“Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth, peace, good-will toward those on whom his favor rests!”
The seventh beatitude, or characteristic of Christ and His people, is being those who are peacemakers.
Christmastime is Here!
During the Christmas season we are often reminded of Scriptures from Isaiah 9 and Luke 2 that Jesus is the Prince of Peace who has come to offer salvation to those on whom His favor rests! We are reminded during the Christmas season that we have One who has come to save us so that we can be at peace with God our Creator.
In an amazing testimony to God’s common grace, we hear Linus Van Pelt (that was his last name for the ill informed), declare on television broadcasts around the world, the good news of the gospel! Think about it. Since 1965, ‘The Charlie Brown Christmas’ special has aired on television stations and the gospel of peace has found its way into living rooms in almost every country in the world!
On this show ‘The Charlie Brown Christmas’, Charlie Brown wants to know what Christmas is all about! Lucy says he’s suffering from pantaphobia, a fear of everything, and when he comes to the conclusion as play director that Christmas is an empty thing if it only means plays, cookies, “Christmas queeeeens”, and artificial Christmas trees, Charlie Brown loses it!
At the point of his frustration, Charlie Brown yells “What is Christmas all about.” Linus replies: “I’ll tell you what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. Lights, Please.” Then Linus moves into the warm spotlight on the stage and recites Luke 2:
“…And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
It’s important to note that the last phrase “peace, good will toward men” is better translated “peace and favor toward those on whom His favor rests”. The reason is that unless God has shown us his favor and love in Christ while we were yet sinners, the message of Jesus is not peace and good will, but division and conflict! But to this reality, we are called by Jesus to declare the good news of God’s peace found in Christ!
Peacemakers in a World of “Wars and Rumors of War”
In a world turned upside down by constant “wars and rumors of war” around the world, we are reminded by the seventh beatitude that in this age there will be times of war, but that we are to be peacemakers as sons of God. Jesus said that the last days (the time between his first coming and his return) would be characterized by wars and rumors of war (Matt. 24); this was to be expected. But in this age, peace was to be held out to all men through the proclamation of the gospel despite the response of sinful men!
The gospel is God’s terms of peace with sinful man. The gospel is what we bring to the table as God’s ambassadors in Christ when we discuss surrender and repentance with those who make war against God (2 Cor. 5:17-21; cf. Psalm 2). We want to implore men at this table to be reconciled to God in Christ. We want to remind them that it is not the signing of a treaty that will end their lifelong war against God and His Anointed One, but it will be the Covenant God signed and sealed in His own blood in order to keep his promises and make peace with those who will believe!
Being a peacemaker means placing our sword in its sheathe for now, but being a peacemaker in no way means that we are to be passive in times of war when our country needs us to stand up for our nation’s rights or the rights of our family. What being a peacemaker actually means is to be reminded that our citizenship is ultimately in heaven (Phil. 3:20-21), and because we know the time is short before Christ returns, we offer the Gospel of peace to all men! When Christ came, he offered peace. He came to offer “comfort” and peace to Jerusalem and then to the Gentiles who would believe (Isa. 40; Eph. 2:14-17).
Ephesians 2:14-17: For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.
However, Jesus always reminded his disciples that this peace would also divide and bring wars and persecution upon his people. The world cries for “peace” but the only peace they will ever find is in the Prince of Peace Jesus Christ, who has reconciled us to God our Creator by his death on behalf of sinners. The truth of our reconciliation and peace with God is taught to us in Romans 5:6-11:
Romans 5:6-11: For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person- though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die- 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
We live in an upside down hateful world at war with God and fellow men, yet it was in this context Jesus came to die for sinners…to reconcile us to our God and Creator! We must let that sink into our hearts and minds:
Peace has been offered to us in Christ while we were enemies of God. This was not because of anything we did at all; it was all because of God’s love and grace to those upon whom his favor rests.
In our struggle to make this good news, this gospel known to others, we should remember that “while we were enemies of God” Jesus died for us. Augustine one time said that in some mysterious way, God both loved us and hated us at the same time! We too were once were at war with God and others; once we were at war within ourselves!
