Summary: “Peace on earth” is a familiar Christmas greeting. However, it is as elusive today as it was 2,000 years ago. Did Christ then fail in his mission in coming to earth?
Today is the second message in our series, “Christmas Through the Ages.” Today, we travel back 99 years to 1914. I chose 1914 instead of 1913 because 1914 was a monumental year.
APRIL 15, 1914 marked the sinking of the Titanic. In July and August the nations of Europe declared war one against another marking the beginning of World War 1. It was called “The War to End all Wars,” and “The Great War.”
World War 1 is all but forgotten here in the US. However, it is indelibly etched into the minds of the citizens of Great Britain. I had the privilege of visiting Wales three times in 2000, 2002 and 2003. I ministered at High Street Baptist Church in the small mountain village Abersychan.
This church was built in 1827! That is the same year the Beethoven died!
The church has no parking lot because there were no cars when it was built! It was built before electricity and indoor plumbing.
There are two sobering memorials in the back of the church. They both commemorate “The Great War.” When I first saw them, I thought they referred to the Second World War. However, the Great War is a reference to WW1. One of them reads, “To the Glory of God - In honored memory of those who fell and those who served in the Great War, 1914-1918 - To preserve the sacred ideals of freedom and secure a world peace.”
1914 was a year when the fear of War turned into a horrifying WORLD WAR.
In 1914 the world was desperate for PEACE because of the fear of WAR
TODAY - 99 years later, we are still looking for PEACE
The “War to end all wars” did not end them! Wars only became worse. TODAY our world is still at the brink of calamity:
- Economic collapse
- A fear that Iran is developing nuclear weapons
- America’s longest war - 12 years in Afghanistan
- Central African Republic - Thousands of Christians have fled to the safety of the airport to escape Muslims who have murdered hundreds of civilians.
Can there be peace?
Today we will examine a Colossians 1:19-20. This passage refers to Christ, but it’s not a passage we that we typically associate with Christmas.
“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1:19–20, ESV)
“Peace on earth” is a familiar Christmas greeting. It was announced by the angels to Judean shepherds. However, peace on earth is as elusive today as it was 2,000 years ago. Did Christ then fail in his mission in coming to earth?
The key to answer that question is to remind ourselves that the Bethlehem event was only part one of a two part story. Christ’s work of redemption was completed through his birth in Bethlehem and his suffering, death and resurrection. But his complete work still await the final culmination that will take place during the Second Advent - His coming in judgment and rule.
What are the distinctions of these two advents?
I. Christ’s FIRST ADVENT brings Peace to my Soul. We can have Peace because we are RECONCILED to GOD. “Reconcile to himself all things...”
In the theological terms of the Bible, to reconcile means “to reestablish proper friendly ... relations after these have been disrupted or broken” (Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 501.
Two Important Theological Truths make this possible
The FIRST is that God became man. We find this theological truth in the first part of Col 1:19-20. “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,” (Colossians 1:19, ESV).
The world “Fullness is the Greek word pleroma. It represents the total quantity. The complete number. Nothing left out.
One of my favorite soft drinks is Honest Tea. One of their trademarks is that every bottle is filled to the very top. Always filled! That’s a good way to think of this word “fullness.” Christ was filled to the very top with the attributes and qualities of God.
Some of the usages of pleroma demonstrate its meaning further.
“For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,” (Colossians 2:9, ESV)
Christians can be filled with All of God’s Being. “and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19, ESV)
Time can be filled... “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,” (Galatians 4:4, ESV)
Christians receive the full measure of God’s Grace. “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1:16, ESV)