Department of Peace or Prince of Peace?

Congressional legislators are preparing to introduce a bill to create a Department of Peace. That’s a hoot. The government that saved us from our energy problems with the Department of Energy will now create peace through bureaucracy. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all in favor of peace. Everybody is in favor of peace.  What is peace anyway? Where can we find it? What does it actually mean? Is it just the absence of war, or is it a social utopia where everyone just gets along? Is it an economic state where one’s needs and cares are provided for, or perhaps a psychological state, where anxiety has been eliminated? Perhaps it’s all these things, and none of them. 

I suggest that in this world of men there can be no peace. The one peace we can ever count on, the most important peace we’ll ever find, is a peace made possible through the grace of God. Our only real peace comes from one source: the Prince of Peace. Let me explain.

 Jesus declared:  

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)

 In his walk, Jesus affirmed that we who believe in him already have his peace within us.  But at the same time he asserted that this peace is not the same peace that the world knows. It is not a peace on the political plane. It is not peace among men. It is not peace of mind, or freedom from the cares of this life. The peace we need  is not with the world, but a peace with God. It is not a temporal peace, but an eternal peace. It is peace in Jesus for all eternity. It is the peace that comes from the promise of eternal life to be fully realized in the kingdom of heaven when we “shall see him as he is”(1 John 3:2).

 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

In fact, even with the peace of Jesus in us, the world still brings trials and troubles (tsuris, for all you fellow Brooklyn-born Yiddish lovers). What then is the meaning and the source of this peace that Jesus gives to his followers? Let’s consider the state in which we live before Jesus gives us his peace. The human condition, absent his peace, reveals what peace means and whence it comes.

 The bad news is that if we die without Jesus, we do not have, and, in fact, cannot have, peace. What’s worse, instead of eternal peace, those without Christ will experience only pain and anguish and suffering. In this life we may consider ourselves at peace because we are temporarily free of the worries of the world like jobs, money, relationships, health, but real peace? Most folks think they are on good terms with God because they do their “more than fair” share of good works. But the self-satisfaction and complacency we may feel in the world does not equate to any peace with God. Peace with God is impossible without Jesus. Why? The Bible is clear.  We lose our chance for the peace that is available only through the gift of Jesus when we  war against God.  The truth is that every one of us has declared war on God. We are rebels, and rebels make war on authority. What greater authority is there than our Creator? We are rebels whenever we reject God, ignore his commandments, or blaspheme his name. We are rebels whenever we sin. Even worse, we are rebels not just through our personal sins, but by our very nature–our sin nature that is endemic in all men. We declare war on God every day of our lives, and that war began when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God’s law in the garden of Eden. Before we rebelled, there was peace, and God walked among us.

 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. (Genesis 3:8)

 Through Adam and Eve sin entered the world and ever since there has been no peace with God, only alienation, enmity, and condemnation.

 Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.(Isaiah 59:2)

We are at war with God. Because man’s very nature is corrupt, we, like Adam and Eve, seek to hide from God, or make God disappear. 

The man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8)

 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
   They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds. (Psalm 14:1)

 We boldly exhibit our rebellious behavior by dismissing God as a fiction, reject his authority, reshape his message in the Bible, or even by creating our own gods of narcissism, sex, entertainment, sports, and nature. We cannot tolerate a God who demands that we glorify him in all we do. We seek instead to be gods ourselves in order that we justify our headlong obsession with pursuing and fulfilling our selfish desires. In an atmosphere in which we are isolated from our creator, cut off from he who sustains the universe and controls every aspect of our lives, how can we find peace? It is impossible. Instead of seeking peace outside ourselves, in Christ, we protect our self-righteousness, shelter our thoughts, actions and attitudes from scrutiny, and declare war. And the more we insist on creating our own illusory peace, on being our own masters, the more we must eliminate, attack and destroy God, our real master.

 Simply put, we do not want God around. We want to be free–free to pursue our own self-gratification.

The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man,
   to see if there are any who understand,
   who seek after God.

