Sermon Text: Matthew 5:9
Sermon Theme: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are the peace makers,… Not between God and man, for no man can make his own peace with God; nor can any mere creature, angels, or men, make it for him; Christ, in this sense, is the only peace maker: but between men and men; and such are they, who are of peaceable dispositions themselves; live peaceably with all men, and with one another, as their relation obliges to, and their mutual comfort requires; and with the men of the world; and who are ready, willing, and very serviceable, in composing differences, and making peace between their fellow creatures and fellow Christians.
Now of such persons it is said, that they shall be called the children of God; that is, they are the children of God by adopting grace, which is made manifest in their regeneration; and that is evidenced by the fruits of it, of which this is one; they not only shall be, and more manifestly appear to be, the sons of God hereafter; but they are, and are known to be so now, by their peaceable disposition, which is wrought in them by the Spirit of God; whereby they become like to the God of peace, and to Christ, the great and only peacemaker, and so are truly sons of peace.
(From Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)
- Some may be thought to be peacemakers who make peace with their enemies but remain without regard of evils within. They are never reconciled in heart with their own internal enemies, yet they are willing to make peace with others. They are parodies of peace rather than lovers of peace. For that peace is blessed which is set in the heart, not that which is set in words. Do you want to know who is truly a peacemaker? Hear the prophet, who says, “Keep your tongue from evil and let your lips not speak deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Psalms 34:13-14).
- Do Christians fully understand one of the most obvious facts of history and of human experience is that peace does not characterize man’s earthly existence? There is no peace now for two reasons: the opposition of Satan and the disobedience of man. Are you engaged with the God of peace in a battle for sovereignty against Satan and his followers? We are reminded in Matthew 10:34, however, that not all conflict can or should be avoided; the issue there is not inter-personal relationships but faithfulness to God’s cause in the face of opposition.
- Does there seem to be a conflict with the seventh beatitude and Jesus’ saying “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34)? Jesus’ meaning, however, was that the peace He came to bring is not peace at any price. There will be opposition before there is harmony; there will be strife before there is peace. To be peacemakers on God’s terms requires being peacemakers on the terms of truth and righteousness—to which the world is in fierce opposition. When believers bring truth to bear on a world that loves falsehood, there will be strife. When believers set God’s standards of righteousness before a world that loves wickedness, there is an inevitable potential for conflict. Yet that is the only way.
- Are you working for a peace that involves not a passive acceptance of whatever comes along but an active involvement that confronts the problem and works through to a satisfactory reconciliation? “Seek peace and pursue it” is the admonition of the psalmist (Psalms 34:14). The peace that we are to make is the establishment of right relationships between members of the human family. As we work for reconciliation, we will be called sons of God. This refers to those who, by acting as God acts, bear a family resemblance to their heavenly Father.
- Does the world’s standards and actions honor the wrong kind of peacemakers by its words? In almost every age of history the greatest heroes have been the greatest warriors. The world lauds the powerful and often exalts the destructive. The model man is not meek but macho. The model hero is not self-giving but self-seeking, not generous but selfish, not gentle but cruel, not submissive but aggressive, not meek but proud.
- Are we too often following the popular philosophy of the world to put self first? But when self is first, peace is last. Self precipitates strife, division, hatred, resentment, and war. It is the great ally of sin and the great enemy of righteousness and, consequently, of peace.
- Are you attempting to achieve peace at the expense of righteousness? James confirms the nature of God’s peace when he writes, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17). God’s way to peace is through purity. Two people cannot be at peace until they recognize and resolve the wrong attitudes and actions that caused the conflict between them, and then bring themselves to God for cleansing. Peace that ignores the cleansing that brings purity is not God’s peace. For righteousness not only puts an end to harm, but it administers the healing of love.
- Are we allowing disagreements, hatreds and conflicts merely to go underground—where they tend to fester, grow, and break out again? For God’s peace, the peace of which the Bible speaks, never evades issues; it knows nothing of peace at any price. It does not gloss or hide, rationalize or excuse. It confronts problems and seeks to solve them, and after the problems are solved it builds a bridge between those who were separated by the problems. It often brings its own struggle, pain, hardship, and anguish, because such are often the price of healing. It is not a peace that will be brought by presidents, diplomats, or international humanitarians. It is the inner personal peace that only He can give to the soul of man and that only His children can exemplify.
- As believers are we avoiding facing others with the truth, for the sake of harmony? To come to terms on anything less than God’s truth and righteousness is to settle for a truce—which confirms sinners in their sin and may leave them even further from the kingdom. Those who in the name of love or kindness or compassion try to witness by appeasement and compromise of God’s Word will find that their witness leads away from Him, not to Him. God’s peacemakers will not let a sleeping dog lie if it is opposed to God’s truth; they will not protect the status quo if it is ungodly and unrighteous. They are not willing to make peace at any price. God’s peace comes only in God’s way. Being a peacemaker is essentially the result of a holy life and the call to others to embrace the gospel of holiness.
