Tag Archives: kingdom of God

The Peace Of The Righteous

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Just about everybody, I suppose, wants peace, so they can do the things they want to do and live a happy untroubled life.

But how many want righteousness?  It’s interesting to note in the Bible how consistently peace and righteousness are linked together.  In fact they are inseparable.  According to the Bible there is no peace without righteousness.

Six times in the Bible God is called “the God of peace.”  This God of peace dwelt in a Man, our Lord Jesus Christ, who is therefore called the Prince of peace (Isa. 9.6), the Lord of peace (2 Thes. 3.16), and the king of peace (Heb. 7.2).  This last title is combined with another—king of righteousness.  It’s here that many lose interest in being this king’s subjects.  Sure, they would like His rule of peace, who wouldn’t.  But they don’t want to sit under His rule of righteousness.  So they forfeit His rule of peace, and choose rather a way that means contention, discord, turmoil, strife… and ultimately war.

The way they choose is called—sorry, I know it’s kind of a dirty word these days but I am going to use it anyway—it’s called wickedness.  And what is the portion the wicked cut out for themselves?

But the wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked (Isa. 57.20,21).

As our great high priest after the model of Melchizedek, Christ is king of peace only because He is king of righteousness.  First and foremost it is righteousness that is His domain.  He has the power to minister His righteousness to those who dwell in His kingdom.  The result of this righteousness is His peace.  He is king of righteousness and king of peace.  His kingdom is “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14.17).

This king, ministering the blessing upon His subjects, would therefore raise His hand and pronounce, “Righteousness and peace be unto you.”

However, His New Covenant emissaries often used the salutation (or some form of it), “Grace and peace be unto you” ( Rom. 1.7, 1 Cor. 1.3, 2 Cor. 1.2, Gal. 1.3, Eph. 1.2, 1 Pt. 1.2, 2 Pt. 1.2, etc.).

It can only be because the gift of the grace of God is the gift of righteousness.

…Much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ (Rom. 5.17).

It’s wrong thinking to think of God’s grace as something that makes allowances for unrighteousness, and we can sin because God is gracious.  No.  What His grace does is enable us to walk in His righteousness.  The righteousness of God is a gift infused with His grace, thus enabling those who receive it to walk in it.

And this is the key to the peace of God.  When we are right with God, listening to Him, seeking to please Him, to obey Him, to follow through with what He is saying to us, the result will be His presiding peace in our lives.  It will be automatic.

And how are we made right with God?  First, and primarily, by receiving the peace offering He proffered us at Calvary.

Therefore being justified (made righteous) by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… (Rom. 5.1).

It was there at Calvary that God made peace with you and me and all those who were at enmity with Him.  For in the Cross He dealt with the source of all enmity—our sin—and offered us freely the gift of righteousness.  So if we haven’t already done so, let us humble ourselves and receive this gracious offering and gift.  And when we have done so let us stand our ground here, regardless of the whisperings and reminders of the Accuser about past sins.  He is a deceiver; we are accepted in the Beloved, and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Secondly, God has provision for you and me—His grace—to continue to walk in His righteousness.  And as long as I do this, and keep in right relationship with Him, I can expect and enjoy His peace.  If I disobey or happen to stumble into sin– though it is not necessary to do so, He has provision for a walk of righteousness– He has provision for me to get right with Him again (1 Jn. 2.1), and continue on in righteousness.  And enjoy His peace again.

Only where there is righteousness is there peace.

And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance (confidence) forever (Isa. 32.17).

George Fox sought to encourage Friends who in his day were being troubled and harassed and persecuted and jailed in stinking jails.  He wrote to them:

Yet all this cannot disturb the peace of the righteous.

I love that phrase—the peace of the righteous.  That is the secret of peace—righteousness—and not our own righteousness, but the righteousness of God.  I may not have happy circumstances.  I may be afflicted.   I may be deluged with problems and troubles.  Sorrows like sea billows may roll. But do I have God’s righteousness?  Then, regardless of all else, whatever my state, I have peace with God.  Where righteousness (or grace) reigns so does peace reign, though troubles may be all about me.

