THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 5-30-04
LESSON TITLE: "IMPORTANT DOCTRINES OF CHRIST: THE DOCTRINE OF PEACE"
What a wonderful Lord's Day it is, as we again gather together before the throne of God to Worship our Maker! We are so happy that you have chosen to be with us today and to give this time to the Lord. In fact, it is our privilege to be with you every Sunday morning, as we consider together, God's Living Word.
It is my hope and prayer today that we are all uplifted in our fellowship together. Furthermore, I pray that we will glorify and praise our Creator in these acts of Worship which we participate in collectively as those who love God.
As we begin our homage to God on this day, will you bow with me in prayer!
Let me take just a moment to bring to your attention a gospel meeting which will begin tomorrow at the Oldfield Church of Christ. The theme to be discussed from Monday night through next Sunday is: "Lessons in Faith." Their will be two guest speakers involved in this study, their names are Craig and Tim Richardson. These brothers are the sons of the late Bill Richardson. We hope you will mark you schedules now and plan to be a part of this time of offering to God.
Well today is the day! This morning, we begin to use our new songs which were recorded at the end of last month - to use on this program. I am excited to have these new songs of praise, that we might continue to glorify our God and uplift His Holy name together. I hope everyone is ready to worship God in song at this time! So, won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, "All Things Are Ready."
(SONG # 1)
Isn't it hard to be satisfied with what we have in this life? We all have certainly been blessed beyond our understanding, however, we all are still guilty of having a hard time being content.
Remember what Paul said in Philippians 4:11, "...for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:" Wow, that's a tough one isn't it. The reality is that if we could even learn to completely believe in God and fully trust in Him - God will always provide our needs. In fact, that is why Paul prefaced his statement above by saying, "Not that I speak in regard to need,"
Brethren and friends, there will always be thousands of things we want and desire in this life. But as Christians we have to learn to look more to God, to be thankful for what He has blessed us with, and to spend our time and energies on those things with pertain to eternal life. Instead of focusing on things in this life which are simply perishing. So, just how content in this life are you with the things God has provided?
We are happy to have brother Bill Mcfarland with us today as our guest speaker. Brother McFarland is the minister for the North National Church of Christ, here in Springfield. We thank this good brother for being with us to lead us in the study of God's Word this day.
As far as our study, we will be continuing our important discussion concerning the "Important Doctrines of Christ." The specific lesson of the day will deal with, "The Doctrine of Peace!" So stay with us and after our next song together, brother Bill will be leading us in the main thoughts of the day. But for now let's join together in our second song of the morning. The name of this hymn, "All to Jesus I Surrender."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Bill McFarland
Just a while back, I noticed an anonymous questioner who had written in to a Bible study paper. This was a question and answer page and the questioner said simply, "There is war in Iraq, Afghanstan and Haiti. On September 11, 2001, our country was viciously attacked and now we are at war. Political campaigns are virtual cultural wars. Our children are involved in drugs and sexual liaisons that offend sensibilities and violate the laws of God. We have strife in the church at times. Yet, we sing 'Peace, Perfect Peace.' Where can this peace be found?" Well that questioner is right about a lot of things, of course. We do sing about peace and thankfully so. Peace is one of the great themes of all of the Bible. But what is it? And how does it come to us today? Well one thing is certain for all of us and that is that we all badly need peace. It seems as though we are hardly able to live without the idea that it is well with our souls no matter what. All of us need light for our eyes to know the way in which we ought to go. We need solid ground for our feet so we can have a place to stand that won't let us down. We need calm for our heart to enable us to cope with what comes our way on a daily basis. All of us, too, need relationships that are whole and that bless our lives. We all need peace. And no one wants us to have that peace more than our God. When God decreed that He wanted His name placed on His covenant people in Old Testament days, He instructed the priest to say to them, "The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace."
God envisioned a kind of peace which would allow His people to lay down at night and not to be made to tremble by anyone. He described His desire as being to extend peace like a river or to station peace like a sentinel to guard the hearts and the thoughts of His people. God has always wanted those who are made in His image to be able to enjoy the blessing of peace.
Unfortunately, people have been slow to accept what God has wanted to give us. The great prophet Isaiah once lamented, "The way of peace they do not know and there is no justice in their paths. They have made their roads crooked. No one who treads on them knows peace." Isaiah said that because he recognized that one's iniquities, a life of iniquity or wrongdoing, separates one from God. Rather than being able to walk with Him in peace, there comes to be a sense of alienation and fear which withholds so much good from us in our lives. And of course that iniquity which alienates us from God soon brings in its wake in humanity, in our dealings with each other and to complicate the matter, there are always some around who are ready and willing to suggest that peace can be found where there is no peace, as the prophet Jeremiah pointed out.
And yet, the story of the Bible is that our God has not been willing to give up on us. The prophets of the Old Testament paint wonderful word pictures of the peace that God wants to give. Micah says, "There's coming one who is going forth or from old and this man shall be our peace."
Isaiah announces the approach of a child whose name would be called the prince of peace and of whose government of peace there would be no end. He describes that child as "being such that the lion can lay down with the lion and that people who are at odds can beat those instruments of war into instruments of agriculture instead."
