Last time, we considered the truth that every single person who has put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ has the assurance of peace with God, as Romans chapter 5 verse 1 reminds us, ‘Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’.
However, as we look out into a world that seems to be in complete turmoil, it’s easy to become full of anxiety, fear and doubt. Through the media, we are constantly bombarded with stories of terrorism, Brexit1 and the immigration crisis, the crisis in the National Health Service, poverty with the need for food banks ever increasing, global warming, student debt and so on. Then, there are times when we ourselves go through difficulties, times of trial, of temptation, times when we have illness or loss in our families, and it’s easy to become despondent or troubled. Isn’t it good, then, that at these times we can know ‘the peace of God, which passeth all understanding’ which ‘shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus’, Phil. 4. 7.
It’s a peace that protects us from those doubts and fears, and allows us to have that inner tranquillity in the midst of our troubled circumstances. So, how or where can we lock into this peace? Well, as our verse in Philippians tells us, this is a supernatural peace, a divine peace, whose source is God Himself. Again, the apostle Paul writes in Romans chapter 5 verse 13, ‘The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing’. In 2 Thessalonians chapter 3 verse 16, he says, ‘Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means’. So, it’s not something that’s uncertain, or that comes and goes, it’s always available. We see that even more strongly in Colossians chapter 3 verse 15, ‘And let the peace of God rule in your hearts’. The peace of God is something that should rule and dominate our lives, and yet, so often, this isn’t the case. How can we be sure, then, that this peace is our daily experience?
The Bible makes it clear that peace is only going to be the experience of those who are walking uprightly before God. If we are living careless, carnal lives, how can we expect to know the peace of God? The Lord Jesus was speaking about how people lived, their motives, their worries about daily life in Matthew chapter 6, and, in conclusion, He said, ‘But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you’. This linking of peace and righteousness can be seen in the Old Testament too. In Isaiah chapter 32 verse 17, ‘the work of righteousness is peace’, and in Psalm 55 verse 22, ‘Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved’. So, firstly, it’s available to the righteous, but the practical enjoyment of it is conditional upon living righteously.
It’s also something that’s dependent on an active prayer life. The Philippians passage that we considered earlier makes it clear that the peace of God is something known when we bring everything to God ‘by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving’. This crying out to God, laying the problem before Him, with the knowledge that He is the one who is able to do immeasurably beyond all that we ask, and ‘who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able’, 1 Cor. 10. 13 NKJV, is another condition to having His peace. Peter sums it up like this, ‘Casting all your care upon him’, 1 Pet. 5. 7.
But we will only be confident to do this if we truly know God. Know about His attributes, His power, His promises and His word. The more we read the word of God, and think about God, the greater He becomes in our minds, and the greater our faith in Him will be. If we know that He is sovereign and loving, with infinite resources, and that He is working the circumstances of our lives for our good, and His glory, then we can rest in confidence and faith, and know His peace. Isaiah chapter 26 verse 3 says, ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee’. So, from the knowledge of God flows trust in Him, from which flows perfect peace.
The night before the Lord was crucified, He told the disciples that He was leaving them. They were distressed and discouraged, given that they had been with Him for years. This was the One who had done so many miracles, who had been their teacher and their friend, and He was now going away. His words in John chapter 14 verse 1 were just what they needed to hear, ‘Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me’, ESV. And then, in verse 27, ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid’. His peace is the very peace of God.