Malankara World

Christmas Sermon - The Birthday of Jesus

Christ, Our Peacemaker

by Ralph Bouma

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." - Luke 2:14.

The blessed gospel proclaimed from heaven by the angel was a message of peace, peace on earth and good will to men. Outside of Christ there is no peace, but God sent His blessed message of peace. As the result of sin, man has become the enemy of God, separated from God, but He has sent His own Son to make peace.

Now let's look at Scripture to learn of the peacemakers. As you and I become conformed to the image of Christ, we become peacemakers. MAT 5:9 says, "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God," but we need to understand that the Lord Jesus Christ is the true peacemaker for it is only in Him there is any peace. As we learn of Christ and follow His example, we become peacemakers.

As the result of Adam's fall, man became the enemy of God, and by nature we are no longer friends of God. ROM 8:7 says, "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." We are enemies of God, and we have no natural desire after God, but by sending His own Son, God makes peace.

The blessed message of this heavenly host to the shepherds was that Jesus Christ came as our peacemaker, and outside of that message we cannot understand the gospel. What is the birth of Christ to us if all it amounts to is lights on the trees and a celebration of the flesh? We need to understand that the peacemaking was between and angry God and wretched sinners. Now those two can come back together in peace. That is the gospel.

To see and understand how it was that the Lord Jesus Christ came to bring peace we ask a question. What was His mission of peace? COL 1:20 reveals the answer; "And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." The joy of His birth is in His mission to make peace by the blood of His cross. He came to suffer, to bleed, and to die in order to take away God's wrath upon our sin. God was wroth with sin; He cannot allow one single sin to go unpunished. Rather than let even one sin go unpunished, He sent His own Son to bear the Father's wrath upon our sins. That is the blessed message of peace that the angels are proclaiming from heaven when they said, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Now the wretched sinner and an angry God be brought together again in peace.

In this blessed peacemaker the middle wall of partition, the wall of separation, was taken away, opening the way for you and I who are not Jews to have peace with God. At first God's church was only with the Jews, with Israel, but now Christ comes to take away that separation and partition so the gospel of peace is proclaimed unto Gentiles, people who were not of God's chosen race. We see this in EPH 2:1314, "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us." The distinction has been removed and the gospel is proclaimed to Gentiles, heathens, and rebels like you and I by the blood of the cross. That is the blessed message proclaimed from heaven by the angels in our text. It was God's good will toward men that Jesus came to bring peace between Himself and wretched sinners.

In Christ's finished work there is neither Jew nor Gentile; turn to GAL 3:28 to see that this blessed message of peace is to every generation, every nation, and every people. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." What a blessed gospel! It is not a discriminating gospel that is just for the Jews leaving us outside or just for men and women are outside or one race as opposed to any other. It is a gospel to the whole world; it is a proclamation of peace to all. All the partitions and separations are removed, and the gospel of peace comes to the world.

The righteous demands of the Father under the law and peace were brought into unity in Christ. ROM 1:18 says, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness." We must understand that that righteousness of God was satisfied and peace was brought. PSA 85:10 tells us, "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other." The righteous demands of the law were met by the blood of Christ; all of God's righteous demands were satified. That is what the angels were proclaiming from heaven: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men," LUK 2:14. What a proclamation of the gospel! After man has forsaken God, He sends His Son that righteousness and peace may kiss each other.

These righteous demands of God were met in the Garden of Gethesame and on the cross at Calvary. The finger of God's justice wrote every sin of yours and mine upon that bloody sweat of our Saviour who bore the wrath of God and took the penalty to obtain this peace. It was through Christ's blood and righteousness that God has become reconciled unto the world. When we were separated from God by sin, God and man were enemies, but now on God's side He has become reconciled unto the world. That doesn't leave out one person. On God's side reconciliation is in place for every human being, but on our side we must question whether or not we have become reconciled to God. We see this in 2CO 5:18, "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation."

