Prince of Peace

Bible Book: Isaiah  9 : 6
Subject: Christ, Birth of; Nativity; Peace; Christmas
Series: Christmas - The Name Above All Names
[Editor's Note: The "Name Above All Names" is a four-part Christmas sermon series from Isaiah 9:6. All four messages can be found in PastorLife.]
Introduction

We come now to the fourth and last sermon in our series of messages for this Christmas season. We are looking at Isaiah 9:6 and considering The Name Above All Names. Today we give attention to our Lord as He is called the Prince of Peace. This is a title with which we are more familiar than some of the other names which are ascribed to Jesus. But, just because this title is better known to us does not mean that we understand fully what this name is meant to impart concerning Christ. Let us look at our text, Isaiah 9:6.

"For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

What do you think of when the word peace is mentioned? A baby sleeping under a warm blanket? Two enemies laying down their arms and embracing each other? A beautiful sunset on a beach? What does peace actually mean when used in the passage before us?

Certainly peace is something we all want and all need. Yet, peace remains for most people and most nations an elusive goal. One little girl was diligently working on a school assignment when her father came in her room and asked what she was doing. She told him she was working on a plan for world peace. Her father asked if that was not a pretty big task for such a small girl. The girl replied, “Oh, no, don’t worry daddy, there are two other girls in my class helping me with it!” To say the least, that girl and her friends had high hopes. Perhaps she did not know that statisticians have discovered that in thousands of years of recorded history only 8% of that time has there been real world peace - and during that time over 8,000 treaties have been made and broken by various nations.

What about peace? What does it mean and can we really experience it? Does God’s peace mean world peace or just personal peace? Is either realistic? The answers are found in the Bible.

Before I tell you the four elements of true Biblical peace, let me tell you something peace does not mean. The peace Christ gives is not meant to make one indifferent or lazy, for biblical peace is not the absence of struggle. Paul, the man who exhibited peace in every circumstance, also wrote that we are engaged as believers in spiritual warfare. He told us that we are to be dressed for duty and that we wrestle against spiritual rulers, authorities, and against powers of this dark world. One bishop sent out a Christmas statement to the priests under his care, wishing them peace at Christmas time. One wrote back saying, “We don’t need peace at my parish, we need an earthquake.” That priest was rather sad that his people seemed too peaceful. Friend, I think a lot of churches and Christians confuse peace and what they really need is to be shaken out of their slumber. We need to be careful in our church that we do not become too satisfied, too comfortable, too pleased with our spiritual condition.

Also, God’s peace does not mean that we can harden our hearts and close our ears to the cries of the hurting, suffering, and lost people or our world. Jesus had perfect peace in His heart, but He was moved to tears by the people who appeared to be sheep without a shepherd.

One last thing that God’s peace does not mean is that of sacrificing His truth and principles on the altar of getting along with the world. This kind of peace was sought by many people during the days of integration in many of our churches. I remember having a black preacher, a man won to the Lord by Southern Baptist missionaries in Africa, come to my church to preach in the 1970s in South Carolina. A neighboring Baptist minister who was afraid his church, a church that was very missions-minded, might want to invite the man to come to his church, told me I was creating a problem by inviting that "black" man to preach in my church. The only reason he said that is because he was afraid to do the right thing and invite this wonderful black preacher to come speak and speak in his church. Peace at the price of dishonoring God is not peace, IT IS SIN! Jesus once said, “You think I came to bring peace, I came to bring a sword.” That may sound like a contradiction to His offer of peace, but actually Jesus was simply pointing out that the peace He offers is not a peace from responsibility.

If we clearly know \what the peace of God is not, let us take a moment to learn what the peace of God is. After all, God wants us to know his peace.

After having their fifth child, a couple received a playpen from some friends. Several weeks later the friends who sent the gift received this note of thanks: “The playpen is wonderful. Just what we needed. I sit in it every afternoon and read - and the kids can't get close to me!” Those were some parents that needed a measure of peace in the home.

Let's look at what the Bible means when it speaks of Jesus as the Prince of Peace.

I. In Christ we discover Upward Peace

Upward Peace is the basis of all true peace. Upward peace is the peace one needs and receives when Jesus Christ is accepted as Lord and Savior. Look at Romans 5:1 and note the text that reads, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Clearly, the peace we need most comes through a relationship with God brought to us only through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Many people do not understand that rejection or negligence toward Jesus Christ means that a person has declared himself or herself as an enemy of God. If you tell some people this, they will protest that they are not the enemy of God. The problem is they do not understand that their sins have created a great separation between the Creator and created. Those sins serve as a barrier, like a wall, signifying war.

When we become Christians, we are granted peace with God. That is what we can call "saving peace". It means that the wall of partition is broken down which stood between our soul and God. Ephesians 2:14-15 states, “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace.”

