Sun. a.m. AGCC 6/4/2000

TEXT:      Gal. 5:22; Rom. 5:1-2; 14:17-18; Col. 3:15; Jn. 14:27; Philip. 4:6-7


The word "PEACE" brings to mind several images: a. the handshake between two enemies, or a treaty b. the laying down of arms c. the sunset on a quiet beach d. the lack of disturbances e. the opportunity to be constructive instead of destructive f. the freedom from strife and worry g. security against all enemies "PEACE" is a goal which mankind has fought wars over! There have been treaties made time and time again to hopefully ensure "PEACE," yet so many times these treaties are violated and short lived. It seems that everyone wants "PEACE" and yet so few ever find it. We have weapons of mass destruction in the hopes that their existence alone will keep the peace, this is peace lived in the shadow of horrible darkness a very different kind of "PEACE" than God offers. This world's peace is based on the fear of mutual destruction, God's peace is based on the power of love and His Spirit at work in our hearts. This kind of peace is so different from the world because it is not temporary but permanent, it is internally rather than externally based. PROP. SENT:      The Bible teaches us that "PEACE" is an inward quality of the fruit of the Spirit, and that even in difficult circumstances it is alive in our hearts as evidence of the work of the Spirit in us.

I. SECURITY FROM GUILT       Rom. 5:1-2; Col. 3:15

A. Sin's Ruin     Rom. 5:1-2 1. When we came to Christ and had our sins forgiven we experienced something the world has a difficult time comprehending "PEACE WITH GOD" a. Paul states this clearly in this passage, having been justified by faith we now have "peace with God." b. We are secure in the knowledge that God is now our Lord, He has cleansed us from all our sins, indeed we are in His favor! 2. While sin separated us from God, faith in Christ now brings us into fellowship with God. a. No longer do we exist in guilt! b. There is a security against guilt that is ours now that we are in Christ. 3. It is not our efforts that bring us this "PEACE," it is the fact that Christ has paid the price and we can now enjoy this freedom from sin, secure in our position before God! ILLUS:There are only two kinds of religion in the world ... You can list every "ism," every cult, every religion in southern California under one category. They all say, "Do, do, do." Only Christianity says, "Done." Christ has done it all. -- J. Vernon McGee, from The Best of Vernon McGee. Christianity Today, Vol. 36, no. 4. 4. Guilt is one of Satan's weapons against us yet God's peace is security against this weapon for our guilt is gone! a. Our hearts can be at peace with God because we know that our sins are forgiven. b. Though Satan is the "accuser of the brethren" (Rev. 12:10) we know that Christ has set us from guilt and condemnation Paul wrote beautifully about this in Rom 8:1 "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" 5. This kind of peace the world does not know nor can it comprehend it, it is a peace that goes to the very core of our being! B. Selfish Retaliation     Col. 3:15 1. Paul tells us that we are to let this "PEACE" RULE in our hearts we are "called to peace" a. This means that when we could retaliate we choose not to, but to let "PEACE" rule instead. b. This is certainly different from the world's way of getting even when they are wronged! c. Rather than let our "emotions rule our hearts" we are to let "peace rule in our hearts" 2. This requires a commitment to change the use of our emotions and feelings to do something wholesome instead of something destructive. a. It is never easy to change the nature of retaliation b. We must be willing to completely alter the use of our emotions from destruction to construction, it can be done with God's help and His Spirit at work in our lives. c. In Christ our lives have a different purpose than the sinful driven nature we had before. ILLUS:When the Soviets and the western nations signed a treaty to reduce nuclear missiles, many had to be destroyed. Hunks of metal from a scrapped Soviet missile were shipped to London where they were used to make 100 million pens. It was a new twist on an old text from Isaiah (2:4) about beating swords into plowshares. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997). 3. The same security from guilt that gives us peace that our sins are forgiven gives us the power to forgive others of their sins against us. a. In this way there is a very powerful security from guilt, both in our relationship with God and with each other! b. Peace is love's security! II. SECURITY FOR GODLINESS       Jn. 14:27; Rom. 14:17-18; Philip. 4:6-7 A. Savior's Reward     Jn. 14:27 1. Jesus clearly tells His disciples that there is a reward for being His followers a peace that is way beyond any kind of peace that can be given by man! a. Mankind's type of peace is very tenuous, you are never quite sure how long it will last or how quickly it will be broken. b. Because mankind's type of peace can be fleeting it yields a type of despair and fear peace that can disappear so quickly. 