“Emmanuel’s Kingdom, Part 8” – Matthew 5:9

December 21st, 2014

Matthew 5:9

“Emmanuel’s Kingdom – Pt 8”

 

Service Orientation: Peacemakers fight to bring God’s will to earth as it is in heaven.  Only a person who already manifests the first six beatitudes could be remotely qualified to be a peace-maker.

 

Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. —  Matthew 5:9

 

Background Information:

  • As to “caring for” the Sermon on the Mount, if “caring for” here means “liking” or enjoying, I suppose no one “cares for” it. Who can like being knocked flat on his face by a sledge hammer?  I can hardly imagine a more deadly spiritual condition than that of a man who can read that passage with tranquil pleasure. (C. S. Lewis, “Rejoinder to Dr. Pittenger”, Christian Century, 1958)
  • Observe the sequence. First, we recognize we are in need (we’re poor in spirit).  Next, we repent of our self-sufficiency (we mourn).  We quit calling the shots and surrender control to God (we’re meek).  So grateful are we for his presence that we yearn for more of him (we hunger and thirst).  As we grow closer to him, we become more like him.  We forgive others (we’re merciful).  We change our outlook (we’re pure in heart).  We love others (we’re peacemakers).  We endure injustice (we’re persecuted).  (Max Lucado, The Applause of Heaven, 10)
  • The theme of “peace,” known by the grand Hebrew term šâlôm and the Greek term eirēnē, permeates the biblical record. It indicates completeness and wholeness in every area of life, including one’s relationship with God, neighbors, and nations.  (Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Vol 1, 35)
  • The Jewish greeting shalom wishes “peace” and expresses the desire that the one who is greeted will have all the righteousness and goodness God can give. The deepest meaning of the term is “God’s highest good to you.”  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 211)
  • The word called here seems to mean “acknowledged as.” God shall own them as His own children.  (Arthur W. Pink, The Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer, 53)
  • In Jewish thought, “son” often bears the meaning “partaker of the character of,” or the like. If someone calls you the “son of a dog,” this is not an aspersion on your parents, but on you: you partake of the character of a dog.  Thus, “son of God” may have a different connotation than “child of God.”  Both expressions can refer to some sort of filial relationship; but the former has more emphasis on character than position.  (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 28)
  • Paul used two marvelous word pictures to underline Jesus’ teaching. In Col 2:15 Paul writes, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.”  We can pictorialize his statement: Peace is the referee who blows the whistle on any action that is out of line. . . . In Eph 4:3, Paul uses another word picture.  In the context of urging us to practice humility, patience, and forbearance, he adds, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”  Peace is the bond–the “cord”–that ties us all together.  By nature and by instinct, we would never act as one body.  But God’s peace can accomplish that.  (Sinclair Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount, 39-40)

 

The questions to be answered are . . . How can Jesus be promoting peacemaking when He was accused of being a trouble-maker?  And why are peacemakers called “Sons of God?”

 

Answers: The peace Jesus is seeking is a deep abiding peace that emanates from the heart, soul, and mind of those who know peace from the God of peace.  Those who are peacemakers are called “Sons of God” because they are imitating the God of peace.

 

Such dissatisfaction with the world as it is is preparation for traveling in the way of Christian discipleship.  The dissatisfaction, coupled with a longing for peace and truth, can set us on a pilgrim path of wholeness in God.

