We live in a world of troublemakers. And not only that, but the nations of our world glorify their fighters, and the makers of war receive from their countries honor and praise. But who is the prince of strife? Who really is the author of war and what is it that blocks the way to peace?
In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 5, it reads: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (verse 9 KJV). Every step up the spiritual ladder described in this sermon lifts the believer up to a loftier realm of spiritual blessedness. The highway of holiness is a pathway of continually increasing joy and peace. In the Old Testament it is spoken of this way: “But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18). Jesus shows what can happen to the person who at first was poor in spirit; that is, they realized their spiritual poverty and mourned over their spiritual condition. Seeing the gentleness and meekness of Christ they began to hunger and thirst after righteousness, and became merciful, and then became pure in heart.
The next step is to become a peacemaker. The previous six steps (see previous 2016 issues of LandMarks) that were reviewed were about the condition of character, being poor in spirit, recognizing your spiritual poverty, mourning over your spiritual condition, being meek, or gentle, or humble, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, being merciful in heart, and being pure in heart. However, this beatitude is one where Jesus pronounces a blessing upon good works. It is a spiritual experience that is produced by the first six steps that then qualify us for missionary work as peacemakers among our friends and neighbors.
How utterly different, how utterly contrary are these beatitudes that we have been studying from the maxims, the philosophy of the world in which we live. Since the entrance of sin into our world, when Adam and Eve, our first parents, fell, the worldly benedictions and blessings have been given to those that are warlike, to those who are good soldiers, good fighters. In fact, human history is composed largely of biographies of warriors who are eulogized and spoken of highly. So in this world, the makers of war, and not the makers of peace, have received the blessings and praise from the country in which they live. It has been this way for thousands of years. From a worldly point of view, the blessings do not go to the peacemakers, but to the peace breakers, the troublemakers, the makers of strife and those that foment war. The nations of the earth have almost deified and glorified its warriors and their fights.
Often times, the lovers and makers of peace have been held in derision. They are considered weaklings or cowards and if they strive to promote peace, they are sometimes considered disloyal or even treasonous to their country. But, the world today is ruled largely, not by Christ, but by antichrist. The principle intelligence that stands in the place of Christ is the devil himself. He has agents, of course, human agents, but he is the prince of strife. He is called in the Bible by the apostle Paul the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). He is the prince of strife and he is the world’s great troublemaker and war lord. He is the author of war.
Satan has made war his chief occupation since his fall. He is the one that is constantly attempting to stir up the nations of the world to engage in war. There has been a war of one kind or another almost constantly in the world since World War II. Satan is the one that sowed the seeds of discord that broke up the peace and harmony that formerly existed in the universe. His very religion is termed by God “Babylon the great,” or confusion the great (Revelation 17:5). His children are all peace-breakers and fomenters of strife. There can be no peace, of course, where there is sin. The Bible is very clear about this. In Isaiah 57:21 it says, “ ‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.’ ”
No matter how much we negotiate and no matter how much we try to create peace, as long as there is sin, there will be none. Governments make agreements and think they have made peace and even at times have signed documents, then right away there are preparations for war. Isaiah 48:22 says, “ ‘There is no peace,’ says the Lord, ‘for the wicked.’ ” Why is there no peace? It is because of sin, for sinners cannot truly be peacemakers.
Notice the characteristic of a sinner, a person who has not been converted by the gospel, recorded by the apostle Paul. It says, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19–21 NIV).
So, as long as there is sin there will be strife. There will be outbursts of war. There will not be peace. In James 3:17, it says, “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.” However, in the verse before that James says, “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there” (verse 16).
He goes on to say in James 4, verses 1 and 2, that wars and fightings among us are the result of the lusts and sinful cravings that are in our members. Satan is the prince of strife and the author of all war, and as long as there is sin, of which he is the first sinner, there will be strife and war. But on the other hand, Jesus is called in Isaiah 9:6, the Prince of Peace. He is the great Mediator between those who have been alienated. In I Timothy 2:5 He is called the “… one Mediator between God and man” (literal translation). Jesus is the great peacemaker to bring about reconciliation to those who have been at war with God and man.