Have you ever thought of what it means when we say Christ is our mediator? Let's illustrate this with an example of an employer on one side and a union on the other side. They cannot come to an agreement, so they add a person to mediate. The mediator goes to each side separately to seek terms and understand needs. He puts the two together to make peace between them. The Lord Jesus Christ came to the Father as our Mediator to seek terms of peace. The terms of peace required that the law had to be satisfied, and Jesus met those terms to satisfy that law with His blood. Now as our Mediator He comes, condescending so low to our level, seeking terms of peace with us. As our Mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ sends His ambassadors pleading for our will to be dissolved in the will of God as the condition of peace on our part. 2CO 5:20 says, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." That is the work of the Mediator.

Jesus comes to rebels like you and I, beseeching us, pleading with us to let our rebellion be broken; He came to make peace, and He has already satified one side. He comes pleading His own work as we see in V:21: "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Notice the connecting word for. For what? He pleads His own work before the Father that we might be reconciled. He shows He has satisfied the requirements and the Father has accepted His Son's work. Now the Lord Jesus Christ comes to us as rebels and pleads the same finished work where He was made to be sin, He who knew no sin, so we "...might be made the righteousness of God in him." How can any heart resist? If that is not enough to melt our hearts, there is nothing to be told from the law or Mount Sinai that will touch our hearts.

Think of the condescension of the God of heaven, Who not only sent His Son to appease His wrath upon sin, but now He pleads with fallen man saying, "[I] beseech you...be ye reconciled to God." That is where the separation now stands; our rebellion is still not broken and we are not willing to bow under the scepter of His rule. In ISA 1:18 we read, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Here we see the condescension of a pleading, loving, and merciful God who was willing to give His own Son to suffer, bleed, and die to pay the penalty for our sin. Christ is asking us to reason this out; from His side we see what has happened. Can we still remain rebellious? He asks us to use our reasoning; He looks at all our sins, even though they are like scarlet, they can be as white as snow. That is how the Creator of heaven and earth is pleading for peace.

Now take notice of the next two verses; "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it," ISA 1:1920. If we refuse to obey, we will be destroyed. If we are able to withstand such pleading, such condescension, such love, we will perish and be devoured with the sword of His justice.

No man need despair of finding salvation if their will is dissolved in the will of God. If our heart and rebellion are broken, our sins will become as pure and white as snow. Jesus tells us so plainly if we go lost, it is because we would not come unto Him. We can hear preaching about the inability of man to come to the Father; in the doctrines of grace we understand that no man able to come to the Father except that the Son draw him. No man who is willing can claim inability. The distinction is that when rebellion is broken **not a complete sentence** we have an advocate with the Father.

MAT 23:37 shows the sorrow of our blessed Redeemer, the blessed Peacemaker who came to proclaim peace on earth. Watch what He says; "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" He does not say ye could not; it is "ye would not!" It is because their rebellion was never broken that they would not yield to His scepter of authority; they have trampled upon the precious blood of Christ.

The Lord has clearly revealed His conditions of peace. In ROM 8:29 we see the sovereignty of God and His eternal, electing love are not a hindrance to those who are willing. "For whom he did foreknow [This speaks of election of those God loved from eternity.], he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." We are predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus. Can anyone use that passage of Scripture to rule himself or another out? You and I may not push ourselves outside of God's plan for our salvation by thinking that God did not chose us from eternity and therefore, we can't be saved. There is no such thing in the gospel. This Scripture is saying that God foreknew, He predestined man to be conformed to the image of His Son. Can you name any person who has a desire to be conformed to the image of Christ that can't do it because he wasn't elected? There is no such thing. Why? It is only the elect who have any desire to be conformed to image of Christ. In PHI 2:13 we read, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." In other words, it is the work of God's grace, His predestining love, that makes us willing, but that is not a shelter for us on the day of Judgment. We will be judged on our rebellion if it was never broken. If we look at the situation from God's side, our judgment will be based on what we did, not on whether or not He predestined us; our refusal will be the key. Remember that Jesus said, "...how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" That is where judgment will fall.

