Peace with God

 

Dave Wisen – Teaching Pastor

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" Luke 2:14

As I write this, life is peaceful. It is the day before Thanksgiving. It is early in the morning, the house is asleep, and I am sitting in front of a fire typing, thinking about peace. Suddenly, my dog starts to bark at a vehicle outside, and I try to keep her quiet so that she doesn’t wake up those still sleeping. This effort fails. My daughter’s two dogs are now awake, which wakes up my two granddaughters. The dogs are chasing each other, a granddaughter is climbing over the back of my chair, and writing will have to wait. My granddaughters are now off to eat breakfast, but I am distracted. I check my email, and I read a letter from a friend which contains the words “tumor, inoperable, devasting.” Suddenly, “peaceful” is not the right descriptor for life.

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Peace is Elusive

Israel was tired of conflict. The nation had been through a civil war, opposing armies were threatening, and peace seemed out of reach. What Israel failed to see was that the conflict they were experiencing was due to sin, not politics. The prophet Jeremiah declared: 

"For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain;
and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely.
They have healed the wound of my people lightly,
saying, 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace.
Were they ashamed when they committed abomination?
No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush.”
Jeremiah 6:13-15

Sin always robs peace. Sin creates relational strife. When we choose to demand our own way, this collides with others demanding their own way. Conflict always ensues. Sin causes the inner turmoil of guilt and shame. We carry the regret of unmet expectations, disappointment, and bitterness. 

The only way to achieve lasting peace is to deal with the problem of sin.  Treaties are only effective if both parties agree to the terms of their agreement. God provided the terms of a treaty to re-establish the peace that was broken when we chose to rebel. That treaty was called the Law. This treaty provided the terms by which peace could be re-established between a holy God and sinful man. God clearly laid out the terms and conditions of peace, and the blessings that the treaty would provide. He also explained the consequences should this treaty be broken. The people agreed to the treaty in an effort to re-establish peace with God.

“Then he (Moses) took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” Exodus 24:7

The problem was not with the treaty; the problem was our inability to keep the treaty. A contract is only as good as the integrity of those who sign the contract, and we do not possess the ability to live up to our end of the agreement. So the peace that this treaty was given to restore is not realized, and the conflict between God and man continues. 

“Thus says the Lord: Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.
But they said, 'We will not walk in it.'“
Jeremiah 6:16

Our refusal, our inability to keep our end of the treaty removes the possibility for peace with God. The treaty is broken and we find ourselves at war again. 

Peace is a Gift

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:6

So, in an effort to restore peace—to end the conflict we created when we chose to sin—God does the extraordinary. He not only lives up to His side of the treaty, He lives up to the terms of our side of the contract. He completes and fulfills both sides of the treaty. Jesus does what we could not do – He lives up to our side of the contract in our place. Which means, the treaty God made to restore peace with us is perfected because God completes both sides of the contract. 

A treaty is only as good as the parties who agree. When God is on both sides of the agreement, peace is assured.

“But 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.” Ephesians 2:13-14

The New Covenant.

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" Luke 2:14

While God has fulfilled both sides of the peace treaty, this verse still contains an interesting clause: “peace among those with whom he is pleased”. Who are the ones that God is pleased with? It is not those who continue to try to secure a peace by keeping a treaty that is already complete. God is pleased with those who accept the treaty and by faith realize that through Jesus we can know peace with God.  Jesus is what the writer of Hebrews calls our “mediator” – the one who ended the hostility between God and man.

“Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” Hebrews 9:15

I am thankful that peace with God is not based on my performance. Amidst the chaos of this world, I am blessed because of Jesus to have a peace that endures.

 
Dave WisenDave Wisen