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Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Unity # 19: The Covenant of Peace
Unity # 19: The Covenant of Peace
Theme Song: O Mighty Cross
You are our Life, our King, strong and mighty to save. There is no one worthy like You to receive praise, honor, and glory. Please forgive me for the impatience of my flesh and teach me to trust in You like a child. Thank You for the saving peace that You have established by Your blood by which we are reconciled to You. There was no peace for us before we knew You, but now You Yourself, Jesus, are our peace. Help us to do what is better: to drink and eat from the Life of Christ, to know Him with our whole beings, and to sit at Your feet. Please bless Your people everywhere to cry out to You for revival and bring it soon. Just a few more days, and we will be with You. Jesus Christ is Lord and He has come in the flesh.
In Jesus Christ’s Name,
In last week’s letter we discussed the eternal Life that is granted to all those who have been regenerated. This eternal Life starts at the time of conversion and is the state of knowing Christ. Our knowledge of Christ will surely grow over time until we see Him Face to face, and we are perfected in His love, joy, peace, and righteousness for all eternity. This letter is about the Covenant of Peace which God has established for all of His people. Because of the peace made between God and man, man is able to have the eternal Life of knowing Christ that we discussed. Prior to our regeneration we had no peace; the Lord says that there is no peace for the wicked (Is 48:22). We did not know the way of peace, and there was no justice in our tracks. We had made our paths crooked, and those who treaded on us did not know peace (Is 59:8). The false leaders among us sought to superficially heal our brokenness by proclaiming peace to us, but there was no peace (Jer 6:14). Even when we thought that we had peace, it became a trap and a snare (Ps 69:22) because it never lasted, and we would be destroyed under this false peace. Formerly, we were alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds. Yet, it was our Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in His Son, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven. He has established peace for us by reconciling us in His fleshly body through death, that is our sinful nature was destroyed with Christ, in order to present us before Him holy, blameless, and beyond reproach—if indeed we continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the Gospel, which we heard and which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven (Col 1:19-23). Dear saints, we will come forth as righteous on the Day of Judgment only if we continue in our faith until the end. God speaks peace to His people, to His Godly ones, but let them not turn back to folly (Ps 85:8).
God extends His offer of peace to all of His children. For example, when the Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he was afraid, but God told him “Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die”. Gideon then built an altar there to the Lord and named it “THE LORD IS PEACE”. (Judges 6:22-24) Often, when God appeared to His people in Scriptures, He proclaimed peace to them as the initial greeting. Now apart from the Law, the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Rom 3:21-26)
Our peace with God also results in peace with all those who have been granted the same peace. Now in Christ Jesus we who were formerly far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. From now on we recognize no one according to the flesh, that is, from an earthly point of view, though we used to know Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in that way no longer. If we are in Christ, we are new creatures; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the Word of reconciliation. We are ambassadors, therefore, for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. God made Christ who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor 5:16-21) How lovely on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who announce peace and bring good news of happiness, who announce salvation and tell Zion that her God reigns (Is 52:7). The seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3:18). He Himself is our peace, who made the Jews and the rest of the people of God from all nations into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by having put to death the enmity. He came and preached peace to us who were far away and peace to us who were near. Through Christ we have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So we are no longer strangers and aliens, but we are fellow citizens with all the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the Cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. (Eph 2:13-22) Now all the people of God are to Him a Name of joy, praise, and glory before all the nations of the earth which will hear of all the good that He does for them, and they will fear and tremble because of all the good and all the peace that He makes for it (Jer 33:9).
Therefore, dear saints, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a self-righteous man; though perhaps for a good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. As we deny ourselves, we share in His sufferings. And as we fellowship with Him we know His love, joy, and peace; we know eternal life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Rom 5:1-11)
The Counsel of the Old Testament elaborated greatly on God’s extension of the Covenant of Peace to His people. The Lord said through the prophet Isaiah that He extends peace to His people like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream (Is 66:12) For a Child would be born, a Son would be given to them; and the government would rest on His shoulders; and His Name is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this. (Is 9:6-7). He will create the praise of our lips. He would proclaim peace, peace to those who are far and to those who are near and God would heal them (Is 57:19). He willbring health and healing to His people; and He will reveal to them an abundance of peace and Truth (Jer 33:6). For He makes a Covenant of Peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. He will place them and multiply them, and will set His sanctuary in their midst forever (Ez 37:26). Dear saints, we are the temple of the living God! There will be peace for the Seed of Christ: the vine will yield its fruit, the land will yield its produce and the heavens will give their dew; He will cause the remnant of His people to inherit all these things (Zech 8:12). For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but His lovingkindness will not be removed from us, and His Covenant of Peace will not be shaken says the Lord who has compassion on you (Is 54:10). The Covenant of Peace was made through Christ, our High Priest. He revered His Father and stood in awe of His Name. True instruction was in His mouth and unrighteousness was not found on His lips; He walked with His Father in peace and uprightness, and He turned many back from iniquity. For the lips of the Priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from His mouth; for He is a messenger of the Lord of hosts. (Mal 2:5-7). He vindicates the afflicted of the people, saves the children of the needy, crushes the oppressor. They fear Him while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations. He comes down like rain upon the mown grass, like showers that water the earth. In His days the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace till the moon is no more. (Ps 72:4-7) Dominion and awe belong to Him who establishes peace in His heights (Job 25:2).
