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MARTIN CHEMNITZ PRESS

A MIGHTY FORTRESS LUTHERAN CHURCH

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.

6421 W. Poinsettia Drive

Glendale, Arizona 85304-2419

623-334-8014; chemnitz@uswest.net

 

 

KJV Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 

Peace Beyond All Understanding

 

Peace is highly valued, but seldom found. This epistle teaches us about the peace of God, which is so great that it exceeds all human understanding.

 

The Votum is a prayer at the end of the sermon, and the Votum is Philippians 4:7. I remember the future president of the Lutheran Church in America asking me at Salem Lutheran in Moline, where he was going to preach, “Do you use the Votum?” I was new to Lutheranism and could not have located a votum for anyone to use. It sounded like something black with knobs on it. My friend Ken bailed me out, saying, “Yes, we do.” Ken became a Unitarian later in life, following the example of Marshall, who wrote The Mighty Acts of God. I told Ken that he switched too soon. He should have stayed with ELCA while it was turning Unitarian. He agreed.

 

Abraham Malherbe gave me an assignment from his 1 Thessalonians class. I was told to write 20 pages about the use of this one word in the Greek New Testament. (We use the name peace for a woman’s name, Irene.) I turned in my assignment, which omitted an important insight. The word peace in the New Testament is always found in conjunction with salvation. Salvation and peace go together throughout the Bible.

 

The first three fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5 are love, joy, and peace. But one of the best definitions for peace can be found in Romans 5:1-2.

 

KJV Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

 

BYZ Romans 5:1 Dikaiwqe,ntej ou=n evk pi,stewj eivrh,nhn e;comen pro.j to.n qeo.n dia. tou/ kuri,ou h`mw/n VIhsou/ Cristou/ 2  di ou- kai. th.n prosagwgh.n evsch,kamen th/| pi,stei eivj th.n ca,rin tau,thn evn h-| e`sth,kamen kai. kaucw,meqa evp evlpi,di th/j do,xhj tou/ qeou.

 

Lenski, quoting Robertson, said, “There are sermons in tenses.” Normally I would not talk about grammar in a sermon, but “being justified” is an aorist passive verb. That means that God justified us, declared us innocent, through faith. The first phrase means that we are declared innocent by God through faith. Paul does not say we have justified ourselves through faith. God has given us a pardon, received through faith.

 

“Being justified” is a participle defining we. The participle is very flexible in Greek, so we can translate it many ways, knowing that “we” is being defined by “being justified.” I could translate, “We who are justified by faith, have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

We can see the close connection between being justified by faith and having peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Why do many writers never send a manuscript to an editor? They do not want to be on the receiving end of an editor’s wrath. “Why do you bother me with such junk?”

 

Why do people have so much trouble with phoning others to make appointments? They fear an angry reaction, perhaps laced with a lot of cussing.

 

Why is it hard to knock on the doors of strangers and invite them to church? Fear of their anger and rejection.

 

A guilty person has no peace with God. This alienated state drives the guilty person away, not because God wishes this to happen. Guilt causes inner turmoil, anxiety, and tension. That is one reason why we have seen an enormous falling away of the younger generations in this me-centered world. Our society says, “Do whatever you want. There is no right or wrong.” But the conscience still works away. The person who is guilty and yet denies guilt runs from God and sees Him only as an angry judge.

 

Edgar Robinson starred in a movie called “Scarlet Street.” He killed his girlfriend, framed someone else, and got away with it. The movie shows him in a Hell of torment over his unresolved guilt.

 

The Law works wrath and increases our awareness of sin, by showing us what God commands and how guilty we are. The purpose of the Gospel is to show us that Christ has already paid for our sins. When we see paintings or statues of Him crucified, we should say to ourselves, “Those are my sins. He suffered for the sins of the whole world, and that includes all of my sins as well.”

 

The peace of God does not come from saying, “There is no sin,” (Humanists, Values Clarification, Situation Ethics) or  “Everyone is a guilt-free saint, whether they ever believe or not” (WELS, etc.). The peace of God comes from knowing we are sinners through the Law and receiving forgiveness in the Gospel promise through faith.

 

Although God is full of grace, we do not receive grace except through faith.

 

Romans 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

 

God establishes His peace by showing us our sin and the Savior who paid for our sin. Then the warfare begins. Satan will never leave a believer alone but will use every tactic to remove the believer from the Means of Grace.

 

I was never going to plant a member of the mint family again after trying to keep it back in the Midwest. But one member told me how to deal with mint in Phoenix. “Don’t water it.” Mint is extremely invasive, but it will die from lack of water. The Christian faith is contagious, because it travels and spreads through the Word. But, if the faith of an individual is never nurtured by the Gospel, through worship or study, the individual’s faith will die away.

 

The peace of God is beyond all human understanding because it is one peace that cannot be taken away by anyone or anything. If a Mafia don is set free after a trial, he is full of peace and contentment. However, if his lawyer is tossed out of court for being in bed with known felons, the same mafia kingpin is filled with alarm and has no peace. Christ established a peace which the world cannot give or take away. John Bunyan had that peace when he spent his adult life in prison, writing masterpieces of the Christian faith, especially Pilgrim’s Progress, a book deeply influenced by Luther’s Galatians.

 

Christ promises and gives us an eternal peace, starting with being justified by faith. This peace is better than the bedrock on which our bridges and highrises are planted. If  I barter away God’s peace for worldly peace, I will have a calm and serene life for a few years, but not for eternity. If I cling to the Word alone, I can count on the hostility of Satan and the scorn of the world. The peace of God can hold up against all threats and will last throughout eternity.

 

When God offers a promise, He also carries out that promise with the power of His Holy Spirit.

 

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 

The peace of God will keep your hearts and minds a prisoner through Christ Jesus. Once, Al Capone was afraid for his life, so he surrendered himself to the police and had himself locked in prison. (Where else can one get free police protection?)

 

In this last verse, “keep” is a future tense for the verb for keeping prisoners. In this way Christ locks up our intellect and our emotions. Evil can displace the Gospel, but the more powerful Gospel can displace error, evil, and temptation.

 

All the admonitions of the apostle are based upon the Gospel. Because the Gospel has given you justification by faith:

 

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.