One thing I like to do for personal edification is listen to sermons and recently I listened to one by Ligon Duncan on “How Jesus Gives You Peace” from John 14:1, 16:33, 2 Thessalonians 3:16,18. The sermon can be found here. I encourage you to take the time to listen to it. The sermon so resonated with me that I thought I would share my summary of the sermon with you below:
We know that if we are a believer we have peace with God. Our sins have been forgiven and the dividing wall of sin that stands between us and God has been removed by Christ’s sacrifice for us and therefore gives us peace with God (Rom 5:1). However, we also read in 2 Thessalonians 3:16-18 the Apostle Paul’s prayer that Christians would have peace. Which raises the question,”Why is Paul praying this??” If Christians already have peace, then why pray for peace? Because Christians face circumstances in this world that are “peace robbing,” and Paul is very concerned that believers receive all the subjective encouragement which can possibly be received from the glorious objective things that God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Paul knows that we need peace in this world of trouble. However this is not something found only in the New Testament! In Numbers 6:24-26 we read how God commanded Moses to have the priest pray this beautiful blessing on God’s people,
The LORD bless you, and keep you; 25 The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; 26 The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.’ (Numbers 6:24-26 NAU)
Peace, in this context, is the total well being that comes from God’s favor. So how does a believer get this sense of total well being that comes from God’s favor? There are three passages that are very helpful as we consider having peace in the midst of turmoil:
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. (John 14:1 NAU)
This is on the night of Jesus’ betrayal and His disciples know that He is going away and so Jesus is telling His disciples the remedy to a troubled heart.
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NAU)
Now Jesus tells them why He has been teaching them all these things.
Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all! 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. (2 Thessalonians 3:16,18 NAU)
How do you get peace from Jesus? These passages tell us four ways.
- The way we receive peace from Jesus is through faith.
- The way we receive peace from Jesus is through truth.
- The way we receive peace from Jesus is through presence.
- The way we receive peace from Jesus is through grace.
Before looking at these four things, it is important to note that the peace that Paul is talking about in 2 Thessalonians 3:16 comes from Jesus Himself. The phrase “Lord of peace” is a reference to Isaiah 9:6 and the “Prince of Peace” who is Jesus the Messiah. So it is Jesus who wants to give peace to His people and that peace is a gift from Him. Eastern religions say you can self generate peace through meditation & body posture. But the Bible tells us that we cannot generate this kind of peace, as it comes to us as a gift from Christ. This peace is put within you by Jesus, but it does not come from within you, it is a gift from the Lord of peace.
Therefore, the way Jesus gives you peace is, first of all, through faith (John 14:1). Interestingly, in John 13-17 Jesus is preparing to face the cross, but He is not preoccupied with Himself, but rather with His disciples; we see this in the words of John 14:1. Jesus gives us the remedy for a troubled heart; “believe in God, believe also in Me.” It is through faith in Jesus, trusting in Jesus, that He gives you peace. Put your hope & confidence in Jesus and you will have peace. Faith is not just something for the beginning of the Christian life. We walk by faith, not by sight! Jesus says I want you to have peace in this world of trouble and this is how it starts, by believing in Me.
Secondly, look at John 16:33. Between John 13 to 17, Jesus speaks to His disciples in the upper room about doctrines such as election and the Trinity. These are not the basics of the Christian Faith; instead Jesus is dealing with some mind blowing theological topics. And when Jesus wraps it all up in John 16:33, He says to His disciples, “Why have I been teaching you all these things?” So that you would have peace! What we learn from this is that we get peace from God’s truth. Peace not only comes from faith, but also from the truth of God’s Word. As we read the Word and hear it preached from the pulpit, we listen, not just so that we can learn information, but that we might receive peace. We get through trials & tribulations as we read & listen to the Word. The Word of God is meant to be peace generating.
Next look at 2 Thessalonians 3:16. This is a prayer of benediction or blessing on God’s people. In this prayer, Paul prays for God’s presence to be with His people. Now this may raise a question in the minds of some because is not the Lord always with us? The answer is, “yes”. It is like peace; we have peace, yet we still need peace. Likewise, the Lord is with you, and yet Paul prays that the Lord would be with you. Paul knows how important this is. There was a time in Paul’s life in which he was entirely alone. It was when he was giving testimony to the highest court in the Roman Empire. In 2 Timothy 4:16 Paul tells us that he was alone because everyone deserted him. But if you look at verse 17 you see that Paul was not alone, for he says, “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me…”. Paul had been humanly abandoned by every Christian friend in that moment of great trial, but he was not alone! Paul tells us here of one of the Christian’s great sources of peace; the sense of God’s presence (Immanuel; “God with us!”).
Finally, look at 2 Thessalonians 3:18. There can be no peace without God’s grace; God’s forgiving favor poured out on us, though we are undeserving in the extravagantly expensive gift of His own Son who died in our place, that we might be forgiven, free, and finally alive. Think for a moment how expensive this free grace is. To you it is given freely. Peace is given to you that you do not deserve. How is it that God has granted to me, a sinner, that kind of peace through His grace? What was the cost to me? Nothing! What was the cost to Him? Everything! How does the Prince of Peace give me that peace? He gave up that peace for me. That peace was His birthright. If ever a being in this universe deserved the favor of God’s total well being bestowed upon Him, it was Jesus. And He gave it up on the cross and cried out, “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?” So that the resurrected Jesus could give you that peace. It is a very expensive peace. Free to you, very costly to Him.
Do not give God’s benedictions (His blessings) a casual glance. God does not give you blessings that you do not need. We need peace and God pours out His blessing of peace on us. You have peace and you will have peace, but it is my prayer that you will experience that peace; especially when you need it the most. The way you will do that is through faith, truth, a sense of His presence, and grace. In Christ, Pastor Rick