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Spiritual Weapons for Peace

God is a God of peace and he calls us to be peacemakers

You're sitting quietly at home having breakfast, and suddenly there's a blast, there's a flash, and you are engulfed in a fireball that reduces everyone to cinders. You are walking in the park with your family. There's a flash. There's a blast. When you regain consciousness, you and your spouse try to drag your dying bodies toward the charred remnants of your children. You are standing on Lookout Mountain with some friends from the east, proudly looking at that Denver skyline. Then there is that flash. There's a blast. The city is gone, like an egg crushed under a steamroller.

That's what we'd face if nuclear war occurred. That's why on this particular Sunday when we are solemnly honoring those who died in our nation's past wars, I prayerfully decided to focus our attention on what the Word of God has to say about Christian responsibility for peace making and peace keeping.

Our God is the God of peace.

First, we must remind ourselves that our God, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, is the God of peace. Because we may tend to overlook this attribute, which is an essential ingredient of the divine character, I would like us to take our Bibles and examine what Scripture discloses concerning God as the God of peace. I notice that in the New Testament there are at least seven references to this facet of God's nature.

Look at Romans 16:20. This is one of those texts that alludes to God as the God of peace. Paul assures us that the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. God is the God of peace. Add another text. Second Corinthians 13:11. As we highlight this divine attribute, God as the God of peace, what is it we read in 2 Corinthians 13:11? "Finally, brethren, farewell. Mend your ways. Heed my appeal. Agree with one another. Live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you." Then consider the statementit's a doxologyin Hebrews 13:20: "Now may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good, that you may do his will working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ to whom be glory forever and ever." God is the God of peace.

God is never at war with himself, and the members of the Trinity don't engage in strife and quarreling. That's an unthinkable thought, isn't it? God is the God of peace. Therefore, he wills peace and he wants peace among the nations on our planet.

God is not to blame for war.

Second, we must remind ourselves that if there is war on earth you can't blame God for it. The apostle in 1 Corinthians 14:33 declares that God is not a God of confusion. He is the God of peace. Thus, men are to blame. Men choose violence and bloodshed and death instead of harmony and brotherhood and life.

The apostle James tells us this in the letter that he wrote to Christians back in the first century, believers who had been scattered abroad by persecution. He wrote a letter that is and pulls no punches. James tells us unequivocally that if there is strife, if there is war, you can't blame God. It isn't his will; it's human wickedness. In the fourth chapter verses one and two, James isn't talking as a sociologist, of course. Yet he gives us here profound analysis of why history is a terrible record of marching armies and bloody battles. Listen to the letter of James 4:12. "What causes war? And what causes fighting among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members? You desire and do not have. So you kill and you covet and cannot obtain. So you fight and wage war."

Human theft. Ruthless ambition. Greed for land and gold and power. Fierce hatred, and cruel envy. These are the root causes of warnot the will of God, my friends, but the wickedness of man. It's that which has brought on and still brings on the terrible scourge of war. How can you indict war fiercely enough? War that destroys the world's resources while people suffer, starve, sicken, and shiver until they perish. War, that terrible scourge which destroys millions upon millions of human beings, each one of them created in the image of God. War, with all its indescribable agony and mutilation and terror and heartache. War, that breeds pestilence and disease and famine. War, which sows the seeds of suspicion and revenge in the field of international relationships.

It was the famous Civil War general William Pacumsa Sherman who said, "War is hell." You don't endorse his language, and you don't agree with his theology; but you must admit that Sherman was right. War is a devilish business that originates in the depths of satanic depravity.

God calls us to be peacemakers.

Third, we need to remind ourselves that the God of peace, who wills peace, calls upon you and me as disciples of Jesus Christ to be peacemakers. We're all familiar with the blessing which in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:9, our Lord Jesus Christ promises, "Blessed are the peacemakers." But maybe we're not as familiar with James 3:18, a thought provoking text, highly appropriate, in my opinion, for this Memorial weekend. Do you have it there? James 3:18, "The harvest of righteousness is sewn in peace by those who make peace." Mark that text. Meditate on it. "The harvest of righteousness is sewn in peace by those who make peace." However heroic and patriotic soldiers and sailors may be, war requires, as we all know, ghastly violence. War compels men to perform acts that would horrify their hearts and consciences in civilian life. War not only does that, but as I've been pointing out, war produces every kind of unrighteousness. It breathes a harvest of evil.

Peace, on the other hand, produces, as James teaches us in this text, a harvest of righteousness. According to James writing under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, peace is like a garden in which peacemakers sow acts of compassion and forgiveness and reconciliation. The fruit of those peaceful acts is righteousness. According to James, then, peace is the prerequisite for the establishment of God's righteousness in the earth. In order to have righteousness, we must have peace. It's as simple as that.