- Are you working on the peace which is, first and foundationally, internal and spiritual? It is not primarily physical, military, or political. Peace for the nations flows from peace in the hearts of individuals. Peacemakers are not power brokers but people lovers. The promised kingdom is characterized by peace, as described in Isaiah 9:6-7; 66:12-13; Micah 4:3.
- Are you a beggar who has been fed and who is called to help feed others? For the peacemaking spirit is built on humility, sorrow over its own sin, gentleness, hunger for righteousness, mercy, and purity of heart. Having been brought to God, he is to bring others to God. The purpose of the church is to preach “peace through Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:36). To preach Christ is to promote peace. To bring a person to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is the most peacemaking act a human being can perform.
- Why do we sometimes think that sinful men can create peace, either within themselves or among themselves? Sin can produce nothing but strife and conflict. “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice” James says. “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:16-18). Regardless of what the circumstances might be, where there is conflict it is because of sin. If you separate the conflicting parties from each other but do not separate them from sin, at best you will succeed only in making a truce. For the only peace that men have known is the peace they have received as the gift of God. Christ’s coming to earth was the peace of God coming to earth, because only Jesus Christ could remove sin, the great barrier to peace. “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:13-14).
- As a believer, are you trying to contend without being contentious, to disagree without being disagreeable, and to confront without being abusive? The peacemaker speaks the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). To start with love is to start toward peace. We begin peacemaking by starting with whatever peaceful point of agreement we can find. Peace helps beget peace. The peacemaker always gives others the benefit of the doubt. He never assumes they will resist the gospel or reject his testimony. When he does meet opposition, he tries to be patient with other people’s blindness and stubbornness just as he knows the Lord was, and continues to be, patient with his own blindness and stubbornness.
- Do you have a good understanding that God’s peacemakers will not always have peace in the world? As Jesus makes clear by the last beatitude, persecution follows peacemaking. In Christ we have forsaken the false peace of the world, and consequently we often will not have peace with the world. But as God’s children we may always have peace even while we are in the world—the peace of God, which the world cannot give and the world cannot take away. God cares for us so much that He stores up His remembrances of our sorrows and afflictions. God’s children matter greatly to Him, and it is no little thing that we can call Him Father.
1) At least four things characterize a peacemaker. First, he is one who himself has made peace with God. The gospel is all about peace. Before we came to Christ we were at war with God. No matter what we may consciously have thought about God, our hearts were against Him. Second, a peacemaker leads others to make peace with God. Christians are a body of sinners cleansed by Jesus Christ and commissioned to carry His gospel of cleansing to the rest of the world. Third, a peacemaker helps others make peace with others. The moment a person comes to Christ he becomes at peace with God and with the church and becomes himself a peacemaker in the world. A peacemaker builds bridges between men and God and also between men and other men. Fourth, a peacemaker endeavors to find a point of agreement. God’s truth and righteousness must never be compromised or weakened, but there is hardly a person so ungodly, immoral, rebellious, pagan, or indifferent that we have absolutely no point of agreement with him. Wrong theology, wrong standards, wrong beliefs, and wrong attitudes must be faced and dealt with, but they are not usually the best places to start the process of witnessing or peacemaking.
2) The following is from “Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture” 29 Vols
WHERE PEACE IS. (By Augustine): There is in the inner person a kind of daily quarrel; a praiseworthy battle acts to keep what is better from being overcome by what is worse. The struggle is to keep desire from conquering the mind and to keep lust from conquering wisdom. This is the steadfast peace that you ought to develop in yourself, that what is better in you may be in charge of what is worse. The better part in you, moreover, is that part in which God’s image is found. This is called the mind, the intellect. There faith burns, there hope is strengthened, there charity is kindled.
THE BLESSINGS OF PEACE. (By Chrysostom): Here he not only responds that they should not feud and become hateful to one another, but he is also looking for something else and something more, that we bring together others who are feuding. And again he promises a spiritual reward. What kind of reward is it? “That they themselves shall be called sons of God.” For in fact this was the crucial work of the Only Begotten: to bring together things divided and to reconcile the alienated.
AN EXPRESSION OF THE COMING REIGN OF GOD. (By Augustine): Where there is no contention, there is perfect peace. And that is why the children of God are peacemakers, because nothing can finally stand against God. In this way the children possess a likeness to God the Father. And those who calm their passions and subject them to reason, to mind and spirit, and who keep their carnal lusts under control engender peace within themselves. Thereby they themselves become the kingdom of God. In this kingdom all things are so well ordered that everything in humanity that is common to us and to the beasts is spontaneously governed by that which is chief and preeminent in humanity, namely, the reasoning mind. This preeminent human faculty is itself subject to a still higher power, which is Truth itself, the only begotten Son of God.
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