A person has to be thoroughly disgusted with the way things are to find the motivation to set out on the Christian way.  As long as we think that the next election might eliminate crime and establish justice or another scientific breakthrough might save the environment or another pay raise might push us over the edge of anxiety into a life of tranquility, we are not likely to risk the arduous uncertainties of the life of faith.  A person has to get fed up with the ways of the world before he, before she, acquires an appetite for the world of grace. (Eugene H. Peterson;  A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, 23)

 

The Word for the Day is . . . Peace

 

The Bible opens with peace in the Garden of Eden and closes with peace in eternity.  The spiritual history of mankind can be charted based on the theme of peace.  Although the peace on earth in the garden was interrupted when man sinned, at the cross Jesus Christ made peace a reality again, and He becomes the peace of all who place their faith in Him.  Peace can now reign in the hearts of those who are His.  Someday He will come as Prince of Peace and establish a worldwide kingdom of peace, which will eventuate in ultimate peace, the eternal age of peace.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 209)

 

The scarcity of peace has prompted someone to suggest that “peace is that glorious moment in history when everyone stops to reload.”  In 1968 a major newspaper reported that there had been to that date 14,553 known wars since 36 years before Christ.  Since 1945 there have been some 70 or so wars and nearly 200 internationally significant outbreaks of violence.  Since 1958 nearly 100 nations have been involved in some form of armed conflict.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 209-10)

 

Two questions we need to ask to understand this seventh beatitude:

 

 

  1. What does it mean to be a peacemaker? Answer: A peacemaker is one who is willing to sacrifice, labor and even fight to obtain a long term, lasting peace which can only come when one is reconciled to God, man, nature and himself.  (Ps 34:14; 85:10; Prv 15:1; Isa 48:22; 57:2, 18-19; 60:17; Jer 6:14; 8:11-14; Ez 13:10-11; 37:24-28; Mt 5:23-24; 10:34-37; Lk 2:14; Jn 14:27; Rom 5:1, 10; 12:9-21; 2 Cor 5:17-21; Gal 5:22-23; Eph 2:11-22; 6:15; Col 1:19-20; 3:15; Heb 12:10-11; 1 Pt 3:11)

 

In obtaining our peace, our Lord didn’t grasp his glory and dignity, but instead he humbled himself.  The example stands for us who are called to peacemaking.  This is expensive!  It costs to make peace.  Peacemakers are willing to lower themselves, to even lose their dignity in order to bring shalom to life.  This is the way peacemakers always have been.  (R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, 65)

 

The essential fact to comprehend is that the peace about which Jesus speaks is more than the absence of conflict and strife; it is the presence of righteousness.  Only righteousness can produce the relationship that brings two parties together.  Men can stop fighting without righteousness, but they cannot live peaceably without righteousness.  Righteousness not only puts an end to harm, but it administers the healing of love.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 211)

 

These two qualities of the peacemaker–honesty about the true status of peace and a willingness to risk pain in pursuing peace–beautifully anticipate the next quality, which is paradox: the peacemaker is a fighter.  He makes trouble to make peace.  He wages peace.  (R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, 63)

 

True peace-makers are all those whose Leader is the god of peace (1 Cor 14:33; Eph 6:15; 1 Thes 5:23), who aspire after peace with all men (Rom 12:18; Heb 12:14), proclaim the gospel of peace (Eph 6:14), and pattern their lives after the Prince of Peace (Lk 19:10; Jn 13:12-15; cf. Mt 10:8).

The gospel of peace is, however, at the same time the preaching of Christ Crucified (1 Cor 1:18).  By nature man, wishing to establish his own righteousness, is disinclined to accept this gospel (1 Cor 1:23).  Therefore its proclamation initiates a struggle in his heart.  If, by God’s grace, the sinner finally yields and welcomes the Prince of Peace as his own Savior and Lord he may face another battle, namely, within his own family.  It is for this reason that Jesus, who called the peace-makers blessed, was not inconsistent when he said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth.  I have not come to bring peace but a sword…a man’s foes will be those of his own household” (Mt 10:34-36).  However, this situation is not Christ’s fault but man’s. It is God in Christ who continues to urge men to find in him reconciliation and lasting peace (Mt 11:27-30; 2 Cor 5:20).  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 278-9)

 

Peacemakers do more than just live peaceful lives; they actively seek to “make peace,” to cause reconciliation, to end bitterness and strife.  This peace is not appeasement but dealing with and solving problems to maintain peace.  Arrogant, selfish people do not concern themselves with peacemaking.  Peacemakers will be called children of God because they reflect their Father’s character.  This has a royal sense–they will share the glories of the Messiah’s kingdom.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 80)

