Sermon Dec. 6, 2015 “The Lord’s Unshakable Peace” 2 Thessalonians 3:16

2 Thessalonians Sermon # 7 Sermon Series “What Can Shake Thy Sure Repose?”

December 6, 2015      2 Thessalonians 3:16-18

Today’s Sermon: “The Lord’s Unshakable Peace”

Pastor Louis Prontnicki  Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church

It’s December 6; Christmas is only 19 days away. For most of us, this is probably the busiest and most stressful time of the year. There are gifts to buy, people to see, places to travel to, and extra activities to attend. We might sing, “Peace on earth; goodwill to men” but it seems anything but peaceful to us. So how appropriate that at the end of Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, he writes to them: “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”
This is also a fitting climax to the letter, for the believers in Thessalonica had been wrestling with three issues that might shake their peace. They were facing increased persecution from enemies outside the church; they were dealing with false teachers within the congregation; and they had some in their midst who were idle busybodies, making life miserable for the rest.
Therefore it is an appropriate benediction the apostle pronounces on this church: “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.”
Let’s think about what it means to personally know the Lord of peace, and to experience the Lord’s peace, at all times, in every circumstance.
First and foremost, you can be at peace with God through Jesus Christ.
Second, you can experience Christ’s supernatural peace in all circumstances.
Third, God calls you to pursue peace with others: believers, outsiders, and even enemies.
Fourth, God appoints you to be His peace-making ambassador.

Overview:
I want you to picture a house being built. What is the first part of the house that is constructed? It’s the foundation. Without a solid foundation, the house will eventually collapse. And so it is with having peace with God through Jesus Christ: that’s the foundational peace upon which every other aspect of peace is built upon.
Then after the walls are framed, the roof is put on, and here you see the roofing shingles nailed on, and the whole roof is complete, before anything else is done inside. Why? To protect everything under the roof from the elements. And so it is with experiencing Christ’s supernatural peace in your mind and heart. When you know His perfect peace, then your heart is protected from all the hardships and challenges of life, and you can work on pursuing peace with others, which is the third aspect of God’s unshakable peace. That is, if you are at peace with God through Jesus Christ, and if Christ’s unshakeable peace guards and protects your heart and mind though thick and thin, then you are able to reach out to others as an ambassador of Christ’s peace, even to your enemies. And the climax of God working His peace in you is that He appoints you to imitate Him in being a peace-maker. For just as Christ came to earth to make peace between God the Father and us, so as Christ lives within us, He equips us and motivates us to make peace between other people, even to proclaim the gospel of peace to those who are God’s enemies!

Now for a more detailed look at each of these points about the Lord’s peace:

First and foremost, you can be at peace with God through Jesus Christ.
To be at peace with the Lord you first need to recognize that you were at war with Him, until the Prince of Peace made peace for us with God, through His atoning death on the cross. Every one of us, both through the sinful nature we inherited from Adam and Eve, and through our own sinful rebellion against God, were at war against God, and therefore we had no peace with Him:
Isaiah 48:22: “There is no peace for the wicked” says the Lord
Romans 3:17 “The path of peace (the sinner) did not know”
By nature and by choice, we lived as enemies of God; we did not know the way of His peace.
In fact we can say that left to our own self-centered ways, we would be at war against God, at war with all other people, at war with the fallen, sin-cursed creation, and at war with our own hearts and minds. We would never know true peace! How sad and tragic!
But the God of Peace, our Heavenly Father, sent His Son, our Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), to make peace by taking upon Himself the penalty of our crimes and the just wrath of God, at the cross: Rom. 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…”
Romans 5:10 “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life.”
Now this may not be the type of peace that you are most desperate for, but it is the most fundamental and foundational peace. For if you are not at peace with God, then you cannot experience any true peace within yourself or with others.
Why not? Because you and I were made to know God and to live peaceably with God, and if that relationship is out of order, then every other relationship will also be skewed. It is as if you are having inner ear balance problems – unless you are healed of that problem, you won’t be able to deal with other activities in your life.
So let me ask you: do you know that you have peace with God, through what Jesus Christ did for you and in you? Have you completely surrendered to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? Or are you still fighting him?

