Look with me, will you, at Matthew chapter 5. Matthew chapter 5. I want to read again for you the verses that are the setting for our thoughts, verses 1 through verse 12, Matthew chapter 5. “And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain and when He was seated, His disciples came unto Him. And He opened His mouth and taught them, saying, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward in heaven. For so persecuted they the prophets who were before you.’” Let’s share together in a word of prayer.
Father, again, as we come tonight to the treasured words of our Lord Jesus Christ, we feel inadequate. The stumbling words and thoughts of a human mind could never express the depth of truth in the heart of our dear Lord as He spoke these great utterances. But Father, somehow by the energizing of the Spirit of God, equip us to gain an understanding at least in part of what the Lord meant. Bypass the inability of the one who speaks and the inabilities of the ones who hear that we may be able to go beyond ourselves and outside of ourselves to perceive things beyond our understanding as the Spirit teaches us. We pray, Lord, that we might understand what it is to be a peacemaker in a world that is so desperately in need of peace. And we’ll thank you in Jesus’ name. Amen.
The idea of peace dominates the Bible. The Bible opens with peace in the garden; the Bible closes with peace in eternity. In fact, you could chart the course of history based on the theme of peace. There was peace on earth in the garden. Man sinned, peace was interrupted. At the cross, peace became a reality again as He who died on the cross became our peace. And since the Lord Jesus Christ has provided peace, there can be peace in the heart of a man or a woman who comes to know Him. Someday in the future, He will come again. His title will be the Prince of Peace. He will establish a kingdom of peace, which will finally go into an eternal age of peace.
So peace is a great way to see the theme of the Bible. Peace in the garden, peace interrupted, peace returns in the hearts of men because of the cross. The Prince of Peace comes again to bring a kingdom of peace that finally becomes an eternal peace. There are 400 references in the Bible to peace. God is tremendously concerned with peace. It is one of His great themes. In fact, He Himself calls Himself the God of Peace. You say, “But there’s no peace.” No, not in the world, not now, but there’s a reason. The reason there’s no peace is because of two things: the opposition of Satan and the disobedience of men. The fall of angels and the fall of man has caused a world without any peace. It isn’t that God doesn’t want peace, it’s that man and Satan are at war with God. You know, you can only have peace with someone as long as they want it, because it’s a two-way item. And as long as they will have no peace, there will be none.
But tonight we come to the seventh step in the ladder which ascends to divine blessedness. The seventh of the Beatitudes: peacemakers. It almost seems as if God has called us in the world to a very special calling. To restore and to experience something that has been lost since the fall. We are, as it were, to restore this world to the peace that was forfeited in sinning. And so God has designated a group of special people that He calls peacemakers. They are His agents in the world and they’re here to make peace. They go far beyond anyone who wins the Nobel Peace Prize because the peace they offer is eternal peace. The peace they set about to bring is a divine peace, a real peace. And so our Lord Jesus says that God has promised to bless people who are His agents for peace and even to call them sons of God.
Now, God here, through the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, is referring to a peacemaker that’s unlike any we know in this world. He’s not referring to politicians. He’s not referring to statesmen, no matter how good they are at working out a “peace.” He’s not referring to diplomats. He’s not referring to arbitrators. He’s not referring to kings or presidents or Nobel winners. He’s not referring to organizations like the League of Nations or the United Nations. He’s not referring to some ecclesiastical order. He’s not referring to a council of churches. It isn’t the Carters and the Kissingers of the world and it isn’t the Sadats and the Begins of the world and it isn’t anybody like that who are God’s peacemakers. God’s peacemakers are vastly different, which is good because the world’s peacemakers have a terrible failure record.
It’s amazing how a few months ago we hailed the great peace that had been accomplished when President Carter met with the Middle East leaders, that peace already beginning to collapse. We don’t have peace politically and we don’t have peace economically and we don’t have peace socially. We don’t have peace in nations. We don’t have peace in countries. We don’t have peace in political groups. We don’t have peace in organizations. We don’t have peace in homes. We don’t have peace any place because we don’t have peace in hearts. That’s the real issue. Somebody said, “Washington has a lot of peace monuments. They build one after each war.” Nobody has ever succeeded in bringing peace.
I’ll never forget reading a statistic. The question was: How many peace treaties have been broken? The answer: All of them. You see, peace is that glorious brief moment in history when everybody stops to reload. The United Nations was concerned in the aftermath of World War II with developing an agency for world peace, and so in 1945, the United Nations brought itself into existence, and since that time there has not been one single day of peace on the earth — not one. The world is filled with never-ending upheavals. The motto of the United Nations was set in 1945: “To have succeeding generations free from the scourge of war.” So far they haven’t done it for one day. It’s a pipe dream. The New York Times reported in 1968, ten years ago, that there had been 14,553 wars they knew about since 36 years before Christ. Since 1945, there have been between 50 and 70 wars, 164 internationally significant outbreaks of violence. In fact, since 1958, 82 nations have been involved in conflict.
I remember when former President Nixon said, “Peace, a generation of peace,” his theme on his election tour of 1970. And he said this: “We shall have a generation of peace, something we have never had in this nation.” We haven’t had one day of that. Nixon said we’d have a generation of peace. We haven’t had 33 years of peace. Some historians say we had two generations of peace, 1815 to 1846 and 1865 to 1898, but that’s because they don’t count the Indian wars. Those two periods of time were literally bathed in the blood of Indians. We’ve never known, in the history of America, a generation of peace. And by the way, if you think we have trouble on the political scene and on the world scene, we have killed more people in America with private guns than have died in all the wars we’ve ever fought. There is no peace.
We have no ability to get along with each other. Everything and every relationship is fragile. We have difficulty at the personal level. There’s no peace. People have mental and emotional illness to the degree that we have never been able to catalog as we are today. Family breakups, we have it in schools, there are marches and sit-ins and stand-ins and rallies and protests and demonstrations ad infinitum, ad nauseam. There seems to be no end to any of it. And the reason for all of this is that man has no peace in himself. And so his world, which is merely a projection of himself, is going to be literally riddled with chaos. And if ever there was needed a peacemaker, it’s now. Desperately does this world need peacemakers and God says through Jesus Christ in this wonderful verse that He would specially bless those who are peacemakers.