 

“The truth must essentially be regarded as in conflict with the world; the world has never been so good, and will never become so good that the majority will desire truth.” —Soren Kierkegaard  (Chris Thurman, The Lies We Believe, 59)

 

The first thing, therefore, we must say about the peacemaker is that he has an entirely new view of himself, a new view which really amounts to this.  He has seen himself and has come to see that in a sense this miserable, wretched self is not worth bothering about at all.  It is so wretched; it has no rights or privileges; it does not deserve anything.  If you have seen yourself as poor in spirit, if you have mourned because of the blackness of your heart, if you have truly seen yourself and have hungered and thirsted after righteousness, you will not stand any longer on your rights and privileges, you will not be asking, “What about me in this?”  You will have forgotten this self.  Indeed, can we not agree that one of the best tests of whether we are truly Christian or not is just this: Do I hate my natural self?  Our Lord said, “He that loveth his life (in this world) shall lose it.”  By this He meant loving ourselves, the natural man, the natural life.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 105)

 

The blessing is on the peace-makers, not necessarily on the peace-lovers.  It very often happens that if a man loves peace in the wrong way, he succeeds in making trouble and not peace.  We may, for instance, allow a threatening and dangerous situation to develop, and our defense is that for peace’s sake we do not want to take any action.  There is many a person who thinks that he is loving peace, when in fact he is piling up trouble for the future, because he refuses to face the situation and to take the action which the situation demands.  The peace which the Bible calls blessed does not come from the evasion of issues; it comes from facing them, dealing with them, and conquering them.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 108-9)

 

If we were not familiar almost from birth with this inner war, it would strike us as extremely odd.  The animals can apparently boast nothing analogous; the nature of a mouse or a lion is all of one piece.  Man is the only house divided.  The Christian explanation is telescoped in the story of Adam and Eve.  It is a tale of a splendid beginning and a ruinous downfall.  Man, as designed by God, did not carry a battlefield inside him.  As long as he made god the center of his life he was in joyous harmony with himself, God, and his neighbors.  The schism in human nature began when man ejected God from the central position and set himself up on a makeshift throne.  Instantly, dozens of clamorous demands arose.  The new center was inadequate to maintain harmony.  Each facet of the personality warred with every other, and each individual man was in competition with his fellows.  (Chad Walsh, Early Christians of the 21st Century, 70)

 

Peace is generally good in itself, but it is never the highest good unless it comes as the handmaiden of righteousness; and it becomes a very evil thing if it serves merely as a mask for cowardice and sloth, or as an instrument to further the ends of despotism or anarchy.  (George Grant, Carry a Big Stick: The Uncommon Heroism of Theodore Roosevelt, 130)

 

According to Scripture, everyone is born estranged from God.  (Ps. 51:5, 58:3; Rom. 3:10-18; Eph. 2:3; Col. 1:21). (Chuck Swindoll; The Strong Family, 46)

 

The Christian life is a broad road of happiness, joy, peace, blessing, success, significance, and contentment, which is ironically gained by choosing the narrow road of surrender, obedience, self-denial, self-sacrifice, truth, worship and service. (Patrick Morely; Ten Secrets for the Man in the Mirror, 185)

 

To proclaim “Peace, peace, when there is no peace, is the work of the false prophet, not the Christian witness.  Many examples could be given of peace through pain.  When we are ourselves involved in a quarrel, there will be either the pain of apologizing to the person we have injured or the pain of rebuking the person who has injured us.  Sometimes there is the nagging pain of having to refuse to forgive the guilty party until he repents.  Of course a cheap peace can be bought by cheap forgiveness.  But true peace and true forgiveness are costly treasures.  God forgives us only when we repent.  (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 51)

 

