Sabbath, February 2, 2013
“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined..” “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 11:1-5; 9:2-6.
The gospel of peace
1. What is the good news that Jesus proclaimed and that we have to make known? Following His message, what experience did believers make?
Ephesians 2:17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
Ephesians 6:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.
“‘With great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them.’ Acts 4:33. Under their labors there were added to the church chosen men, who, receiving the word of life, consecrated their lives to the work of giving to others the hope that had filled their hearts with peace and joy.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 20.
“The gospel of Christ is the Good News of grace, or favor, by which man may be released from the condemnation of sin and enabled to render obedience to the law of God. The gospel points to the moral code as a rule of life. That law, by its demands for undeviating obedience, is continually pointing the sinner to the gospel for pardon and peace.” –Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, p. 563.
2. However, what did Jesus Himself declare? How is this to be understood?
Matthew 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
Luke 12:52, 53 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
“Christ declared, ‘I came not to send peace, but a sword.’ Why? Because men would not receive the word of life. Because they warred against the message sent them to bring them joy and hope and life.
“We look upon the Jews as inexcusable because they rejected and crucified Christ. But today the messages that the Lord sends are often received in a manner similar to the way in which the Jews received Christ’s message. If the instruction of the Lord does not harmonize with the opinions of men, anger takes control of reason, and men play into the enemy’s hands by opposing the message that God sends. Satan uses them as sharp instruments to oppose the progress of truth.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1089.
“He was now, upon a wider stage, entering on the conflict of His life. Though He was the Prince of Peace, His coming must be as the unsheathing of a sword.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 111.
The gospel as a sword
3. If the gospel is a message of peace, why is it not received by all nations yearning for peace?
John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
John 10:25-27 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
“‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’ Luke 2:14. There is a seeming contradiction between these prophetic declarations and the words of Christ: ‘I came not to send peace, but a sword.’ Matthew 10:34. But, rightly understood, the two are in perfect harmony. The gospel is a message of peace. Christianity is a system which, received and obeyed, would spread peace, harmony, and happiness throughout the earth. The religion of Christ will unite in close brotherhood all who accept its teachings. It was the mission of Jesus to reconcile men to God, and thus to one another. But the world at large are under the control of Satan, Christ’s bitterest foe. The gospel presents to them principles of life which are wholly at variance with their habits and desires, and they rise in rebellion against it. They hate the purity which reveals and condemns their sins, and they persecute and destroy those who would urge upon them its just and holy claims. It is in this sense–because the exalted truths it brings occasion hatred and strife–that the gospel is called a sword.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 46, 47.
4. What was the last legacy Jesus bequeathed to His disciples before leaving them?
John 14:27 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.
“The peace that Christ calls His peace, and which He bequeathed to His disciples, is not a peace which prevents all divisions; but it is a peace which is given and enjoyed in the midst of divisions. The peace that the faithful defender of the cause of Christ has is the consciousness that he is doing the will of God and reflecting His glory in good works. It is an internal rather than an external peace. Without are wars and fightings through the opposition of avowed enemies, and the coldness and suspicion of those even who claim to be friends.” –The Upward Look, p. 220.
“Those who take Christ at His word, and surrender their souls to His keeping, their lives to His ordering, will find peace and quietude. Nothing of the world can make them sad when Jesus makes them glad by His presence. In perfect acquiescence there is perfect rest. The Lord says, ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.’ Isaiah 26:3.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 331.
5. If we desire this peace, what do we have to do?
Matthew 11:28, 29 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Psalm 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
“Whoever consents to renounce sin and open his heart to the love of Christ, becomes a partaker of this heavenly peace.
“There is no other ground of peace than this. The grace of Christ received into the heart, subdues enmity; it allays strife and fills the soul with love. He who is at peace with God and his fellow men cannot be made miserable. Envy will not be in his heart; evil surmisings will find no room there; hatred cannot exist. The heart that is in harmony with God is a partaker of the peace of heaven and will diffuse its blessed influence on all around. The spirit of peace will rest like dew upon hearts weary and troubled with worldly strife.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 27.
6. Is it possible to lose this heavenly peace? How? In such a case, how can one find it again?
Isaiah 59:1, 2 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I to you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Every man’s experience testifies to the truth of the words of Scripture, ‘The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest…. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.’ Isaiah 57:20, 21. Sin has destroyed our peace. While self is unsubdued, we can find no rest.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 336.
“The sense of sin has poisoned the springs of life. But Christ says, ‘I will take your sins; I will give you peace. I have bought you with My blood. You are Mine. My grace shall strengthen your weakened will; your remorse for sin I will remove.’ When temptations assail you, when care and perplexity surround you, when, depressed and discouraged, you are ready to yield to despair, look to Jesus, and the darkness that encompasses you will be dispelled by the bright shining of His presence…. Never feel that Christ is far away. He is always near. His loving presence surrounds you. Seek Him as One who desires to be found of you.” –The Ministry of Healing, p. 85.
Blessed are the peacemakers
7. Are we among the peacemakers? If we are, what will be our experience?
Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
“Christ’s followers are sent to the world with the message of peace. Whoever, by the quiet, unconscious influence of a holy life, shall reveal the love of Christ; whoever, by word or deed, shall lead another to renounce sin and yield his heart to God, is a peacemaker.
“And ‘blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.’ The spirit of peace is evidence of their connection with heaven. The sweet savor of Christ surrounds them. The fragrance of the life, the loveliness of the character, reveal to the world the fact that they are children of God. Men take knowledge of them that they have been with Jesus.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 28.
“The peace of Christ is born of truth. It is harmony with God. The world is at enmity with the law of God; sinners are at enmity with their Maker; and as a result they are at enmity with one another. But the psalmist declares, ‘Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them.’ Psalm 119:165. Men cannot manufacture peace. Human plans for the purification and uplifting of individuals or of society will fail of producing peace, because they do not reach the heart. The only power that can create or perpetuate true peace is the grace of Christ. When this is implanted in the heart, it will cast out the evil passions that cause strife and dissension.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 304, 305.
For personal study
- Isaiah 32:17
“They are to ‘follow after the things which make for peace’ (Romans 14:19); but real peace can never be secured by compromising principle. And no man can be true to principle without exciting opposition. A Christianity that is spiritual will be opposed by the children of disobedience. But Jesus bade His disciples, ‘Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul.’ Those who are true to God need not fear the power of men nor the enmity of Satan.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 356.