Just as Jesus encouraged His disciples as He was about to leave them:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (Jn. 14.27).

These things have I spoken unto you that in Me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (Jn. 16.33).

Let me conclude with this promise.  Peter talks of a day when this whole world will be in the midst of the flames of judgment.  It sounds very frightening, very fearsome.  And Peter realized this.  For he goes on, “Nevertheless we according to His promise look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pt. 3.13).  Nevertheless, Peter says. In other words, as frightening as it is, there’s a promise in the midst of the coming judgments.  Though judgments are at hand, God’s purpose being to deal with all wickedness and sin and unrighteousness, the end result will be a world in which righteousness is at home.

And oh… that can only mean one thing.  Peace. And oh, what peace.  Oh, the peace of a world in which righteousness—our Lord Jesus Christ Himself—is not an unwanted alien, but is now at home and welcome!

My response is… Lord Jesus, I can’t wait for that!  I want your righteousness to be at home even now.  Let righteousness—You Yourself—be at home in me.  In my heart.  That way I can enjoy the peace of God that passeth understanding though all is turmoil about me.  Amen.

A Burden of Light

I have been feeling very heavy hearted and pained the last couple of days as a result of the multiple murder that took place over our way.  I’m sure many of you have heard about this—it’s been headline news all across Canada—the two young baseball players from Prince Edward Island playing for a team in Lethbridge, Alberta.  I don’t want to go into the details, but apparently they were celebrating a birthday out in a bar with their friends… having a wonderful time, enjoying life to the max the way young people just love to do.  A jealous ex-boyfriend of one of the girls comes along.  There is an ugly incident in the bar… and then later on the horror story on the highway at three in the morning as these young people leave their fun and rush to Calgary to catch a plane to Prince Edward Island for the Christmas break.  The ex-boyfriend has tailed them.  And he has a gun.

And now four young people are dead, this young man included.  He turned his gun on himself after he wreaked his vengeance.  The whole country is horrified.  How could this happen?

…Four young people in their early twenties, in the flower of life, and living life to the max.  Their whole lives were before them.  So much to live for.  Now they are dead.  Their friends are in tears:  they were such fun-loving people…  why could this happen to such wonderful people?

And so… my burden.  How long, Lord, how long?  How long till there shines a Light in the darkness that reveals to a whole generation of lost young people that this is not what life is for!  Sitting down to eat and to drink, and rising up to play… this is not what life is for!  This is not why God gave us a life—to consume upon ourselves!

The darkness “out there” is very thick in this hour.  The only reason people don’t flee from it as from atomic radiation is that… they don’t see how dark it is!  It’s only when you have a measure of light that you become aware of the darkness around you.

And so… the darkness that envelops this whole generation of young people like a burial shroud… who is responsible for that?

Fellow Christian, it is you and I who are to be the Light of the world.  And so, if the world is in darkness, where is the Light?

At times I feel a resentment toward the churches of our day.  I wonder if it isn’t a divine resentment.  For, in spite of the fact that there is so very little light in the churches of our day, we carry on, carry on, carry on… with our many programs and our nice activities… when, out of love for a lost generation we should be calling a halt to it all and crying out to God for mercy!

…But, never mind the churches.  What about me, Lord?  One of the things being carried by the priests through the wilderness was the lampstand.  It was veiled in blue with a covering of badger skins over top.  Lord, I cannot rest till you bring me to the place where this lampstand under the badger skin is set up in Your Tabernacle, and the Light shines in the darkness again… the Light of the Knowledge of the Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ!

Christian, is Jesus the light of your life, and mine?  Is Jesus the light we have in our heart?  Is Jesus Christ our righteousness in our hearts, and our salvation?  Then let this be our cry:

“For Zion’s sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the Righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the Salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth” (Isaiah 62.1).

Come And See

“Rabbi, where dwellest Thou?” John’s two disciples had asked.

Jesus did not respond by giving them His house address and directions on how to get there.

His invitation was, “Come and see” (John 1.39).

