Summary: The church can and should experience God's peace.
The Peaceful Church
How do Christians and churches have peace? We do not live in a peaceful world. The Society of International law in London states this incredible statistic: since the beginning of recorded history, the entire world has been at peace less than 8% of the time. Over the last 4000 years of history, only 268 years saw peace. Moreover in excess of 8000 peace treaties have been made and broken. In the last 3 centuries there have been 286 wars on the continent of Europe alone!
The central point of our passage is the peace of God. This passage is speaking to Christian believers, not to unbelievers. Unbelievers do not have peace with God. They reject, question, deny, curse, and oppose God. God feels no peace between Himself and an unbeliever. No matter how mild the unbeliever’s questioning and rejection is, it is still questioning and rejection and not peace. But when an unbeliever surrenders his life and accepts Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior, peace is made between him and God. Peace rules both within and between the person and God. In fact, God causes a flood of peace to surge through the heart and life of the new believer.
In the NT, the word for peace means “to reconcile or join.” Some missionary Bible translators were working very hard to find a word for peace in a particular tribal language. At last, a native who was working with them found a combination of words that captured the concept—“a heart that sits down.” When the heart sits down with Jesus—when we join with God through his Son—there is peace.
Dr. Billy Graham said, “I know men who would write a check for a million dollars if they could find peace. Millions are searching for it. But we Christians have found it! It is ours now and forever. We have found the secret of life!”
In our text the Apostle Paul is speaking to the church of Philippi. They were a great church a joyous church, and yet they still were not perfect. He wanted them to be at peace with God and with each other.
I am firmly convinced that no church or Christian is perfect. I also believe that when a Christian is at peace with God they will have peace within and be at peace with other brothers and sisters in Christ.
The question is this: once we have the peace of God flooding our lives, how do we maintain that peace? How do we keep the peace of God ruling and reigning within our souls? How do we stay aware that God’s very own presence is within us—stay aware that the God of peace lives within our very being? This is the discussion of this passage: the steps to peace.
I. Peace comes through Standing Fast (v.1)
It is the picture of a soldier standing fast against the onslaught of an enemy. He refuses to give ground no matter the pressure and strength of attack. He does not flinch; he is not unstable and he is never defeated. The Christian believer is to stand fast...
• no matter how great the trial
• no matter the pressure of the temptation
• no matter the influence, offer, and allurement made by others.
But how does a believer stand fast? When the temptation to surrender is so appealing and the trial is so terrible, where can the believer find the strength to stand fast? There are two places.
A. The Source of our strength
Matthew Henry said, “When Christ died He left a will in which He gave His soul to His Father, His body to Joseph of Arimathea, His clothes to the soldiers, and His mother to John. But to His disciples, who had left all to follow Him, He left not silver or gold, but something far better—His PEACE!”
There is only one place the Christian can stand fast, and that is “in the Lord.” We must be living and moving and having his being in the Lord. When we are walking in the Lord throughout the day, our minds and thoughts are upon the Lord so when the temptations and trials come, we are conscious and aware of the Lord’s presence and strength.
B. The Family of God
Paul calls them “my beloved and longed-for brethren” they were his brothers and sisters in Christ. They had all trusted Christ as their Savior and become sons and daughters of the family of God. They were all brothers and sisters of the Lord and Paul is reminding them of this relationship. Therefore, they should all stand fast in the Lord.
He says that he longs to see them. He is in prison and unable to be with them, but his heart is with his dear family, the family of God.