Paul said in Ephesians 2:14, “He is our peace, Who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us” (literal translation). Christ alone is the only One that can break down the barriers – in the home, in society, and among the nations. Where Jesus rules there is peace, whether it be in the kingdom of glory or in the kingdom of grace, whether it be in heaven above or in the human heart. Concerning the peace that He will bring, the Bible says it will become greater and greater.
In Isaiah chapter 9, verses 6 and 7, it 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.” So, where Jesus rules, there is peace. This promise includes His rule in the individual heart as well as His rule over the nations. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Do you know, understand, what qualification a person has to have before he can even start to be a peacemaker?
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 experience something you do not know? Jesus Christ was the supreme peacemaker because He possessed perfect peace inside. “And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin” (I John 3:5). Because He knew no sin, had no sin, He had perfect peace. He therefore knew no strife and was able to say, “The prince of this world (Satan) comes and has nothing in Me” (John 14:30, literal translation). 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 knew His identity—Son of God—and was never fretful or irritated. In fact, nothing ever disturbed His peace.
Jesus promised, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God,” Actually, nobody but a son of God can be called a peacemaker. The supreme essential to becoming a peacemaker is to become Christ-like. If we enthrone Jesus Christ in our heart, then we will have, as Paul says in Romans 5:1, peace with God, and then we will have a peace that can never be explained.
Notice how the apostle Paul described it in Philippians 4, verses 6 and 7. It says, “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.” Notice, this peace cannot be explained. You will then have the wisdom that comes down from above, as James described it, that is first pure and then peaceable (James 3:17).
The fruits of righteousness are not our own product, but they are the fruit of the spirit. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, and peace (Galatians 5:22, first part).
Never has there been a time in world history when we needed peace more than we need it today. But peace does not come all by itself. There is something that must be done in order to achieve it. It is hard enough to keep the peace, and still more difficult to bring peace where it is not. But friend, that is the very work of the children of God. They are to bring forth the peaceable fruits of righteousness. This is a very delicate task, often requiring divine tact, skill, and patience.
Human beings, by themselves, can never manufacture peace. We can never get it by negotiations, because human plans for peace do not change hearts, and it is from the heart of man where the trouble comes. 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. Only the grace of Christ can create and perpetuate peace. When this is implanted in the heart, then the evil passions that produce strife and dissention are cast out.
Our peace is destroyed by disobedience, disobedience to human law and especially disobedience to divine law. If people could understand this, they could get a completely different view of the ten commandments. Isaiah 48:18 says, “Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river.”
The steps represented in the first six beatitudes are the price we must pay to become peacemakers. It takes these experiences in the development of character to qualify us to bring peace to others. First of all, the peace of God must come into our own hearts. Then we will no longer break it by being whisperers, backbiters, busybodies, or news carriers. Instead of that, the fruits of the Spirit will become manifest in our life. The first four fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace, and longsuffering. The reward for being a peacemaker is the highest of all privileges. Jesus said that those people will be called the children of God. They are so named because they are like the Son of God, the ultimate Peacemaker. They have become like their Saviour in life and character. They also become princes of peace and they carry on the work of peacemaking that the Prince of Peace began.
This is what the Christian life is supposed to be about. “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” (2 Corinthians 5:17–20).
You see, you must be reconciled to God before you can experience the peace inside that passes all understanding. Only then can you help somebody else to find it. Peacemaking was described here by Jesus as the price of sonship. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.”
Jesus was the great Peacemaker and concerning Him, His Father said, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 17:5). And the Father is also well-pleased with those who, becoming His sons through the new birth, act as did His only begotten Son, their elder brother. When we become peacemakers, we then are called by Jesus sons, 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 this experience of being a peacemaker has been beautifully described by a number of Christian writers. Here is what one said about it. “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 Adventist Home, 535. 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. However, this is nothing to be compared with what will be given to the saints of God in the hereafter.
O, friend, would you like to break connection with the prince of strife and the author of war and become connected with the Prince of Peace? Would you like to be a child of God truly, not just by profession? If you are truly going to be considered in heaven a child of God, you must take the seventh step. You must become a peacemaker. Jesus said, “Come unto Me, all you that 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 for 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.
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.