God, in His love, reaches out to us in our sins in order to call us to this upward peace – He offers us peace from the war our sins have waged against Him. He loved us so much He sent His Son into this world to redeem us. Christmas reminds us that God sent His Son into this world to open the door of peace to our hearts, minds and souls. When a person accepts Christ, the conflict with God is over. To put your faith in Christ, is to lay down the sword of sin and turn in faith to surrender toward Him. Rather than subjecting you to humiliation and deprivation for your sins, God adopts you into His family. He gives you the peace you have been looking for everywhere else. He forgives your sins. He prepares a place for you in Heaven. Your guilt is gone. Your crimes are forgiven. You have peace with God!

The greatest need for peace in our world today is an upward peace - peace with God. But, note a second truth about true peace...

II. In Christ we discover Inward Peace

Once we have peace with God, we are ready for real peace within. Unfortunately, many Christians do not experience inner peace because they do not understand how to activate it. In John 14:1 we read where Jesus said, “Do not let your heart be troubled.” There is an important element in this sentence which can be overlooked. Jesus used the word “let” when referring to the troubled heart. The problem for the believer is that he "lets" his heart be troubled. There must be something we do in ourselves, something totally unnecessary, which causes us to lose our peace.

A man told the psychiatrist, “Every night when I get into bed, I think someone is under my bed. I then get up and look but there's never anyone there. When I crawl under the bed and lie down, I get the idea that there is someone on top of the bed. This goes on all night, up and down, up and down. It's driving me crazy. Do you think you can help?”

The doctor said, “I think I can. All you have to do is visit me twice a week for the next two years, and I think I can cure you. It will cost you $75 per visit or around $7,500.00.” The man said, “That's pretty steep for a working man like me. I'll talk it over with my wife and let you know.” The next week the man called the psychiatrist and said, “Thanks, doc, but I won't be coming back. My wife didn’t like your price per visit, so she just solved the problem.” The doctor asked, “How did she do that?” The man said, “She cut the legs off the bed.”

God wants to saw the legs off our worries and anxieties. We are not to “let” our hearts be troubled!

Turn to Isaiah 26:3 and note that it states, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” This is a fascinating verse of Scripture. It is beautiful to read, lovely to learn and even more wonderful to embrace. This verse states that God will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, trusting in Him. The word “keep” literally means to guard, protect, hide and conceal. We must not miss the import of this one word. Those who meet the conditions set out by God are protected by the Lord because they are hidden in the Lord. Note, we are not kept from trouble, but we are hidden in the One who walks with us through trouble. Jesus did not keep the disciples from the storm, but He was with them in the storm and hid them from any harm caused by the storm. The storm could only do to them what He allowed and he would only allow that which was for their good.

Then, look at the word “perfect.” You will be interested to know that the word perfect does not occur in the Hebrew text. You might well ask why the translators put it there. They placed the word perfect in the text because of an unusual pattern used by Isaiah when writing this passage in Hebrew. The writer of the Hebrew text actually put the word peace in the sentence twice. So, it virtually reads, “You will keep in peace, peace, him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” The word peace is written in the text twice. When something is to be emphasized, we occasionally repeated it. You know that a "bon-bon" is a special candy. Actually "bon" is the word for good in the French language. The term "bon-bon" simply means "good-good." God’s peace is" peace-peace." His peace is peace squared! His peace is not like the world’s peace.

Remember that Jesus said, “Peace I leave 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 repeats His peace. He says it twice in the same sentence - He says, “Peace I leave, my peace I give you.” This not just peace, this is bon-bon peace! It is good peace. It is perfect peace. This is peace-peace!

There is, however, a condition to obtaining this peace. Let me share with you that there is saving peace and there is living peace, and living peace is somewhat different. Living peace is the tranquility of the heart and soul in the midst of life’s adverse winds. Living peace is the serenity of the mind despite the stabbing pangs of fear, doubt, depression, temptation, and all other attacks to our emotional well being.

So, what is the condition that must be met in order to have living peace? The text states that the mind must be steadfastly fixed on Him. The word mind means the form or pattern of one’s thinking. Look at Genesis 6:5 and read, “The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” The phrase inclination of the thoughts comes from the same Hebrew word as the word mind in our text. In other words, the way we frame our thoughts, the way we imagine things, is what is meant by the word mind. Now follow along the text and note what the Lord said regarding our minds. Our text says that our minds must be steadfast. That word means to lean upon. Think of it like this. In order to have God’s peace-peace, His perfect peace, we must form our thoughts by leaning all the weight of our thinking processes on Him and His promises to us. To do otherwise is to open the door to stinking-thinking. To do otherwise is to allow Satan to build mental strongholds which can only be taken captive by divine power, bringing every thought into captivity and making them obedient to Christ.

There is one other word in Isaiah 26:3 which is very important. Note that we are to trust in Him, in the Lord. The word trust is fascinating. It means to be careless. It means to lean upon without fear or doubt. When I sit down in the chair in my office, I never do so with any reservation. I don’t sit down slowly, as if I think the chair may give way. Mentally and emotionally, we are to sit carelessly upon the lap of our Lord. We are to trust Him recklessly. You cannot have peace of mind as God has designed it for you otherwise.