Now, in order to understand what our Lord is saying here, we have to deal with five truths about peace. Five realities about peace. First of all, the meaning of peace. What do we mean by peace? When we talk about peace, what are we really saying? What is the definition of peace that we want to deal with? How do we see it as God sees it? What is the divine perspective on peace? Some people think that peace is the absence of conflict, that peace is the absence of strife. Well, there’s no strife and there’s conflict in a cemetery, but we can hardly use a cemetery as a model of peace. No, peace as God sees it is far more than the absence of something, it is the presence of something. And I would hasten to add that in a biblical way, peace is not the absence of conflict as much as it is the presence of righteousness that causes right relationships.
Peace is not just stopping the war; peace is creating the righteousness that brings the two parties together in love. When a Jew says to another Jew, “Shalom,” which is the word for peace, he doesn’t mean “May you have no wars, may you have no conflict,” he means “I desire for you all the righteousness that God can give, all the goodness that God can give.” Shalom means “God’s highest good for you.” It’s a creative force for goodness. So if we are to be peacemakers, we do not only stop the war, we replace it with the righteousness of God. We replace it with all the goodness of God. Peacemakers are those who not only call a truce but a real peace where all is forgotten, and they embrace one another. It is an aggressive good. What I’m trying to say is that peace is not creating a vacuum. Peace is not creating the absence of something, but the presence of something.
Now, let me show you the difference. There’s a difference between truce and peace. Truce just says you lay down your guns and you don’t shoot for a while. That’s the world’s definition when everybody stops for that one glorious brief moment when we reload. That’s truce. Peace is when the truth is known, the issue is settled, and the two parties embrace each other. Now, some people think that peace is just stopping the war and what we need in the world is just to stop the conflict. All that does is make it boil. All we have then is cold war. And cold war is war. Now, some people may say, “Well, I just want to make sure there’s no conflict. I just want to kind of cover it up and stop the fighting.” And you really – by just approaching peace in that manner, stopping any conflict, you may develop a situation far worse than you ever developed by letting it go on because you may eliminate any resolution at all, drive it underground until it smolders and destroys both sides.
For example, if two people are at war with each other, the thing to do is not separate them so they don’t see each other, the thing to do is to bring them together so they can resolve what’s the problem so they can come together in love and embrace each other and make it right. That’s peace, not truce.
The peace of the Bible does not evade issues. It never evades issues. The peace of the Bible is not peace at any price. It isn’t a gloss. The peace of the Bible conquers the problem. You see the difference? It conquers that problem in the middle ground so that the two can come together. It builds a bridge to two sides. Sometimes it means struggle. Sometimes it means pain. Sometimes it means anguish. Sometimes it means a little more strife but in the end, real peace can come.
I want you to notice in James 3:17 a verse that you need to keep in mind, and we’ll come back to verse 18 later, but just verse 17 for now. “But the wisdom that is from above,” now listen, “the wisdom that is from above is first” – what? – “pure, then” – what? – “peaceable.” Now you can just stop right there and leave that one, we’ll come back to it later. The wisdom that is from God finds its way to peace through what? Purity. First pure, then peaceable. Peace is never sought at the expense of righteousness. You have not made peace between two people unless they have seen the sin and the error and the wrongness of the bitterness and the hatred and they have resolved to bring it before God and make it right, then through purity comes peace. Peace that ignores purity is not the peace that God talks about. In Hebrews 12:14, it says this, and another word that you must remember: “Follow peace with all men and holiness.” In other words, you cannot divorce peace from holiness. You cannot divorce peace from purity. You cannot divorce peace from righteousness. Psalm 85:10 says, “Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Where there is real peace, there is righteousness. Where there is real peace, there is holiness. Where there is real peace, there is purity, because that resolves the issue.
Now, we all want to avoid needless strife, whether it’s in a family or in a business or whatever. But if we do it to the point of sacrificing the truth, then we compromise our principles, and it isn’t peace at all, it’s just a truce and everybody is reloading. In Matthew chapter 10 verse 34, fascinating Word from our Lord. He said this: “Think not” – Matthew 10:34 – “that I am come to send peace on earth. I came not to send peace but a” – what? – “sword.” Now, you say, “Wow, that is diametrically opposed to the Beatitudes. That is the very antithesis of what our Lord was saying in Matthew 5. What does He mean, ‘I am not come to send peace but a sword’?” Now, what He means is this: Jesus did not come to bring peace at any price. He knew there had to be strife before there could be peace. He knew the conflict had to be resolved.
Listen, for the Christian, there’s going to be strife, even if we’re peacemakers in the world, it isn’t going to be easy to be a peacemaker because if we’re going to be a peacemaker in God’s terms, we’re going to be a peacemaker who brings the truth to bear so the peace can be real. And if we bring the truth to bear on a world that loves falsehood, there will be strife before there will be peace, right? That’s what I’ve said about preaching the gospel. You’ve got to get them mad at you before you can get them happy with you. You’ve got to upset them before you can make them better. You’ve got to make them feel bad before they can ever feel good. And so it is in bringing a true peace to the world, first a sword falls and then out of the sword can come the peace because it is the sword of purity. It is the sword of righteousness. It is the sword of holiness.
And that’s why in that wonderful epistle of Jude, in verse 3 it says, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you and exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the once delivered to the saints faith.” In other words, we have to be contentious about some things. Being a peacemaker is not saying, “Well, I certainly don’t want to offend that dear soul. Even though they don’t believe the way we do, I would certainly not” – that’s not making peace, that is a truce that is doing nothing to help because the issue is righteousness, holiness, purity. And so we bring the gospel to bear and it ruffles feathers and it convicts and it brings contention and strife and it brings conflict, but when the conflict is resolved by faith in Jesus Christ, there is a real peace. A real peace.
And so in peacemaking, the meaning is not that we are to abandon principle. The meaning is not that we are to abandon doctrine, that we are to abandon conviction. When Jesus says, “Be a peacemaker in the world,” that doesn’t mean you don’t ever bring up anything that is true if it offends somebody. On the contrary, you better bring it up if it’s true and it better offend them so they can get past that to the real peace. Biblical peace is real peace. We are not peacemakers in the world in the sense that we never make strife. We make strife all the time. But we are peacemakers in the world in this sense, that when the strife is over the real peace is there. Biblical peace is that kind of peace. Now, we are not agreeing to just settle things without dealing with truth. We will deal with truth. And if you’re going to deal with truth, beloved, you’re going to be a divider. You’re going to be a disturber, you’re going to be a disrupter. There’s no way to get around it.
