Lesson 8 May 17-23
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Matt. 5:9, 43, 44; Col. 1:19-21; 2:13,14; Eph. 2:3, 14; 1 Cor. 14:33; Rom. 8:2, 6; 12:18; 15:33; 16:20.
MEMORY TEXT: "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9).
KEY THOUGHT: God is the source of peace. It is His desire that we partake freely of His peace that passes all understanding.
INSTRUMENTS OF PEACE. In considering the seventh beatitude, theologians have wondered whether it was not directed especially to Christ's disciples. Evidence shows that Jesus addressed Himself to the multitudes, as well (Matt. 5:1). Furthermore, in this discourse the Master pointed out the steps in our only path of spiritual development. Here we find enumerated the principles that assure the moral growth of every human being--principles and laws with universal application. All are called to receive this divine teaching, but only those who are prepared to realize it in their lives are the ones who fulfill the conditions outlined in the preceding beatitudes.
This truth is evident in the fact that performance of this beatitude is possible only as the provisions described in the preceding beatitudes are achieved. It is impossible to be a "maker of peace" unless "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding," fills "your hearts and minds" with the feelings that are in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7).
Just as Christ came as a peacemaker between Heaven and earth, just so His disciples are called to become "makers of peace" in the world. Thus they will receive the glorious title "children of God," reserved for those the Lord will usher into the kingdom of heaven.
The word used in the Greek is not found elsewhere the Bible, although the verb to make peace is often used. Scholars have been unable to determine the Aramaic expression equivalent to this composite word. But as the Aramaic spoken in Palestine in Christ's time was related to the Hebrew, doubtless Jesus employed a word with Semitic connotations.
"In order to appreciate what Christ meant when He spoke of 'peacemakers' it is helpful to take note of the meaning of peace in Semitic thinking and speech. The Hebrew equivalent of Greek eirene is shalom, meaning 'completeness,' 'soundness,' 'prosperity,' 'condition of wellbeing.' "--SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 328.
What relationship do you see between being a peacemaker and being a child of God? Matt. 5:9.
To be called "children of God" means, strictly speaking, to be called "sons of God." God is the "God of peace" (Rom. 15:33); and Jesus is the "Prince of Peace." It seems natural, then, that those who, in God's name, work for peace in this world should be called "children of God."
"To be a son of God means to resemble Him in character (1 John 3:2; cf. John 8:44). 'Peacemakers' are the 'sons of God' because they are at peace with Him themselves, and are devoted to the cause of leading their fellow men to be at peace with Him."--SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 328.
The United Nations sometimes sends its peacekeepers to places where, unfortunately, there is no peace to keep. Why do you think making and keeping peace seem so elusive among individuals and nations? List some reasons.
"Men cannot manufacture peace. Human plans for the purification and uplifting of individuals or of society will fail of producing peace, because they do not reach the heart. The only power that can create or perpetuate true peace is the grace of Christ. When this is implanted in the heart, it will cast out the evil passions that cause strife and dissension. 'Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;' and life's desert 'shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.' Isa. 55:13; 35:1."--The Desire of Ages, p. 305.
What specific things can you do this week to be a peacemaker (as well as a peacekeeper) in your family, church, and community?
Keeping in mind yesterday's lesson, contrast the striking differences between the "the children of God," and the "children of wrath." Eph. 2:3; Col. 1:21.
In yielding to temptation and being disobedient to God in Eden, our first parents took their stand against the Creator of the universe, against God's established order, against the laws of life. At the same time they placed themselves on the side of the "prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph. 2:2).
As a natural consequence, relations between God and His earthly creatures were broken. After sin Adam and Eve first fled from God's presence out of fear. Then with time their descendants drifted father and farther away from God and they eventually disregarded His rulership, in their lives. And, speaking of the "children of disobedience," the apostle Paul adds, "among whom also we all ... were by nature" (Eph. 2:3).
No one can say that he or she is an exception. We are all by nature "children of wrath," consciously or unconsciously, in a state of war against God, lined up under the banner of the "prince of this world." "Whosoever ... will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God," because "the friendship of the world is enmity with God" (James 4:4).
How does our rebellion against God manifest itself? Titus 3:3. Do you see some of these rebellious manifestations in your everyday life? If yes, by God's grace what do you plan to do about it today?