The visible unity of the church is a proper Christian quest, but only if unity is not sought at the expense of doctrine.  Jesus prayed for the oneness of his people.  He also prayed that they might be kept from evil and in truth.  We have no mandate from Christ to seek unity without purity, purity of both doctrine and conduct.  (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 51)

 

The peacemaker is one who is not always looking at everything in terms of the effect it has upon himself.  Now is not that the whole trouble with nature?  We look at everything as it affects us.  “What is the reaction upon me?  What is this going to mean to me?”  And the moment we think like that there is of necessity war, because everybody else is doing the same thing.  That is the explanation of all the quarreling and discord.  Everybody looks at it from the self-centered point of view.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 105)

 

In almost every age of history the greatest heroes have been the greatest warriors.  The world lauds the powerful and often exalts the destructive.  The model man is not meek but macho.  The model hero is not self-giving but self-seeking, not generous but selfish, not gentle but cruel, not submissive but aggressive, not meek bur proud.

The popular philosophy of the world, bolstered by the teaching of many psychologists and counselors, is to put self first.  But when self is first, peace is last.  Self precipitates strife, division, hatred, resentment, and war.  It is the great ally of sin and the great enemy of righteousness and, consequently, of peace.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 210)

 

Faith, wherever it develops into hope, causes not rest but unrest…It does not calm the unquiet heart, but is itself this unquiet heart in man.  Those who hope in Christ can no longer put up with reality as it is, but begin to suffer under it, to contradict it.  Peace with God means conflict with the world. (Matt Redman; The Unquenchable Worshiper, 111-12)

 

Many churches are destroyed because the members, or leaders, shirk their responsibility precisely here.  They do not regard the work of peacemaking to be appropriate for them.  They forget that those who destroy God’s temple will be destroyed by God (1 Cor 3:17).  Their own wisdom and their own ways are more important than God’s will, which is for peace and harmony among his people.  (Sinclair Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount, 39)

 

God’s way to peace is through purity.  Peace cannot be attained at the expense of righteousness.  Two people cannot be at peace until they recognize and resolve the wrong attitudes and actions that caused the conflict between them, and then bring themselves to God for cleansing.  Peace that ignores the cleansing that brings purity is not God’s peace.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 211)

 

To be peacemakers on God’s terms requires being peacemakers on the terms of truth and righteousness–to which the world is in fierce opposition.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 211)

 

The person who is not willing to disrupt and disturb in God’s name cannot be a peacemaker.  To come to terms on anything less than God’s truth and righteousness is to settle for a truce–which confirms sinners in their sin and may leave them even further from the kingdom.  Those who in the name of love or kindness or compassion try to witness by appeasement and compromise of God’s Word will find that their witness leads away from Him, not to Him.  God’s peacemakers will not let a sleeping dog lie if it is opposed to God’s truth; they will not protect the status quo if it is ungodly and unrighteous.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 213)

 

The blessing is not for peace-lovers, but for those who make peace or do the things that create peace.  The Hebrew word for peace is shalom, which means total well-being rather than absence of conflict.  This beatitude blesses those who do the work of bringing well-being or good into others’ lives.  (Roger L. Hahn, Matthew: A Commentary for Bible Students, 86)

 

Peace may cost as much as war, but it is a better buy.

 

When a man finds no peace within himself, it is useless to seek it elsewhere.

 

Peace is not made in documents, but in the hearts of men.

Even peace may be purchased at too high a price.

 

Peace won by the compromise of principles is a short-lived achievement.

 

It is so much easier to walk away from a hurtful past than to confront the issues.  But we cannot remove the past from our hearts—it is there to stay.  And the only hope for true peace with the past is to face it at its worst, to seek to forgive, to be forgiven, to make amends and to be reconciled. (Stephen Arterburn; Reader’s Digest, 12/96, 37)

 

It takes twenty years or more of peace to make a man, it takes only twenty seconds of war to destroy him. —Baudouin, Belgian king

 

When we hurt each other,

when we gossip about each other,

when we fail to forgive each other,

when we don’t do the work of making peace with each other,

we get severed from each other, cut off, divided.

