Does this image and slogan invoke any emotion? The slogan may be forever attached to the generation of the 1960’s and therefore politically charged. We may connect the slogan and sentiment with sit-ins, hippies and the anti-establishment generation. But the words are right out of the Bible. Christians are commanded to make peace, not war.
Matthew 5:9 – 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Last week, in our study of this verse, we viewed Jesus as the original Peacemaker. His sacrifice on the cross made peace between us and God by paying the redemptive price for our sin.
- Eph 2:14-18 – 4 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Since God makes peace, it follows that His children would also seek to make peace. How do we make peace, not war?
I. Peace is Impossible without Righteousness. The genuine peace that we seek among ourselves and that God provided for us at the cross is not compromise. True peace with God came through the victory over the cause of conflict, that is sin. Therefore, true peace among ourselves is achieved when we win a victory over the sin because sin is the reason for every conflict. It is the seed of disharmony.
A. Purity & Peace: James describes the nature of God’s peace in James 3:17 – 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable …” Two people cannot hope to have peace unless they are pure.
1. Hebrews 12:14 – 14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord The psalmist states… – 10 Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed. (Psalms 85:10) God does not reconcile us to Himself without cleansing us first. So we cannot expect that we can bring peace between one another without calling people (including ourselves) to repentance.
B. Truth & Peace: Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt 10:34). Is this a contradiction to Matthew 5:9?
1. There is no contradiction in Jesus’ words. He did bring peace through reconciling man with God, and modeling the principles that make for peace.
2. But the peace that Jesus provides comes through faith and obedience to truth. (John 17:17 – 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.) Not all men accept truth. In fact, truth always brings opposition and strife. Sometimes within families. When believers set God’s standards of righteousness before a world that loves wickedness, there is an inevitable potential for conflict. But there is no way to achieve true and lasting peace apart from purity and truth.
II. The Qualifications of the Peacemaker: What does a peacemaker look like? What does it take to be one? When Jesus says that his children are peacemakers, he infers that God has qualified them as such. True peacemaking does not come through human psychological techniques. One does not need a counseling degree to help heal and reconcile. The Peacemaker creates peacemakers. Let me present some essential qualifications: (these come from God)
A. Has Peace with God. The true peacemaker is a Christian. You and I cannot be peacemakers unless we are at peace with God ourselves. The Christian has a great advantage in the pursuit of peaceful relationships.
1. He understands the source of peace. He knows God and he knows that peace comes from serving Him. When Paul wrote to the Philippian church and urged them to be joyful, he often mentioned that peace would come from God. (push button once) Phil 1:2 – Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Phil 4:6-7 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phil 4:9 – The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
2. He recognizes the source of conflict. He knows the destructive consequences of sin. James 4:1-4 – Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet* you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 Adulterers and* adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James tells us that conflict comes from our desire to please ourselves and our rebellion against God’s will. There can be no peace for the worldly person because he is an enemy of God – the source of true peace. To make peace we must be willing to identify sinful attitudes and actions in the lives of those who are in conflict.
3. He has a Respect and Confidence in God’s Word and God’s Ways: The Christian is willing to rely upon what God says will work. This confidence in God’s word is essential. Many times we give a token nod to what God says and then put our trust in the psychological techniques on men. The Bible is a manual for peace relationships.
a. This willingness to trust God’s word is the evidence of the new spirit of the Christian. In Eph. 4 Paul told the Ephesian Christians that they should not walk as they used to walk “in the futility of their thinking” but to be renewed in their attitudes and to be like Christ.
- Eph 4:25 – Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor,
- Eph 4:26 – Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
- Eph 4:29 – Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up…
- Eph 4:31-32 – Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Paul goes in chapter 5 to instruct:
- wives to be submissive to their husbands and show them respect..
- He tells husbands to love their wives even to the point of personal sacrifice…
- Children to be obedient to parents in all things
- Parents to sacrifice for their children and discipline them according to God’s admonitions.
- He tells slaves to obey their masters (even the evil ones) and
- masters to be kind and unthreatening to those who serve them.
Do you believe that these things will make for peace?
4. He seeks peace among men from God’s perspective. Consider Abigail, one of the great peacemakers of the Bible. David had ordered an assault on Abigail’s husband, Nabal. Abigail met David on the way and appealed to him for peace, not war. On what basis?
- 1 Sam 25:28-31 – For the Lord will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord fights the battles of the Lord, and evil is not found in you throughout your days. 29 Yet a man has risen to pursue you and seek your life, but the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the Lord your God; and the lives of your enemies He shall sling out, as from the pocket of a sling. 30 And it shall come to pass, when the Lord has done for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and has appointed you ruler over Israel, 31 that this will be no grief to you, nor offense of heart to my lord, either that you have shed blood without cause, or that my lord has avenged himself. But when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your maidservant.” How did she make peace?
- She spoke of her faith in God and his promises to bless David in the future.
- She told David that vengeance was against his character and God’s law.
- David thanked her for saving him from doing wrong.
- There was no human reason for David to be peaceful, but there was a spiritual reason. Abigail was qualified to make peace because she understood the morality of the issue and could appeal to David’s heart.
B. He Leads Others to Make Peace with God: When Paul metaphorically described the spiritual armor of the Christian in Ephesians 6, he said Christians are to have their feet arrayed with “the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15) Earlier Paul wrote 4 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” ( Rom. 10:14-15) Those who have been given God’s peace are called upon to share it with others. If you can tell someone how to become a Christian you are a peacemaker.
- John MacArthur wrote: “To preach Christ is to promote peace. To bring a person to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is the most peacemaking act a human being can perform.”
1. The inherent motivation to evangelize the lost is our ability and willingness to assimilate with them. Do you appreciate the peace that you have with God? Are you humbled by what He has done for you? If so, you will lead others to him. “Those who are forgiven much, love much.”
2. A ministry of reconciliation: Paul was quick to tell the Corinthians that he was compelled by the love of Christ to suffer and preach the gospel to them (2 Cor. 5:14-15). He then characterized the Christian as a new creation – (“old things have passed away, all things are made new” – vs. 17) The Christian is new because he is reconciled to God, he is at peace with God.
a. What does this new person do? Altough Paul’s words may best refer to the apostles themselves, I believe thay also describe us as peacemakers. 2 Cor 5:18-20 – 8 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. God’s children seek to reconcile others to God. They implore others to be reconciled.
Conclusion: This is not all that characterizes the peacemaker. We will consider more. Especially our obligation to make peace among ourselves. Are you at peace with God. The Christians here are imploring you, be reconciled to God.