So the God of peace summons us, you and me as disciples of Jesus Christ, to be peacemakers in our friendships, in our marriages, in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our churches, in our places of business and work, in our country, and in our world.

I appreciate that Marilyn Farren sang for us the words of Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, for the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

But you understand that it's impossible to function as an agent of reconciliation unless you and I have first been reconciled to God by faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ. You understand it's impossible to be a peacemaker unless you and I have entered into God's peace by coming to the cross and by claiming pardon through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we have peace with God, his very peace in our own hearts, we can become effective as peacemakers.

God has given us effective weapons for waging peace.

There's another thing of which we need to remind ourselves. God has put in our disposal effective weapons for waging peace. I know there's a fatalistic mood. I know that many of us misinterpreting prophecy are convinced that we are in the end times and that accordingly we cannot hope for peace. It's only a futile dream. I'm not going to discuss those matters right now. But let me repeat that God has put at our disposal effective weapons for the waging of peace. If we come to perceive this, then maybe in faith we will begin to challenge the fatalistic mindset which sees ahead nothing but the horror of a nuclear holocaust.

It's in 2 Corinthians 10:35 that the apostle Paul refers to these weapons. He adds emphatically, "We don't fight according to the flesh because the weapons of our warfare aren't carnal. No, the weapons of our warfare are spiritual. They are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds." We have weapons at our disposal which can bring to pass even at the end of the twentieth century the purpose of God for the prevention of war and the preservation of peace. I stand here and I remind you that I happen to be one of those strange premillennarians, but despite that I have to affirm you and I as instruments of God's peace need to be waging those spiritual weapons which can, in our heavenly Father's mercy, prevent war. The mightiest weapon in that spiritual armament is prayer.

For our Scripture lesson this morning from the New Testament, we will read 1 Timothy 2:14. It's one of the pivotal New Testament pronouncements on the power and the purpose of prayer. What does Paul urge? "Pray for rulers and kings and those in authority that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty, for this is the will of God who desires that we create a society within which the gospel can be freely proclaimed and thus men and women be saved." Do you and I want quietness instead of turmoil? We must pray. Do we want peace instead of war? Then we must pray. Do we want godliness instead of corruption? Then we must pray. Do we want honesty instead of untruthfulness? Then we must pray; "Pray in order that we may lead quiet and peaceful lives in all godliness and honesty"

Prayer is a weapon infinitely more powerful than all the guns and the bayonets and the tanks and the planes and the battleships and the bombs of all the nations in all the world. I'm not minimizing, dear friends, the awesome decisions that people in position of governmental responsibility must make. I'm not minimizing the difficulty, but I am affirming as one of my rock bottom convictions that there are no imaginable limits to the affect of prayer. If we as God's people take even five minutes a day to follow the directive in 1 Timothy 2, God may be pleased, as we sang before, to give peace in our time.

Illustration: Let me tell you about Debbie and Jebby. They had been brought up in the same church. They fell in love. They married. God blessed them with a beautiful little child. Then tragedy struck. Fire gutted their new home and burned to death their little infant. Jebby, going out to work every day, managed to rise above the grief, but not Debbie. She sat in their rented apartment rocking, holding in her arms the little doll they had bought for their now dead baby girl. I think it was a Saturday morning that Jebby came in to see his pastor. The husband was in despair. "What are we going to do for Debbie?" he asked. "She's getting worse and worse. She'll have to be institutionalized. Isn't there something we can do, pastor?" That man of God, who had known Jebby from boyhood on looked at the anguished face of that husband and thoughtfully answered, "Yes. There is something we can do." Jebby's face lit up with hope. "What is it, pastor? What is it?" "We can pray harder." Jebby's face fell. Prayer. What good will that do?

The pastor looked at him and slowly said, "If we believe the greatest miracle, lesser miracles are possible." Jebby didn't understand. The pastor explained, "If we believe God raised Jesus from the dead, then we must believe that with God nothing is impossible."

You and I believe God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. You and I have experienced something of God's peace in our own hearts. Let's this morning in those words of Francis pray, "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace." Then let's give ourselves to a ministry of effective intercession that the will of God may be done. Our God is the God of peace.

Vernon Grounds is chancellor of Denver Conservative Baptist Seminary. He has authored more than five books and his articles appear regularly in a variety of religious periodicals.

Vernon Grounds

Preaching Today Tape # 9


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Sermon Outline:


I. Our God is the God of peace

II. God is not to blame for war

III. God calls us to be peacemakers

IV. God has given us effective weapons for waging peace