…People who move from relationship to relationship, church to church, group of friends to group of friends may do this because they have a hard time connecting and committing. Some people refuse to humble themselves and do the difficult work of learning how to forgive and reconcile, and so whenever a relationship hits a bump or turns sour, they leave it. They move on to the next one.

Perhaps we should call this what it is:  sexual dysfunction. (Rob Bell ; Sex God, 44-5)

 

When Christians at some convention or church business meeting enter into heated debate, the brother who keeps calm, respectfully listens to each viewpoint with fairness and courtesy, and spreads oil on the troubled waters is silently regarded by his peers as spiritual.  But such conduct ought to be considered normal among disciples of Jesus Christ, for Jesus Christ himself has made it normative.  It is part and parcel of being a son of God.  (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 28)

 

This beatitude goes beyond a merely peaceful disposition to an active attempt to “make” peace, perhaps by seeking reconciliation with one’s own enemies, but also more generally by bringing together those who are estranged from one another.  Such costly “peacemaking,” which involves overcoming the natural desire for advantage and/or retribution, will be illustrated in the extraordinary demands of 5:39-42 which overturn the natural human principle of the lex talionis.  (We will be reminded in 10:34, however, that not all conflict can or should be avoided; the issue there is not interpersonal relationships but faithfulness to God’s cause in the face of opposition.)  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 169)

 

  1. What is implied with one who is called “Son of God”? Answer:   It means to be one who imitates the God of peace as their Father. (Lv 26:6; Jdg 6:24; 1 Kgs 2:33; Ps 29:1; Isa 9:6-7; Ez 34:25; Jn 1:12; Rom 8:17, 29; 15:33; 1 Cor 7:15; 14:33; 2 Cor 13:11; Gal 3:26-4:7; Phil 4:7-9; 1 Thes 5:23; 2 Thes 3:16; Jas 3:16-18; Heb 12:14)

 

God is described in Scripture as the God of peace.  As such, he has made peace for us through Christ; he has reconciled us to himself (2 Cor 5:19-21).  Making peace is part of God’s gracious character.  Those who have become members of his family will share in his family likeness.  His sons will be peacemakers.  (Sinclair Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount, 38)

 

If we are not peacemakers but troublemakers, there is high probability that we are not true children of God, regardless of how prominently we wear our evangelicalism.  Peacemakers are sometimes troublemakers for the sake of peace, but not troublemakers who spread rumors and gossip about others.  If you are constantly fomenting discontent, if you find joy in the report of trouble and scandal, if you are omnicritical, always fault-finding, if you are unwilling to be involved in peacemaking, if you are mean–if these negative qualities characterize your life, you are probably not a true Christian (cf. 1 Cor 6:9-11; Gal 5:19-21 on the fate of those involved in slander, hatred, discord, dissension, and factions).  (R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, 66)

 

It is the devil who is a troublemaker; it is God who loves reconciliation and who now through his children, as formerly through his only begotten Son, is bent on making peace.  (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 50)

 

What the nations of the world need is a peace conference with the “Prince of Peace.”

 

“I have never felt peace about anything that was God’s will.  In fact, the place of my greatest turmoil and conflict has often come when I was in God’s will.  Now, if you think Jesus felt peace in that garden as He prepared to face the cross, I have some land to sell you in the middle of a swamp in Florida.  He was not peaceful, and if Jesus was not peaceful when He was in the center of the will of God, why in the world do we think we should feel peaceful when we are in the center of the will of God?”  (Steve Brown; Living Free, 143)

 

“If Christian pastors adhered more closely to the Christ who was crucified in weakness, and were prepared to accept the humiliations which weakness brings, rather than insisting on wielding power, there would be much less discord and much more harmony in the church.” (John R. W. Stott; The Cross of Christ, 290)

 

THE ATONEMENT:

An atonement is a reconciliation of alienated parties, the restoration of a broken relationship.  Atonement is accomplished by making amends, blotting out offenses, and giving satisfaction for wrongs done.

