We live in a world of troublemakers, fighters, and makers of war, glorified and given honor and praise by the nations of this world. But who is the real author of war and what is it that blocks the way to peace?
Looking at the seventh step on the spiritual ladder found in Matthew 5:9, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Every step up this ladder raises a person to a loftier realm of spiritual blessedness. The highway of holiness is a pathway of continually increasing joy and peace. Proverbs 4:18 says, “But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.” So here we see what happens to the person who first is poor in spirit, one who mourns, is gentle and meek like Christ, hungers and thirsts after righteousness, and is merciful and pure in heart. The person becomes a peacemaker.
The first six steps are blessings on character condition, however in the seventh step Jesus pronounces a blessing upon good works. This is a spiritual experience produced by the first six steps that qualifies the person for missionary work as peacemakers among their friends and neighbors.
How utterly contrary are these steps to the maxims and philosophies of the world in which we live. Since the fall of Adam and Eve and the entrance of sin into the world as recorded in Genesis 3, benedictions and blessings have been given to those who are good soldiers and fighters. In fact, human history is composed largely of biographies of warriors who are eulogized and praised and it has been this way for thousands of years. From a worldly point of view, the blessings and glory go to the peace breakers, the troublemakers, makers of strife and those who foment war.
The lovers and makers of peace are more often held in derision, considered weaklings and cowards. If they strive to promote peace, they are perceived as disloyal or treasonous to their country because the world is largely ruled, not by Christ, but by the antichrist. The principle intelligence that stands in the place of Christ as the prince of strife is the devil himself. The Bible calls him the god of this world and the author of war, and he is the world’s greatest troublemaker.
The devil has made war his chief occupation since his fall and constantly strives to stir up the nations of the world to war. And he has been very successful at it, since we have been in a war of one kind or another somewhere in the world almost constantly since World War II. Satan is the one who sowed the seeds of discord that broke up the peace and harmony that once existed in the universe. His very religion is termed by God as Babylon the great or great confusion. His children are all peace breakers and fomenters of strife. Why? Because there can be no peace where there is sin. The Bible is very clear about this. “ ‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked’ ” (Isaiah 57:21; 48:22). Where sin (wickedness) is, peace cannot exist.
The characteristics of a sinner, a person who has not been converted by the gospel, have been recorded by the apostle Paul in Galatians 5. Paul says, “Now the works of the flesh are evident … .” and he then lists a long series of things, among them “… hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, murders, revelries, and the like …” (verses 19-21).
Sinners cannot truly be peacemakers. So long as there is sin, there will be strife and war, and it will be impossible to have peace. James says, “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:16, 17). He goes on to say in chapter 4:1 and 2, that wars and unrest among us are the results of the sinful cravings (lusts) that are in our members.
But Jesus is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). He is the great Mediator between those who have been alienated. First Timothy 2:5 calls Him the “… one Mediator between God and men.” He is the great peacemaker bringing reconciliation to those who have been at war with God and man.
Paul says in Ephesians 2:14, “He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation [partition] …” between us. Christ alone is the only one who can break down the barriers in the home, in society, among the nations. Where Jesus rules there is peace, whether it be in the kingdom of glory or in the kingdom of grace, in heaven above or in a human heart. And the Bible says the peace He will bring will become greater and greater.
Isaiah 9:6 and 7, first part, says, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.” This promise includes not only His rule over the nations, but also His rule in the individual heart. The preeminent qualification for a person to be a peacemaker is, first of all, to have peace himself in his own mind and heart. How can you help somebody else to have peace if you yourself have not experienced peace within? Jesus Christ was the supreme peacemaker because He possessed perfect peace. The Bible says, “… in Him is no sin” (1 John 3:5 KJV). And because He knew no sin, He was able to say, “… the ruler of this world [the devil] is coming, and has nothing in Me” (John 14:30). Because Jesus was in perfect harmony with God, He was also at peace with man. It was for this reason that He was able to love and bless His enemies. He was never fretful or irritated. Nothing ever disturbed His peace. This is what qualified Him to be the preeminent peacemaker, the Prince of Peace.