And you know, you see that, don’t you? You go to work and you start to live for Christ and you start to give your testimony and all of a sudden, here you are trying to be a peacemaker and help people to make peace with God and help them make peace with each other and help them make peace in their own hearts, but you’re doing your best to get them to make peace and all they can do is get mad at you. Because the whole premise of your message is that they have to deal with sin, and people don’t like to hear that so they get very upset. Our Lord said in Luke 12:51, “Do you suppose that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you nay, but rather division. 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, the son against the father, the mother against the daughter, the daughter against the mother, the mother-in-law against the daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law.” In other words, Jesus said it’s very obvious at the beginning that when people come to Jesus Christ there will be conflict. And He knows that true peace can only come when truth reigns and it’s more than a truce. It’s a real peace.
And so when somebody comes along and says, “Well, you know, you have such a narrow view and you need to be more ecumenical. You need to sort of just set aside what you don’t agree with and just find the point of agreement and dive in. We just all need to get together and discuss what we agree on.” Well, let me tell you something: Christ never pronounced blessing on apostates, and if there was ever anybody that He met who had a point of error, invariably He nailed that point of error. Because the only real peace comes when we respond to the truth. If I disagree with somebody about something in the Word of God, some great truth that’s important in the Word of God, I cannot evade that. I cannot avoid that and be called a peacemaker. For while I may call a truce, I haven’t helped that individual to make peace with God and the end is going to be the same.
So biblical peacemakers are not quiet, easygoing people who just want to make no waves and no issues, who lack justice, who lack a sense of righteousness, who are compromisers, who are appeasers. No. People say, “Oh, he’s such a peacemaker,” and they mean by that he has no convictions. That isn’t the issue. A true biblical peacemaker will not let sleeping dogs lie. He will not save the status quo if truth must be brought to bear on the issue. He doesn’t say, “Well, you know, I know the person’s doing wrong but oh, I just would rather have a peaceful situation. Don’t want to say anything about what my son is doing or what my husband is doing or what our friends are doing. Just want to keep peace.” That’s a copout. True peace only comes after the truth. So the meaning of peace, it is real peace. It is not just peace at any price. It is not keeping the status quo. It is not calling a halt to the shooting while we reload. It is not simply a truce. It is not reducing it to a cold war. It is resolving it by the truth, bringing to bear the righteousness of God.
Second point, the meaning of peace. Real peace, as God sees it, we talked about. Secondly, the menace to peace. What is it that hinders peace? Well, it’s obvious. The menace to peace is sin. If the meaning of peace is righteousness and truth, then the menace to peace is sin and untruth or error or lies. And if you want to know why there’s no peace in the world, it’s because the menace to peace rules. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked.” Now, get that. Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked.” You start out with a wicked heart. How does a wicked heart manifest itself? Isaiah says in chapter 48, in verse 22, “There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.” So Jeremiah says that man is wicked. Isaiah says there’s no peace to the wicked. In Isaiah 57, in verse 21, again God says, “There is no peace to the wicked.” Jeremiah also has the same thought in the 8th chapter and the 11th verse: “For they have helped the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly saying peace, peace, when there is no peace.” In other words, they talk about it, but it isn’t there, because there can be no peace to the wicked. There is no peace to those that are wicked.
Man is wicked; he never knows peace, so the menace to peace is the wickedness of man. In Mark 7 and verse 20, the Lord said, “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within out of the heart of men proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness, and all these evil things come from within and defile the man.” Now, what you’re dealing with then in human society is an internally defiled man. A man from whom proceeds all this evil. And that kind of heart can never produce peace because peace is a result of holiness. Peace is a result of righteousness. Peace is a result of purity, and it will not be produced with this kind of internal sin.
Now, that’s why in James 3:18 – and we go back to that same text we looked at – it says this: “The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by them that make peace.” Now, watch this: True peacemakers, then, sow righteous fruit. True peacemaking brings to bear first righteousness. You can’t ever have real peace until you’ve brought righteousness. In other words, if two people are fighting, it’s because there’s sin. Eliminate the sin, the fight’s over. If two people are fighting, you just separate the people, that does nothing. If something’s between you and God and you’re at war with God, all you need to do is remove what’s in the middle, which is sin, and God and man come together, right? You see, always a peacemaker makes peace by sowing righteousness. And that’s why the wisdom of God is first pure, then peaceable. Listen, people, I say it: The only peacemakers in the world who are worth anything as peacemakers are those who bring men to righteousness, to God’s standards, to bow to God’s truth, and that’s why all of the diplomats and statesmen and ambassadors and presidents and kings of the world’s history could never bring peace.
By the way, this throws us all the way back to the beginning of the Beatitudes. That’s right. You can’t be a peacemaker unless you follow the first six, unless you’ve dealt with sin in your life. Now go back to verse 3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” You start out with a beggarly attitude toward your own sinfulness. You cower in a corner, crouching in the dark, reaching out the hand of a beggar to God because you know you can’t earn anything on your own. “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted,” and then you weep and mourn and your heart burns and aches over your sinfulness. And then “Blessed are the meek.” You see yourself before an absolutely sovereign and holy God as something worth nothing and the meekness is born out of the mourning that’s born out of the cowardliness that comes from seeing your sinfulness. And at that point in meekness, verse 6, you cry out in a hunger and a thirst after righteousness and you receive, according to verse 7, the mercy of God. And when you’ve receive the mercy of God, verse 8 says you become pure in heart, and only when you are pure in heart can you be a – what? – peacemaker, and that’s the whole point.
And by the way, when you become a peacemaker, the world isn’t going to accept that, and so immediately, verse 10 says, “Blessed are they who are” – what? – “persecuted for” – what’s sake? – “righteousness’ sake.” Why? Peacemakers are always trying to bring a righteous solution. They’re always trying to bring righteousness to bear on the situation. And whenever you try to introduce into the world a peace that is based on righteousness, they will negatively react to it. Because they don’t want to face the reality of sin. They don’t want to bring the kind – they don’t want to know the kind of peace you’re trying to bring. And so we bring to bear upon this world a righteous peace. Only when sin is dealt with can true peace ever happen.
I don’t care whether it’s peace in your own life, if you’re having trouble and turmoil and anxiety and you’ve got to go to a counselor and you’ve got to take pills and you’ve got to take drugs, and you’ve got all kinds of problems in your life, I’ll tell you what it is: You have righteousness in your life, you have purity in your life, you have holiness in your life and you’ll have peace in your life. And if you’ve got problems in your marriage and there’s conflict in your marriage and conflict in your family or in your home, I’ll tell you one thing: You have righteousness, holiness, and purity in your marriage and your home and you’ll have peace in your home. Because that’s always the way. Once you have righteousness, you’re at peace with God, peace with man, peace with self.
