Dear radio friends,
Once again at this time of the year we turn our thoughts to the wonder of God’s love and grace in the giving of His own Son, Jesus Christ, to be born of a virgin in a stable in Bethlehem.
Of this birth of Jesus Christ we read in Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
Following this line of biblical truth, the angels proclaimed on the night that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem, is the Prince of Peace. But how can that be?
Between this Christmas and last Christmas lies man’s attempts for peace on earth. The human heart has always held the illusion of peace. But any sober-minded person in the world must be disillusioned today and bitterly disappointed at the attempts to obtain peace. In the past year the United Nations has met, the Oval Office has issued decrees, Capitol Hill and Congress and Senate and all the forces of the world have multiplied their words of peace and sought peace. They have pondered the best way to checkmate the other and to gain the advantage and to establish peace. But yet there is war — war being waged on terrorism; suicide bombing; bloodshed; high-level alerts. Go where you will on the earth today, where is peace? Is it not true that rather than having peace we have more reminders that there is no peace? You cannot enter into a public government building without passing through security. Peace?
There is even more. The Prince of Peace? Where is this peace? There is such unrest, it seems, in the soul of men and women, for the life of sin is gnawing and eating at human society and at men and women. There is the burnout and the lust. There is the enslavement to pornography. There is the enslavement to alcohol and to drugs and to cocaine. There are men and women being bound in awful perversions and it is sinking down to a lower age and level than ever before. Man cannot bring forth peace. A mouse could bring forth a mountain before man could bring forth peace.
And the answer of the Bible to all of this: This is because of sin. Sin has poisoned it all. And in sin man cannot and will not obtain peace.
Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Born unto us is the Prince of Peace. That is why we Christians celebrate Christmas, because He is the true peace-giver. He is the only One who truly gives peace — a peace, not of man, but a peace with God — a peace that involves the removal of our sins, a peace that involves our standing with God, being forgiven of God, and being made right with God. For, you see, we, too, as Christians, struggle. We look for peace in our family and we see our sin. We look for peace in our marriage and we see our weakness. We look for peace in the church, and so often we experience something other than peace. And we confess that we, of ourselves, are no different than anyone else in the world. We, too, do not have peace of ourselves. Sin dwells within us and, apart from the grace of God sustaining us moment by moment, we experience also unrest, fear, hatred, bitterness, and cruelty.
That is why the gospel is so precious. Born unto us is the Prince of Peace, the peace that comes to us from God. The very peace that surrounds God’s throne is brought to us through Jesus Christ, the One who delivers from the tyranny and guilt of sin and brings us to God. He is the Prince of Peace.
It was not for peace among nations that Jesus Christ came, but peace between our hearts and God. When the angels sang their song: “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth,” they were proclaiming a peace of the heart, a peace with God. The shepherds who heard the song that night knew that there was not peace among men in sin. They felt that as well, for they were the lowest class of society. They knew there was not peace and acceptance among men. They were the downtrodden. They were the beaten-down ones, who knew the strife among men due to wealth and social class.
They also knew that there was not peace among the nations, for the Roman government ruled by force, and to hold their grip they imposed a tax, forcing men and women to pay so that they could field an army. And by their mighty army they upheld peace. The shepherds knew there was no such thing as peace in the world.
But because the shepherds were believing men who were waiting for God’s promised Savior, they knew that the peace that was being foretold at this time, the peace that would come in Jesus Christ, was a spiritual peace; it was a peace with God. The Old Testament Scriptures had taught them that. The Old Testament Scriptures had been plain enough. They did not teach a millennium on earth — an earthly peace, a kingdom of earthly peace. But the Old Testament Scriptures taught the true peace of God, the true peace of soul with God in the forgiveness of sins. In Genesis 49:10 the promise was made that Shiloh, or literally Peace-giver, would come, and to Him would be the gathering of the people. We read in Psalm 72 that in His days, in the days of this Prince of Peace, the righteous shall flourish. Then we read in Jeremiah 29 that God had great thoughts of peace toward us. Those great thoughts of peace were reconciliation with Him, the forgiveness of sins in Him. The peace that He came with was not the sugar-coated, superficial peace that the world seeks after, which is simply the glossing over of enmity. But the Prince of Peace was to bring a true peace, a peace of the heart and of the soul between God and the sinner.
This was the question that Jesus Christ came to settle: How can we be reconciled to God? Sin was not, first of all, a contention between Adam and Eve, but it was between the soul and God. It was that which keeps us from God. Peace on earth was broken by revolt against heaven, by a strike against the Almighty. There is the root of all enmity. Out of our revolt against God we are now estranged from God, and there is no peace among men today because of the fundamental unrest with God and because of sin.
But now the gospel is: Unto you is born the Prince of Peace. God has sent His Son to establish peace between His children and Himself because that peace is most important to God. God is a God of peace. As He lives a peace within Himself, there is always blessed concord and harmony with God. There is harmonious love within God. And God wills that we have peace, that we enjoy peace with Him, so that we can look up into the eyes of God and have no shame. He has sent His Son in order that we might have peace with Him — a peace that comes by the removing of our sin and enmity and the giving of the righteousness of Christ into our hearts, whereby now we may look up to God. Peace — knowing that my sins are forgiven me in God’s Son!
This is why God sent Him. He is the Prince of Peace who reconciles us to God.