Second, you can experience Christ’s supernatural peace in all circumstances.
Let me assume that you have peace with God through Jesus Christ. Then the next issue is: are you at peace with yourself? Do you have the peace of Christ over your head, like a roof that protects and guards you from being troubled and afraid? Are you experiencing a Shalom wholeness and tranquility that is a gift to those who are trusting in the Lord of peace? Or is your peace being disturbed by circumstances or by heart issues?
If it’s late at night and you are trying to get some sleep, but someone on your street is making lots of noise and causing a disturbance, and refuses to stop, you might think about calling the police and they might arrest him for “disturbing the peace.” But what about the things that disturb your inner peace?
Do you find yourself worrying and anxious about the future? (Health, finances, security, etc.)
Does anger and bitterness rob you of your inner tranquility?
Is there a certain person that you can’t forgive, and it eats you up inside?
Can you really say that Lord of peace is giving you peace at all times and in every way, as we are promised in Philippians 4:7, 9: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” “And the God of peace will be with you.”
Now I want to warn you against settling for a counterfeit inner peace, a peace that may seem restful, but is artificial fruit, and not the real fruit of the Spirit peace. For example, you could be mistaking your carelessness or apathy for true peace. Your laid-back approach to life could be masking a lack of concern for others or an unwillingness to take on God-given responsibility, so that your so-called peace of mind is really a cover up for your sin. Or you could be seeking inner peace through retirement plans, vacations, through drugs and alcohol, through television and books, or through doing meditation or yoga. These things might seem to work for a while, but remember: they will not give you a supernatural peace that will hold up in all circumstances. Inner peace is what everyone is searching for, but such peace can only be found as by-product of having true peace with God through Jesus Christ. As the bumper stick put it: “Know God? Know Peace. No God? No Peace.”
The real peace that God gives us is a supernatural peace, a peace that can endure through any circumstance, for any length of time. “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.”
Jesus promises His followers in John 14:27 “Peace I leave you with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; and do not be afraid.” Jesus, the Prince of peace, gives His Perfect peace to us, so that our hearts don’t have to be troubled or afraid.
Jesus says something similar in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
And how has Jesus overcome the world, so that we can have His peace?
Rom 16:20 “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” This goes back to God’s promise to Eve in Genesis 3:15. You see, in order for there to be real peace, all evil must be conquered, especially the evil one, Satan. Therefore the way to real peace in a sin-cursed world means that our King Jesus must first conquer and defeat our mortal enemy, Satan.

Third, God calls you to pursue peace with others: believers, outsiders, and even enemies.
Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Romans 14:19 “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace…”
Col. 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since… you were called to peace.”
Hebrews 12:14 “Make every effort to live in peace with all men…”
Psalm 34:14b “Seek peace and pursue it.”
Do you sense the weight and importance of pursuing peace with others? If we have peace with God through Jesus Christ and if we are experiencing Christ’s supernatural peace in our minds and hearts, then God calls us to vigorously pursue the path of peace in all our relationships; to complete the work of His peace through and in us.
Why is this so important to God, and how is it possible, given what stubborn people we all are?
Let’s remember that when Jesus Christ came to make a vertical peace between God and us, part of that redemption was also to make a horizontal peace between those people who had been enemies toward each other, namely Jews and gentiles. We see this in Eph. 2:14-17:
“He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one, and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility… His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two (Jew and Gentile), thus making peace, and in this body to reconcile both of them to God though the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.”
Therefore God calls us to pursue peace with others because it is part of the gospel message; such peace between sinners and even enemies is a picture of what Jesus came to do between God and man and between prideful sinners and other stubborn sinners.
And the reason this reconciliation is possible is because Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, and ultimate Reconciler, lives in us and is at work in us, enabling us to forgive one another and to forbear with each other and to live in harmony with others: first in the Body of Christ, then with those outside the Kingdom of God, and finally even to our enemies. As Proverbs 16:7 tells us: “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies live at peace with him.”

Fourth, God appoints you to be His peace-making ambassador.
We don’t have time to develop this point this morning, but this is the outgrowth of the other three points. When you are at peace with God through Jesus Christ, so that you have Christ’s supernatural peace, triumphing over all circumstances, God enables you not only to live at peace with other people, but He also calls you, by His grace and power, to be His “ambassador of peace,” in two wonderful ways”
First, He calls you to replicate the peace-making power of Christ in the lives of those who are fighting with one another. (See Ken Sande’s The Peacemaker.)
Second, He calls you to replicate the peace-making power of Christ in the lives of those who are in rebellion against God.
2 Cor. 5:18-21 “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

In closing, I want to ask you four questions:
First, do you personally know the Lord of peace? Does He live in you, by faith?
Second, are you experiencing the Lord’s peace, at all times, and in every way?
Third, are you pursuing peace with other people, even your enemies?
Fourth, have you joyfully accepted your appointment at the Lord’s ambassador of peace?

Heb. 13:20 “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus , that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will….”