The prophet Ezekiel looked forward to the day when there would be a covenant of peace.
Isaiah said that "that one who is coming will allow the chastisement of our peace to be on Him."
Zachariah announced that a king is coming, a lowly and meek one who would speak peace to the nations and who would rule from sea to sea.
No wonder those kinds of predictions of peace engendered hope in the lives of people who heard those promises. With the arrival of Jesus, these promises were turned into spiritual reality. As His birth approached, Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, said that "the (inaudible) from on high is coming to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death and to guide our feet in the way of peace."
To survey the Lord's ministry from this particular viewpoint is a blessing in itself. As people looked at the ministry of Jesus, they recognized His authority, authority which could say to the raging elements in nature, "Peace be still." An authority which could say to the heart of people, "Go in peace. Be made whole."
Those who saw the Lord's works were finally led to proclaim, "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest."
In His death, the righteous for the unrighteous, Jesus was reconciling all things to God, making peace through the blood of His cross," Paul said in Colossians chapter 1 and verse 20.
"Jesus in making that kind of a sacrifice became the propitiation for the sins of the whole world," John says in 1 John 2. He meant by that the Lord satisfied the merciful love of God and the just wrath of God at the same time and thus made God righteous in His desire to justify the sinner while at the same time being just towards sin. Jesus finished God's purpose to redeem a people for Himself. He could bring back to Him to walk in close fellowship as His children. He established also peace among men, giving us all the same access to the Father and making us into one body for "He Himself is our peace," Paul says in Ephesians chapter 2 verses 14 and following. His resurrection was proof that the price of peace had been paid sufficiently when He stood in the midst of His fearful disciples He said, "Peace be with you," then He showed them His hand and His side. The marks that turned their fear into joy and it convinced even the slow to believe that He is Lord and God and they then went out to preach peace through Jesus Christ as Acts 10, verse 36 puts it.
That gospel of peace is the news the Bible reveals. It says to us that the peace of God is to be found and that it is to be found in Christ Jesus. The question that comes to us is not so much, "How do I get hold of peace?" as "How do I come to be in Christ where God grants me peace with Him and peace with His children?" Well the New Testament of course answers that question in so many illustrations. The idea that when we believe in Christ and turn away from our alienation and confess that we are convinced that Jesus is the Christ, we then can put Him on in the baptism and the Lord will add us to that one body.
Well that leaves us to think about what kind of peace is this that we're promised? Jesus once said that "the peace He offers is not that which the world gives," John 14, verse 27. The peace of Christ goes way beyond what we may ordinarily mean by peace. For example, it is not the peace of easy circumstances. One writer said, "God does not featherbed His children in this way and anyone who thinks He does is in for a shock." The fact of the matter is that "while we have peace in Christ, we may also have tribulation in the world," as John 16, verse 33 puts it.
Peace doesn't mean that trouble and difficulty will never invade our lives. And neither is this the peace of complacency. "Those who have their feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace are called to stand in the struggle against the forces of wickedness in this world," as Ephesians puts it. Because one stands for peace, he may many times experience sorrow and unceasing pain in his heart out of concern over what the enemy does to others and what he wants to do to us. And this is not the peace of compromise. It doesn't mean that we will never face conflict with anyone. In fact, one of the hard sayings of Jesus in Matthew 10 is "do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." What He meant by that is as the rest of the context shows that when we love Him more than anything or anyone else, that there may at times be situations where others mark us off their list so to speak. Darkness will not like it when light shines and yet, we must walk as children of light.
Peace through Christ is far more than either one of these things. Peace through Christ is first and foremost a right relationship with God. "It is what we have through our Lord Jesus Christ when we've been justified out of faith," Romans 5 and verse 1 says. It's being forgiven through the obedience of faith, cleansed by the blood of the son, made a child of God from the basis of the new covenant. It then means that the separation of before has now been healed.
Next, peace is the confidence and security that comes in our lives because we are children of God. It is the peace that passes understanding, that guards our hearts and our minds with the assurance that we can do all things through Him who strengthens us. It is the contentment, the sense of well-being that enables us to cope with any circumstance that may come along in our lives because of the Lord's help and His presence with us.
Then third, peace is harmony with faithful children of God and as far as possible, as far as it depends on us, with all people around us. It's being diligent to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. It comes from pursuing things that make for peace and allows us to build up each other. That peace of right relationships, of confidence and security, of harmony and good relationships with other people is what God wants to give us through His son in whom we all have access to the Father. That kind of peace is indeed precious. It is thrilling just to be able to read about it, to see the wonderful plan of God unfold from start to finish in the Bible.
How much more wonderful is it then to make that peace our own by submitting ourselves to the gospel of Jesus and by living for Him each day?
(SONG # 3 - "Angry Words!")
Thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in giving this time to God. I hope our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to all of us. We invite you back every Lord's Day morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this offering for God!
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How wondrous it is to have a God which offers us complete peace in this life. A precious peace so incredible that it is even beyond our understanding - thanks be to our loving God!