According to scripture every person sins and needs to make atonement, but lacks the power and resources for doing so.  We have offended our Creator, whose nature it is to hate sin (Jer 44:4; Hab 1:13) and to punish it (Ps.5:4-6; Rom 1:18; 2:5-9).  Those who have sinned cannot be accepted by and do not have fellowship with God unless atonement is made.  Since there is sin in even the best actions of sinful creatures, anything we do in the hope of making amends can only increase our guilt or worsen our situation, for the “sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD” (Prv 15:8).  There is no way to establish one’s own righteousness before God (Job 15:46-16; Isa 64:6; Rom 10:2, 3); it simply cannot be done.

But against this background of human hopelessness, scripture reveals the grace and mercy of God, who Himself provides the atonement that sin has made necessary.  God’s amazing grace is the focus of Biblical faith; from Genesis to Revelation it shines out with breathtaking glory.

When God brought Israel out of Egypt, He set up as part of the covenant relationship a system of sacrifices that had at its heart the shedding of the blood of animals “to make atonement for your souls” (Lv 17;11).  These sacrifices were “typical”; that is, as “types” they pointed forward to something better.  Sins were forgiven when sacrifices were faithfully offered, but it was not the blood of animals that blotted out sins (Heb 10:4).  It was the blood of the “antitype,” Jesus Christ, whose death on the cross atoned for sins already committed, as well as sins that would be committed afterwards (Rom 3:25, 26; 4:3-8; Heb 9:11-15).

According to the NT, Christ’s blood was shed as a sacrifice (Rom 3:25; 5:9; Eph 1:7; Rv 1:5).  Christ redeemed His people by means of a ransom; His death was the price that freed us from guilt and from enslavement to sin (Rom 3:24; Gal 4:4, 5; Col 1:14).  In Christ’s death, God reconciled us to Himself, overcoming His own hostility that our sins provoked (Rom 5:10; 2 Cor 5:18, 19; Col 1:20-22).  The Cross propitiated God.  That is to say, it quenched His wrath against us by expiating our sins, and so removing them from His sight (Rom 3:25; Heb 2:17; 1 Jn 2:2; 4:10).  The Cross had this effect because in His suffering Christ assumed our identity and endured the retributive judgment due to us, that is, “the curse of the law” (Gal 3:13).  He suffered as our substitute, with the damning record of our transgressions nailed by God to His cross as the list of crimes for which He died (Col 2:14; cf. Mt 27:37; Isa 53:4-6; Lk 22:37).  (Luder Whitlock, Jr., New Geneva Study Bible, 1772)

 

When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.

 

Jesus’ concern in this beatitude is not with the peaceful but with the peacemakers.  Peace is of constant concern in both testaments (e.g., Prv 15:1; Isa 52:7; Lk 24:36; Rom 10:15; 12:18; 1 Cor 7:15; Eph 2:11-22; Heb 12:14; 1 Pt 3:11).  But as some of these and other passages show, the making of peace can itself have messianic overtones.  The Promised Son is called the “Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6-7); and Isa 52:7–“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news; who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’”–linking as it does peace, salvation, and God’s reign, was interpreted messianically in the Judaism of Jesus’ day.