And so to be a peacemaker, you’ve got to go through all the Beatitudes. You’ve got to come to the place where you see your own sinfulness, you see yourself as a wretched soul, miserable, deserving nothing with no rights or privileges, hating your natural self, crying out to a holy God to give you a righteousness you could never get but must have. And God, in His great, great love, gives you mercy, purifies your heart, and then and only then will you ever be a peacemaker.
I’ll tell you something, people. It’s so wonderful to live in this world and to see how God can use the simple and the humblest people to be the peacemakers of the world. The people who never win the prizes, who never get their names in the headlines and nobody ever knows about, but they’re the real peacemakers of the world. They’re the ones that are going around bringing righteousness to bear in an individual life so that that heart for the first time knows peace. They’re the ones who go around bringing righteousness to bear on a relationship so that the first time it ever happens, those people know peace. They’re going around preaching a gospel, so for the first time a man can know peace with God. Those are the peacemakers. They don’t make the headlines, but they’re the only ones that are really doing it. And you know something? There’s a price to pay because when you try to do that, the world reacts negatively.
You see, the truth of real peacemaking is not that we want – and avoid conflict, we want none and avoid it, it isn’t that. It isn’t that we stay away from conflict. It is that in order to bring true peace, we will go right through the very hottest conflict and suffer whatever needs. I see Jesus. Jesus, the greatest peacemaker of all. Did He avoid conflict? Not on your life. He was nailed to a cross, the ultimate conflict. They killed Him, but He would do it because He knew that peace would be found in the end. Man could search the world over from corner to corner. He can go from counselor to counselor. He can gather from summit to summit. He can write treaty, from treaty to treaty. He can go from religion to religion and never find peace. Why? Because peace is not to be found in our circumstances. The problem is in our innate sinfulness. It is our uncontrolled lusts that rob us of peace. If we are feverish, it is not because of external temperature, it is because of the state of our own boiling blood.
You know, it’s almost strange in our world. We exalt the people who break peace. Oh, it’s great when we have a peacemaker who keeps us from getting into war or who’s going to help to keep the price of oil down or whatever, but when it comes down to day-to-day living, we really exalt the people who fight. Have you noticed that? I mean we’ll pay a fortune to go watch two men in a ring beat each other to a pulp. Worldly kingdoms, by the way, have always given the highest honor to the warriors. You ever notice that? It’s always the warriors, the soldiers, and the fighters. Today we bow to the great god macho, the virile, you see, the take-nothing-from-nobody, the hardnosed, the tough, the wild, the self-sufficient. These are the heroes, and the heroines are the women who lead the parade for rights and demands and stir up strife and stir up contention and fight against the traditions and the systems.
We are a whole society of people fighting for our rights and exalting each other. We are told by psychologists and psychiatrists and behaviorists, “Get all you can get for yourself. Don’t let anybody take anything from you,” and so we precipitate more strife all the time. Our society worships that. It’s no wonder when we come to the society and try to bring the peace that the gospel brings that they fight against us. It’s no wonder that they didn’t like Jesus Christ. They wanted a fighter. Those Jews said, “We want somebody who’s going to come in here and really lay the iron fist on the Roman government. We want somebody to come in here who will be a Messiah who will put a stranglehold on Caesar. We want somebody to come along who will knock the Roman government out of its power. We want a great warrior,” and when our Lord Jesus came along and said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” I’m sure the people listening to that, they went, “Oh, who needs that?”
Then we come into the world offering the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ and people look down on us, think we’re cowardly, weak, and if we get bold and really preach Jesus Christ, they fight against us. But you know, I don’t feel so bad about that. I mean I’m glad to have some enemies as long as they’re the right enemies. Jesus Christ was the Prince of Peace. That’s right. Isaiah 9:6, “He shall be called the Prince of Peace.” He was the Prince of Peace, and yet everywhere He went, He created conflict. Did you notice that? Everywhere He went He created conflict. In fact, in Luke 23:5, they said He stirs up the people. He stirs up the people. Everywhere He goes, a conflict, a conflict, a conflict. Paul, the apostle, the wonderful ambassador of peace, the one who said, “Oh, we’re all to preach the message of reconciliation, that man would be reconciled to God,” the gospel of peace, he called it.
The one who preached the gospel of peace, every single place that guy went, he created a riot. And they said about him in Acts 24:5, “We found this man a pestilent fellow.” Second Timothy 3:12 says, “All that will live godly in this present age shall suffer persecution.” And so here we are, coming to the world with the message of peace, we’re trying to bring the peace the right way, the peace that’s got to come through righteousness, holiness, and purity, and what happens? Just more war and strife because they will not hear it. But people, we’ve got to be willing to take the conflict, take the blows like Christ did, to take up our cross, to deny ourselves, to pay the price, to be bold, and charge right through with what we know is right. If you bow out of those situations, you’re no peacemaker. A peacemaker is willing to say what has to be said to bring righteousness to bear on the situation. If you’re a true peacemaker, you’re going to be one who brings righteousness to bear.
Well, we see then the meaning of peace. What is it? The fullness of righteous blessing. The enemy of peace or the menace to peace? Sin. It must be dealt with. And you know, it’s not easy. I want to be a peacemaker, but sometimes that’s really hard. I see a person living in sin, and if I were really a peacemaker as Jesus would want me to be, I’d go to that person and say, “You know, you’re offending holy God. You’re, by your very life, at war with God. I want to make peace between you and God. And so I confront you with that sin and I offer you the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Now that’s bold. Or if I see two Christians in conflict and fighting, it isn’t a peacemaker to just kind of skirt around the issue, to just kind of ignore the issue, to not ruffle anybody’s feathers. A real peacemaker goes and says, “You must resolve this righteously with one another.” Being a peacemaker is not easy. It’s not avoiding issues. You want to know something? It’s diving right in the middle of them. That’s what it is.
Thirdly, the maker of peace. The maker of peace. You know that. Who is the maker of peace? Who is the source of peace? Paul said it directly in 1 Corinthians 14:33, this is his own statement: “God is not the author of confusion but of peace.” God is the author of peace. God is the maker of peace. God is the source of peace. Apart from Him there is no peace whatsoever. The New Testament is literally replete with statements about the fact that God is the God of peace. Paul said in Romans 15:33, “Now the God of peace be with you all, amen.” In 2 Thessalonians, he talked about Christ as the Lord of Peace. The author of Hebrews writes about the God of peace. The Old Testament is just loaded with statements about God being the source of peace.