We are living in days when the amount of Christian knowledge available to us—very good Christian knowledge—is absolutely immense.  The Internet has Bible study resources like nothing the world has ever seen before.  There are also countless messages by a host of good ministries, and books and audios and videos without number.  Most of this is in the English language, I know, but I think there are translation tools available for a lot of it.

Add to that the multitude of messages over our pulpits on any given Sunday, and the weekly home Bible studies…

This is all very wonderful, is it not?  Yes… but at the same time it is, to me, somewhat frightening that we have all this available to us.

For, I remind you that alongside all this Bible knowledge, the darkness of our world has also grown to immense proportion.

How can this be?  So much light, but so much darkness, also?  Why, with all our Internet resources and Sunday sermons and Bible studies are we not making the impact on this world that we need to be making—and which the beloved Bible we are studying so much says we should be making?

Could it be possible that we are being led astray by the very abundance of the knowledge we have at our fingertips?  Is it possible that the light we have is actually blinding us?  I think that it might be.  At least the potential for that is there.  I think it is, at least, a very great test we are being subjected to.

If the abundance of the Bible knowledge available to us in this day is not creating in us a cry… “Lord Jesus Christ… it is YOU YOURSELF we want… and need; we want YOU in our midst, we want to see and need to see YOU…”  then we have miserably failed a very important test… with dangerous implications.

We have all this available to us… the sermons, the Bible studies, the Internet resources… yet our need in this hour for the Presence of the Lord Himself in our midst is beyond words to describe.

This is what I meant when I said last time that John the Baptist gave his disciples a very good spiritual education—something beyond the things I’ve mentioned.  The diploma these disciples had received in the School of John the Baptist certified—and their own hearts bore witness to it—that it was Something more than knowledge their eye was searching for.

“Rabbi, where dwellest Thou?”

“Rabbi, where dwellest Thou?”

Is that the cry on our hearts as well?

And if not…  why not?  In spite of all we are learning, are we in the right school?

That is the question we need to face up to.  Where is our hunger for God—for God Himself?  I wonder if hunger for God Himself is not the greatest spiritual blessing a person can have.

Notice.  John’s two disciples address Jesus as Rabbi—Master, Teacher… Rabbi—the very title by which they had previously addressed John.

“Rabbi, where dwellest Thou?”

In other words, they were expectantly looking to Jesus now to be their new teacher.

Their new Rabbi inducted them into the School of Christ immediately.

Come and see.”

Lesson Number One in the School of Jesus Christ:  It was not information He gave them, but an invitation to participate in a walk with Him.

It is only by walking with this Teacher and dwelling with Him, and taking His yoke upon us, and in this way learning of Him, that we become true disciples in the school of Christ.

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The Ever Increasing Kingdom

There is a feast that “mends in length” — that grows greater, better, richer, fuller, deeper, the longer it continues.  This feast is, really, the table of the Kingdom of God, where we are sitting down with our King at His table, and in His kingdom.

It is a kingdom the increase of which shall know no end.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it, with judgment and with justice from henceforth forever” (Isaiah 9.6,7).

There shall be no end to the increase of this kingdom—its government, its peace.  This kingdom is an everlasting kingdom that cannot be destroyed.  In fact, as many as have sought to come against and destroy this kingdom have only caused it to increase.

Daniel saw “a Stone cut out without hands” (there’s your Rock that came down from Heaven, Cole) that smote a great image of gold and silver and bronze and iron and clay—smote it upon its feet.  And the whole thing came crashing down, “and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors, and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them.  And the Stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2.35).

This is what happened at Calvary.  The Son of God at Calvary, as they drove in the nails— it was God who was doing the smiting.

Jesus the Son of God had come on the scene pronouncing that the kingdom of the heavens was at hand.  He went about ministering this wonderful kingdom—preaching to the poor the Glad Tidings of this kingdom, healing the sick, casting out demons…  The kingdom of God was not something to come some distant day down the ages.  The king of the kingdom was present!  The kingdom of God had come nigh!

“But if I by the finger of God cast out demons, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you” (Luke 11.20).

Satan was not happy with all this.  If this One were allowed to continue on, it would be the utter demise of his own kingdom.  He had to do something about it.  And so he conspired to have the King of this kingdom crucified.