Enmity between us and God reveals itself on all levels of our existence. By our thoughts and works we become strangers and enemies of God. By doing what we please rather than following God's will, we become children of wrath, introducing into our lives--and into the world--disorder, envy, hatred, violence, strife, suffering, and death.
"Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enemity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal. 5:19-21, RSV).
To what extent has God's peace in your heart replaced the works of the flesh with the fruits of the Spirit?
What does each of the following verses contribute to our understanding of "the God of peace"?
Rom. 15:33 ______________________________________________
Rom. 16:20 ______________________________________________
1 Cor. 14:33 _____________________________________________
In the beginning of Israel's history Gideon built an altar unto the Lord, which he named "Jehovahshalom" (Judges 6:24)--"The Lord is peace" (RSV). Most of the Bible authors used this title in one way or another, either to call upon "the God of peace," or to greet one another, or to bless, or still to call to order and peace.
"God is not a being who either has in Himself or produces disorder, disunion, discord, or confusion. ... He is the God of peace, and it is not to be taught that He could be pleased by a form of worship characterized by confusion of any kind. ... Christianity tends to promote order (see 1 Cor. 14:40)."--SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, pp. 792, 793.
Why is the title "God of peace" a just one? Col. 1:20; Rom. 5:8, 10.
Before the foundation of the world God conceived the plan by which He would establish peace, not only on earth with humankind, but also in heaven among the heavenly hosts. God arranged for the reestablishing of peace wherever there was war against Him in the universe.
God did not wait until we approached Him to heal the breach and make peace. It was He who took the initiative. "While we were yet sinners. ... When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God" (Rom. 5:8-10). "All things are of God, who hath reconciled ... the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them" (2 Cor. 5:18, 19).
"It was taught by the Jews that before God's love is extended to the sinner, he must first repent. In their view, repentance is a work by which men earn the favor of Heaven. ... But in the parable of the lost sheep, Christ teaches that salvation does not come through our seeking after God but through God's seeking after us."--Christ's Object Lessons, p. 189.
Is there anything that discourages you from coming to the "God of peace" just as you are? Could, repentance be a factor in keeping you from responding to His initiative?
How is Christ our peace by the blood of His cross? Why is the cross so imperative in this regard? Col. 1:19, 20; Eph. 2:14.
Our reconciliation with God was effected through Jesus Christ. He in person was the instrument of our peace with God. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1). God established "peace through the blood of his cross" (Col. 1:20). The redemptive work of Christ is completely contained in the word peace.
"Christ came that He might give peace to us such as the world knows not and cannot offer (John 14:27). This 'peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep' our 'hearts and minds through Christ Jesus' (Phil. 4:7). When Christ enters the heart it is always with the words, 'Peace be unto you' (Luke 24:36)."--SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 693.
How does the peace of the "Prince of peace" bring reassurance to our troubled and fearful hearts? John 14:27.
The peace of Christ is not something abstract to theorize about or something ethereal to dream of, but is a living reality in the human heart. This peace that the world cannot give is to help us overcome our fears, and to give us the courage to rise above trying circumstances. The "Prince of peace" becomes a bridge over troubled waters, giving us confidence and serenity because we know that He will never leave us.
"It is peace that you need--Heaven's forgiveness and peace and love in the soul. Money cannot buy it, intellect cannot procure it, wisdom cannot attain to it; you can never hope, by your own efforts, to secure it. But God offers it to you as a gift, 'without money and without price.' Isaiah 55:1. It is yours if you will but reach out your hand and grasp it. The Lord says, 'Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.' Isaiah 1:18. 'A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.' Ezekiel 36:26.
"You have confessed your sins, and in heart put them away. You have resolved to give yourself to God."--Steps to Christ, p. 49.
Peace for your troubled heart. That is God's free gift to you already purchased at Calvary. It is yours for the asking. Will you reach out your hand and grasp it?
Experiencing the peace of Christ bears three kinds of fruit:
1. Peace with God: "You, who were dead in trespasses ... God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross" (Col. 2:13, 14, RSV; compare Rom. 8:1).
The prophet Isaiah had prophesied it in these words: "The chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed" (53:5). Reconciled, we no longer live in fear, and "the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God: ... heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:16, 17).
2. Peace with oneself: "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. ... For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace" (Rom. 8:2-6).