Jesus promised that if you are a peacemaker, you will be called children of God. The supreme essential to becoming a peacemaker is to become Christlike, so only a child of God can be a peacemaker. If we enthrone Jesus Christ in our hearts, we will have peace with God (Romans 5:1 KJV), and this peace cannot be fully explained.
The apostle Paul described it in this way: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ” (Philippians 4:6, 7). He said that the internal peace you will possess cannot be explained by any human being. But with peace comes wisdom from above, as James described it, that is first pure and then peaceable (James 3:17).
James also says that if there is envying, strife, and dissension which come from pride and selfishness, then there is an evil work afoot and there will be no peace. Love, joy, and peace is the fruit of righteousness, and is of the Spirit and not of our own making. Never have we needed peace more in the history of this world than we need it today, but peace does not come by itself; it must be made. Something must be done in order to have peace. Someone once said, “It is hard enough to keep the peace, but it is still more difficult to bring peace where it is not.” But that is the very work of the children of God. “Blessed are the peacemakers.” They are to bring forth the peaceable fruit of righteousness. This is a very delicate task requiring divine tact, skill, and patience.
Human beings alone can never manufacture peace, because human peace plans do not change the heart, and it is from the heart of man where trouble begins. The Bible is very clear on this. The heart of the sinner is like a troubled sea when it cannot rest (Isaiah 57:20). So, a man-made peace between individuals is no more permanent than a peace between nations. When nations become angry, their peace treaties are no more binding than pieces of paper. It is only by the grace of Christ that we can create and perpetuate peace. When this is implanted in the heart, then the evil passions that produce strife and dissension are cast out.
Our peace is destroyed by disobedience, both by disobedience to human law and more especially by disobedience to divine law. If people could understand this, they would have a completely different view of the ten commandments. It is because we break God’s law that we do not have peace and we will never have peace as long as we continue to break it. The Bible says in Isaiah 48:18, “Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river.”
Obedience brings peace, but disobedience to God’s law brings only strife, trouble, and dissension. Peace is destroyed by disobedience. It takes the experiences of the first six steps in the development of character to qualify us to become peacemakers and able to bring peace to others. When the peace of God comes into our own hearts, then we will no longer break the peace by being disobedient to God’s law. Instead, the fruit of the Spirit will become manifest in our life. Love, joy, peace, and longsuffering, the first four fruits of the Holy Spirit, are characteristic of a peacemaker and the peacemaker receives the highest of all privileges: to be called a child of God. They are so named because they have become like the Son of God, the ultimate peacemaker, in life and character. They likewise become children of peace and carry on the work of peacemaking that the Prince of Peace began.
The apostle Paul describes this Christian life in 2 Corinthians 5:17–20. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” You must be reconciled to God before you can have peace within and before you can help anyone else find peace. Peacemaking was described in the beatitudes by Jesus as the price of becoming an heir. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”
Concerning Jesus, the great peacemaker, His Father said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). And the Father is also well pleased with those who through the new birth, become His children and act as did His only begotten Son, their Elder Brother. When we become peacemakers, we can then be called by Jesus the children of God. This places us in the kingdom of heaven and places the kingdom of heaven in us. It makes us, as the Bible says, “… meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12 KJV).
The blessedness of being a peacemaker has been described by a number of Christian writers. Ellen White expresses it so beautifully, “By the life we live through the grace of Christ, the character is formed. The original loveliness begins to be restored to the soul. The attributes of the character of Christ are imparted, and the image of the Divine begins to shine forth. The faces of men and women who walk and work with God express the peace of heaven. They are surrounded with the atmosphere of heaven. For these souls the kingdom of God has begun.” The Desire of Ages, 312.
“As through Jesus we enter into rest, heaven begins here. We respond to His invitation, ‘Come, learn of Me.’ … The more we know of God, the more intense will be our happiness. As we walk with Jesus in this life, we may be filled with His love, satisfied with His presence. All that human nature can bear, we may receive here.” Ibid., 331, 332.
This is nothing, however, to be compared with what will be given to the saints of God in the hereafter. We must break every connection with the prince of strife and the author of war and become connected with the Prince of Peace. We must truly be a child of God; not just by profession, but by our words and actions as well. If we are to be considered in heaven a child of God, we must take the seventh step: we must become peacemakers. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest to your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).
When you accept that yoke, then you will receive the blessing that comes to the peacemaker.
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.