Peace belongs to God. It doesn’t belong to man at all. In fact, you want to hear something? Since the fall of man, in Genesis 3, man has never known peace unless he took it as a gift from God, because man doesn’t have it. God is perfect peace. In fact, God is at perfect peace with Himself. God is characterized by perfect oneness. The Trinity has perfect oneness. It is absolutely tranquil. It is in absolute harmony. It is perfectly united. In the Trinity, there is no conflict. There is only peace and that radiates from God. The only way we’ll ever know peace is if God comes to us. And I love the statement of Ephesians 2:14 that tells us that’s exactly what He did. It says, “For He” – that is Christ – “is our peace.” When Christ came into the world, He was the peace of God coming to take the hand of God and the hand of man and by His own sacrifice make man righteous and join his hand to God.
I remember the story I read of a couple in a divorce hearing and they couldn’t resolve the conflict and they were arguing back and forth, and they had just one little boy about four years old and he was greatly distressed, and he was teary-eyed because he was watching the conflict and, according to this one article, he reached over and took his father’s hand and then he reached over and took his mother’s hand and with tears in his eyes, he just kept pulling until he pulled the two hands together. He became peace. And in a sense, that’s what Christ did. He provided the righteousness that allows man to take the hand of God. God is the only source of peace and a man will never know peace until a man knows the peace that only God can give because there is no other.
Colossians 1:20 says that Jesus Christ, having made peace through the blood of His cross, was able to reconcile all things to Himself. You see, it was the cross that made peace. You say, “How could the cross be peace? There was no peace at the cross. A chaotic mob screaming and spitting on Christ. The chief priest and the rulers mocking and cursing His name. The disciples fled. The thunder, the lightening, the cracking that was going on. The terrible darkness at noonday, the bleeding Savior, the criminals on either side, cursing and swearing. What do you mean the cross is peace?” You know why the cross is peace? Because the cross provided the righteousness that alone makes real peace. There will always be conflict when there will be true peace ultimately.
You know, I was reading again this week The Peace Child by Don Richardson. If you haven’t read that book, get it and read it. Tremendous missionary story. Working with the Sawi Tribe in Irian Jaya, and he couldn’t seem to get any way to – get any handle on how to tell them the significance of Christ’s death. He couldn’t figure out how to communicate to the people there, how they could understand the meaning of Christ and His death. And the Sawi were having a terrible, constant feud with another tribe, and there was no way there was ever going to be any peace. And there was a custom among those tribes that if peace was ever made, it would be made when one person from a tribe took his own baby and gave that baby to the other tribe and left the baby there and went away. Gave it as a permanent gift. And according to their custom, as long as the baby lived, they would have to honor peace between the tribes.
The problem was they hated each other so much, they wouldn’t give each other a baby, a precious life. Until one person, one man, picked up the only child that he had, just one little baby boy. Took that little baby boy in his arm, and while his wife chased him but too late, he ran from his village into the village of the enemy and presented to them that baby. And they called that baby the Peace Child. And as long as the baby lived, there was peace. And Don Richardson said, “I had my analogy.” Jesus is the peace child, and as long as He lives, there is peace. And how long does Jesus live? Forever and ever. Christ is the peace child. All their suffering, there must have been anguish on the heart of the Father as He watched the Son die and you can imagine the anguish in the heart of that father as he handed the only baby ever to come from his loins to a – enemy tribe, never to see the child again. But the price was worth it for the peace, right? The strife was over.
Jesus is the peace child. So God is the source of peace and Jesus is the manifestation of peace and the agency of peace is the Holy Spirit. You see, God is a God of peace who made Christ the manifestation of peace and gave us the Holy Spirit who’s the agency of peace. And in Galatians 5:22, it says, “The fruit of the spirit is love, joy” – what? – “peace.” And so when you become a Christian, God comes to live in your life, the God of peace. Christ comes to live in your life, the Prince of Peace. The Holy Spirit comes to live in your life, the spirit of peace. No wonder the whole Trinity is called the Lord our Peace, Jehovah-Shalom. And this is God’s Will, beloved. God, who is the source of peace, wants peace. He created a world with peace and He’ll bring the world ultimately to a destiny of peace. It’s in the interim that so much turmoil has come. He brings Christ to bring peace. He’ll return to bring peace. He’ll set up a kingdom of peace and an eternity of peace and that’s what God wants. God has always wanted peace. God doesn’t want conflict. People say, “What kind of a God do we have? Look at the wars.” God doesn’t want those wars. God doesn’t want them at all. Somebody said, “Why doesn’t God stop the wars?” And the answer is: He didn’t start them. They’re not His wars.
In Jeremiah 29:11, the prophet said, “‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,’ saith the Lord, ‘and they are thoughts of peace.’” You see? God’s thoughts toward men are of peace. And Jesus said, “These things have I spoken unto you” – John 16:33 – “that in me you might have” – what? – “peace. In the world, you’ll have tribulation, but I have overcome the world.” Why? To give you peace. And so, beloved, if we’re to be peacemakers, we draw that peace from God. And a person who doesn’t know God, who doesn’t know Christ, who doesn’t have the indwelling spirit, could never be a peacemaker – never. Oh, he can provide a truce but not a peace. Could never give peace in the heart. To be a psychiatrist or a counselor and not to know God is to have no source to give peace to somebody. To try to help put a family together without God is to have no source of peace. To try to put a nation together without God is to have no source of peace. Peace in our hearts is the tranquil serenity that comes because God has wrought His righteousness there and the war is over. And once you have the peace of God, the world can go on with its trouble and you have a sense of peace anyway, don’t you? It’s amazing. We Christians just abide in the Lord and the peace is there.
I was reading about something called the “cushion of the sea” down beneath the surface. And the sea on the surface is agitated and the agitation diminishes as it gets lower and lower, deeper and deeper. But down in the very bottom, deep, deep, below the surface, there is an area called the cushion of the sea. And as tests have indicated is a part of the sea that is absolutely still and undisturbed. Some surveys have found that when the bottom is dredged in areas of great depth, the remains are seen of animal and vegetable life, and as they examine them, they find that they give evidence of not having been disturbed for literally thousands of years. A cushion of the sea. And I think there’s something like that that belongs to the Christian. No matter how much turmoil is in the world, no matter how much anxiety is all around, there is a cushion of peace in the soul of a person who knows the Prince of Peace, who has indwelling the spirit of peace given as a gift from the God of peace. So the meaning of peace, righteousness; the menace to peace, sin; the maker of peace, God.
