Joseph A. Bias
The Quest For Peace
Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry.” Psalm 34:12-15
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9
Shalom is Hebrew for Peace. God is called Jehovah Shalom, God of Peace. One of the names of Jesus is the Prince of Peace!
There is something inherent in our human nature that at our core we want wrongs to be made right. We long to live in peace. Regardless of where we are born, or into whatever culture, our most fundament desire is to seek to be at peace within ourselves and with the world around us. Why? Because that is the way God created us from the beginning.
Babies cry when they feel pain and they laugh when they are happy. They can’t explain why. They just feel joy and peace and they laugh. When they feel discomfort, danger, hunger, or pain they cry. It is a fundamental characteristic of all living creatures.
Now there are two kinds of wisdom at work in the world. There is a wisdom from above that is pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be understood, full of mercy and good fruits without partiality and without covetousness, and there is a wisdom that is earthly, sensual, and devilish.
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:13-18
There is a wisdom that brings life, and a wisdom that brings death. The wisdom that brings life is Godly wisdom, and from the beginning it was all that man (Adam and Eve) knew before they disobeyed God and ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, (the fruit of life and death, of peace and war, of riches and poverty, of righteousness and sin…) All that creates the stresses, conflicts and tensions in our lives is the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
All humankind, since the fall of mankind, is in a constant battle between these things. As Christians, these are the things that war against our reborn spirit. We really want to do good all the time, but we fall short more often than we succeed. When we do succeed, it becomes doubly hard to maintain that posture. Apart from God it is altogether impossible.
When I was young in the faith, I thought, if I can just get to that level of knowledge or that age where I know enough about God and I have enough faith, then I could really begin to live life free from failures and missteps and all the stuff that we regret after the fact. I thought there was such a state of being that was inevitable for those who know the Lord. And maybe there is, but now, knowing what I know and have experienced of life in the pursuit of God and godliness, I’m inclined to believe that all this life is a continual pursuit that is mingled with successes and failures, triumphs and missteps, and sure-footed walking together with others who seek to know and love God with all their hearts, but who also triumph in moments and falter in others. Yet, we all press on by the grace of God. Not as feeble and frail, but as human and divine in nature like our Savior who is working in us daily transforming us to know, to will, and to do of His good pleasure, to become like Him in every way, knowing peace and bringing peace wherever we go.
Without the work of God in our lives by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, it is impossible. But, Praise God, through Jesus Christ we can do all things because He strengthens us. Like the branches in the vine that Jesus spoke of in John 15:5, we, branches by adoption and faith, must stay connected to the vine, Jesus. We must stay in direct and constant contact with the source of our life and strength, which is His Word, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Without that connection we are subject to the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, all that is upheaval, stress, corruption, death, and destruction in the world.
God created us to experience and express joy in our lives. And our greatest expressions of joy are intended for us to use exclusively to worship God. We are created to live in peace with God and with all creation. We are crate to enjoy Him. And this is peace, the fruit of righteousness.
“Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” NKJV James 3:13-18
This passage is expressed beautifully in the Amplified translation.
“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 peace which means concord, agreement, and harmony between individuals, with undisturbedness, in a peaceful mind free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts].” (James 3:18 AMP)
Apart from Jesus there is no peace. Apart from Him there is no rest for our souls, Apart from Him there is no life. He is the breath of life! It is His Word in us that keeps us alive. His Spirit in us that empowers us to live and move and have our being in Him. The more we can surround and immerse ourselves in His Word, the more life we abide in and the more life overflows from within us to enrich and bless the people and the world around us. Mothers, Fathers, grandparents, loving friends and family, the greatest gift we can give to our children and to one another is the knowledge of the Word of God.
We are all peacemakers if Christ dwells in us, and His Spirit motivates us to live His life and His love before the world. Yes, we are also the salt of the earth and the light of the world if Christ dwells in us, and His light shines in our hearts.
We know that we belong Him and the world will know that that we are His disciples by the measure of our love for one another. Not so much the expressions of our feelings in words, but in the acts of caring, kindness and compassion we demonstrate to one another. That’s what the world can see. Oh, that it would be said of us, “Look! See how much they love one another!”
In the Gospel of John and the three epistles he wrote to the church John is careful to emphasize what we know and can be assured of concerning who we are, and what is our faith, and what is our relationship with God by Jesus Christ our Lord.
The net tine someone says, So, what do you know? Here are a few things you might say.
“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” John 2:3
“But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.” 1John 2:5
“Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” 1John 3:24
“We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” 1John 4:6
“By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” 1John 4:13
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.” 1John 5:2
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14-15
“We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.” 1 John 5:18
“We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:19-20
Did you know that nearly every greeting that Paul made in his letters to the churches begins with this phrase?
“Grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
In Paul’s two letters to Timothy, he begins with this similar greeting.
“Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Paul’s greeting in his letter to Titus says,
“Grace, mercy and peace from od the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.”
The Book of Hebrews does not begin with a greeting, but it contains one of the most eloquent benedictions in its closing remarks.
“Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21
The epistle of James by comparison seems almost business-like in its greeting. He simply begins with one word.
Peter expresses more warmth in his first epistle.
“Grace to you and peace be multiplied.”
But in his second epistle he employs the most expansive greeting of all the apostles. This is no simple, “Hello!”
“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:3-4
John employs no greeting in his first epistle, but in the second he greets, the church by referring to them as, perhaps, the Elect, or some have suggested he was addressing a particular leader among the believers.
“The Elder, To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever: Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.” 2 John 1-3
Jude’s greeting is a simple warm word of blessing.
“Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.”
John’s greeting in the book of Revelation is consistent with the weightiness of the subject matter that he is given to convey in the letter.
“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: ¶ Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 1:3-6
Consistent with nearly all the epistles is the prayer for and the blessing of PEACE.
So, hear and receive these words today.
Grace, mercy, and peace be multiplied to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.