “Nothing is perfect except your words” (LB). What society tells you isn’t perfect. What popular opinion tells you isn’t perfect. What you learned growing up isn’t perfect. But God’s Word is perfect. When you get in the Bible and build your life on it, you will have a perfect foundation.

5. Rely on His grace

The Bible says, “See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children — think of it — and we really are!” (1 John 3:1) 

When you become a follower of Christ, you’re not just a servant of God anymore. You are a child of the King. A servant is accepted on the basis of what he does; a child is accepted on the basis of who he is. 

A servant starts the day anxious and worried that his work will please his master; a child rests in the secure love of his family. 

A servant is accepted because of his workmanship; a child is accepted because of his relationship. 

Remember how you got into God’s family in the first place. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith.” There’s no other way to get into Heaven except by grace. You’ll never be good enough, and you can’t buy your way in. It’s a free gift from God.

6. Let go and let God!

What do you do about the uncontrollable things in life? 

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 NIV). 

When you cast a line, there comes a point where you have to take your finger off the button and let it go. Just like the essence of casting is letting go, to overcome perfectionism, you have to let go and let God do his work.

Exchange your perfectionism for God’s peace.

Perfectionism destroys peace. Jesus says in 

Matthew 11:28-29, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.... Learn the unforced rhythms of grace” (MSG).

 What a deal!

You’re going to fail a lot in life. But you don’t have to worry about it if you’ve received God’s grace. In fact, there’s only one failure you ever need to worry about: “Be careful that no one fails to receive God’s grace” (Hebrews 12:15a NCV). Receive it right now, and then relax!

If you’re trying to live your life without God, you are at war with him- You are at war with God, and you need a peace treaty. You need reconciliation because your relationship with God has been broken. Jesus Christ came to be that bridge, to be the reconciler between God and man. 

When you trust Jesus, he makes it all go away. He says, “I’m going to completely wipe out everything you’ve ever done wrong. You’re completely forgiven. Come on home!” 

Look at Romans 5:1 in a more modern translation, 

“Now that we have been put right with God through faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1 TEV).

You need to make peace with God. Have you done that? If you haven’t, you’d better, because one day you will have to face him.

How do you make peace with God? You don’t do it by promising to be good or by being perfect, because you can’t do those things.

 The Bible says you make peace with God through faith — faith in God’s grace and that Jesus came to make you part of God’s family. You believe that Jesus is the one way to become part of God’s family, and then trust that you have been made right with God.

Discussion questions:

  1. What is the meaning of peace?
  2. How does a person get peace?
  3. Why is Jesus called the “prince of peace”? 
  4. How does the peace of Christ “rule” in our hearts? 

 


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