The word “peace” is defined by the New Oxford American Dictionary as “freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.” It is an important word in Scripture occurring in every book of the New Testament except I John. Paul used it, alongside of “grace” often in his greetings in many of his epistles. One of the many wonderful blessings promised to Christians has to do with peace. Paul told the Philippians, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
It is significant that the man who wrote the words just quoted did so from a Roman prison cell under the cruel Nero. Johnny Ramsey, in his tract entitled “Peace Passing Understanding” wrote, “There has probably never been a period in the world's history as filled with unhappy people as the one in which we live right now. More and more people are putting their trust in pills and psychiatrists instead of the living God. Tranquilizers replace faith in far too many lives. This is even true among Christians. But it should not be.” If brother Ramsey were still alive today, he would not observe any better situation than the one he describes here.
Peace is something that must be sought. The psalmist wrote, “Seek peace, and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14). Later, Peter quoted this statement in his first epistle in I Peter 3:11. Paul wrote, “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherein one may edify another” (Rom. 14:19).
We are often exhorted in the Scriptures concerning peace, and its virtues are often pointed out. Solomon wrote, “To the counsellors of peace is joy” (Prov. 12:20). He also informs us, “When a man's ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Prov. 16:7). Zechariah wrote, “Love the truth and peace” (Zech. 8:19). “Peace, good will toward men” is contained in the announcement of our Lord's birth in Luke 2:14. Paul tells us, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 14:9). Listen to other admonitions concerning peace given by this great apostle. “Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace” (Eph. 4:3). “Be at peace among yourselves” (I Thess. 5:13). “Follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (II Tim. 2:22). “Follow after peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).
Peace comes from God when we are obedient to His instructions. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). We can have peace with God only when we stand justified in His sight. Paul says it is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Unless one has the Spirit of God, he cannot have the peace promised to Christians. He may have a semblance of peace, but it cannot be this peace produced by the Spirit nor the “peace that passeth all understanding.” Note other statements along this line. “The Lord will bless His people with peace” (Psalm 29:11b). “Great peace have they who love thy law” (Psalm 119:165). “Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee” (Isa. 26:3). “To be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6).
Peace is something that all desire. It is both good and pleasant. “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1). We are expected to live in peace as Christians. “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints” (I Cor. 14:33). We are even instructed to pray for “kings, and for all that are in authority; that we might live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and sincerity” (I Tim. 2:2).
Have you found this “peace which passeth all understanding?” Are you seeking peace and pursuing it? The Christian can have inner peace even when the world is filled with confusion and chaos all around him (II Cor. 4:16). May the “Prince of peace” (Isa. 9:6) and the “God of peace” (Rom. 15:33) rule in your life, so that you might possess the “peace of God which passes all understanding.”.
Paul M. Wilmoth