The subject of peace has been thought about, written about, and passed through the lips of countless people over the centuries. Human history has been racked by violence and unrest since the fall of man, making peace an evasive commodity that has only been known for relatively short periods of time.
We wanted to take a look at peace from a biblical perspective considering that the subject is being increasingly talked about in academic, political, and especially religious circles. Rick Warren, for instance, has been trying to implement and promote his P.E.A.C.E. Plan through his three-legged stool approach of melding the world’s religious, economic, and political forces into one. As he points out, just as a stool cannot stand unless it has at least three legs, he believes that we cannot achieve world peace without the blending and unifying of these three forces. The New Age movement also has a P.E.A.C.E. plan, and although the acronym utilizes different terms, the intents and goals are similar to those of the Purpose Driven Movement.
The Bible teaches that we are to, “if it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). Paul’s choice of words here serve as a kind of hesitation in approaching the subject of peace because he knew in his own life what an evasive commodity peace can be. Paul’s mission was to preach the Gospel, but in so doing he recounts the perils that he faced to include receiving 39 lashes five times, being beaten with rods three times, and being stoned once (2 Corinthians 11:24-25). But this was no great surprise to Paul because God had said of him, “I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). When we read of the lives of the other apostles, we learn that their lives were marked by suffering and hardship too. But the Lord had also prepared them for this in saying, “If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). Jesus even went so far as to describe to Peter what kind of death he would suffer for the sake of the Gospel (John 21:18). Is it any wonder, then, if our lives are marked by hardships and misunderstandings and hostility.
However, in recalling the lives of the apostles and those who have suffered before us, a very important lesson can be learned here. What is being taught in many of today’s “new” Christianity churches is that our task is to build God’s kingdom here on earth and that Jesus will return once we have created a form of Utopia here. Similarly, the Catholic Church believes we will create a Utopia once the whole world unites in a devotion to Mary and the Eucharist; this world-wide devotion to the Eucharist will be their version of the second coming of Christ.
But as all of these churches unite in trying to bring their version of peace on earth, they are sadly mistaken and ignorant of what is clearly presented in Scripture. This ignorance of the Scriptures is really a matter of choice than anything else. Just as Peter was not happy to hear what sort of death he would suffer, the emerging religious leaders of today do not want to believe the bleak picture the Bible portrays of the world before Jesus’ return. But while Peter accepted Jesus’ words, these new Christianity emerging leaders have bent and twisted Scripture in such a way as to support this Utopian God’s-kingdom-on-earth-now theology.
Unbeknownst to the multitudes who are following these globalistic leaders, these current efforts toward global peace are paving the way for the Antichrist whom the Bible warns will implement a peace plan in the last days. Sadly, much of the church of today, as apostate as it has become, is becoming deluded and conditioned to receive this satanic world leader in much the same way that the churches in Germany were conditioned by anti-Semitic teachings prior to Hitler’s rise to power. Our leaders of today are becoming modern-day John the Baptists for the Antichrist.
While it is true that some of Bible prophecy can be difficult to understand, just a superficial reading of Matthew 24 or Luke 21 should make it abundantly clear that Jesus will return to a world of violence and chaos, not Utopia. But, here again these Scriptures have been twisted or ignored—by choice.
As for the Book of Revelation, some current-day Bible teachers believe that the prophecies of the Book of Revelation have already happened (preterism) (as the Catholic Church teaches) or that these events can be prevented (as the New Age and emerging church teaches) in much the same way that Jonah’s warning to the Ninevites was turned around. The sad difference is that while the Ninevites responded by repentance, our world is moving further away from godliness. Furthermore, the Book of Revelation depicts events as they will actually happen—not as they might or could happen—because John saw in a vision the future as it will be.
There is, however, God’s call today for repentance. There are Christian believers who have been trying to spread abroad God’s appeal for repentance and His warnings about the apostasy that has already come upon us. They have been warning that judgment begins in the house of God and that judgment is upon us now too. As we shall see, judgment on the world has only begun and will intensify in the future like birth-pangs on a woman in labor. Paul said, “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:22).
It is rather uncanny how the world, in recent years, has witnessed so many natural disasters in the form of earthquakes, floods, and weather phenomena, while the mainstream news media has done so little to cover these events. In Japan, they had a triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear holocaust with possibly millions seriously exposed to radiation in Japan while unknown quantities of contaminated water got dumped into the ocean, and radiation permeated our atmosphere on a global scale; yet the media had little to say about this either except to almost laughingly dismiss it by saying we are getting less exposure than we get from having an X-ray in the dentist’s office. The indifference is unbelievable.
Could it be this indifference we are witnessing is part of the world-wide delusion Jesus predicted would sweep the earth in the end times? Most Americans, in particular, are living in denial—unwilling to acknowledge the storm clouds looming on our horizon. Is it because we have known little of suffering, and those living today have never witnessed our shores being invaded by war? But America will know God’s judgment, and again the reason why we cannot see it is a matter of choice rather than looking at things realistically.
Of all Americans, our Christian leaders should be seeing and hearing God’s warnings of impending judgment. But instead, they are shaking hands with the Devil and prophesying peace, purpose, and prosperity through unity and “community” to their congregations.
Sadly, our world will not know the lasting peace that our religious leaders are predicting—not until after Jesus Christ returns. Yet, God is offering peace and comfort to his own—to those who hear His Word and follow Him. But this peace is not to be found by pursuing our own dreams and goals but rather in seeking to know what God has planned for our lives. The reality is that much of the anguish we experience in life is when things don’t turn out the way we had hoped or expected. By contrast, Jesus’ apostles knew the peace of God because rather than living in the denial of the post-modern Christians of today, they abided in Christ (1 John 2:28) and fully embraced the lives that God had for them, even when they knew it could mean martyrdom.
