Charles Stanley — Peace On Earth
Well, Merry Christmas to you and my prayer is that the best of God's blessings will rest upon you all of this season. And when I think about Christmas, I think about all the words that people usually use. They think in terms of parties, for example, and family and meals and shopping and all the things that we think about. And yet, there's one thing that surpasses all of that. And that key word was introduced by Isaiah. And this is the way he introduced the most precious thing about Christmas. He says, "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest upon His shoulders. And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace".
Then, when you turn to Luke the second chapter, listen to this introduction. The scripture says, "For today in the City of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord". And he says, "This will be a sign to you". And he talks about the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and the angel announcing that. And then he says, There will be a "host praising Him, saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.'"
Now, I want you to think about how the angel said that and most of all, how they must have responded; because the last thing they could expect is peace on earth; because when the angel had made that announcement, Rome ruled the world. They controlled everything. It was a time of poverty, slavery, persecution of all kinds; of want, of need; and there was nothing about peace going on at that time. And when the scripture says that the angel said, "Peace among men". What in the world could he have meant? "Peace among men". For there was no peace there. And if you'll think about it, all during these centuries that have passed, there's never been real peace on the earth. There may be spots of peace here and spots of peace there, but not real peace.
And when we think about the society we live in, we think about the world we live in, there's no peace in this world today. There is conflict, the same kind of things that went on then. There's slavery. There are all kinds of crimes. There is great want and need. And so, did God send an empty message to those shepherds, that had been passed down? The answer is no, He did not. So the question is, What did this idea mean really about peace on earth and peace among men? And if I should ask you if you have peace, many of you probably would say, Well, sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. And this idea that Jesus came and gave peace, where is it? And so many times people ask the question and never stop to think, What is the truth about what Jesus said? What is the truth about who He is? And if He says He's the Prince of Peace, He is indeed the Prince of Peace. And because you don't understand that, or because you've never experienced that peace, does not mean that it's not possible.
So think about it. When Jesus came, He began to teach. And He said, for example, the Sermon on the Mount, "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God". Who's making peace? And when He healed people oftentimes, the scripture would say; He made the statement, Go in peace. And so He was continually making statements about peace. And He said, in Me you'll find peace. So the question is, What is this peace? In fact, the truth is that the very word means to bind together things that are disjointed. So when you ask someone, Do you have the peace of God in your heart? Then they have to answer the question, What is my relationship to God?
If I should ask you if you have peace in your heart, you ask yourself the question, Well, do I have a sense of completeness? Do I have a sense of being fulfilled in my life or do I not? And so peace is a very important factor in our lives. And Jesus came as the Prince of Peace. That means He is the epitome of all peace. He's what real peace is about. And it's interesting in John. He's talking to His disciples the night before, He's crucified, a very important chapters, thirteen through, seventeen. Here's what Jesus said. He said, "My peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives give I to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid". He said, My peace I give to you. What kind of peace is that? It is a peace that is lasting. It is a peace that is founded upon something that's unchanging. It is a peace that is eternal. It is a peace that quietens our spirit, calms our hearts. The peace He's talking about is a peace that's personal.
That's why they would have said in those days, What do you mean peace? Rome would never allow the Jews to have peace, and so the very idea was a hopeless situation. But Jesus did not mean, I will give nations peace. But He says His peace is come to individuals, to persons. "My peace I give unto you". Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. So there must be something about this peace that absolutely is able to make it possible for us to walk through difficulties, hardships, trials, heartaches. And when He said that, that doesn't mean that's the end of trouble. His peace does not mean I'll not have any more trouble, heartache or burden. But it means what He gives to us will sustain us and keep us lifted and keep us encouraged. We can walk through valleys and persecution, hardship of all kinds. But remember what He said. I will never leave you nor forsake you. He says, My peace I give unto you, not as the world gives.
