Rev. Miersma is pastor of Immanuel Protestant Reformed Church in Lacombe, Alberta, Canada.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
The text before us speaks of that which seemingly occupies the mind of every man. On every side there is heard the cry for peace. There are wars and rumors of wars. When wars end, the world rejoices. That is understandable, for the burden of war is very heavy for those who must suffer under it. In that light everyone would want to be a peacemaker.
Jesus, however, in this text is not speaking of a peacemaker who tries to end wars. Only a child of God, a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, can be a peacemaker. The peace this citizen of heaven seeks is different from the peace of which man commonly speaks. The child of God should not get carried away with the world’s idea of peace.
The scriptural idea of peace must be seen as a relationship within God Himself, a relationship of perfect and eternal harmony within the triune God, which is based upon perfection and love. In Romans 16:20 God is called “the God of peace.” He is the God out of whom comes forth perfect peace. That divine peace God was pleased to reveal outside of Himself when He created all things perfect and holy.
Thus, peace is also a relationship which God establishes between Himself and the creature. In I Corinthians 14:33 we read, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” God created Adam in this relationship of peace. In the original creation there was perfect fellowship between God and man. Nothing separated, nothing created division, between God and His creature. However, a change came when Adam disobeyed the command of God. The act of disobedience, the eating of the forbidden tree, broke the bond of peace. From that moment on, there was war between God and Adam. This war could have but one outcome: man must be punished under the just wrath of God.
But the God of peace reestablished this fellowship of peace. God’s way was to send His only-begotten Son, the second person of the Trinity, into human flesh in order that this Son might bear the infinite wrath of God towards His people because of their guilt in violating the peace God had created. In this way Jesus would be the propitiation for our sins. Christ’s act of perfect obedience unto death justified God’s people. That justification through the cross of Jesus becomes the basis for peace once more between God and His people. This is beautifully stated in Romans 5:1: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Because in Christ the guilt of the sins of God’s people is removed, they enjoy peace with God again. Once more there is a beautiful, spiritual relationship of harmony in love with God. Only the child of God can really know the wonder of that relationship and have such peace.
This relationship must exist between men mutually also. When two are agreed, they can walk together, as we read in Amos 3:3. When two are reconciled through the blood of Christ, they seek each other and help each other. The cause of war is removed, the bonds of fellowship and love are established, and they enjoy peace together.
What a difference there is between this peace and that which the world seeks. It is a very serious error on the part of the church if she thinks that she can find common ground with the world in the area of seeking peace. In the recent and present wars, those who are called Christians united hand in hand with the wicked in seeking peace. After the terrorist attacks, church-goers and non-church-goers alike prayed together for peace as if they were one in heart. One can certainly see the rapid advances of the antichrist at such times. Under the name of Christianity there are peace parades, and men adopt peace signs and symbols. Yet, the true church and the world have nothing in common when it comes to the question of peace. None really want war, not the child of God either. Yet the child of God does not seek the sort of peace that the world does.
This is evident from the Scriptures. “There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked” (Isaiah 48:22). No matter what the wicked attempt to do, they have no peace. It does not matter what treaties they may sign or what organizations they may establish, the end is always the same: no peace. Something similar we see inEzekiel 13:10: “Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace….” What the world calls peace, and what many in the churches confuse with peace, is not peace at all.
The mere absence of war does not make peace. In seeking peace, the world seeks two things. First, it seeks to solve conflicts for its own advantage. The world understands that the ending of conflicts will work toward the building of bridges between people and countries. They begin to establish the sort of world that it has envisioned since the time of the tower of Babel. They want that wound healed. Secondly, it seeks the sort of unity that can be established against God and His church. The world is interested not only in stopping wars, but in doing so in order to concentrate its attention upon the destruction of the church. The peace desired is that of Revelation 13, when the antichrist can come and establish his own glorious kingdom to the physical hurt of God’s children.
In light of the above it is evident that there is no common ground between the Christian and the world in seeking peace. Each one seeks a different thing. There is never any real peace for the wicked. It is only the citizen of the kingdom of heaven who has peace, true peace. He seeks the peace that is based upon justification, which is basic to any true peace. In peace through justification he can enjoy communion with God and with his fellow saints.