Jesus does not limit the peacemaking to only one kind, and neither will his disciples.  In the light of the gospel, Jesus himself is the supreme peacemaker, making peace between God and man, and man and man.  Our peacemaking will include the promulgation of that gospel.  It must also extend to seeking all kinds of reconciliation.  Instead of delighting in this division, bitterness, strife, or some petty “divide-and-conquer” mentality, disciples of Jesus delight to make peace wherever possible.  Making peace is not appeasement:  the true model is God’s costly peacemaking (Eph 2:15-17; Col 1:20).  Those who undertake this work are acknowledged as God’s “sons.”  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 135)

 

Some gifts you can give this Christmas are beyond monetary value:  mend a quarrel, dismiss suspicion, tell someone, “I love you.”  Give something away—anonymously.  Pay it forward.  Forgive someone who has treated you wrong.  Turn away wrath with a soft answer.  Visit someone in a nursing home.  Apologize if you were wrong.  Be especially kind to someone with whom you work.  Give as God gave to you in Christ, without obligation, or announcement, or reservation, or hypocrisy.  (Chuck Swindoll, Growing Strong)

 

Worship Point: Worship the One who alone can bring true, lasting peace to the world.

 

The radicalness of Christ’s call to peacemaking demands a renovation of human personality.  One must first have a profound experience of the shalom of God.  No one can become a peacemaker until he has found peace himself.  The tragedy is that people do not go to the heart of the matter.  Without grace, we are natural enemies of God and of one another.  Our hearts must be changed.  We cannot give what we do not possess.  (R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, 66)

 

Gospel Application:  Please understand that this kind of peace can only come when you have allowed the Prince of Peace to come into your troubled, corrupt and warring heart and make you into a new creation.

 

There are people who are always storm-centers of trouble and bitterness and strife.  Wherever they are they are either involved in quarrels themselves or the cause of quarrels between others.  They are trouble-makers.  There are people like that in almost every society and every Church, and such people are doing the devil’s own work.  On the other hand–thank God–there are people in whose presence bitterness cannot live, people who bridge the gulfs, and heal the breaches, and sweeten the bitternesses.  Such people are doing a godlike work, for it is the great purpose of God to bring peace between men and himself, and between man and man.  The man who divides men is doing the devil’s work; the man who unites men is doing God’s work.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 110)

 

“The way for the world to know that it needs redeeming, that it is broken and fallen, is for the church to enable the world to strike hard against something which is an ALTERNATIVE to what the world offers.

Unfortunately, an accomodationist church, so intent on running errands for the world, is giving the world less and less in which to disbelieve.  Atheism slips into the church where God really does not matter, as we go about building bigger and better congregations (church administrations), confirming people’s self-esteem (worship), enabling people to adjust their anxieties brought on by their materialism (Pastoral care), and making Christ a worthy subject for poetic reflection (preaching).  At every turn the church must ask itself, does it really make any difference, in our life together, in what we do, that in Jesus Christ God is reconciling the world to himself?” (William Willimon and Stanely Hauerwas; Resident Aliens, 94-5)

 

The Devil’s Beatitudes

If the Devil were to write his Beatitudes, they would probably look like this:

BLESSED are those who are too tired, too busy, too distracted to spend an hour once a week with their fellow Christians in Church…they are my best workers.

BLESSED are those Christians who wait to be asked and expect to be thanked…I can use them.

BLESSED are the touchy; with a bit of luck, they may stop going to church…they are my missionaries.

BLESSED are those who are very religious, but get on everyone’s nerves…they are mine forever.

BLESSED are the troublemakers…they shall be called my children.

BLESSED are those who have no time to pray…they are easy prey for me.

BLESSED are the gossipers…for they are my secret agents.

BLESSED are those critical of church leadership…for they shall inherit a place with me in my fate.

BLESSED are the complainers…I’m all ears for them.

BLESSED are you when you read this and think it is about other people and not yourself…I’ve got you.

 

Spiritual Challenge: Endeavor to be a peacemaker to a world that desperately needs peace.

 

According to the Scripture, the trouble is in the heart of man and nothing but a new heart, nothing but a new man can possibly deal with the problem.  It is “out of the heart” that evil thoughts, murders, adultery, fornication, jealousy, envy, malice and all these other things proceed; and while men are like that there will be no peace.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 103)

 

Know God, know peace.  No God, no peace.

 

 Jesus:

Prince of Peace

 

Leave a Reply