2. Christ however states that the peace He gives is very different from this world, it is neither fragile or fleeting, it is forever! a. When God's peace dwells in our hearts we can be at peace even in the midst of terrible circumstances, even incredible circumstances that would normally shake the very foundations of any human hope! ILLUS:Hermann Lange, facing execution, wrote from his prison cell in Hamburg on July 11, 1943: "Personally, I am perfectly calm, facing steadfastly what is to come. When one has really achieved complete surrender to the will of God, there is a marvelous feeling of peace and sense of absolute security. The gift we receive is so unimaginably great that all human joys pale beside it." -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997). b. Because of this different kind of peace, Jesus says that we never have to be troubled or afraid. c. Our security is found in Christ, not this world! 3. This reward is not something we have to wait until heaven comes, this is God's gift for those who follow Him NOW! a. There should be a very real difference between a follower of Christ's attitude about life and the attitude of someone in this world who doesn't know Christ. b. Jesus' statement, "do not LET your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" suggest a certain effort on our part to allow this new attitude to form in us. 4. Have you discovered the security God has given us through His peace? B. Sensible Righteousness     Rom. 14:17-18 1. We must keep in mind however that God's kind of peace is NOT found in the things of this world only in Christ! a. It is not meat, drink, or any other forms of material things . b. It is "righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." 4:17 c. God's peace is rooted in spiritual terms, not physical terms. 2. In this sense God's peace is so much deeper because it goes to the core of our soul rather than the outward appearance of things around us. a. Worry, fear, anxiety are epidemic in our culture our statistics of those who seek out counseling, drug therapy for anxiety and the rates of depression which are at an all time high give evidence to the fact that so many do not know God's peace! b. The problem with the world is that they are seeking deep peace in shallow places things of this world! 3. God's righteousness however is the basis of our peace and the foundation for our security in His love! a. We cannot find the kind of peace we all hope for in the things of this world. b. This is true in the hearts of people today too, they all want peace but are full of anxiety. 4. Much of what we worry over is outside of our control anyway, but our soul can be controlled by God's Spirit. ILLUS:Threatened layoffs at work. Drugs and weapons in the schools. We have every right to be fearful, right? Maybe not. In Scared to Life (Victor), Douglas Rumford cites a study that explains why we shouldn't allow fear to rule our lives: -- 60% of our fears are totally unfounded; -- 20% are already behind us; -- 10% are so petty they don't make any difference; -- 4-5% of the remaining 10% are real, but we can't do anything about them. That means only 5% are real fears that we can do something about. -- Marriage Partnership, Vol. 12, no. 2. 5. God is in control, and His Spirit in us gives us internal control so that we can be at peace. C. Stable Responses     Philip. 4:6-7 1. Because our peace comes from eternal things and not temporal things we do not have to be anxious about anything! a. Our security in God's love and work in our lives allows us this freedom from anxiety. b. Instead of being anxious we can pray to God whose love always seeks our best. 2. All things being considered, our confidence is no longer in our work, but the will of God and so we no longer have to be anxious. a. The resulting trust in God brings peace. b. This peace passes all understanding because it is not founded in natural things, it is founded in the supernatural power of God's Spirit at work in our hearts and lives. 3. God's eternal power changes dramatically our perspective on temporal things, they now seem so small in comparison to God's mighty power. a. God's peace alters our perception of the much smaller things of this world hence why it passes understanding! ILLUS:Though he was president of the United States during very difficult years, Franklin Roosevelt never seemed to worry. The exuberance he displayed in public was really a part of his private personality. Once he was asked if he ever worried. He replied by referring to his battle with polio, a battle that had left him a cripple. "If you had spent two years in bed trying to wiggle your toe, after that anything would seem easy." -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997). b. God's peace guards our hearts and minds in Christ! 4. God's peace can keep our mind and heart in a state of peace though the things of this world are crazy around us. a. This kind of peace is real! b. This kind of peace is powerful! c. This kind of peace the world can't understand! d. This kind of peace gives a real security! 5. Do you know the Peace of God which passes understanding? CONCLUSION:    Jerusalem means "city of peace" or "possession of peace" -- a city whose name almost never rings true! The earthly city doesn't live up to its name. The "new" Jerusalem does however, and as citizens of God's kingdom we will live in this new Jerusalem. God's Spirit allows His peace to rule in our hearts and minds even now, it is the security of God's love. How secure are you?