Peace That Surpasses All Understanding

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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)

The Two Wages of Sin

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The Two Wages of Sin

James R. Aist

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

A great many Christians find it much easier to accept God’s forgiveness of their sins than it is to live free of the stains of those sins: guilt, shame and condemnation. In Romans 6:23, Paul correctly declares that the wages of sin is death, but, for many, these lingering stains are another wage of sin that needs to be dealt with. In this article I will show that a better understanding of how God responds to our confession and repentance of sins can help remove the stains of sin once and for all.

Let’s begin with the key verse, above. Notice that if we confess our sins to God, He will respond by doing, not just one, but two, things: first, He will forgive our sins;  and second, He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness associated with those sins. These are not two ways of saying the same thing, but two very different, but related, things: forgive and cleanse. So, let’s focus on this cleansing from the stains of sin for a few moments.

In Isaiah 43:25, God says, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and will not remember your sins, and Hebrews 10:17 says, “Their sins and lawless deeds will I remember no more.” Here again, we see two things that God does in response when we confess our sins and repent: First, he no longer remembers our sins, meaning that He will no longer bring them to mind and hold them against us; and secondly, He will “blot out our transgressions”, meaning, in effect, that He will “cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In the book of Hebrews we find the same process of removing the stain of sin referred to as “cleanse your conscience from dead works” (Hebrews 9:14) and “cleanse them from an evil conscience” (Hebrews 10:22). Finally, we see the same theme recorded in Ephesians 5:25-27, “…Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, and that He might present to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.” And, concerning specifically the stain of condemnation, Paul had this to say, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… (Romans 8:1a).” Clearly, God has promised to cleanse us from the lingering guilt, shame and condemnation when we confess our sins and repent, and He has surely done it. So, God, for His part, has released us from these stains of sin, but the question is, have we accepted His release as the final word on the matter and released ourselves from the stains?

How, then, can we be released from these stains left by sins? I believe that the first thing we must do is to forgive ourselves as God has forgiven us. This means that we must “remember our own sins no more.” In other words, we must no longer bring our sins to mind as if God still holds them against us! After all, it is to God, and Him alone, that we must give account (cf. Psalm 51:4), so why not let Him have the final say in the matter? And, we can have a very active part in letting go of the stains. Satan likes to remind us of our sins by putting evil thoughts about them into our minds, thoughts of guilt, shame and condemnation. But we do not have to allow ourselves to dwell on these evil thoughts until they consume us. Remind the devil that God has cleansed you from all unrighteousness. James exhorted us in this way, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7b).” Keep on resisting these lies of the devil until he doesn’t bring these accusations to mind any more. In this way you will be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2), and you will no longer have to struggle with an “evil conscience.” You can do this; God will help you, if you will trust Him!

(To read more of my articles dealing with biblical topics, click HERE)

A Rhema Word for a Worried Boy

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A Rhema Word for a Worried Boy

James R. Aist

“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)

Among evangelical Christians, it is widely agreed that God speaks to us today primarily through His written word, the Bible. Many of us have experienced Bible verses seeming to come alive and commanding our attention in order for us to receive knowledge or wisdom from God to deal appropriately with a circumstance or decision in life that has us confused, worried or perplexed. This is one example of what Pentecostal Theology commonly refers to as “Rhema.” These Rhema can also take the form of visions, voices, dreams or even changing circumstances. This article is about a Rhema I received from God when I was only about nine years old, and it was just what I needed at the time. (For a sound, biblical teaching by Watchman Nee on the Rhema word, see text pages 51-59 at this link: https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/bfa-media/ebooks/TGC-eng.pdf).

Some of you will be able to remember the early years of the atomic age, when American citizens were living under a constant threat of annihilation by atomic war that no one could stop if it ever got started. This very real threat made a deep and terrifying impression on me when I was growing up. Every other threat I had heard about could be dealt with, at least to some extent, by the medical profession, law enforcement, the military or, when all else failed, by my daddy. But, there was no one to protect me from being vaporized by an atomic bomb, should one come my way!

Good intentions aside, it didn’t help matters for our public schools to conduct those war drills in which we were instructed to take shelter under our little classroom desks to help us survive an atomic bomb attack! Somehow, we knew full well that such a maneuver would offer us no protection at all, but it surely did serve to remind us, repeatedly, that such an attack was a distinct possibility that no one would be able to escape. Every time I had to participate in that war drill, I just became that much more terrified.

The following encounter with God happened about one year after God had saved me in a revival meeting (click HERE). One day I was especially beset with dread and fear about the threat to me of an atomic bomb attack; we had had another of those drills at school that day, and I was terrified. Somehow, I managed to remember God at that moment, and so I asked God to protect me if I got bombed. Then God spoke into my mind saying something to this effect: “You don’t have to worry, you would not die. If that happens, I will take you to heaven to live with Me.” That is when I knew that I had nothing to fear, and a wave of calming peace came over me that is still with me today.

When God gives you a Rhema word, fear has to go, and it is replaced by the kind of peace that only Jesus gives (John 14:27). To God be the glory!

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)