The Peace of God

peace of god

Contemplation of the peace of God is a profitable exercise, particularly in these perilous times. The year 2023 has been marked so far by bloody military conflicts, devastating natural disasters, desperate mass migrations, and potentially radical shifts in the geopolitics. Uncertainty is the order of the day and several studies have shown that these events are taking a toll on people’s inner peace and mental health. In response, the World Health Organization (WHO) has adopted the theme, ‘Mental health is a universal human right’ for this year’s observance of World Mental Health Day. It is an attempt by WHO to raise awareness of this growing problem.

WHO estimates that one in eight people globally are living with mental health conditions, which can impact their physical health, their well-being, how they connect with others, and their livelihoods. That is a lot of people! It is clear that the world desperately needs peace now. But where can it be found? The Lord Jesus Christ was careful to distinguish between God’s peace and the false peace that this world offers: “…the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give” (John 14:27, NLT – New Living Translation).

The reason for this distinction is that God’s peace is rooted in the reconciliation between God and sinful man that was made possible by the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (Colossians 1:22). Without this reconciliation there can be no genuine peace. The world and its religions seek in vain to offer peace but they recognize only the good works of man. However, such works have no merit in man’s salvation. God’s word is absolutely clear that, “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6, NLT).

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us” (Romans 5:1, NLT). In this Scripture, the Apostle Paul builds on his teaching in the opening four chapters of his letter to the Romans that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (3:23) and that salvation is by faith alone – not by works. It is a free gift of God (4:16). Peace reigns in our hearts because we are transformed from being enemies of God to being friends of God (Romans 5:10-11).

On the other hand, worldly peace is the concept of an ideal state of peace within and among all people and nations on earth. It is essentially a humanist ideal that has never been achieved in the history of man. However, many individuals have attempted to create their own favorable environment, mainly through the acquisition and accumulation of wealth and material things. It requires hard work and is often accomplished through grievous exploitation of other humans and the physical environment. But there is no guarantee that this peace would last, even with the best human efforts to maintain such favorable conditions. Things can easily go awry in a flash and that peace would be shattered. In Luke 12:14 (NLT), the Lord Jesus warned a crowd of people: “Life is not measured by how much you own”. Many rich people can honestly attest to the truth of that profound statement.

The announcement of the birth of Christ by an army of heavenly beings included a promise of “peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased” (Luke 2:14, NLT). We inherit this peace through faith in Christ. He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). The Prophet Isaiah went on to preach the good news: “His government and its peace will never end” (Isaiah 9:7, NLT). People who have truly believed the biblical gospel and have trusted Jesus Christ for their salvation can rest in this permanent peace. We are already in the city of God. It is a city that cannot be destroyed, despite any circumstances facing us. This is the general message of Psalm 46 that has comforted many generations of God’s people. This song by the sons of Korah ends with the reassurance: “The LORD of Heaven’s Armies [Jehovah Sabaoth] is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress” (Psalm 46:11, NLT).

Through this precious gift of peace, we can overcome anxiety in the face of trials that will inevitably come our way. The Apostle Paul described this peace as incomprehensible: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT).

This is an amazing promise of God that would have been a better focus for this year’s World Mental Health Day than the slogan adopted by WHO. The peace that guards our hearts and minds is not a human right, especially if you are an unrepentant sinner. “There is no peace for the wicked, says my God” (Isaiah 57:21, NLT). The Greek word that is translated “guard” in Phil. 4:7 is a military term that describes a garrison providing protection for our hearts and minds. No man nor devil can penetrate that garrison! We are to pray to God with thanksgiving about everything and then we will experience His peace.

The reason the Apostle Paul describes this peace as incomprehensible is that, even when there is turmoil on the outside, the child of God can experience His supernatural peace within. The world can neither provide nor understand such peace. The peace of God comes only to those who know the “God of peace” (Philippians 4:9). God’s people can live in Romans 8:28 where we see all things working together for our good and the glory of God. The Apostle Paul demonstrated this way of living even while chained in a dark and damp Roman prison.

In writing his second letter to Timothy, Paul was aware of his imminent death (chap 4:6). It is believed that Paul was likely beheaded by Roman officials soon after writing this letter. What was his mood at the time of writing? As we read his letter, we see the man of God with an amazing inner calm. We don’t detect any concerns for his own physical welfare. Instead, Paul is focused on passing the ministry torch to Timothy while encouraging him to remain faithful to sound doctrine amid expected suffering. “Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:14, NLT).

Paul’s testimony of faithfulness to the end can be ours because we too can take possession of the supernatural peace that is already ours in Christ. May we all take comfort in Paul’s benediction: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13, NLT).


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