Where is True Peace? (PDF Sermon Text)
Scripture Text: Ephesians 2:11-21
Last week, we looked at a passage that told us what salvation is and how to receive it. We learned that salvation is about someone coming from death to life. Before you are in a right relationship with God, you are spiritually dead. Spiritually dead people cannot make themselves spiritually alive. They need help. They need someone to revive them. But just as things look hopeless, Paul utters the greatest short phrase of all: “But God!” But God, Who is rich in mercy and full of great love made it possible for us to be made alive by Christ Jesus. We are saved in Christ Jesus, Who becomes our new identity. We are also saved by the grace of God. It is His gift that no one can earn. We are also saved though faith in Jesus, meaning we must trust in Jesus and only Jesus to be declared right with God. And…we are saved to bring God glory through good works. We ended last week with the following verse that describes the work of God in us.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
We are not declared right with God by what we do, otherwise, we would get all the glory. We are not saved by the good things we do, but we are saved to do good works. The good things Christians do and should do are a result of God’s work in us. We are saved by Christ in order to bring glory to God and do good for Him. There is something else about our salvation through Jesus Christ. Not only is our new relationship with God based on grace, mercy, and faith that brings the dead to life, it also brings peace to people. We receive peace with God through Jesus Christ.
People Are in Conflict With God
My dad used to say, “I just want peace and tranquillity.” Perhaps he said that when my mom was complaining…I mean discussing something with him. Maybe dad worked all week, came home, and just wanted to relax and be at peace in his small corner of the world for just a couple of days, before having to do it all over again. I can relate to that. There are times when I want to relax and not deal with the stress, complaints, and general conflicts in life. I think most people want to be at peace and not have to deal with conflict. We probably all desire to find that moment of true peace when no worries or troubles can affect us. Not having peace describes our natural, human condition. We are all in conflict with someone at sometime. Most importantly, we are all in conflict and without peace with God. How bad is this situation? Look at the following verses.
Ephesians 2:11–12 11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Notice the words Paul used in the passage to describe the situation of unbelievers with God: Separated, Alienated, Strangers, Without God, and No hope! While Paul mentioned the situation of Gentiles at that time, what he described is the condition of every human being before they are in a right relationship with God. Every one of us was separated from God. We were alienated from God’s people. We were strangers to the promises of God, meaning we were complete foreigners to God’s kingdom with no rights or privileges. We were also without God in our lives. That is all of us! In Romans chapter five, Paul referred to our hostility to God by calling us ungodly, sinners, under wrath, and enemies of God (Romans 5:6-10). If there is anything we can say about our natural condition in relation to God, we are most definitely not at peace with God. Our sin creates a huge conflict between God and us. Most depressing, though, is that we were without hope. We lived our lives in this world with no hope of something more and better after death. Have you ever faced a situation that just seemed hopeless? What could we do? Nothing! Remember, salivation is the work of God. But God…made a way for us to be at peace with Him and He did it though the Perfect Peacemaker.
Real Peace is in Jesus Christ
How do we have true peace? There are plenty of books and seminars that tell you how to have peace. But, what really works? What is the real solution? Fortunately, God has not hidden that from us. God loved us so much for us to be at peace with Him that He revealed the solution and the Way to real peace. Look at the following verses.
Ephesians 2:13–14 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility
In the Old Testament, there were two main distinctions; you were either Jew or Gentile. You were either part of God’s people, Israel, or part of the rest of the world. However, the new distinction since Jesus Christ came is to be in Christ or not in Christ. Real peace is to being in Christ. Peace is resting in Christ, knowing God has already worked everything out, Jesus has purchased our peace, and He has provided the way. The peace Christ provides refers to the harmonious friendship we have with God and with one another in His church. Jesus is our peace! He has brought us together with God. This peace was not only for the Jewish people, but for all God’s people, even those who have yet to become part of God’s family. Christ created a unified people from two groups who were hostile towards one another. Both groups can now enjoy fellowship as part of God’s people, the Church, through Jesus Christ.
Paul referred to Jesus tearing down the dividing wall of hostility. When I think of a dividing wall, I think of a very different wall. In 1961, the East German government constructed the Berlin Wall that completely cut off West Berlin from East Germany and from East Berlin. In 1987, however, President Ronald Reagan gave a speech at the Brandenburg Gate of the Berlin Wall to promote freedom in that region. Reagan uttered the now famous phrase, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this Wall!” Two years later in 1989, the East German government open the borders and began tearing down the Berlin Wall. Paul was obviously not talking about the Berlin Wall, but he may have been referring to the wall of the outer courtyard of the Jerusalem temple. There was an inscription on that wall warning all Gentiles that they would only have themselves to blame for their death if they went into the inner courts. Paul may not have alluded to this wall, but it illustrates Christ’s reconciliation of all people to God through Him.
One thing we see in this passage is that real peace is a priority to God. God wants us to be at peace with Him and He went to great efforts to secure peace for us. Consider Who God sent to restore peace in a broken and conflicted world. He did not send an angel. He did not send a mighty army to suppress conflict. He did not send a delegation of gifted men to teach us how to find peace. Peace is such a high priority to God that He sent His only begotten Son, the most exalted and powerful ambassador of man to God, and the true Mediator of peace between God and man. God’s own Son is the bringer of peace. In fact, Jesus is the Prince of peace. Look at Isaiah’s prophecy below.
Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Jesus is many things, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, but He is also the Prince of Peace. God’s priority for peace is emphasized by the fact that He planned for reconciliation long ago, even before the world and all our conflicts came into existence!
Real Peace is Expensive
This passage also teaches us that real peace is expensive. Verse thirteen reveals to us that it is the “blood of Christ” which purchased real peace for us. Verse fourteen reveals that it was “in his flesh” that He broke down the dividing wall of hostility. What this means is it was the cross of Calvary that bought real peace for humanity. Nothing else was enough. No other payment was sufficient. Consider the price that was paid to purchase our peace. The Son of God left the glory of heaven, descended into a fallen and corrupt world, took on the form of a helpless baby, walked countless miles over deserts and dusty roads, submitted to mocking, beating and torture, and shed His own life’s blood on the cross, all to make peace between us and God. What price can we place on all of this? As the only Son of God, Jesus’ life and blood was infinitely precious. Why would God be willing to pay such a high price for our salvation? He tells us over and over in Scripture: it is love that moved Him to pay the supreme price for our peace and salvation. God is very serious about peace and paid the ultimate price for peace. What are we willing to pay to be at peace with each other?
Real Peace Builds Up God’s People
When Jesus shed His blood on the cross, He opened the door for us to be reconciled to God, to enter the presence of God, to be a part of God’s heavenly family, and to enjoy the Father’s love forever. The peace Jesus gave us brings us together as one body, His people, the Church. Look at the following verses.
Ephesians 2:15–18 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
The commandments and ordinances probably refer to the Law of Moses, which included many commandments that served to separate Israel from other nations. Thus, the Law was a “dividing wall” which Christ has rendered powerless both by fulfilling it and by removing believers from the Law’s condemnation. But notice that Jesus reconciled us to God. He brought two parties into peaceful relations, in this case, to satisfy God’s wrath against His enemies. He brings us to God through the Holy Spirit. He also recreates us as new people. We are all a new creation in Christ Jesus. God gives us real peace through Jesus. But, does this peace only apply to our individual relationship with God? No! Verse sixteen refers to us now being reconciled in one body, that is the Church. We are now God’s people! Since God has given each one of us peace, He calls all of us together to be people of peace. Look at the following verses.
Ephesians 2:19–22 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Because Christ has become our peace, because Jesus has broken down the dividing wall and brought us into fellowship with God, because Jesus has made each of us new people, God has called us to be His people, the Church. The Church now belongs to God’s family. We are no longer strangers and aliens, but members of God’s family. This family is also called a dwelling place for God. The Church is now the new dwelling place for Him. His family has become His new Temple, not made of bricks and mortar, but of flesh and blood, and built upon the cornerstone of Jesus Christ. In ancient times, the cornerstone was the first stone laid for a building. Everything else was lined up to it. Jesus is the critical stone in the corner of the Church’s foundation that ensures that God’s building, His People, is aligned, stable and at peace. Jesus is the Rock upon which the Church stands. There are several implications of being the people of God who are at peace with Him based on what Jesus has done for them. We should be a people of peace who exhibit the peace of Christ. Let me offer the following.
Making Peace is a Priority
Since God made peace a priority, He calls us to do the same. He does not want us to treat estrangement from Him or others as an insignificant matter. He expects us to make more than a token effort to seek peace with others. He teaches us never to delay going to someone who may have something against us. In fact, His priority for peace is so high that Jesus commands us to seek reconciliation with others even before we seek to worship God Himself (Matthew 5:23-24). What more could God say to indicate how high a priority He places on peace? He sent His most exalted Son to make peace with us. God has placed peace at the top of His list of priorities. Let us do likewise!
Making Peace is Expensive
The cost of peace with God was expensive – Jesus’ life. If we understand and treasure the love God has shown toward us, we will be eager to be a channel of that same love into the lives of others. If God’s love is flowing through our lives, we will be willing to pay whatever price is necessary to be reconciled with others, just as Christ paid an infinitely expensive price—His very life!—to be reconciled with us? Ask yourself, “Is Jesus’ love living in me? Am I as passionate about peace and reconciliation as He is? Will I pay the price required to spread peace and reconciliation with others, as God has with me?”
Making Peace Requires An Ally
Real peace requires an ally. We cannot, on our own, fully pay the price of reconciliation. We cannot wash away another person’s sins. We cannot cleanse our own hearts from bitterness and self-righteousness. But there is One who can do all these things, and He is eager to come to our side, to bear the full cost of sin, and to give us all the support and resources we need to restore peace with those around us. You have an ally who is eager to see you make peace with others. And this ally is not distant or passive. He is near you, and He is ready to place all of His resources at your disposal. Your ally is ready to come to your aid. Seek His counsel; bank on His limitless resources; trust that He will never leave your side as you seek peace with others.
In closing, where is true peace? It is not really a place, but in a Person. It is found in Jesus Christ! The world is hungry for peace! It is not the superficial, temporary peace that millions of confused and misleading voices speak of day after day, but the deep, genuine, and lasting peace that God secured for us through the death and resurrection of His Son. And this peace is available to those who will receive it. It is available to those who are in conflict with you. Every time you experience a conflict, you have the opportunity to show others how to find real peace. May God grant you grace to do so in a way that points clearly to our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. Think of someone in your life with whom you need to make peace. Commit to the steps you need to take to go to that person. Next week, we will look more closely at the Church being peace makers. This is good news. Thanks be to God. Amen!