Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 28, 1963
NUMBER 30, PAGE 1,9c,12-13

Things That Make For Peace

E. L. Flannery

"So then let us follow after things which make for peace, and things whereby we may edify one another." (Rom. 14:19)

In our day we need to give careful thought to the things that will make for peace, and understanding these things, we should diligently follow after the "things which make for peace." It is possible to have peace even when living in a world of conflict.

The term "make" means "to cause to exist, appear or occur." Jesus pronounced a blessing upon the one who makes peace. (Matt. 5:9)

Webster defines "peace" as 1. An act or an agreement to end hostilities. 2. A state of tranquility or quiet. 3. Harmony in personal relations, mutual concord. 4. Freedom from fears, agitating passions, moral conflict.

Young's Analytical Concordance To the Bible shows the word translated "peace" in our Bible had three meanings: 1. (Shalvah) — rest, ease, security, Dan. 8:25. 2. (Shalon) — peace, completeness, whole. 4. (Eirene) — unity, concord, John 16:33; Acts 10:36; Rom. 14:19. Young notes the expression "the God of Peace" means whole, full, perfect, unhewn, Josh. 8:31; Rom. 15:33; Heb. 13:20. A reading of these references will shed much light on the inherent meaning of "peace."

Vine's Expository Dictionary on the New Testament noun, eirene, gives eight shades of meaning for this word: 1.) harmonious relationships between men, Matt. 10:34; Rom. 14:19. 2.) between nations. Lk. 14:32; Acts 12:20; Rev. 6:4. 3.) friendliness, Acts 15:33; 1 Cor. 16:11; Heb. 11:31. 4.) freedom from molestation, Lk. 11:21; 19:42; Acts 9:31 RV. 5.) order in State, Acts 24:2 RV. 6.) in the churches, 1 Cor. 14:33. 7.) the harmonized relationships between God and men, accomplished through the gospel, Acts 10:36; Eph. 2:17. 8. the sense of rest and contentment consequent thereon, Matt. 10:13; Mark 5:34; Luke 1:79; 2:29; John 14:27; Rom. 1:7; 3:17; 8:6.

In a study of the subject of peace other terms that become involved are concord and discord, unity and disunity; and the relationship of discord to contention, contention to heresy, heresy to schism.

In this study we shall limit the discussion to three topics: 1. Peace between the individual and God. 2. Peace between individuals. 3. Peace between congregations.

Peace Between The Individual And God

All have sinned (Rom. 3:23), hence all are in conflict with God, and need to make peace with Him. Discord exists because man has followed his own will instead of God's. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto Jehovah, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isa. 55:7-9)

Between man and God there is a contrariety of wills (desires); a contrariety of goals (objectives); a contrariety of speech (expression). This creates a dissension that must be resolved if peace is to be effected. Peace involves the bringing together of two wills and making the two one — peace is a two-fold union. Since God cannot change His will to agree with man's will it follows that man must change his will and accept the will of God. This two-fold union of wills first unites the will of man with God's will effecting a concord of wills; and this "concord" of wills is to peace — the objective is to do good and obtain good. The "God of Peace" is the unhewn God, the whole, the perfect God. His objective is always toward good, perfection, completeness.

Men can unite their wills to do evil. This is an "evil concord" for though they agree in wills (desires) their objectives are evil and thus we can not say that these evil men are at "peace" in the true meaning of the word. "The wicked are like the troubled sea; for it cannot rest, and its waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." (Isa. 57: 20,21) Therefore, there can be "an evil concord" without peace resulting. A group of more than forty Jews "banded together" not to eat until they had killed Paul. (Acts 23:12) They united their wills to do evil. We believe it to he very basic to see that peace is more than the uniting of wills — that the objective of the united wills must be to do good, to obtain good.

