The Peace of God

EVERY attribute of God forcefully describes our God. We may speak of him as the God of power, the God of justice, the God of wisdom, or the God of love. Special manifestations of an attribute may also define God because one particular activity or work may reveal him to us. Thus, we could use titles concerning him as a God of wrath, a God of vengeance, or a God of mercy. And because we receive benefits from our Heavenly Father which specially reveal his character, we may also think of him as the God of light, the God of truth, and the God of all grace.

But often, the Scriptures refer to Jehovah as the God of peace. Every New Testament book except I John exhorts us to possess and cultivate the growth of peace; and most of them contain a salutation invoking a blessing of peace from our Heavenly Father. Also, because God dealt individually with the faithful prophets of old, the Old Testament records are replete with many beautiful assurances of abundant peace to those who would love and worship the Lord.

The fountain and source of all peace is God himself. From his vast resource of power and wisdom which resides within himself springs this peace. It is an ingredient of his inherent goodness. “He is never confused, bewildered, perplexed, anxious or careworn—not in the least fearful that his plans will miscarry or his purposes fail. All power and wisdom inhere in him. The scope of his mighty intellect reaches to the utmost bounds of possibility, comprehends all causes and discerns with precision all effects; consequently he knows the end from the beginning—a knowing which comes not only from philosophical principles which he himself established, but also by intuitive knowledge. As the Creator of all things and the originator of all law, he is thoroughly acquainted with all the intricate subtleties of physical, moral and intellectual law, so that no problem can arise the results of which are not manifest to his mind.”

We know that God has peace, is at peace, and can inspire peace in others. And we have learned that we can have peace if our considerations and meditations follow prescribed rules within proper boundaries.

Paul suggests these thoughts to us in Philippians 4:6-9. “Be careful for nothing [be not anxious about anything, Diaglott]; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” This message from Paul implies that we have the possibility within our control either to restrict the peace of God in our hearts and thus lower its influence in our lives, or to improve its influence and increase its blessing in ratio to the thoughts we encourage within ourselves.

But what exactly is peace? Peace is defined as a state of quiet or tranquility, freedom from disturbance or agitation. Such a state of mind is possessed by God. He is never wearied nor perplexed by any of the cares of his vast dominion. Yet his perfect peace is not due to the absence of disorder in his realm, nor to an indifference to pain or pleasure. The peace of God stems from that perfect poise and balance of his glorious attributes which make him master of his sovereign situation in the universe.

We do not think of God himself as developing peace, or of growing in this quality, but rather having its complete possession and expression. God’s peace has been manifested during ages of discord, hatred, and rebellion in God’s family. The method and power by which God’s peace passes to us is not as the world would arrange or give, wherein it is effective only when outward conditions of serenity and calm prevail. Much to the contrary—God’s peace can bring calmness, confidence, and rest to us in the midst of conflict and warfare, even as it exists in God himself.

But the question arises: Does the fact that God has everlasting personal peace mean that he has never known sorrow? Let us consider this question from the point of view that man, made in the mental and moral image of God, experiences sorrow. Even as new creatures we may sorrow—real sorrow, deep sorrow—not just the emotional tear. Therefore, we believe that sorrow is compatible to the divine character and it is reasonable to believe that our God of peace has sorrowed amidst discord within his family. One of his sons, Lucifer, became a tempter, an opponent, and a usurper. Another son, Adam, and his family proceeded on a course of disobedience which has continued for many centuries. Many angelic sons also became allies of Satan and produced great wickedness in the earth. The Bible states, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth … and it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” (Gen. 6:5,6) But, nevertheless, God’s peace maintained and ruled in silent perfection, concurrent with all these rebellions.

It is this kind of peace that we are promised—peace which prevails over adversity, turmoil, passion, and ignorance. It brings calm in the midst of storm, confidence and trust while the sea and the waves roar. God’s peace is a present help in time of trouble because it is within us.

Like all of God’s blessings, God’s peace accrues to us through his Son. It cannot be received in any other way than by identifying, accepting, and joining with the Son, and is developed in us according to our faith and full acceptance of his teachings. We gain and develop the peace of God according to our growth in faith and knowledge of God’s purposes and promises as revealed by Jesus in the divine Word.

In Romans 5:1 we read, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Here Paul teaches that the availability of peace with God is through our Lord Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death on our behalf. This is further noted in Colossians 1:20,21, where Paul describes the ransom merit of Christ and how instrumental the ransom is in bringing peace to us. “And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself … and you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.”

Peace with God by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus opens up to us the privilege of receiving the peace of God. The one must precede, and the other may follow. It will follow if we desire and pursue its attainment. Jesus encouraged us to fully obtain his peace, and to make this possible, he was faithful unto death. He left us his peace, which was the peace of God—a peace superseding the peace with God. This is brought to our attention in John 14:27, which reads, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” This legacy of our dear Savior is perhaps somewhat surprising, inasmuch as there is scarcely anything recorded in the Gospel accounts that describes Jesus’ life as peaceful. But we know he surely was a man of peace, and when he and his disciples ministered to others, bringing the blessing of peace was one of the purposes of their service. Note how this Is presented in Luke 10:5,6. “And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it.”

There were times when the sympathetic nature of Jesus was greatly touched by the terrible results of evil which he beheld. One such occasion was the death of Lazarus and its saddening effect upon his family and friends. On this occasion, Jesus wept in sympathy with the billions of others of mankind who would feel despair at the loss of loved ones in death.