"To set the mind on the things of the Spirit, and to have the thoughts and desires governed solely by the Spirit of God, result in that healthful, life-giving harmony of all the functions of the soul that is a sure pledge and foretaste of the life to come. ... The presence of the Holy Spirit brings love, joy, and peace in the life (Gal. 5:22), the beginning within us of the kingdom of God, which is 'righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost' (Rom. 14:17)."--SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 563.
3. Peace with others: "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men" (Rom. 12:18).
The peace of God--because it is perfect--manifests itself in our relations with one another. This is why preaching of the gospel of peace demands that we "live in peace" (2 Cor. 13:11, RSV), "follow ... peace" (2 Tim. 2:22), and "strive for peace with all men" (Heb. 12:14).
"The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:7). "There is no other ground of peace than this. The grace of Christ received into the heart, subdues enmity; it allays strife and fills the soul with love. He who is at peace with God and his fellow men cannot be made miserable."--Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 27, 28.
Of course, it is not always possible to have peace with all people at all times. Paul admonishes us to strive for peace with all (Heb. 12:14), and to live peaceably with all to the extent that it depends on us (Rom. 12:18).
Are you at peace with God, with yourself, and with others? How do you experience peace in very stressful work conditions? How do you relate to someone who is antagonistic to your Christian principles?
FURTHER STUDY: Read Ellen G. White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, "The Beatitudes" (Matt. 5:9), pp. 27, 28; Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 244; Steps to Christ, "Confession," pp. 37-39; Counsels on Health, p. 403; Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, "The Spirituality of the Law" (Matt. 5:44), pp. 73-75.
"Christ's followers are sent to the world with the message of peace. Whoever, by the quiet, unconscious influence of a holy life, shall reveal the love of Christ; whoever, by word or deed, shall lead another to renounce sin and yield his heart to God, is a peacemaker.
"And 'blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.' The spirit of peace is evidence of their connection with heaven. The sweet savor of Christ surrounds them. The fragrance of the life, the loveliness of the character, reveal to the world the fact that they are children of God. Men take knowledge of them that they have been with Jesus. 'Everyone that loveth is born of God.' 'If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His;' but 'as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.' 1 John 4:7; Romans 8:9, 14."--Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 28.
1. If God expects us to be peacemakers, why did Jesus say "I came not to bring peace, but a sword?"
2. How can a person who is living in difficult or trying circumstances claim to have peace?
3. How can you be a peacemaker without compromising the truth?
SUMMARY: When God gives us peace, no one can take it away. God's peace envelops us with a staying power--a barrier against sin--that keeps us connected to God through Christ no matter what our circumstances. This peace cannot be purchased for any price, but comes freely as a gift from God.
Herb and Linda Prandl
"Pastor, I would like to have a new name." Kanyare's timid voice was barely above a whisper, but his dark eyes shone with anticipation.
"Have you chosen a name?" I asked.
"Samuel," came the shy response, "I would like to be called Samuel, like the man of God in the Bible."
Kanyare is a member of the Lobi tribe of Burkina Faso. He had received his present name during the djoro, a cruel and demonic initiation ceremony in which the young boys are instructed by witch doctors, beaten, starved, and humiliated. If they endure, the newly initiated boys are given a new name that reflects the spirit worship of the Lobi people.
But Kanyare had met Jesus and was preparing for baptism. He was giving up his heathen life for a new life in Jesus. He wanted a name that would reflect his new life.
Kanyare's decision to follow Christ has brought him his share of difficulties. His father, the village chief, is an alcoholic and has a violent temper. Several of his wives have left his compound, no longer able to endure his drunken beatings. But Kanyare never complains, not when his father took the money he had worked so hard to earn, not when he tore up Kanyare's Bible study papers, not even when his father beat him for no reason at all. Yes, Samuel is a good name for the new Kanyare. The Holy Spirit has changed the heathen Kanyare into a God-fearing Samuel!
Recently we baptized Samuel along with 18 other precious Lobi believers. These new Christians are quickly learning to share their faith, lead out in worship services, give Bible studies, and visit and pray with the sick. I believe that one day Samuel will become a leader of his people--a leader for God.
Pray for the work in the predominately Muslim country of Burkina Faso in West Africa. The challenge of Islam is great, but our God is greater.
Herb and Linda Prandl served with Adventist Frontier Missions in Burkina Faso. They have recently moved to Mali where Herb is director for ADRA in Mali.
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