PEACE WITH GOD AND THE PEACE OF GOD
"Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). "Thou wilt
keep him in perfect peace whose
mind is stayed on Thee."--Isaiah 26:3.
TO HAVE come into a condition of Peace with God means that one has become reconciled to God. This implies a former condition of alienation, of "enmity through wicked works." Peace with God, then, means that this estrangement from God is a thing of the past, and that the estranged one is now in harmony with God--that he has turned his back upon sin and is seeking to walk in the path of righteousness. This is a step of faith, and is accompanied by reformation of life. We rejoice with all who have come thus far; we are glad that they have this position of advantage over the masses of mankind whom the god of this world has so blinded [R5432 : page 102] that they cannot see the beauty of the Lord nor the desirableness of peace with Him, and who have not learned the bitterness of the fruits of sin.
But in our second text above, the Prophet is referring to a class who have gone further than the condition of peace with God. He is speaking of a class who have come into possession of "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding," as the Apostle Paul declares. This peace can come only to those who have given themselves unreservedly to God--their time, their talents, their influence, their life, their all. These have a peace that none others can know. This peace of God rules the heart even amid turmoil and trouble; it is an inward tranquility and rest which is the direct result of a close, personal relationship of the soul with God. It is the peace of God because it is a peace that God only can [R5432 : page 103] give, a peace which only His very own can fully know.
What a precious legacy our dear Lord left with His disciples when He went away from them! He said: "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." (John 14:27.) This was truly a legacy of priceless value, and it is the inheritance of the entire Church throughout the Age, even unto its close. To the world it may seem that the course of the Christian is far from peaceful, for the Lord's saints often have a stormy voyage. But if our hearts continue to be stayed on Christ by faith, and we do not let go our anchor, we shall be kept through all the tempests of life, however severely we may be tossed, however fiercely the storms may rage.
Faith can exclaim with the Prophet Isaiah, "For the Lord will help me, therefore I shall not be confounded; therefore have I set my face as a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed." (Isaiah 50:7.) On the assurances of the Lord we may rest, because our anchor holds fast to the Throne of God. The language of our Master's heart was, "O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee; but I have known Thee." He had been with the Father from the beginning and He knew His love and goodness; He had seen the manifestations of His power; He had marked His loving-kindness. So we who have come into similar relationship to God have come to thus know and trust His love and faithfulness.
PEACE IN THE LORD
The Lord does not bless His people with peace in an outward sense. The Master's special associates, the Apostles, were buffeted, and so all His followers have been. The Adversary does everything in his power to make their lives anything but peaceful and happy. This is true of all who walk in Jesus' footsteps. We have fightings without and fightings within, rather than peace without and peace within. We have fightings with our own flesh; and it is part of our victory that we "fight a good fight," a conquering fight. We are to put forth our best efforts in fighting against the world and the Adversary, against all the things that Satan would put into our minds and hearts, and we are to get the better of these things. The Lord blesses His people with strength to surmount these difficulties.
We are not to be at peace with the flesh, but always at warfare with it. Yet there is a peace in the Lord that is born of faith in Him and in His promises. He has promised us grace sufficient; He has promised that we shall not be overcome through having trials and difficulties that are too great for us. We are assured that we shall have the victory if we trust in His strength. This gives us a rest and peace in all our experiences.
"Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing!
It finds an echo in my soul;
How can I keep from singing?"
We are resting in the Lord's promises--we are resting in His strength and in His ability to make good His promises; for we know that He who has called us is able to fulfil all His good Word. This peace, or rest, is the special blessing of the Holy Spirit. Only in proportion as we receive the Holy Spirit, the holy mind of God, the holy disposition, can we have this peace fulfilled in us. It is a matter of simple ratio. As we grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord, in the knowledge of the Truth, we shall have this to comfort and strengthen us; and we shall thus have more of the peace of God every day, and be able to abide in His love.
It has been written for our instruction and comfort-- "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith." This faith is built upon the testimony of God's Word--a sure foundation. It is only through strong and unwavering faith that the peace of God will abide with His children. God has made us His sons and heirs, joint-heirs with our Lord. "No good thing will He withhold" from these; "All things shall work together for their good"; "He shall bear them up in His hands, lest they dash their foot against a stone"; "The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry." Then let us be strong!
PEACE FOUNDED UPON FAITH
This peace of God is not dependent upon the smile of fortune, nor upon physical health, nor upon a host of friends. But it is a peace which abides even when health fails, or poverty comes in, or death steals from us the treasures of our hearts. It is a peace which none of the changes and vicissitudes of this life can take from us, and which enemies are powerless to touch. What gift so rich could our Father give to His children!
How poor would be our inheritance today if we were without our anchorage in Christ! But with it we can endure all things which the Father's loving providence shall permit. Then let us face the coming days with calmness and courage. He who was with His dear disciples upon the stormy Sea of Galilee, and whose word of power quelled the mighty storm and stilled the raging of the sea, has the same care over His disciples today. When they cried out in fear, He quieted their hearts, saying, "Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?" Nothing can in any wise hurt us if our hearts are stayed on Him.
In order to enjoy this perfect peace we must have unswerving trust in our Father's love and abiding faithfulness. As we look out into the starry heavens we see a manifestation of God's mighty power and majesty, but our hearts and minds would not be stayed and sustained by this; we might receive gifts from Him, but without knowledge of His abiding faithfulness we would not know whether these might be only traps for our injury from the Adversary. But if we have this proper foundation for faith, if we learn to know our Father through His Word (the only way we can know Him), we come to have confidence in Him.
If we trusted to our own reasoning, we would be in a very unsatisfactory condition. All would be uncertain; we would have no sure basis for faith or assurance. But when we see that the testimony of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, reveals to us a God of Justice, Wisdom, Love and Power, our minds and hearts have something reasonable and convincing to lay hold upon, and we say: We can trust such a God, because He is trustworthy. This conviction deepens into joy as we step out upon His promises and prove them for ourselves, thus learning their reality and realizing their fulfilment. We rejoice that this loving God has called us to redemption through His Son. We rejoice that He has offered us eternal life, and has called us even to a glorious joint-heirship with this Son.--Romans 8:17.
PEACE DEPENDENT UPON FULL OBEDIENCE
We rejoice, further, to know of the wondrous provision for the whole world in the future. All these things form a firm basis for peace and joy and confidence in the Lord. But our peace is proportionate to our constancy --our staying qualities. No one can retain this peace of God whose mind is not "stayed," fixed, on God. It is not a peace of recklessness nor of sloth, but a peace begotten of God Himself, through His promises, which we have made our own. It is dependent also upon our full obedience to the Lord. It is the peace of Christ-- [R5432 : page 104] "My peace." This peace and the faith which inspires it, can look up through its tears with joyful expectancy for the glorious fruition of our hopes, which God has promised and of which our present peace and joy are but the foretaste.
"Peace, perfect peace? our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and He is on the Throne!
"Peace, perfect peace? death shadowing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquished death and all its powers!
"Peace, perfect peace? 'mid suffering's keenest throes?
The sympathy of Jesus brings repose.
"It is enough! Earth's struggles soon shall cease,
And Jesus call us to Heaven's perfect peace!"