Now, how does the citizen of the kingdom of God go about being a peacemaker? First, a few negatives. Peacemaking must not be confused with the idea of friendliness. Many people can be friendly andcan get along well with others. This is not true peace, and these are not peacemakers. Nor is peace equivalent to the ignoring of sins. Some pretend that sin does not exist. They do not raise their voices when the church departs from the truth. They try to obtain peace through silence, but such attempts are vain. Nor does a peacemaker seek what is called “peace at any price.” There are those who do not want to “rock the boat” by exposing error. They will countenance the lie, fearing that any sort of opposition will cause trouble. These will be peacemakers by condoning everything. As can readily be seen, this is all contrary to Scripture, which bases peace on righteousness.
In the positive sense, a peacemaker is one who, being justified by faith, loves God and His Word. This is seen in the fact that he dwells in the consciousness of God’s blessing upon him for Jesus’ sake. He rejoices in the opportunity of communing with God through prayer. To hear the preaching of God’s Word is his delight. This same Word he searches to see what God has to say to His people. In this way he enjoys true peace with God.
This becomes manifest also as he lives in peace with his fellow saints. When a brother sins, he tries to direct him in the proper way to repentance. When the brother hurts or grieves, he speaks words of comfort and assurance. And when the brother needs instruction, he teaches according to God’s Word. In this way he seeks proper peace for himself and for other of the saints. He desires each to enjoy the peace which is possible through the reconciliation of the cross of Christ.
And finally, the citizen of the kingdom of God reveals himself as a peacemaker to the world about him. He does not do this by joining peace parades and by seeking the peace that the world wants. Rather, he maintains, in preaching and speaking, the truth that peace comes only through the cross of Jesus Christ. To the wicked he points out that God sent His only Son to deliver His people from their sins, that only through the shed blood of Jesus can there be peace and fellowship with God. Clearly he shows that only when there is first peace with God can there be proper peace among men. He further points out that unless men have peace with God through Christ, all their efforts toward establishment of peace on earth are vain. Only through proper repentance and spiritual conversion can any enjoy the peace that surpasseth understanding.
To be such a peacemaker is blessed, for such shall be called the sons of God. They are, first of all,sons who are adopted by God through the blood of Jesus Christ. They now have the right to call God “Father” and to believe that they shall receive of Him their inheritance: eternal life. They are also sons by virtue of a new birth. By the power of the Holy Spirit they are spiritually born again, so that they are not only legally sons, but they also look like sons by reflecting the virtues of their Father: true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness.
The fullness of this blessedness will be enjoyed finally and fully in heaven. There the children of God shall dwell before the Father without sin and without corruption. There they shall see Jesus Christ their Lord and rejoice in perfect peace.
But already now we are called the sons of God. The beginning of salvation has already been worked within us. Already now we enjoy the benefits of sonship, such as intimate fellowship with God and His rich blessings. Our Almighty God cares for and preserves us, His sons, through all our days here below.
And this blessedness is certain. God does not first find peacemakers and then make them sons. No, Scripture indicates clearly that there is none who is a peacemaker in himself. That is simply not the nature of the depraved sinner. But God makes peacemakers through His Son Jesus Christ. These are then assured of their sonship because of God’s work within them. A true peacemaker can be assured that he is called a son of God.
Therefore the citizen of the kingdom of heaven must live as a peacemaker and as a son of God. Often this sonship is not seen. Children of human parents can often shame their parents through their actions. The same is true spiritually. How often do we not reflect characteristics of the wicked by abusing God’s holy name, by seeking those things which are here below (earthly possessions as ends in themselves, and wicked entertainments and pleasures). And again, how do we not foolishly use our time and talents. Such ought not to be seen in sons of God, in peacemakers.
Positively, we should reveal in conversation and walk what we are. Clearly it must be seen that we belong to God through Jesus Christ. In this way we will honor the name of our Father in heaven and seek His glory. Seeking this spiritual peace, we may then be assured that we are sons of God.