If we look at this issue from the side of sovereign grace, it is only those whom God makes willing because no man is will come unto the Lord Jesus Christ until our rebellion is broken, and that is the grace of God. How do you and I examine ourselves? Do we have a desire from the heart to do the will of God? Don't ever despair of salvation because it is grace that makes us desire to do His will.

To entertain true peace with God we must follow Jesus as our example in peacemaking which is the fruit of peacemaking. See what 1PE 2:2125 tells us, "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps [When we speak of being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, this is our reference; we are to walk in His footsteps. Now see where Christ walked.]: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously." If we understand these footsteps of Christ, we may not turn against a person whom we feel has done us wrong. We commit them to One who judges righteously because He knows their heart. He will righteously judge what they did; each of us must account for what we did. This is peace with God; it is walking in the footsteps of Christ.

There is a rich rest for our souls by walking in Christ's example; in the midst of this world of unrest, this world of turmoil, and of strivings and restlessness we see in ISA 26:3 that "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee."

Earlier I spoke about attitudes; our attitude is the distinguishing mark between faith and sin. Do you see the connection between attitude and "...whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." If our mind is stayed upon the Lord and His Word is our authority, He promises to keep us in perfect peace. Do you know what that means? I may have circumstances that would be troubling to the average person, but in those circumstances I have perfect peace because I can see the hand of the Lord and am able to receive it as such. I can have perfect peace when my mind is stayed upon the Lord and I trust Him even though these circumstances are not what I'd like them to be. If He wants that for me, I trust Him and bow to His authority over me.

If we have a loved one taken from us, we can have perfect peace knowing it was the Lord's will. The bottom line is the perfect peace; it does not bring our loved one back, but it allows our heart to accept in those circumstances that it was His will.

Coming into peace with God is much deeper than just a peaceful easygoing character; many people have that type of character, but it doesn't mean they have peace with God. Let me show you the difference. It is to have experienced something of peacemaking between God and our soul through Christ. To have peace with God means that we understand that the penalty for our sin has been paid with the blood of Christ. That brings peace with God. What is our evidence that we have sin paid for? It is the Spirit of Christ working in our lives is the evidence. We are able to surrender to the will of God; our rebellion is broken. Why is that the evidence of peace with God? It is the work of regeneration by the Spirit of God. No man, by nature, has peace with God; by nature our carnal mind is at emnity with God. If our hearts are in peace with God, that is our evidence that we have the work of regeneration in our heart because we are able to accept circumstances as from the hand of the Lord. Our hearts have been brought into submission to accept these circumstances as from the hand of the Lord, and we have perfect peace.

True peace can only be obtained by fixing our eye upon Jesus Christ and what He has done. He is the perfect example as we see in 1PE 2:2125, "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps." This is the admonition to have our eye fixed on Christ.

Now let's turn to HEB 12:23 to see where we find peace and the foundation and root of our faith; "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." Notice that it is the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ which is the foundation of our faith. He is the source and author of our faith; we must look at what He has done and how we must follow in His footsteps. If we are going through a circumstance that is very trying, look unto Jesus, consider how people came against Him and how He endured. Why should we faint in our minds when we remember what Christ endured?

All those who have truly found peace with God, after seeing the corruption of his own heart, desires to see his fellow man find peace with God. When we have been redeemed from iniquity, the power of sin has been broken, and we have found peace with God, then our hearts should immediately go out to our fellow man. The thought of our fellow man perishing in the power of sin should cause our hearts to tremble. We can see what we were delivered from and that by nature we would differ in nothing for it was only in that blessed peacemaking of Christ that we find salvation.