Our reconciliation to God through the blood of Christ affects us in all ways. The Lord has established peace for us, since He has also performed for us all our works (Is 26:12). For He has given His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:77-79) Christ leaves with and gives us His peace; not as the world gives, but a peace that comes from Him. For in the world we will have tribulation, but He has overcome the world and so we may have courage. He tells us not to let our hearts be troubled or fearful. (John 14:27, John 16:33) The work of Christ’s righteousness is peace, and the service of His righteousness is quietness and confidence forever (Is 32:17) Our minds controlled by faith are steadfast and the steadfast of mind, God keeps in perfect peace, because they trust in Him (Is 26:2). In peace we both lie down and sleep, for He alone, the Lord, makes us to dwell in safety (Ps 4:8). The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace (Rom 8:6). The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace (Ps 29:11). We are to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, to which indeed we were called in one body; and we are to be thankful (Col 3:15). We are to depart from evil and do good; to seek peace and pursue it (Ps 34:14). Remember that the desires of the regenerate are for the righteousness of Christ. Those who love God’s Law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble (Ps 119:165). Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but counselors of peace have joy (Prov 12:20). May the Lord of peace Himself continually grant us peace in every circumstance. He is with us! (2 Thess 3:16)
Not everyone delights and exults in our peace. As the Psalmist wrote, “5 Woe is me, for I sojourn in Meshech, for I dwell among the tents of Kedar! 6 Too long has my soul had its dwelling with those who hate peace. 7 I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war. Ps 120” But He will redeem our soul in peace from the battle which is against us, for they are many who strive against us (Ps 55:18). The God of peace will soon crush Satan under our feet (Rom 16:20). Dear saints, now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit, soul, and body by preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. (1 Thess 5:23-25)
What is Baptism and Does it Save? Essay by John Piper
Pray and Be Alone With God Sermon by Paul Washer 52 min
Summary of our Trip to Indiana: Our family went to Indiana for the past several days to spend time with Anand and Prasanna. God always has a glorious purpose for each of our traveling experiences. The Spirit taught me through Anand’s pastor about the Light of God’s glory invading the darkness of sin, gloom, hopelessness, despair, slavery, apathy, everything in the world apart from Him. I felt the Spirit’s promise that I will continue to see the Light of His glory in increasing measure in the time ahead. And whenever the worst trials, temptations, and burdens would come upon me, His Light will always dispel the darkness. Our family was also encouraged to pursue intimacy with Christ above all else and to pray for revival (also from Anand’s pastor). Our work for the Lord flows out from and its efficacy is dependent on our intimacy with Christ (See Ps 63). I understood more about baptism in the process of understanding from Anand that a certain false Gospel called “baptismal regeneration” exists even among seemingly God-fearing people from all ages (the heart of which seems to be the opposite extreme of free grace theology). The external act of being baptized is an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 3:21). The outward act of baptism is a due response of the inner saving regenerating work of the Spirit. Finally, I learned that the true Gospel and the right Doctrine are vindicated by the fruit of love and obedience in those who hold fast to them. Thus, by our fruit we know that we abide in the Truth and that we have eternal Life. (see 1 John) We were also able to spend time fellowshipping with several of Anand’s friends and Anand Uncle, Lois Aunty, Timothy, and Abby who know the Counsel of God’s Word and desire to know Christ above all else. I am amazed how God enables Anand to make such blessed friends. On the drive back home, I realized that God had improved my deliberation to pursue Him and His Kingdom in the past few months and deepened my understanding of His Word in an unimaginable way. He has also increased my love for the saints and their righteous acts of faith and love. I never thought that my life would become what it is now, but I praise Him, and I long to desire to be with Christ! I pray that He continues to discipline me and remove from me everything that hinders my obedience and love. This song is in honor of and love for Anand and Prasanna: O Mighty Cross
Love in Christ,