There were also occasions when Jesus, as God’s representative, was properly opposed to evil. Note his denunciation and condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees and his righteous anger when he drove the money-changers from the Temple of worship. But these instances do not indicate a loss or lack of peace in Jesus’ life, but rather, they teach that peace must be preserved in its full measure and influence through all the varied experiences and trials of life, even as peace was maintained in Jesus’ life.

A wise man wrote: “Peace does not dwell in outward things, but within the soul; we may preserve it in the midst of the bitterest pain, if our will remains firm and submissive. Peace in this life springs from acquiescence to, not in an exemption from suffering.”

Jesus’ peace deepened through experience. In his service for God he began with full confidence in his Heavenly Father. “I delight to do thy will.” (Ps. 40:8; Heb. 10:7) He knew and testified, “My Father is greater than I.” He acknowledged that it was the Father’s power which performed the miracles and healings. Jesus’ acceptance of the Father’s infinite wisdom was indicated by his understanding of and cooperation with God’s plan of redemption. The Son, though a “man of sorrows” (Isa. 53:3), valued all the assurances of divine comfort found in God’s Word, and he received their fulfillment in his life on earth. At the time of his great sorrow in Gethsemane he was “heard in that he feared [reverenced God].”—Heb. 5:7.

We know that Jesus’ peace was an outgrowth of fellowship and communion with God. It was the result of reliance and faith in God’s character and purpose. When Jesus bequeathed peace to us, he knew it would be necessary for us also to manifest confidence and faith in God’s purpose. As followers in his footsteps, we receive the peace of God in our hearts through the same processes as did Jesus.

Jesus said, “Not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” Indeed not! The world gives peace in stinted measure, to a limited area of life or experience, in perishable quality, measured in hours or days. The world will give peace by arranging untroubled serenity and calmness of surroundings. But our peace is a rest of heart, in full assurance of faith in God. God’s peace abides despite assailing, or conditions of trial, because it is not dependent upon outward calm.

We will, of course, lack the full blessing of peace whenever we feel ourselves in God’s displeasure. Such an awareness will arise from disobedience or from a conscience instructing us of being wrong. In Philippians 4:9, Paul admonishes obedience to God’s will to achieve consequent peace. Notice how the promise of peace in this text is contingent upon doing. “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” In Hebrews, chapter thirteen, Paul says he desires us to be perfect (complete), working God’s will, inferring that if we are, the God of peace who brought Jesus from the dead will bring us peace. (Heb. 13:20,21) Paul seemed to rejoice in using the expression of our title, “the God of peace,” because it conveys so beautifully the purpose of God in arranging atonement, the means by which complete and ultimate peace will be achieved. He did this by sending his Son.

Paul wrote in I Thessalonians 5:13, “Be at peace among yourselves.” This admonition is perpetually timely for the Gospel church. Are we able to accept experiences with the brethren which may perplex, or be unpleasant, and not display or feel anger or malice? Are we able to accept these experiences in a quiet, lawful manner, while at the same time striving to clarify the problems? Are we quick to forgive a wrong in order to further peace? Are we able to set aside our preferences (not principles) in favor of those of others, in the interests of peace? Are we able to delay our plans or wishes in deference to the plans of others, and set our wills aside, and still keep our peace? These are just a few practices, which, if followed, will help preserve peace among ourselves.

After writing, “Beat peace among yourselves,” the Apostle Paul indicates that there may be many experiences among the brethren in which the manifestation of peace is important. These are listed in verses fourteen through twenty-two. “Possess the peace of God when you exhort others, warn others, comfort others, support others. Be patient toward all, possessing peace in all of these activities, doing such to develop and prosper peace among yourselves. Follow that which is good; rejoice in service, opportunity and privilege; pray in spirit; give thanks; be zealous; accept admonition; prove all things, and hold fast the proved; abstain from all appearance of evil.”

Continuing in verse twenty-three, the apostle assures us that to those who develop and maintain peace throughout their Christian relationships, the very God of peace will accept their service, and sanctify them wholly. This sanctifying infers future divine reward and opportunity.

When counseling, Paul must have been considering the words of Jesus in Mark 9:50, “Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.” Have the preserving, purifying principle always—the principle of denying yourselves, of suppressing pride, ambition, contention—thus being acceptable to God as an offering. Having peace means avoidance of contention and quarreling, struggling for place, honor, and office. In positive terms, it means seeking for the spiritual welfare of each other. A wise man said, “Five great enemies to peace inhabit with us: avarice, ambition, envy, anger, and pride. If those enemies were to be banished, we should enjoy perpetual peace.”

In approaching the end of this discussion, we wish to quote without comment the Amplified Version of James 3:13-18: “Who is there among you who is wise and intelligent? Then let him by his noble living show forth his [good] works with the (unobtrusive) humility [which is the proper attribute] of true wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy, (envy) and contention [rivalry, selfish ambition] in your hearts, do not pride yourselves on it and thus be in defiance of and false to the Truth. This [superficial] wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual (animal), even devilish (demoniacal). For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition) there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure (undefiled); then it is peace-loving, courteous (considerate, gentle). [It is willing to] yield to reason, full of compassion and good fruits; it is wholehearted and straightforward, impartial and unfeigned—free from doubts, wavering and insincerity. And the harvest of righteousness (of conformity to God’s will in thought and deed) is [the fruit of the seed] sown in peace by those who work for and make peace—in themselves and in others, [that is,] that peace which means concord (agreement, harmony) between individuals, with undisturbedness, in a peaceful mind free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts.”

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee.”—Isa. 26:3

Dawn Bible Students Association
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