By Keith Sharp
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matt. 5:9).
“Like a river glorious is God’s perfect peace;
Over all victorious in its bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth fuller every day,
Perfect, yet it groweth deeper all the way.”
(Frances Ridley Havergal)
The world in restless turmoil craves peace. “Peace” is “tranquility,” an “absence of turmoil.” People vexed with troubled and anxious minds relentlessly but often erroneously pursue calm of spirit. In a world of war and fighting, killing and quarreling, men search for the formula for peace.
Christ is “The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). He rules a kingdom of peace (Rom. 14:17). The Master’s legacy to His disciples is peace (John 14:27). What is the peace of the kingdom of Heaven? Who are the “peacemakers”? Why shall they “be called the children of God”?
We have all sinned (Isa. 53:6; Rom. 3:9, 23; 1 John 1:8-10). Sin, being the transgression of the law of God (1 John 3:4), is ultimately a wrong against God Himself (Ps. 51:4). God, being infinitely Holy, i.e., separate from sin and perfectly undefiled (Rev. 4:8), hates and abhors sin (Prov. 6:16-19). He will not fellowship the sinner (1 John 1:6). By His holy nature, He cannot. Our own sins separate us from God (Isa. 59:1-2). Because of our own sins, we, as sinners, became the enemies of God (James 4:4). Sinners have no peace with God.
God gave through Christ a plan of reconciliation (Rom. 5:10). i.e., a means by which we, though sinners, might be made the friends of God again and might enjoy peace with Him. This “peace initiative” on God’s part is the offer to us of the remission of the guilt of our sins through the blood the Son of God shed on the cross (Acts 10:36, 43; Matt. 26:28). We gain this pardon by knowledge of, faith in and obedience to the Gospel of Christ (2 Pet. 1:2; Rom. 5:1; Phil. 4:9).
Therefore, the primary peace offered by the Gospel and in the kingdom is peace with God as the result of the forgiveness of our sins. All other peace is secondary to this. Christ came to bring peace between sinful man and his holy Creator (Eph. 2:13-18; Col. 1:20).
We, as Christians, should have peace of mind (Phil. 4:4-7; Col. 3:15). But this is the result of peace with God and is therefore secondary to reconciliation to the Father.
Furthermore, we are enjoined: “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18; cf. Heb. 12:14). But this peace with men is less important than purity (James 3:17) and must sometimes be sacrificed in favor of steadfast adherence to Christ and His Word (Matt. 10:34-37; Jer. 6:14).
Since the primary peace of the kingdom of Heaven, from which all other peace flows, is fellowship with God, the “peacemakers” of God’s kingdom are not those who patch up disagreements between men nor those who ease the, troubled minds of anxious people. Rather, the peacemakers are those who, like Jesus, seek to reconcile men to God. Peacemakers are those “that preach the gospel of peace” (Rom. 10:15; cf. Eph. 6:15). They are the disciples who, through “the word of reconciliation,” seek to bring men back into friendship with God (2 Cor. 5:18-20).
To be called something in the New Testament is tantamount to saying one actually is that thing (cf. Matt. 5:19; 21:13; Luke 1:32, 35; James 2:23). In the Scriptures, people are often called children of something to indicate they resemble that object. For example, Bamabas’ name meant “son of consolation” (Acts 4:36) in that he was a consoling man. The Jews who opposed the Lord had the devil as their father (John 8:44) because they resembled the devil. We often describe a boy as being “a chip off the old block,” i.e., he resembles his father. We expect children to be like their father. Our Father is the author of peace (1 Cor. 14:33). He seeks to reconcile all men to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19; 1 Tim. 2:34). Those who promote peace between men and God actually resemble God in their character.
The peace of the kingdom of Heaven is primarily harmony between God and men, the fruit of reconciliation through the Gospel. “Peacemakers” are those who “preach the gospel of peace.” They “shall be called the children of God” in that they actually resemble the Father Himself.
What a blessing, the peace that Christ brought to man!
“Thro’ Christ on the cross peace was made,
My debt by His death was all paid,
No other foundation is laid,
For peace, the gift of God’s love.
“Peace, peace, sweet peace,
Wonderful peace from above,
Oh, wonderful, wonderful peace,
Sweet peace, the gift of God’s love.”
(Peter P. Bilhorn)
Are you a peacemaker, my brother? Let us take the blessed Word of reconciliation, the Gospel of peace, to all. So even we shall be called the children of God.
Truth Magazine XX: 35, pp. 553-554
September 2, 1976