Peace That Surpasses All Understanding
James R. Aist
“There is no real and lasting peace in living with the fear of an eternity in hell hanging over your head!”
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27).” What, exactly, did Jesus mean when he said, “My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.”? And what did Paul mean when he wrote, “…the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding…” (Philippians 4:7)? I believe that if we can gain some insight into how the peace of God differs from the peace that the world offers, then we will be more inclined to seek peace from the true source of real peace, the God of the Bible. So, that’s what I will focus on in this article.
The Peace That The World Gives
The peace that the world gives comes in the form of various human creations: government, military, treaties, wealth and economic systems, to name a few. These worldly sources of peace may confer, for a season, a kind of peace that may best be described as the absence of conflict and war and a diminishing of fear, but the threat of war, poverty and tyranny is always there to disturb the experience of peace. Moreover, such peace is often attained at the expense of lost liberties. And, the peace offered by the world does nothing to address the universal and overarching problem of sin, for which we must all answer to God one way or another. There is no real and lasting peace in living with the fear of an eternity in hell hanging over your head! All of these promises of peace will fail in some way and at some point in time, because they are the products of the creativity and understanding of mere mortal men. Mankind longs for a peace that surpasses what the world is capable of providing with such limited and unreliable human understanding. We can say “Peace, peace”, but there cannot be peace that truly satisfies and lasts, apart from God.
The Peace Of God
When we were born again, we received peace with God, because our sins were forgiven, and our conscience was cleansed of the guilt of sin (1 John 1:9). And, we received also the peace of God, a peace that helps us to deal effectively with the trials and tribulations of living as Christians in a fallen world. However, in order to experience this kind of peace, we must first settle, once and for all, several key matters in our minds and in our hearts:
- The Bible is God’s word. I can trust the Bible to be the authentic word of God to me. It is God-breathed (or inspired) by God Himself (2 Timothy 3:16), not a fanciful invention of mere mortals (2 Peter 1:16). In the Bible, God says what He means and means what He says. This is where I should look first and foremost for answers to the important questions about truth, morality, myself, my future, suffering and God (2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 4:12).
- God is sovereign. He is the creator of the universe (Colossians 1:16), and He rules and reigns over everything (Exodus 15:18). With God, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37).
- Jesus is God’s Son. Jesus claimed to be the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16), and God the Father identified Him as “…my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (2 Peter 1:17). Jesus is the only way to God the Father (John 14:6), and no one comes to Jesus unless the Father draw him (John 6:44). Jesus is the Messiah, the promised savior of the world (1 John 4:14). As a born-again Christian, I know that I have eternal life (1 John 5:13).
- God loves me. I am created in the likeness and image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) to be in personal relationship and loving fellowship with Him (1 John 1:3). My true destiny (i.e., the reason God created me in the first place) is to honor, praise and worship God and to obey Him in all things. He hears and answers my prayers (Psalm 143:1). I am so important to God that He sent His only begotten Son (Jesus) to die for my sins, making peace with me forever (John 3:16). He loves me with a steadfast, everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).
- God is on my side. Through His gift of faith in Jesus Christ, God has made peace with me (Romans 5:1); I am no longer subject to the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). Jesus calls me “friend” (John 15:15) and “brother/sister” (Mark 3:35), and I am His co-heir (Romans 8:17)! God actually takes pleasure in making me prosper (Psalm 35:27).
- God is faithful. God does not change (Malachi 3:6), and He is not a liar (Numbers 23:19). He will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). What He has promised me He will do (Isaiah 46:11 b; Hebrews 6:13-15).
- God owns me. Since I am a born-again Christian, God owns me (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). His claim on my life is His right, and my life is His to do with as He pleases. I am no longer living for myself, but for Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:15). I am God’s servant. He always has a good reason for whatever He allows in my life, even if I don’t know what the reason is. I have made peace with these realities.
- God will reward me. He has promised me that, as one of His chosen ones, my eternal destiny is an everlasting life in heaven with Him (John 3:16), a rightful inheritance that is full of glory, full of peace that passes all understanding and full of joy unspeakable (Ephesians 1:18). And, He has given me His Holy Spirit as a guarantee that He will, in fact, fulfill this, the greatest of His promises (2 Corinthians 1:22). The value of this glorious future reward far outweighs any trial or tribulation that God allows me to suffer in this life (Romans 8:18).
- Witness of the Holy Spirit. God has not left us to our own devices to settle these matters with Him. He sent the Holy Spirit to abide within every born-again believer, and His Spirit testifies to us the truth of His written word, thus helping us to accept these things as settled issues (see Acts 5:32, 1 John 5:8 and Hebrews 10:10-18).
When these matters are settled in your mind and in your spirit, once and for all trusting God no matter what happens, then you are connected to God with an unbreakable bond, and the peace of God will rule in your heart (Colossians 3:15). When the storms of life assail you, your “anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:13-20), — i.e., your trust in God — will hold, and, in your spirit, you will be able to live in peace and joy even as you are being buffeted in your soul/mind and body by the storms. Let me illustrate this point with an analogy. Picture a sailing ship anchored close to shore. When a storm arises, the wind will come with a fury and threaten to break the chain and set the ship loose from its anchor, driving it to a place where it shouldn’t go, the rocky shoreline. You are that ship. Your faith is the chain that keeps the ship connected to the anchor. Your soul/mind naturally does its best to resist and withstand the storm, but it is the anchor that enables you to stay put, in perfect peace, until the storm passes. Your trust in God is the anchor, and it enables your spirit to remain calm and at peace while the storm rages. And, you no longer have a need to ask “Why did this storm come?” You can simply trust that God has a good reason for allowing it, because you have already settled these matters with Him. You know Him, and you have the peace of God, the peace that surpasses all human understanding and reaches all the way to your very spirit.
(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)