James states in 1:8 that the double minded man is unstable in all he does. What makes us double-minded anyway? More than anything, I think it is doubt. We doubt that we deserve the love of God. We doubt that God’s promises were actually meant for us. We assume that the promises of God may have been meant for others, but surely they are not meant for us. God sees this doubt as a lack of faith in Him, not just a lack of faith in His promises! To be quite honest, God’s promises are as true as God is true. His promises are as trustworthy as He is trustworthy. That is why our text says that God will keep in perfect peace those who trust in Him. He does not say anything about trusting a promise. He says everything about trusting the Promise-er!

When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he spoke about a peace that goes beyond understanding. Look at Philippians 4:7 and note the passage. Here God promises to guard our hearts and minds with His peace if we pray as we should and maintain a proper attitude. But look at the following verses. Here we are told that when we think as she should (that is, fix our thoughts properly on Him) we do not just have the peace of God, we have the God of peace! That is what Isaiah was saying. When our minds are fixed on Him, we have the God of peace to keep us in perfect peace! This kind of double peace is beyond understanding. That is exactly what the Bible says. It cannot be explained, but it can be enjoyed.

Whatever is worrying you today? Whatever is causing you anxiety, it is not from God. He does not want the redeemed to live without peace. He told us not to let our heart be troubled. He told us that He was giving us His peace. We must lean our minds, our thinking and our imagination upon Him. He will come to us when we do that and He will give us not only His peace, but His glorious presence.

Our Lord came on that first Christmas to grant us Upward Peace and Inward Peace - but that is not all - look also at that fact that ....

III. In Christ we discover Outward Peace

The third kind of peace we need to be aware of is peace with people around us. We are called upon as Christians to be peacemakers. God is not asking us to do the impossible. There are some people who will not let you live at peace with them. And, we must not sacrifice truth for peace. We cannot submit to falsehood and injustice in the name of peace.

In Hebrews 12:14-15 we read, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” We should make every effort to live in peace and to avoid allowing roots of bitterness to grow up between us and others. When you are not right with someone with whom you should have a right spirit and relationship, you will not enjoy the full peace with God or yourself. Again we read in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” You are responsible for peace in relationships as far as it depends on you. Being honest with ourselves, we should ask if we are practicing that peace. If not, maybe that is why we do not have full peace in ourselves, or a sense of full peace with God.

God sent Christ to redeem us when we were yet in our sins. He does not expect us to clean ourselves up before He will save us, in fact, there is no way that we can be pure apart from His work of grace and salvation in our hearts. If God loved us when we were in our sins, we must learn to love others even when they don't meet all the conditions we may set for them. Jesus, living in our hearts, gives us the ability to love others and be at peace with them in the same way God created peace with us. He shows us how to love and forgive people that hurt us. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, in part, because He takes away our pride and helps us love others - He creates an Outward Peace in our lives.

Now, to be sure, there are some people that will never allow you to have peace with them. The Lord deals with this as well. He loves everyone and it is His desire that everyone be saved, but many will not come to Him. Our duty is to do our part to create peace with others, though not everyone will accept us or desire peace with us.

So, we have examined Peace with God, Peace in our hearts, Peace with others, now let us look at the fourth and last kind of peace.

IV. in Christ we discover Onward Peace

Yes, there is an onward, everlasting peace. One day the Prince of Peace is coming back. One day the Lord of Glory who came as a little baby,  was placed in a manager, held in Mary's arms, will return as a reigning Lord on a white stallion.

Jesus is coming to set up a Kingdom of Peace on this earth!

The lion will lie down with the lamb.

Swords will be beaten into plow shares.

When Jesus ascended after His resurrection, the angel promised He would come again in like manner – riding upon the clouds.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states that the return of Jesus to bring peace on this earth is mentioned no less than 318 times in the Bible. As Jesus kept the first promise to come, He will keep the second!

James 5:8 tells us to be patient because the Lord is coming.

In 2 Peter 3 we are told that He is coming and that we should be sure that we are at peace with Him.

For all who know Christ, we can live now in the promise of an Onward Peace - a peace which will be eternal in the presence of our Lord.

Conclusion

Have you made peace with God? Have you received His Son Jesus into your life? If not, today is the right day to do so!

For many of us who have received Him, we still do not live in the full peace He offers. We have not formed our thinking by His Word or fixed our trust in Him. We are still trusting in self, job, health, money or something other than our Lord. We cannot have peace like that.

Still others lack peace with one another. Some have not done all they can to live in peace with those around you and that is what the Bible says we must do.

Come to the Prince of Peace today and find new and full peace for your heart and soul!

In Luke 2:14 we read, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

Paul wrote in Romans 15:33, “The God of peace be with you all, Amen.”

May that be true of everyone here today!