As we read JOH 4:2829 notice when the woman's heart went out to her fellow man. When did her heart begin to burn for her fellow man? "The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?" You see, when she was living with a man that was not her husband, she had no concern for the men of her city. She was just living in the same pollution as they were, but when she looked at Christ and saw the fountain of living water, she saw the plague of her own heart. After Jesus saw and told her all things she had done, she saw the scourge of her heart. What did she do? She ran into the city crying out her own shame and begging them to come see the man who told her all the things she had done. That is so different than if a person goes to another telling them they shouldn't do this or this or that. This poor woman was dealing with the corruption of her heart, and she wasn't pointing fingers at other people; she told them what He did for her. She said, "Come see...is not this the Christ?" When the Lord Jesus Christ is revealed and raised up before the eyes of faith, we don't need someone to trim off the extras; the heart becomes convicted, and all of a sudden we see in the eyes of the purity of the Lord Jesus what sin is before the Lord.

The heart of the true peacemaker flows with living waters; in other words, it flows out our fellow man. Jesus told the woman of Samaria in JOH 7:38, "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."

In the parable Jesus gave in LUK 16:2729 we see the urgency of seeking peace for our fellow man; we must turn our thoughts to this matter. This is a parable of a man in hell who squandered his time on earth with the things of this world. Even this person yearned to warn his brothers lest they should come into this place.

LUK 16:2729 says, "Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them." Moses and the prophets? That is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. If the God of heaven, coming down and stooping so low, would not convince a person, why would someone coming from the grave be able to persuade him.

That reminds me of someone who said I preached the same thing as John Bunyan, so now he'd believe it. Well, all I said is what is in the Bible. Do I need John Bunyan to prove what Jesus said is true? It should be the other way; I should look at Scripture to see if what John Bunyan said is true. That is what the Lord Jesus is saying here; He is telling us to look, if we are not willing to hear the gospel, if the call of the gospel is not enough to break our rebellion, we wouldn't hear even one who came from the grave to tell us the truth. The authority is in the Word. Christ said that all authority is given to Him, and if His authority is not enough to make our hearts melt, why would we listen to a word that had just come out of the pit of hell?

The true peacemaker who has learned to know himself will not have an "I holier than thou," attitude toward his fellow man.He understands that others suffer from that same proud, self centered character.

A little selfknowledge takes away a condemning spirit. JOH 8:7-9 says "So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst."

When we have come to peace with God through the blood of Jesus cross, as we become more and more conformed to the image of Christ we learn to understand the words of Jesus in, MAT 7:12 "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."

The golden rule is synonymous with MAT 22:3740; "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." The parable of the rich man says they, the living brethren, have the law and the prophets. If we go to the original Greek, the word prophets means all inspired teaching. Therefore, all inspired teaching hangs upon these two commandment: love God above all and your neighbour as yourself with all thy heart, soul, and mind. That is the message the Lord Jesus is teaching in the parable of the rich man in hell.

Our hearts by nature can be so restless; sometimes they are like a troubled sea being tossed to and fro. It is at such times one asks where is there peace. Sometimes our trials, troubles, and tribulations can make our hearts like a troubled sea; we read in ISA 57:20, "But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt." You and I have sinned against God, and we must realize that some of these troubles and trials that are cast up must be struggled against because we have sinned against God. We must see these things to make us see the preciousness that there is in the peace we have in Christ. It is from these trials and troubles that we flee to Christ.

The ocean can appear to be calm at times, but you know how quickly that wind just begins to blow, and the waves mount up. The waves of trouble that mount up in our soul seem to cast up so much mire and dirt; we even begin to wonder if we have the work of grace in our hearts. Bitterness can begin and grow to take preeminence over our fellow man.

A troubled soul needs to awaken his Master for it seems as if the Lord Jesus Christ is asleep on our ship and we cannot find Him. Then we need to read MAR 4:3839; "And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." The disciples were out on a troubled sea and they didn't understand what peace was because they were looking to a sleeping Saviour. They didn't realize that He was still in control; they thought they had no help when He was asleep on the pillow. They did not come to Jesus with beseeching; they were critical. Didn't He care? They thought He would perish with them.

Jesus said, "Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." Has this ever happened to you? All of a sudden the tumultuous waves are gone when the Lord says, "Peace, be still." When our eyes are taken away from Christ, we begin to sink as Peter did when he let his eyes be drawn to the tumultuous sea. That can happen to us when we take our eyes off of Christ; if Peter had kept his eyes on Christ, he could have walked on the sea to Jesus, but as soon as he looked at the waves, he began to sink.