By God’s grace, we need to see the enemies of God, our enemies, at this point in time before Jesus returns, as the object of our evangelism, not the object of our scorn and ridicule. The day of wrath will come when Jesus returns, but now is the time to offer peace in Christ!
“I Have NOT Come to bring Peace, but a Sword”
But, Peace divides….
That is true! Jesus, the Prince of Peace said that he did not actually come to bring peace, but a sword:
Matthew 10:34-40: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.
Jesus is making the point that although he offers real peace with God and we offer real peace with God in Christ to others, it will bring division and war! This true peace is not the kind of peace that man wants or desires. In fact, when we come to the table with the gospel, declaring God’s terms of surrender found in repentance, as well as God’s terms of believing the Gospel of Christ, we find a violent opposition.
The reason for this violent opposition is because the Gospel holds out to us free and eternal life in Jesus Christ ALONE, yet sinful man comes to the table to speak to God about their terms for God. Sinful man does not naturally want to surrender to the truth of the gospel because they will then have to acknowledge God as Creator and LORD of all. So, there is a violent opposition between God’s terms of peace in Christ and the terms of peace sinful men bring to the table and therefore until repentance comes in man’s heart, by God’s grace, there will be no peace!
We should remember that Jesus was teaching this blessing of being a peacemaker in the context of Roman rule and violent oppression. Revolutionaries, bandits, and zealots all wanted to overthrow Gentile rule by force, rather than to wait upon the LORD. Jesus tells them that they are to be peacemakers now, not warriors!
The REAL War to End All Wars
In other words, we are to be evangelists for now until Jesus returns again! When the Son of God came the first time he offers peace in his Name with God, but when he returns again those who have rejected Him will see Him in all his wrath and fury. The sons of God who lived a life of persecution because they lived as peacemakers, will join our King Jesus in war to end all wars. A final war, or showdown that will bring in an eternal time of peace that will never end!
God has extended peace to those who would believe in Christ. We should remember, as well as remind others that God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:14), a wrathful God (Nahum 1), who will not pardon the guilty (Exo. 34:6-8), yet he will extend peace and reconciliation to those who look to Christ, the Prince of Peace by faith (Romans 5:8-10). In fact, those who believe will be called “sons of the Living God”.
Christ will return soon to war against those who do not believe. On that terrible Day of the Lamb (Rev. 6;19), the unbelievers who have sought peace in everything and everyone BUT the Living Christ, will find a terrible judgment and wrath. The Lamb will war against those who have falsely cried “peace, peace” when there was no true peace with God!
We as peacemakers want to be constantly reminded of our evangelistic opportunities all around us. We want to be reminded of the hope and the peace we can truly offer to those who war within their own souls, against our God and against other men! Right now, we offer peace as the sons of God, but one day there will be a war to end all wars. Now is the time of salvation and hope, the time of peace extended through the gracious message of the Gospel of the Prince of Peace! Remember how Paul describes the feet of those who bring the good news of the gospel of peace in Romans 10 (cf. Ephesians 6:13-18):
“For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
“….They Shall Be Called Sons of the Living God!”
What grace! While we were enemies, God justified us, declared us righteous in Jesus Christ! The good news doesn’t just stop there, but God goes on to adopt us as his children. We are called “sons”, “children of the Living God” because of THE SON, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus reconciles us to the Father, gives us a portion of His Spirit, so that we might be called the Sons of God. This should encourage us all when we are being persecuted (the next study) because we are offering God’s terms of peace to the world in Jesus. No matter how great the struggle and the conflict here in this world, we can always be assured of our right standing before God, our status as his beloved children, and we can call out to our Father who cares in our time of trouble and be encouraged and delivered! Read carefully the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 8 concerning our sonship or adoption!
Romans 8:14-25: For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
As children of God wait patiently for our King to return. By his grace, offer faithfully, despite violent opposition, God’s terms of peace in Jesus, the great gospel of truth that has been declared to us and believed by us!
The Prince of Peace has come! Believe in Him!
In Christ’s love,
Soli Deo Gloria!
Next Study: “Blessed are the Persecuted”