The Peace that Christ Brought (Part II)

So what did Christ mean when he said he came not to send peace, but a sword? Certainly neither the prophet Isaiah, nor the angels were wrong when they announced the birth of the Messiah to the shepherds in the fields. How is it that Christ sends a sword, and divides a family? To answer this let us first reflect how the Gospel can bring a great schism between two friends. Consider two people who have many things in common. They like each other's company because they share mutual interests. Now, these people are not Christians: they are not bad people, they just do not believe. Say, one night one of the two hears the Gospel, believes it, and acts upon it; that is to say, obeys it. Now that one's life is different: he or she has been raised from that watery grave of baptism to be a new creature, to walk in newness of life. No longer can that one join in some of the things that the two of them used to do together. More than that, the one's interests are focused on other things that before had made their friendship strong: things like eternity, avoiding sin, and worshiping God during times that used to be spent in recreation. Furthermore, the one who is now a Christian sometimes tries to engage in conversation about spiritual things, such as the everlasting consequences of sin, and why we need God and His forgiveness. Can you see how that relationship can now be stressed? When one begins to live the life God created us to live, people will see this and be convicted of their own sin and their need for Christ. This is most uncomfortable for one who wishes not to be reminded of these things. Can you see now how this could make what used to be two close friends now quite distant in their relationship? Jesus did not come to break the family apart; but he knew that the message he brought would cause two people to be at odds, because one would obey, and the other would not.

Jesus did bring peace, but not as the world thinks of it.

Rom. 5:1 Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

So Jesus made available to us peace with God. People usually do not think of themselves as enemies of God, but anyone who is not His child, a Christian, is His enemy; not because God has made that one His enemy, but because that one has made himself God's enemy. The latter part of James 4:4 states, “. . .Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God.” But Christ reconciles us with God, so that we can have peace with Him.

Jesus also brought peace between the Jew and the Gentile. Eph. 2:11-22 explains just how Christ has united both the Jew and the Gentile in the church. What was it that separated the Jew and Gentile? The first chapter of Romans tells how the Gentiles completely forsook any knowledge of God to the point that they worshiped idols and partook of any number of abominable, unseemly things. It was at Mount Sinai that God gave Moses the Law by which God's chosen people should live. By abiding by that law they set themselves apart from the rest of the world. It should be noted that not all Gentiles were vile, sinful people, but some feared and revered God: Cornelius was one such man. But that which set the Jew apart from the Gentile was the Law of Moses. Christ nailed that Law to the cross, so we are no longer under that law (Col. 4:14).

Eph. 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, 15 having abolished in the flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace; 16 and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 and he came and preached peace to you that were far off. and peace to them that were night: 18 for through him we both have our access in one Spirit unto the Father.

Summary

Jesus Christ has brought us peace between Jew and Gentile, and between man and God. The peace for which the world seeks will not be found. The inspired writer wrote:

James. 4:1 Whence come wars and whence come fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your pleasures that war in your members?

Until the world ceases to sin, and comes to Christ it will never see peace. But we can have peace even now.

Phil. 4:6 In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.

Peace with God is what Christ brought; but only Christians have that peace. One can only have that peace who has heard and obeyed the Gospel. What does it mean to obey the Gospel? That phrase seems to be so often used. Having heard the message, and believing it, one must repent of all sin (Luke 13:3), confess that Jesus is the Son of God (Matt. 10:32, Matt. 16:15-18), and then be baptized for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16). When the crowd which was gathered in the temple area on the first Pentecost following the ascension of Christ queried Peter, “What must we do?” he answered unequivocally, “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” (Acts 2:38). Anther account found in Acts 8, reads:

Acts 8:36 And as they went on the way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch saith, Behold, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? **37 And Philip said, If though believest with all they heart, though mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.

Curtis A. Little, Royse City, TX

*All Bible quotations are from the American Standard Version of 1901, unless otherwise noted.

**Although this verse does not appear in the texts used by the American Standard Version, the translators (being true to the texts, yet showing their integrity) included the footnote, “Some ancient authorities insert, wholly or in part, ver. 37. . .” Unfortunately, most modern versions completely omit this verse, ignore this fact, and make no note of its being in other ancient authorities. It is completely logical and totally expected that Philip would answer the eunuch's question, and that the eunuch would respond to Philip's conditional statement for being baptized (being inspired by the Holy Spirit).

Curtis A. Little
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