When left to ourselves how quickly that storm arises; it is a life and death struggle in the heart between the old nature of pride and being able to crucify self to do His will. It seems as if there is no peace. It is true that there are times when we must struggle against the powers of sin in our own hearts; that power of sin seems so much stronger than we can bear as the old monster, "I," seems to gain mastery. This happens when we take our eyes off from Christ. We must look to the Author and Finisher of our salvation.

Those waves of hurt feelings, those billows of revenge, that fighting for self want to keep boiling up in the heart, stirred up over what "they" said to me, what "they" said behind my back. Those winds can blow so vehemently. This statement does not come from something I read in a book; I know what it is when the ugly monster, "I," rears his head to make me upset. Satan is so crafty; he rears his ugly head to take our eyes off of Christ. Then, if he is successful, we will feel those winds blow up tumultuous waves.

Those who have found peace in Christ shall come to their desired haven where there will be no more sea. If we had all the rest of heaven in this world, we would never desire to leave. We will have turmoil and struggles in this life where the mire and dirt of the sea are stirred up.

REV 21:1 speaks of that desired haven; "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea." Do you know what "no more sea" means? There will be no more stirring up of the mire and dirt of the sea. For then, that sea will be as glass, like crystal. REV 4:6a says, "And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal..."

Oh, what thing it will be to stand in the day of heaven on that sea of glass without a ripple in it. Then what? Read in REV 15:2, "And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God." What were they doing? V:3 says, "And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints." What is the song of Moses? The song of Moses rose from the shores of the Red Sea proclaiming their redemption from the power of sin and the world. The song of the Lamb tells of salvation from the standpoint of having satisfied the wrath of God. We have been redeemed from sin and the wrath of God, the curse of the law.

The beginning of this blessed peace shall begin in this lifetime. We are not to spend our whole life in struggles and turmoil and unsettled seas. We read in PSA 133:13, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore." You see begins with peace among the brethren; if there is contention, turmoil, and unrest between the brethren, it is sad because these verses from Psalms is a little foretaste of heaven. That is the peace Christ came to proclaim; peace not only between sinners and God, but also peace between the sinners who are able to crucify a little bit of self.

Turn with me to PHI 2:18; "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. [It is tough to pick a quarrel with someone who puts you above themselves and says, "What do you want? Let's do what you want." If we are quarreling, our problem may be in trying to show ourselves better than others.] Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus [When our attitude is straight, it the fruit of faith. Let Christ's attitude, mind, way of thinking be in us. What was His attitude? Let's read on.] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

Can you and I humble ourselves unto death; can we crucify everything of our flesh, slay everything of that ugly monster, "I," to prefer the other person ahead of ourselves? If we can, we will know what peace is. Then we will know "The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus," PHI 4:7. Then we may go to ISA 26:3 to read: "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." I do not have to defend myself; my best defense is no defense because God careth for me. My God will defend me, I don't have defend myself. That is the point that is being made here when we are told to prefer the other man ahead of ourselves. Christ became obedient unto death, and we need to understand that we must write death on the flesh and self to take up our cross and follow Him. If we do this, we will understand what the angels meant as they proclaimed from heaven, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Amen

See Also:

The Shaking Of The Nations by Ralph Bouma
In His sovereign good pleasure, the God of heaven sent His angel to gather with a heavenly host to proclaim in Luke 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Why was this such a proclamation of joy? It is because the peace between God and fallen man had been broken.

Malankara World Christmas Supplement

Christmas Home | Sermons Home | General Sermons and Essays | Articles Home | Library - Home

-------
Malankara World
A service of St. Basil's Syriac Orthodox Church, Ohio
Copyright © 2009-2017 - ICBS Group. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer
Website designed, built, and hosted by International Cyber Business Services, Inc., Hudson, Ohio