Published December 1, 2015

Paul's Epistle
"Peace"

Peace.

That's something that's in very short supply in the world today — except when we think about Christmas.

Why?

Because "peace" has been part of the Christmas story as long as there has been a Christmas story. Longer, in fact. Some eight centuries before Christ was born, Isaiah clearly foresaw the coming Savior: "For unto us a child is born...and his name shall be [among other things] the Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6.)

And, announcing Jesus' birth, what did the angels say to the startled shepherds on a Judean hillside? "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." (Luke 2:14.) "Peace" had come to earth in bodily form.

Now, when we think of "peace," we often think simply of the absence of war. We are so accustomed to hearing of "peace talks," "the peace process," the "peace treaty." The world has seen precious few periods of true peace over the centuries. But Isaiah, looking ahead through the mists of millennia to come, foresaw a time clearly when the Prince of Peace would end all fighting and peace would reign worldwide. That hasn't happened yet. It's still in the prophetic future (although most believe it's no longer very distant).

But to think of Christ's "peace"only as something in the future is to see only part of the picture. It misses what matters most to you right now.

Christ is the Prince of Peace for you today, too. Only He can provide the kind of inner peace that distinguishes the Christian from everyone else.

How do we know this? The Bible says so. For the Christian, "being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:1.) Peace with God is so fundamental, so all-encompassing, that it affects every aspect of life in ways that we can experience, but can't really understand: "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Phillippians. 4:7.)

The peace God can give is unique. As is the case with everything about God, it is perfect. Speaking of [or to] God, Isaiah said, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." (Isaiah 26:3.)

I discovered something very interesting about that verse. What is translated as "perfect peace" is actually, in the original, "peace peace," or, more precisely, "shalowm shalowm." When a word was repeated in that way in the original Hebrew it conveyed the idea of absolute perfection. God wants to give you inner peace that surpasses anything we could imagine.

That "perfect peace" verse has been a comfort to many over the years. Remember Todd Beamer, who uttered the words "let's roll" into a phone as he and fellow passengers were about to take on the hijackers of Flight 93 on 9/11? His mother, Peggy, says she clung to that verse to sustain her during the unthinkable nightmare of learning that her son had died when the flight crashed in Pennsylvania. "What gives me the ability to go on," she would later tell a writer, "is the knowledge that we will see Todd again because of what God the Father did when He allowed His only Son to give His life for us." Now that's peace.

A study in 2002 by Barna Research found that "the more deeply committed to Christianity a person is, the more likely they are to experience greater self-confidence, peace and fulfillment." And a study of teenage Christians found that 80 percent felt their faith allowed them to achieve a sense of peace in life. Peace!

Of course, the converse is true, too. Isaiah tells us that for those who are evil, they "shall not know peace." (Isaiah 59:8.)

Do you have this kind of peace we've been talking about? As Jesus sat overlooking the city of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, just days before his arrest, he said, "Eternal peace was within your reach and you turned it down...and now it's too late." (Luke 19:42, Living Bible paraphrase.) Will He have to say the same thing to you someday?

Or have you chosen — or will you choose now — that "perfect peace" that is uniquely God's to give? In the terms of Isaiah 26:3, is your mind "stayed" on Him? Do you trust fully in Him?

In the late 1800s, Peter Bilhorn's evangelistic ministry took him throughout the United States, Great Britain and other foreign countries. Inspired by God's "perfect peace," he wrote a hymn that remains a comfort today:

     "Peace, peace, sweet peace! Wonderful gift from above.
     Oh, wonderful, wonderful peace! Sweet peace, the gift of God's love."


This Christmas, let the Prince of Peace be born anew in your heart. Know the true peace — the perfect peace — that only He can give.

"Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means..." (2 Thess. 3:16.)

- Paul

Comments on this? paul@thegospelgreats.com

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