The Peace of God

by A.E. Knoch

THE PEACE OF GOD, which surpasses all understanding, should preside in the hearts of all who have grasped the glories and grandeurs of our God, especially those who acknowledge Him as the only Creator and Reconciler of the universe. He commenced all and He can bring it to its consummation. But, more than this, all is not only out of Him and for Him, but it is also through Him. Not only the past and the future, but the present is His concern. He is not unmindful of the stress and strain, the sorrow and the sighing, the confusion and the conflict which surrounds us now. Let us not be moved by these things, as though the reins had dropped from His hands, or His heart felt no concern in the tiny tribulations of this nether scene.

We have our trials in common with the world, from which we hear, above the din of the daily grind, above the hullabaloo of the medicine men who have remedies for all of earth's varied ills, above the roar of the cannon on the fighting lines, a despairing but persistent cry of "Peace! Peace!" when there is no peace. We need not deceive ourselves as to this peace, or accept the marvelous fable that the pacific dove can only live and thrive in the iron hulls of dreadnoughts and tanks, and in air perfumed with powder and poison and flame. Armaments are not a sure antidote against warfare. We know that the world can wish for peace, but it must prepare for war, for that is soon to appear on God's program. This is not our peace. Indeed, our peace depends, in measure, upon the world's lack of it, for it rests on God's Word, which predicts the opposite.

We have our trials in fellowship with those whom God has called out of the world. In godless Russia many thousands have lost all, and at last their very lives, merely because they belonged to Him. Thousands have escaped and are scattered in various parts of the world, seeking to gain a livelihood. Many a believer in other lands has had to suffer for his faith. Even in so-called Christian lands the strife in the nominal churches, or between the church and state, has led to much unrest. Catholics are thrust out of Mexico. A part of the Protestant clergy in Germany is seeking to repudiate the Hebrew Scriptures and some denounce even the epistles of Paul.

Beyond all this there is a special danger to the peace of those whose privilege it is to learn a little of the deeper things of God. Their own fellow sufferers for Christ and for His Word are disturbed when we present for their faith truth long lost, and now not only unknown but despised. They remind us that these things disturb the peace of the saints and, therefore, cannot be of God. They exhort us not to make His glories known, lest we divide His own, and bring further strife into the household of the saints. They want no disturbance, for they fear that God cannot work in the midst of confusion.

How contrary is this to fact and truth? When has the greatest progress been made in the things of God? In times of stagnation, or in times of stress? In the upheavals of a reformation or in the stale sessions of an established church? Let us not be disturbed when God's glorious truth brings trouble in its train. So it has ever been. It should not disturb us. Nay, it should be our delight to see God's spirit at work convicting, troubling sinners, and convincing, distressing saints. These are but the pangs of progress, the precursory pains which must ever be the prelude to light and peace. Just as evil as a whole will eventuate in good, so also will these temporary and local ills leads to a knowledge of God, which is the only sure foundation of lasting peace.

We are reminded of the sons of Israel in Egypt, when Moses and Aaron came to lead them out. What was the first effect? Because they demanded that the people leave Egypt to worship Jehovah in the wilderness, Pharaoh increased their burdens, and they had to rake together their own straw for the bricks they made. Their superintendents were smitten, and they went to Pharaoh, without avail. Then they encounter Moses and say to him, "Jehovah will see to you! And He will judge him who makes the smell of us stink in the eyes of Pharaoh . . . " Poor Moses, he was a trouble maker. Most of us can sympathize with him. So he goes to Jehovah and says, "Jehovah, why dost Thou bring evil to this people? Why this? Thou didst send me!"

At first, the message of light and deliverance often makes matters far worse, and God does not step in to hinder it, for this evil is a necessary part of His purpose. But, in due time, God dealt with Pharaoh, and the people were delivered with a great deliverance. Let us take this to heart. We have a marvelous message for God's dear people. In most cases it brings with it effects the very opposite of those which it promises. Our message brings unsurpassed peace--but it usually starts by stirring up strife. We have the true basis of unity--yet, at first, it may cause division. It displays and evokes in us the utmost grace and love. But its appearance may provoke exhibitions more nearly allied with detestation and hate. However, as in the case of Moses, God is only preparing for the display of His own glory by provoking its opposite at the start.

Let us not follow the example of Israel and berate God's servants when their message seems to bear contradictory fruits at first. Nor let us be like Moses, and actually take God to task for not fulfilling His promises. God sent Moses to deliver Israel from Egypt, and who will deny that He did it? We usually forget the first disappointment. So let us not be disturbed by the effect of our endeavors to make known God's glorious grace to sinner and to saint. Salvation through the blood is worth all the inconvenience it may cost. So also no amount of persecution or persuasion should keep us from proclaiming the grander glories of our God.

Just as, in the midst of the world's unrest, we may be at perfect peace, so also, in the midst of the whirlpool of theological distress, we may rest serene and unafraid, confident that God's hand is at the helm of our frail craft, and no current is too strong for Him to stem, no waves too violent for Him to pacify. He may seem to sleep, and have no care lest we perish, but how can He calm the storm if it does not arise? Let men rant and rage and roar! That is their part, and they must play it. All will subside when God's time comes to calm the commotion. Some of His saints seek to keep the storm from coming. Others fill their lungs with air and blow with all their puny might against it. Let us sit by, unafraid, and see the salvation of the Lord. Let us at least come up to the standard of Job, and bless His name for the evil we receive at His hands.

The preciousness of our peace springs from the surrounding turmoil. Let us look upon the trials and the tumults, the opposition and the persecution, the strife and the hatred as all from God. Let us not seek to keep Him out of it by lamely alleging that He allows it. It is, indeed, contrary to His will, but necessary for His purpose. Let us value it accordingly. We should not merely endure it, but thank God for it. Then, instead of disturbing and destroying our peace, it will contribute to it.

Peace is to be found only in God. He is the only stable and immovable point in the universe. Yet it is possible for all to be at peace in Him. As sinners we received peace with God through the blood of Christ.

As saints it is our privilege to go far beyond this, and to enjoy the peace of God. God is not worried as to the outcome of His eonian travail with His creatures. He knows all beforehand. But that is because every single detail of the present is not only within His control, but it fulfills its microscopic mission in preparing for and bringing about the grand consummation He has in view. That will be a time of perfect peace, but it could never be enjoyed or appreciated without the preceding panic of the present. Israel must suffer in Egypt before she can sing on the shores of the Red Sea. And God could dwell among them only as among a redeemed race.

May the peace of God preside in our hearts, not in spite of the unrest in the world and the strife among the saints, but because of it! The God out of Whom all is, and into Whom all tends, now operates all, and especially the evil, so that, in the consummation, His creatures will know good because of their experience of evil and will be able to praise and adore Him in a degree worthy of His Name and satisfying to His heart. Let us live in the realization that all is through Him now. Only thus may we really share God's own peace--the peace of God.

[*Originally an untitled Editorial in January 1935 Unsearchable Riches]

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