Four, the messengers of peace. The messengers of peace. Who are they? Oh, that’s us, folks. Now we’re at the Beatitude “Blessed are the peacemakers.” We’re the messengers. First Corinthians 7:15 says, “God has called us to peace.” God has called us to peace. In 2 Corinthians chapter 5, that great statement in verse 18 and following, “And all things are of God who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ and given to us the ministry of reconciliation;” – and by the way, that is peacemaking – “to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespass unto them, and hath committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us. We beg you in Christ’s stead, be reconciled to God.” “Reconciled” is another word for peacemaker. It could read this way: “All things are of God, who has made peace. He has given unto us the ministry of peacemaking. God was in Christ, making peace with the world, and has committed unto the us the word of peacemaking. We are ambassadors and we beg you be ye peaceful with God.” We are the peacemakers. We are God’s Peace Corps in the truest sense. That’s our calling by God’s spirit.
There are many other Scriptures that talk about this. Colossians 3 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” In Philippians 4, it says, “Let the peace of God dominate your life.” Why? Because you’ve made peace with God, you can enjoy the peace of God. So we are the peacemakers. You say, “Well, John, as a peacemaker, what do I do?” Three things. This is the practical part. Number one, a peacemaker would be one who made peace with God himself. To be a peacemaker, you make peace with God yourself. That means you’ve accepted the gospel of peace. I love that phrase. It’s used in several places in the New Testament. Perhaps one that’s most familiar to you would Ephesians chapter 6 verse 15. “Have your feet shod with the gospel of peace.” The gospel is all about peace. You see, there was a day when you fought against God. There was a day when you warred against God. But when Jesus Christ’s righteousness was imputed to you by faith, you made peace with God. The gospel was the gospel of peace. The battle’s over. No one will ever be a peacemaker unless he’s made peace with God because then and only then does God become the source of peace. So the first thing a peacemaker is characterized by is he’s made peace with God. Can I stretch that a little bit? I think to be effective as a peacemaker, you have to maintain that peace. And every time there’s sin in your life, that peace is interrupted, isn’t it?
When there’s sin in your life, you can’t commune with God openly, can you? When there’s sin in your life, God can’t bless you openly can He? You remove yourself from the place of blessing. You cannot be a peacemaker with others if there’s no peace between you and God. If there’s a broken relationship, if you have sinned against God, if you’re living in disobedience to His Will, if you’re living indulging yourself in sin, you are no peacemaker. In order to be a peacemaker, you’ve got to have peace with God yourself. So a peacemaker, first of all, concentrates on his own peace with God. Boy, this is the beginning, people. Nothing else will happen. You’ll never be a peacemaker for anybody else unless there’s peace between you and God. You ought to get up in the morning and say, “Lord, I want to be at peace with you,” and you ought to confess everything you know in your life that isn’t right and start the day at peace because then you can be a peacemaker.
There’s a second thing: A peacemaker is one who has peace himself with God and, secondly, one who helps others make peace with God. One who helps others make peace with God. I think Jesus had in mind here evangelism. I think that’s the greatest thing about peacemaking. You can go to somebody who’s at war with God and make peace between that person and God, right? And I’ll tell you something else. Anybody who is unsaved is at odds with you, too, because they’re out of the family. They’re cursed by God. They’re set apart from the kingdom. And the minute they come to Jesus Christ, they make peace with God and peace with you, they become God’s child and your brother, right? Evangelism is peacemaking. What a fabulous thought. The best way to be a peacemaker is to preach the gospel of peace. To impart to men the gospel so that their alienation from God can be ended. So that their alienation from the church, the body of Christ, from your fellowship, can be ended. And they can be at peace. No wonder it says in Romans 10:15, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of” – what? – “peace.”
You see, it’s a beautiful thing to bring people to a peaceful relationship with God. You want to really be a peacemaker? Just tell somebody about Jesus Christ. That’s infinitely beyond what any mortal politician or statesman has ever accomplished in a political sense. That’s ultimate, eternal, real peace.
We are the peacemakers. Oh, what an indictment this was of the Pharisees. The Pharisees, who were self-righteous, smug, thought they had every right to fight against Rome. Thought they had every right to espouse their theology. They stepped on people’s necks. They weren’t interested in anybody being related to them. They weren’t interested in anything except pushing themselves up higher and higher. They created strife everywhere they went. They created contention everywhere they went. They looked down on people. They divided society into cliques and groups. And Jesus says to them, “You got it all wrong. What God wants is not some spiritual elite who think they know it all, but some poor beggarly sinner who knows he’s got nothing to offer and who seeks to make peace.”
Acts 10:36 is a beautiful statement. It says the early church was characterized by preaching peace by Jesus Christ. Peace is by Christ. When you preach Christ, you preach peace. You want to be a peacemaker? Preach Jesus Christ. G. Campbell Morgan said, “This is the propagative character of the man who, being all the rest of the Beatitudes, therefore brings peace wherever he comes.” Great statement. So peacemakers are peacemakers because they make peace between themselves and God and they help others to make peace with God.
And thirdly, a peacemaker is one who helps others make peace with men. Being a peacemaker means you can bring men together. You can bring them together with each other. You know, that’s not always easy, but a peacemaker can do that. A peacemaker can build bridges between people. I hope you’re conscious of that. You know, there’s a lot of ways the Bible talks about this and we don’t have the time to cover every single one of them, but in Matthew chapter 5, I’ll show you a couple of illustrations. Matthew 5:21, “You’ve heard that it was said by them of old, ‘Thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of judgment’” – don’t murder, you know that, the law said that – “but I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of judgment. Whosoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca,’ shall be in danger of the council.”
In other words, this word “Raca” means empty. It’s like saying to somebody “You empty-head, you blockhead, you dunce.” “Shall be in danger of the council, but whosoever says ‘Thou fool’” – which is more serious – “shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar” – in other words, you’re going to go worship God, and you remember that your brother has something against you – isn’t that interesting? It isn’t that you’ve got something against your brother, it’s that your brother’s got something against you – drop your gift, leave, go away, and first make peace with your brother, then come and worship. God doesn’t want you coming to church and worshipping Him if you know somebody’s got something against you. Go home, get that straightened out, then come back. That’s being a peacemaker. Because you see, the fact that you’re not seeing each other – the fight isn’t the issue. The issue real peace is born out of real righteousness. And righteousness means you eliminate the sin that’s in between, see? So you’ve got to go make peace. You make peace with each other. You want to agree. You want to set things right.