So let's ask the question, What kind of peace does the world give? It's empty. It's usually based on what I can do and what I have and who I am. It's usually based on relationships that oftentimes are not the best in the world. It is certainly not based on anything that has eternal value whatsoever, but things that have no eternal value. If a person has enough wealth and enough popularity and they have enough of the things in life they want, and the opportunities they have, they think that's peace. But then the bottom drops out and difficulties and hardship come their way; and all of a sudden, money doesn't count. All of a sudden, position and popularity and fame and all of that, none of that makes any difference; because you see, Jesus said, My peace I give unto you, not as the world gives. Their peace is empty. It has no foundation because they're living a life apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, and there is no peace.
In fact, the scripture makes it clear that there is no peace for the wicked. And so, you and I know people, and maybe have a few friends who are not believers, and they talk about peace and yes, everything is fine with them. And then let catastrophe happen; or even hit a bad season in their life. Where's the peace? The value of person's peace and the legitimacy of their peace is determined not by how I feel when everything's going my way; but how do I feel and what is my sense of stability when nothing is going my way? And there are times and heartaches and burdens that people have that the lost person oftentimes will say, Well, if this Jesus is all you say He is to be, then why do you go through these things? He didn't say I wouldn't, but here's what He said, I'm going to be with you every step of the way.
And if you've never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you don't have anybody to go with you anywhere. You may have friends, but you have no eternal stability whatsoever. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. That means He is the epitome of all peace. He is the ultimate of all peace; and He's the source of true, genuine peace. And this is what He's saying here. The world's peace versus His peace. We're not going to be able to escape trials, so what we have to do is to decide how we're going to live. He said, My peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. What is His peace? His peace is Himself. And this is what He said. He says, In Me you have peace.
So when I have Jesus Christ in my heart, I have the Son of God, every promise, all the power, all the strength. Every single thing we possibly need is ours not based on what we have or what we can do and achieve, but based on what? The difference between our peace and the peace of the world is this. Their peace is based on things that they can touch and feel; things that they have; things that they possess. Our peace is based on a relationship, a relationship to one Person and that's Jesus Christ. And when He said, My peace I give unto you; and in Me you have peace, that's what He's talking about. It's a relationship with Him. And till a person has a personal relationship to Jesus Christ, you're not going to have any peace. No matter what you have; no matter where you go; no matter what you possess; no matter how much power and influence you have, without Jesus Christ, what is the source of your peace?
It has to be something that is temporary, because there are things you cannot control in life; situations and circumstances over which you have no control whatsoever. Then what happens? The peace that passes all understanding. And you see, when He mentions it here, when He talks My peace, you remember what, for example, Paul talked about in Philippians, chapter four, a wonderful chapter and especially this fourth chapter. When he speaks of it and he says, "Don't be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God". And listen to this, "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding". In other words, somebody says, Well, explain it. Well, the truth is you can't fully explain the peace of God. It is the awareness of the presence of an infinite, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, awesome God who possesses us and whom we possess, who lives inside of us and is willing to live His life in and through us every day.
That's what we have. We have the life of Christ living in and through us. And when He said to His disciples, for example, right before He left them, He said, after His resurrection, He said, My peace I leave with you, not something beyond Himself, My peace I leave with you; in Me there is peace. So I would ask you a question. When you hit hard times, difficult times, do you have the ability; do you have the privilege of relying upon the sustaining peace of Jesus Christ to see you through it? And you know, I meet people, for example, who are not believers. And they go through difficulty, hardship, especially when they're losing some loved one. It's very interesting to watch the expressions on their face and listen to the words they say; their comments and their feelings. And they try to muster up something. You know why they can't? It's not there.
When you don't have Christ, then what happens when you face death over which you have absolutely no control whatsoever? When those times hit, what do they do? They're empty, they're lonely, they're frustrated, they're full of fear. And the one thing they want to know is, What happened to them? Where are they? Because they have no assurance whatsoever. So when I look at all these promises about peace, and Paul said, Let peace, the peace of Christ rule in your heart. The question is how do we experience that peace? Well, that peace is only experienced through a relationship with Jesus Christ. And here's what He said, for example, in Romans, Romans the fifth chapter; a wonderful chapter of scripture. Listen to what he says in this very first verse, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ".