 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
   there is none who does good,
   not even one. (Psalm 14:2-3)

At the core of the Bible is the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is proclaimed and foreshadowed in the law of Moses, spoken of by the prophets, recounted as history in the gospels, and interpreted and preached in the rest of the New Testament epistles and books. It is the Gospel that brings peace to all who believe. That’s good news for sure. But what was the bad news? After all, good news in the absence of bad news is just news.  It’s like a visit to the doctor. You walk into your doctor’s office, sit across the desk, and listen as he makes a bold announcement. “I have really exciting news!” He then tells you that he has just received a new experimental and recently approved drug that 100% cures a certain rare and debilitating disease. You listen and wonder: “How nice, but why should I care about this obscure piece of medical news?” Now, if the doctor had first told you the bad news, that in fact your test results are in and YOU have this rare and debilitating disease, then the announcement of the new miracle drug is good news, maybe even the best news you ever received from a man!  

If the Gospel is the Good News that brings peace to all who believe and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord, what is the bad news?

First and foremost, without accepting the peace that Christ gives us through his death and resurrection, we are for all eternity at war with God. That war will have a victor and a day of reckoning–our personal armistice day. On that day when we stand before the great white throne, we will be judged. At that moment, poised on the edge of eternity, it will be too late to come to terms with God, too late to surrender, too late to settle out of court. If we accepted Jesus and surrendered to him while in the world, we are free from condemnation. Jesus made our peace, settled our case, nailed our debt to the cross with himself. But those who stand alone, separated from God, reliant only on themselves, without faith,  stand condemned.  The only step remaining for them is the sentencing. As a just and good good judge must punish the guilty, unbelievers, those in rebellion against the King of kings and Lord of lords, will be cast into the lake of fire for all eternity.

 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. (Psalm 9:17)

 Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.(Revelation 20:13-15)

 How then do we receive this peace that Jesus gives? It is not something we earn, not something we can achieve on our own, not even something to which we contribute anything . It is a gift, a free gift of the grace of God. It is true peace, an end to the war that is central to our life–our rebellion against God. Jesus made our peace once for all time when he took on flesh as Immanuel (God With Us), and chose to intercede for us before God the Father. He intervened in history as a man and paid our penalty (the death penalty) for our rebellion, for our sin, upon the cross. He took our punishment so we would not have to. He gave his life as a peace offering–a peace between us and God.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.(1 John 4:10)

 As Israel covered its sin year after year with the blood sacrifice of animals, so Jesus once and for all eternity became the perfect blood sacrifice to wash us of our sins.

He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:12)

He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, where he now sits on the throne of his Father as both man and God as our intercessor before the Father. Through Jesus we can make our peace with God. Jesus is our God and our peace. In order to obtain it, we have only one choice– we must surrender. And Jesus has dictated the terms of that surrender– and they are non-negotiable. We must surrender our lives, give up our commitment to sin, and live for him and him alone. We must surrender our worldly attachments, our relationships, our idols, our pursuit of self, our prideful control of our own lives. Our peace has been won through the cross and Jesus offers it to us by faith and repentance. When we confess that Jesus is Lord, he must become our Lord and master. Our peace with God through Jesus comes at a high cost. It costs us everything!

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.(John 12:25)

Without a surrender to Jesus, there can be no peace in our lives. The world will always provide troubles, tribulations and trials, but they are only our burdens in this world. The peace that Jesus gives us is eternal. Pray and make your peace with God today. Surrender to Jesus, the Lord of lords and King of kings. Let us open our ears, allow the Holy Spirit to soften our hearts, that we may be saved. The only true peace is with God–the Prince of Peace.

Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly.(Psalm 85:8)

Published in: on February 23, 2010 at 9:05 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I really like this one – it does a good job of explaining what peace with God means as opposed to peace in your daily life. Good job!

    “He gave his life as a peace offering–a peace between us and God.”

    What a lovely sentence…

  2. The Department of Peace will be merely another arm of the Gospel of Satan (by A. Pink):

    The gospel of Satan is not a system of revolutionary principles, nor yet a program of anarchy. It does not promote strife and war, but aims at peace and unity. It seeks not to set the mother against her daughter nor the father against his son, but fosters the fraternal, spirit whereby the human race is regarded as one great “brotherhood”. It does not seek to drag down the natural man, but to improve and uplift him. It advocates education and cultivation and appeals to “the best that is within us”. It aims to make this world such a congenial and comfortable habitat that Christ’s absence from it will not be felt and God will not be needed. It endeavors to occupy man so much with this world that he has no time or inclination to think of the world to come. It propagates the principles of self-sacrifice, charity and benevolence, and teaches us to live for the good of others, and to be kind to all. It appeals strongly to the carnal mind and is popular with the masses, because it ignores the solemn facts that by nature man is a fallen creature, alienated from the life of God, and dead in trespasses and sins, and that his only hope lies in being born again.

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