Over later on in chapter 5, he talks about how that you’re to even love your enemies and bless them that curse you and do good to them that hate you and pray for them that spitefully use you and persecute you and do all of these things. Why? Because then you’ll be the sons of your father. In other words, you will prove you’re a son of God if you’re a peacemaker even with your enemies. Back to the Beatitude, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called” – what? – “sons of God.” It is characteristic of a son of God to be a peacemaker. That’s why He said what He did in chapter 5 later on.
In Matthew chapter 18 it says if your brother has sinned, what do you do? Immediately, it says, you go to him, right? And you tell him about his sin and you ask him to repent and if he doesn’t repent, what do you do? You take two or three – what? Witnesses, and you go back to try to get him to repent. If he doesn’t repent then, you tell it to the church to try to get him to repent. Why? You say, “Oh, you’re just stirring up a controversy. Oh, brother, why don’t you leave it alone? Let sleeping dogs lie,” you know. People say, “What do you mean going around, getting all these people to find out about this thing,” see? No, because that’s just cold war. That’s just truce, not peace. Peace says you bring righteousness to bear. You resolve it righteously and then there’s real peace. We are to be peacemakers. It’s not easy. But it is commanded by the Word of God.
In a family, husband and wife, it talks about the fact that in 1 Peter 3:7, a husband and a wife are to live together according to knowledge. We ought to understand each other that our prayers be not hindered. Listen, if you’re having trouble in your worship, maybe you better go home and get straightened out with your wife. Your prayers are going to be hindered. Why? Because unless there’s real peace, not just truce, not just “All right, Ethel, we won’t talk about that anymore, especially on the way to church. We’re worshipping this morning.” That’s not – that’s cold war. That’s not peace. You need to resolve it. And as I say, sometimes there’s a tremendous price to pay.
So, beloved, I think the message is clear. Jesus said in Mark 9:50, “Have peace one with another.” If something wrong between you two, you need to build a bridge, see? Have you ever see a bridge built? Ever seen anybody build a bridge? They build a solid base on one side, solid base on the other side, and then from one side to the other they throw some kind of a cord. They stretch some kind of a cable. That’s how they start. And once they get the cable going one way, then they come back again the other way and back again the other way and back again the other way and pretty soon, you know what? They get a bridge. They get a bridge because when that cable gets heavy enough, they take out something like steel. And when they get enough of that steel out there, they can throw concrete on it. And pretty soon, back and forth, they’ve built a bridge. But a lot of times, the problem in making peace is that nobody’s willing to start from their end with that little cable, see, just to get it going. Be a peacemaker. And maybe it’ll cost you a little. Maybe you have to take some suffering, but that’s what a peacemaker does. That’s what Jesus did and He is our example. Well, the meaning of peace, righteousness. The menace to peace, sin. The maker of peace, God. The messengers of peace, believers. We’re it folks; that’s us. I hope you’re a peacemaker.
You know, I consciously work on that. I try even in situations – and I could add a fourth to that. A fourth area where we talked about making peace ourselves with God and helping others in evangelism to make peace with God and we talked about bringing together brothers who are at conflict. But even in a situation where there isn’t necessarily conflict, there’s not a big war, you know what a peacemaker will do? Always find a point of agreement. There are some people, for example, in my life and my world, because I meet with so many, many different people in theology and church work and things, that we don’t agree theologically. We don’t have anything between us. There’s no bitterness. There’s nothing but love, but we disagree in theology. Well, every time we’re together, I don’t say, “Now, I want to get back to that deal that we disagree on. I’ve got some more stuff I’m going to tell you.” I don’t carry a pocket-load of tapes on my viewpoint on something I know a guy disagrees with and say, “Now, I want you listen to this, brother. The Lord told me to tell you to listen to this.” No. You know what I always try to find? I always try to find the point of agreement. Always try to find the point of peace. Because once you’ve established the peace, you can build on the peace. There’s no sense in starting anywhere else.
If somebody comes up to me and says, “I got a problem here” and starts telling me about a certain situation, you know, I’ll always try to find a point of peace. Always. Always try to find a point of peace. “Well, that’s wonderful that you feel that way.” “Oh, I agree with that.” “I think we definitely agree on this issue.” “Now, of course, this area, we may disagree, but isn’t it wonderful that we agree here?” See, find that point of peace. That’d be a fourth way to be a peacemaker.
Finally, the merit of peace. The merit of peace. You say, “John, if I’m a peacemaker, what does that mean? What happens?” Well, the merit, the promise of our Lord Jesus is beautiful. “For they shall be called the sons of God.” I’ll tell you folks, I couldn’t think of a better thing to be called, could you? I’m glad I’m a MacArthur. That’s a great old Scotch family. I’m happy about that. They’re some good people. There was a good general with that name. There was even a millionaire named John MacArthur. Didn’t help me one bit. That’s a good name. I’m happy to be my father’s son. I’m happy to be the grandson of my wonderful grandfather, who was a great man of God. I’m happy about that, but nothing, and I mean nothing, compares to being a son of God. That’s the merit that belongs to the peacemakers. This emphasizes the honor of the peacemaker.
By the way, it says sons of God, huios, not tekna, children. Tekna is the word used to speak of tender affection. Huios is the word used to speak of dignity and honor and standing. And here he’s not just talking about the affection that belongs to us, he’s talking about the dignity and the honor of being a son of God. It’s a great thought. The word is used to designate character, to designate quality. Ours is the distinction of being sons of God. You know how you can tell a son of God, according to this statement of Jesus? He’ll be a what? Peacemaker. That’s right. He’ll be a peacemaker. The mark of a true Christian, as were all the other Beatitudes, beloved. And if you look at your life and you do not see a peacemaker, then one of two things is true, as we’ve said all along: you are not a Christian at all or you’re a peacemaker living in sin. And you better examine yourself to see whether you’re really in the faith or not.
If your life is characterized by discord and disruption and the longing of the deepest part of your heart is not to be a peacemaker, I question whether you’re even a Christian. Peacemaker – and I love it – we are called sons of God. Probably the antecedent or the subject of the verb is God because it is God alone who can designate His children, right? A God alone who can say who His sons are. And God calls us His sons when we’re peacemakers. It’s a future verb by the way, which is tremendous. We shall be called the sons of God and it kind of looks ahead. Only it’s a continuous future. From here on out throughout eternity, we shall continue to be called the sons of God. What a great, great promise. And so it is in our peacemaking that we become recognizable as the sons of God.