But we might ask, Where is this peace then? Yes, we understand what you are saying from the Scriptures — that God has come in Jesus Christ to establish peace between Himself and fallen sinners, and to do this by grace alone. But where is this peace on earth? There is so much unrest. And there is so much unrest in me as a child of God. There are those times when it seems that the Holy One, the living God, is far from me. Then there are other times when conflicts arise within my soul, and sin seems yet so powerful in my life. Where is His peace? I go, you say, through so many days of trouble and sorrow, so much anguish and turmoil and stress — stress within my family, stress on Christmas day, stress from my children who are hostile towards parents, stress within the marriage, husbands and wives pitted against each other, brother against brother in the church, families who for years do not talk to each other. Then we are like elephants. We can remember the evil that was done to me. And we say, Prince of Peace who has reconciled me to God and brought peace into my heart — where is that?
The answer is this: That Jesus Christ, the great Prince of Peace who has brought peace through His work, now instills peace within us through repentance. He is Prince of Peace toward men of God’s good pleasure, by the power of His grace, working repentance in our hearts. Jesus, as the ruler of peace, brings peace by repentance. Peace, therefore, is not something merely of the earth or of men. But it is possible only in repentance towards God. It means that, to enjoy this peace that the Child of Bethlehem brings to us, we are brought on our knees to know ourselves as sinners, to know ourselves as sinners who have fallen from God, who cannot be reconciled to God of ourselves. It means that this Prince of Peace creates in your heart a great burden, a burden over your own sin and a desire that that burden be lifted from you and that you repent of your sin, that you no longer treasure sin as the joy but you treasure God as your joy and you look upon your sin now as something that is abhorrent. The Prince of Peace works out His peace through repentance.
First, He works this within our hearts. He works this by striking us down in our sin and giving us to hate our sin and to turn to God. Then He goes on through the gospel and He brings to us the gospel of the pardon of God. In that gospel He teaches us that by His grace we are called unto a new and holy life, a life of godliness and praise to God. In this way the Prince of Peace is working peace in our souls. But the Prince of Peace works peace through repentance.
Let us remember that in this Christmas season. It is repentance that brings the experience of His peace.
There are many who will be singing Christmas carols: “In Excelsis Deo,” and all types of beautiful anthems of praise. But they do not have peace in their hearts because their hearts are set (especially at this time of the year) upon the things of this world and the things of sin. To sing those carols, you must sing with a repentant heart, out of something you have experienced. The Prince of Peace was not born for those who obstinately, willfully, continue impenitently in their life and who treasure sin. But the Prince of Peace was born for God’s children, to bring them to a sorrow for their sin in repentance. And in that way, they experience His peace.
Do you experience the peace of the Prince of Peace at this time of the year? The question is this: Do you repent of your sin? Then you shall begin to enjoy this wonderful peace, this wonderful peace that He works within our hearts. He works it through His Word. We must daily come to that Word, and through that Word that sinful nature or ours, that vicious sinful nature, must be put to death. We must say, “Babe of Bethlehem, Prince of Peace, slay my pride.”
But there are also other ways that we enjoy His peace within our hearts. We also experience His peace in our hearts in the way of submitting to Him, by the grace of God, of renouncing our own way and our own rebellious will and saying, “Have Thine own way, Lord!” He is the Prince of Peace. He is the King. He is the Son of the King. He is a Prince. Therefore we are to say, “Thou art sovereign. Thou art the great and sovereign God. I give up my way unto Thee.” And then we must hear His Word. We must come again to church to hear the faithful preaching of the Word of God, the explanation and the expounding of all the riches of our salvation. Do not sleep in on Sunday and not go to church and then complain that you do not have peace in your heart. Of course you do not have peace in your heart! You have to hear the Word of the Prince of Peace. And that Word is to be found in His church on Sunday morning and evening. That is where you must be. And when you are in church, you are not going to experience His peace if you are fighting with each other in enmity, jealousy — fighting with the elders. There is no peace then. But you must come to the church with a humble, thankful heart. And you must walk in peace — peace with your neighbor, peace with your wife, forgiving your wife, asking her to forgive you, peace with your brothers and sisters — not living in jealousy, not being offended in every little thing, making up mountains out of little mole hills. We must live in peace.
The birth of Jesus Christ is the birth of the Prince of Peace. The coming of Jesus Christ is the coming of God’s irresistible grace to bring peace. It is the fulfillment of what we read in Isaiah 11 that the wolf shall lie down with the lamb and the lion with the calf. Imagine that! A lion and a wolf being changed, their very nature being changed, so that they are docile, so that they can sleep with a lamb.
The Prince of Peace has come to change us, to reconcile us, to subdue us, and to bring us peace. Peace in the family, peace in our marriage, peace in the church, peace from brother to brother, peace in our souls as we are reconciled to God and our sins are washed away and we bear them no more — wonderful peace established by the Prince of Peace through repentance, through submitting our way to Him.
At this time of the year, as we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, may God grant us this peace.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy Word. We thank Thee for the gift of Thy grace in the sending of Thy Son Jesus Christ, the only One who can make peace between us and Thee. We thank Thee that He has removed the burden of our sins. And we thank Thee that His Spirit works within us that we might repent of our sins, our pride, submit our way to Thee, and in this way experience the blessed peace that He gives. We pray all this in Jesus’ name, Amen.