Think again of the plight of Peter. Jesus had told him that he would suffer persecution and die a cruel death, yet we do not see Peter wringing his hands at every bend in the road wondering what horrors may await him around the next corner. Peter’s life was not one of denial or of fear, but of resolve; the same man who had denied his Lord three times made it his mission to walk with God no matter where that road took him. Consider the events of Acts chapter twelve. King Herod had just had James the brother of John killed by the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he had Peter arrested too (Acts 12:2-3). No doubt, Herod’s intention was to have Peter executed also; and from the believers, realizing the severity of the situation, “prayer was made without ceasing” (vs. 5). Meanwhile, Peter had no expectation that an angel would deliver him that night, yet he could sleep in such a dire situation. Peter had learned to entrust his life to the Lord—combining faith and yielding to the will of God—and his heart was ready for whatever awaited him. As the chapter closes, we learn that with the turn of events, it is King Herod who dies and Peter is free.
It seems that Peter was always learning lessons in life, and here we can see that he had learned to be at peace in even the most drastic of situations, leaving the outcome in God’s hands. In his first epistle, Peter shares this perspective:
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. . . . Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. (1 Peter 4:12,13,19)
Like Paul, Peter had learned to be content in every situation. It is the life available to all Christians who yield to God’s will, trusting Him to bring them through every situation. How alien to this way of thinking is the church of today where the expectation is that God will make things go our way—even to the point of achieving global peace and a Utopian society. These are things that Jesus never promised us and, in fact, warned would not happen. While Christian leaders of today are speaking of establishing God’s kingdom on Earth before Jesus returns, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36—emphasis added).
Should we not, as believers in Jesus Christ, be about our Father’s business? So while we should try to live at peace with all men, our objective should be to spread the Gospel to all mankind. When Jesus spoke of the kingdom of heaven, he never used illustrations that support the kingdom-now teachings of today. Rather, He spoke of hidden things and small beginnings. There was the parable of the mustard seed, which has a small and humble beginning yet grows into a tree (Matthew 13:31-32). Then there is the parable of the leaven, which a woman “hid” in three measures of meal, yet it leavened the whole lump of dough (Matthew 13:33). We used to wonder what Jesus meant by these parables, but over the last several years we have become aware that while the apostate church has been very visible and trumpeting their attempts to bring about a world-wide “reformation,” simultaneously an unseen body of believers all over the world has been returning to their first love and walking in repentance. I am sure that it is to this body of believers that Jesus refers to as the kingdom of heaven—not the boisterous liberal body who will sacrifice the Gospel in their pursuit of peace.
Peace is one of those unusual commodities (though very valuable), which cannot be achieved through direct pursuit. When nations have walked in repentance and pursued righteousness, God has blessed them with peace. But when nations have become vile and unruly and exchange a pursuit for God for a pursuit of things, the aspiration for peace remains out of reach.
The kingdom of heaven is less visible in its pursuits because its goals are different than the earthly ones of the apostate church. Our commission is to spread the Gospel, and it is to this cause that we need to be faithful. The kingdom of heaven is less visible in another way too—it is something that works in the hearts of people bringing about change through repentance and godliness. Compare this with Rick Warren’s “new reformation,” which is based, by Warren’s own admission, by deeds rather than creeds. All are invited to this reformation, regardless of what anyone believes. But Jesus put it plainly when He said that a man’s actions, be they good or evil, proceed from what is in the heart. A reformation based on action that does not deal with the heart is futile indeed. In order to change our world into a better place, hearts would need to change. The only way our nation could have a turn-around at this point would be through widespread repentance, but how can this happen when even the church is not walking in repentance today?
Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34
Today, we often hear many Christian groups quoting 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray . . . then will I hear from heaven . . . and will heal their land.” But there is a part of this Scripture that is usually ignored: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” All of the prayers for America by apostate leaders are in vain because these leaders (and their followers) have not even repented themselves. On the contrary, they continue to promote and exalt a kingdom-now, dominionist, mystical, experiential “gospel.” Just look how popular books like The Shack and The Purpose Driven Life have been with new ones like these on the horizon every day. These books make people feel good about themselves, but they do not bring the heart to repentance.
Unfortunately, the peace that our world desires will not be known because its pursuits are ungodly. For the true believer, however, peace is an achievable commodity. Jesus promised His disciples peace when He said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27—emphasis added). Notice that Jesus says two things here: First, the peace He gives is not like the peace the world gives. In other words, don’t pursue peace from the world. Secondly, Jesus speaks of the heart. Peace, for the Christian, is a matter of the heart. And, as I alluded to before, Christians with false expectations (who are living in denial) will be disappointed again and again and live lives of anguish. The Bible says that “fear hath torment” (1 John 4:18). But the disciples faced their fears; they acknowledged the fact that they would encounter persecution and hardships, then they entrusted their lives to God as unto a faithful Creator. After all, the God who made us is also able to take care of us. And He has promised to abide in us (I John 3:24) if we abide in Him.
Even though we cannot and will not know the day or the hour of Jesus’ return, Jesus did instruct us to observe the seasons. Right now, we are at that place Jeremiah speaks of where he says, “They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). In a time when pastors should be leading their churches in repentance and evangelists calling our nation back to righteousness, we have peace plans underway. The future of our nation and our world is bleak, so we should not be offering false assurances that will only be dashed to the ground.
The Bible offers peace for the true believer, but it is a peace that transcends what the world has to offer. Looking to the world for peace will only lead to disappointment. The peace God gives is of the heart, and it does not depend on our circumstances. It results from looking reality in the face but then looking to God and keeping our eyes on Him—trusting Him to deliver us and keep us under the shadow of His wings.
Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength. (Isaiah 26:2-4)
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