How do you tell a Christian? Remember what we said a few weeks ago? You say to a person, “Are you a Christian?” “Oh, yeah.” “Well, how do you know you’re a Christian?” “Oh, I remember when I made a decision. I remember when I walked the aisle. I remember when I raised my hand. I remember when I signed the card, the council was there, went in the prayer room.” No. “How do you know you’re a Christian?” “Oh, I’m poor in spirit. I mourn over my sin. I’m meek before a holy God. I hunger and thirst for His righteousness. I’ve seen His mercy touch my life and I desire to give it to others. I’ve experienced purity of heart. I know what it is to be a peacemaker.” That’s the right answer, see. Those are the conditions Jesus gave for truly being a son of His kingdom. And so our Lord says here, “The peacemakers are my real children.”
Have you ever thought what it means to be a son of God? Have you ever thought how God looks at you? What a tremendous thought. You know, I can tell you, as a father, I love my sons more than I love my house. And I’ll tell you something, God’s got a pretty sharp house. Pretty fantastic. His house is the universe and He loves me more than He loves that. I love my child more than I love my estate. I don’t have an estate, so that’s easy. God loves you more than He loves His estate. Jacob prized Benjamin more than everything He owned. Genesis 44:30 tells us that Jacob’s life was all bound up in Benjamin. And so it is with God. His great love is all bound up with you and me. We’re His sons. I love it when it says that we’re the apple of His eye. Oh, what a great statement that is. The apple of His eye. We think of some shiny little apple. No.
You know what the Hebrew meant by the apple of the eye? The pupil, right here. Have you ever noticed that that is the most vulnerable part of your physical body that is exposed? That’s right. It is the tenderest part, the most sensitive part of the human body. And you protect it. When anything comes toward your eye, boy, you protect it. Nobody touches the pupil of your eye and that’s exactly how God feels. You touch one of God’s children and you’ve poked your finger in His eye, and that irritates Him. We’re the apple of His eye. He says in Malachi we’re His jewels and we’re going to be a part of that crown that He makes when He takes His jewels and makes them His own. Do you know that it says in Psalm 56:8 that He keeps our tears in His bottle? Isn’t that fabulous? We’re His children. He makes an eternal name for us. He stores up our tears in a bottle of remembrance. That was an old Hebrew custom. When you cried for something, you stored the tears in the bottle so people would know how much you sorrowed. God keeps our tears in His bottle so He’ll know the sorrow we’ve been through. And when we die, it’s the most wonderful thing of all. Psalm 116 says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”
You see, we really matter to God. We’re His sons. He makes us sons. He makes us princes, kings, priests, fellow heirs. He calls us in Psalm 16:3 “the excellent of the earth.” In 2 Timothy 2:21, “vessels of honor.” Just tremendous. And I love it in Revelation where it says we get to sit with Him on His throne. Like little children jumping up on the lap of a father. Have you ever considered what it means to be a son of God? God has a personal eternal love for you. God bears with your weakness and your sin. God accepts your imperfect service. God provides for your every need. God shields you from every danger. God reveals to you His eternal truth. God forgives you and keeps on forgiving you every sin. God makes you an heir to everything that He possesses. God works everything for your good. And God keeps you from perishing forever. And God gives you heaven. I don’t know, but if being a son of God is that wonderful, I think I want to be that. And Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.” Oh, let’s pray.
Father, I can’t help but think of the number of completeness, seven Beatitudes to this point. Seven things a truly saved person is and does. Seven characteristics. Father, I pray that those who are here tonight will look into their own lives and examine themselves to see if they’re peacemakers. Jesus said those who are, are the sons of God. Father, I pray, too, that if some have to say “I’m not a peacemaker, I don’t know what it is to be pure in heart, I don’t know what it is to receive from God mercy, I don’t hunger and thirst after righteousness, I don’t experience that meekness, that mourning, that poverty of spirit,” oh, Father, may they realize that they’re apart from Your kingdom. They shall not inherit it. They shall not be filled. They shall not be called Your sons. They shall not receive Your mercy until they come to You on Your terms, broken and contrite, hungering for a righteousness they desperately need, could never have, and yet can receive as a gift.
Father, I think of the apostle Paul. What a change. He was Saul, self-righteous, feeling that he had everything that was necessary and lacked nothing, proud, not needing mercy because he was righteous in and of his works. His heart was full of sin and everywhere he went he created havoc, breathing out threatenings and slaughter. And in one moment of time, You made him into one of the greatest peacemakers in all Your kingdom. You made him into one who mourned over his sin and cried, “Oh, I’m the chief of sinners.” One who was meek to the point where he says he gloried only in the cross. One who hungered and thirsted after righteousness to the point that he cried out, “Oh, that I may know Him.” One who could say, “But I obtained mercy.” One could say, “But God, in Christ, has purified my wretched heart.” One who no longer made war but peace. Father, may that be our testimony tonight. May we be the peacemakers who are your true sons.
While your heads are bowed, would you just remain praying for a moment? This has been a tremendous, tremendous time for us to go through these truths. And I just want you to reflect in this final moment on your own life. Do you know Jesus Christ? Have you invited Him into your life? Have you come to God with your sin and asked for the righteousness of Christ to be imputed to you? Have you accepted the death, the resurrection of Christ in your behalf? Are you really His child? Or do you still look and say, “I’m not a peacemaker. I’m not a son of God.” If that’s true of you, why don’t you just silently, in your heart, whisper a prayer to the Lord and say, “Lord, I want to be your son. I want to be your child. I want to be a peacemaker. I want to be one who obtains mercy and purity and righteousness. I want Christ in my life.” Would you just say that to the Lord right now?
If you’re a Christian and you’ve never perhaps been as convicted as you are right now about some things in your life, and you’re saying, “You know, I just haven’t made peace. I’ve caused strife at home, strife at work. I seem to be the guy around the trouble all the time” or “I seem to be the lady that always seems to be in the hot water” – “Lord Jesus, make me a peacemaker. May every step that I take bring the fragrance of divine peace with it. May I be known in all the world as one who makes peace. May I always find the point of contact where love can grow.”
Father, I pray that as we pray together right now silently in our hearts, You’ll speak to us. Cause us to make the commitments we need to make. In Jesus’ name. Amen.