People get fascinated by conspiracy theories.  God had His own conspiracy par excellence in the works.  What happened at Calvary was a sting operation like none other.  For, when Satan sought to put a halt to this kingdom by conspiring to have the king of this kingdom crucified—and he succeeded in his evil design—much to his everlasting dismay, all he succeeded in doing was causing this kingdom to increase!

For, when the risen and ascended King sat down on the Throne of the Kingdom at the right hand of the Father and sent forth His Holy Spirit upon the waiting disciples, this was the increase of His kingdom!  And now they went forth in multiplied numbers proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God (Acts 8.12, 14.22, 19.8, 28.23,31) .

Oh, what a wonder.  Oh, the wisdom of God—“the wisdom of God in a mystery… which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory” (1 Corinthians 2.8).

In spite of all his knowledge—and he prides himself on his knowledge, we are told: Ezekiel 28.3,17—Satan (I say this respectfully) seems to be a slow learner.  He just never seems able to comprehend the wisdom of the Cross.  For he continues to assault this everlasting kingdom to this day.  What shall the end be of all his malice, I wonder?  For he is working overtime these days, intent on obliterating this kingdom from the earth.  At times it seems he has almost succeeded… as he did that day at Calvary.  (We are smiling at this now, aren’t we?)

…Beloved saints of the Most High—the ones Daniel in another of his visions saw taking the kingdom, Dan. 7,18—let us not be slow learners ourselves.  Let us walk in the wisdom of God.  Let us take up our own cross, and follow Jesus.  I confess… I myself have been such a slow learner in this area.  Even so, I continue to take my place as a disciple at the feet of Jesus.  For, wherever the saints of the Most High are taking up their cross and following Jesus, are standing true in their troubles, are fighting the good fight of faith, are fighting the Lamb’s war, are seeking to overcome evil with good, are walking in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit… this is the fellowship of the “kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ”—and the increase of His everlasting kingdom is inevitable.

And God has a surprise in store.  The hour is at hand when this kingdom shall “come”—shall be openly manifested in great fullness.  When, and where, shall it stop?  Never, apparently.

Daniel saw this mountain filling the whole earth.  Isaiah saw a day when its increase would cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11.9).

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A Little Child Shall Lead Them

The other day my youngest grandson and his mother dropped in for a visit. The two of them walked over after kindergarten, and as soon as they arrived, my grandson showed me something he had found along the way.

It was a flat rock about the size of an Oreo cookie, and he gave it to me to hold in my hand. I looked at it, and turned it over. It was somewhat heart shaped. Someone had painted a face on it with red and blue colours – eyes, a nose, a smiling mouth. I smiled, too, and opened my mouth to offer my explanation of where this rock had come from — he had found it on the pavement near the kindergarten – when my little grandson intercepted my words before they had a chance to get out.

“God dropped it down for me, Grandpa. It’s a present for me from God.”

I was convicted in a moment. So much for the obvious explanation my own mind had formed and was ready to set forth for his enlightenment. We adult types are good at getting things all figured out.

My grandson looked at me and nodded as I handed his rock back to him. “I believe in Him, Grandpa.”

I nodded, too, and sang my grandson a little song I’ve loved for years.

Praise the Name of Jesus, Praise the name of Jesus…
He’s my Rock, He’s my fortress,
He’s my deliverer, in whom I will trust…
Praise the Name of Jesus…

…I believe in Him, too, Cole. God sent down a Rock for me, too. And I pray that till my dying day and beyond, He will preserve in me that same childlike sense of wonder. Let me enter the kingdom of God as the little child.

And I pray that you, too, Cole, as you grow, will never lose a child’s believing heart, and sense of wonder.

For, this God that you believe in, and I believe in, is a God of wonder. His very name is Wonder-ful (Isaiah 9.6). And so this whole universe He created – the things unseen and seen, things visible and things invisible – is a universe full of wonder. He “doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number” (Job 9.10).

And of all those wonders, the purpose of God in it all: the wonder of wonders: His purpose in man, that eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord… oh, the wonder of it all!

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