Now watch this. There is peace with God. The war is over; I surrender; Lord, You're my master, my Savior. And the moment I'm willing to do that, He is willing to forgive us of our sins; to cleanse us of our sins. He's willing to walk with us. He is willing to be in us, as He says, I in you and you in Me. When you trust Him as your personal Savior, here's what happens. You're willing to acknowledge that you were separated from God by your sin; and that when He went to the cross and laid down His life at Calvary, He paid your sin debt in full. Nobody else could. You can't pay for your own sin. Only Christ could pay for your sin. He is the Savior and the peacemaker. He pays the debt of our sin at the cross. Then when we accept Him personally as our personal Savior and His death as payment for our sin, then we become a child of God, the war's over. We belong to Him. He's the master of our life. That's peace with God. That only happens one time.
You say, Well, suppose I sin? You sin against God; you ask Him to forgive you and to cleanse you on the basis that you're one of His children. And the basis of the fact that He died and paid your sin debt in full. So and He makes peace with us, the peace of God. And as He says in this passage, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God". Justification means, watch this, we're declared no longer guilty; not because we're not guilty; not because we deserve anything; but because Jesus died for our sins. Now, having accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, what about this other peace? This daily peace; this peace that is our as a result of that relationship. Christ comes into your life to live. And through the Holy Spirit who makes this promise, He says when He comes into our life, there are many qualities that begin to show themselves, and one of them is peace, love, joy, kindness, goodness and all the rest. But look at peace.
That is, we have His peace. We have the privilege of walking every single day in the awesome awareness of the peace of God. And that is His capacity to enable us, to strengthen us, to assure us, to comfort us, to provide for us every single possible thing we need. He says, I'll never leave you nor forsake you. The only person who can boast of that is that person who has trusted Christ as their personal Savior and is walking in that wonderful peace. Would you say that that's true of you? If the Lord called you home at this moment, would you be ready to meet Him? Listen carefully. If you have never made Him your Savior by the confession of your sin and acceptance of Christ as your personal Savior, you have no assurance whatsoever. You would die without Christ and be lost. But if once somewhere in your life you trusted Him as your personal Savior, you can face anything. You know why? Because you face it with Him. Once you've trusted Him as your Savior, you never walk alone, always hand in hand with the Savior.
And I think about it oftentimes and when I'm praying, or if I'm going through some difficulty, trial, or even if everything's just right. I think, Lord, when I wake up in the morning today, I'm going to hold Your hand and You're going to hold mine. And that means I'm going to be safe all day long. You'll show me what to say. You'll show me what to do, where to go, what You want to accomplish. And He'll do the same for every single person. He does not expect us to figure things out in life. He expects us, anticipates and makes it possible for us to walk in His provision of peace. That is that quietness of spirit; that steadiness of life; that covering that He places over us as His children; that awesome fellowship that we can have with Him, knowing that one of these days we'll have absolutely unhindered fellowship. But while on this earth, remember, He does not say we'll not have difficulty, hardships and trial. And this is the difference between you and your believing friends. You don't have any assurance. But those friends of yours who know Christ as their Savior, they do.
And you wonder why they can walk through things that you could never walk through. So if you don't have Jesus, what do you have? You just have what you can do. When you have Him, hallelujah, you have what He can do in your life and through you. And when I think about the Christmas season and all the things that make up that season of the year, I think about most of all the Prince of Peace lives within my heart. The Prince of Peace is living within your heart. And so when we look at the Christmas tree, we see it differently. We see a tree with lights. And we see another tree with the Light of the World nailed to that tree and know in our heart, there is the source of our peace and the gift of eternal life. And my prayer is this will be the best Christmas you've ever known yet because Christ will be living it through you. Let's pray together.
Father, how grateful we are for the wonderful promise of Your peace, knowing in our heart You never fail to keep a promise. And that the greatest gift You have ever given is not something wrapped in a package, but the very person of Yourself. We love You and we praise You in Jesus' name, amen.