Within the individual there is a dual nature which Paul describes in Romans 7:19-25. The fleshly nature leads in one direction while the spiritual goes the opposite way. How can agreement, concord, be brought about between the flesh and the spirit? As stated above, to have peace there must he a two-fold union of wills toward the good objective. This being true, the flesh must surrender to the will of the spirit for man to be at peace with himself. Paul cries out in this struggle of his dual nature, "0 wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me out of the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord....There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 7:24-8:1) This peace is accomplished through the gospel of peace. "And he came and preached peace to you who were afar off, and to them that were nigh." (Eph. 2:17) To have such peace there can be but one will, one authority. (Matt. 28:19)

Aristotle wrote: "Things hate to be in disorder, but a plurality of authorities is disorder; therefore authority is single." Paul wrote that there is "one Lord." (Eph. 4:5)

Aquinas stated:

Peace implies a two-fold union.... The first is the result of one's own appetites being directed to one object, while the other results from one's own appetite being united with the appetite of another. And each of the unions is effected by charity. The first, in so far as a man loves God with his whole heart, by referring all things to Him, so that all his desires tend to one object. The second, in so far as we love our neighbor as ourselves, the result being that we wish to fulfill our neighbor's will as though it were ours.... (The Summa Theologica, Vol. II, p. 532)

Peace, we can see then, comes by submitting to God's will. The Psalmist sang this truth long ago: "Much peace have they that love thy law, and they have no occasion of stumbling." (Psa. 119:165) The sinner goes from wretched conflicts and anxieties to joyous peace by obeying the will of God. (See Rom. 7:24-8:6)

Peace Between Individuals

Again, for peace to exist, there must be a two-fold union of wills toward that which is good as an objective. To accomplish this both individuals must accept a common authority, a comman will. To the divided Corinthians Paul wrote:

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe that there are contentions among you." (1 Cor. 1:10, 11)

But whose mind were they to unite upon? Paul supplies the answer to that by saying that the Holy Spirit had searched the mind of God and revealed it unto man — that now "we have the mind of Christ." (I Cor. 2:12-16) Christ's mind is his will — his will, the New Testament, reveals his mind to us, and we can unite upon this. (See also 2 Timothy 3:15-17) When two individuals (or more) obey the gospel of Christ they will be at peace with one another. (Eph. 2:17; 4:3) Being in fellowship and concord with Christ each will avoid any evil "concord....with Belial." (2 Cor. 6:15)

What are some of the things that might destroy peace, between brethren? We think of three readily: (1) When there is a departure from God's authority. (2) When one binds in matters of indifference. (3) When one is dogmatic in personal matters (involving the action of the individual and not the practice of the church collectively). To help clarify these matters study the following chart closely:

One's life is made up of various relationships: spiritual, family, business, civil, and social. God has expressed His will in all five of these relationships. Man can submit his will to God's will in these relationships in life and find peace and eternal life; he can unite his will with Satan's will and live in uneasiness and damnation; he can seek a middle course following human opinion in matters where God has spoken, following some things God has willed and some things the Devil wills, and find frustration, conflict and doom.

Chart Goes Here Peace In Spiritual Affairs

To apply some of the matters set forth on the chart, let us consider the spiritual affairs in life. You will see by the chart certain things God would have us do in this realm. (These matters are so commonly known to condense space we have not cited the references.) Satan would have us do exactly the opposite, or at least to neglect doing what God has willed. Now two (or more) individuals cannot have peace in the spiritual realm unless both are willing to submit to God's will. For example, much controversy has arisen over baptism because men will not accept what God has willed on this subject. All admit God commanded it, but certain ones say it is a non-essential command. Others do not accept this idea of God's commandments being non-essential. Hence, peace cannot be obtained between varying wills. One is following the pattern God's will provides, while the other denies that a pattern exists. This difference in attitude toward God's will prohibits a concord of wills.

This differing concept toward the word of God was clearly stated recently by brother Amick when he wrote:

Everything God has done follows a persistent and uniformed pattern. His behavior has never varied in the least degree from this unchanging plan of procedure. "For I am the Lord, I change not." (Mal. 3:6)...It is because of this uniform and predictable pattern that we can have such deep and abiding faith in our unchanging God. In like measure, each thing that God has ever required of man fits into an eternal plan that allows for no essential variation. When God told Moses "see that thou make all things according to the pattern showed thee in the mount," (Ex. 25:40) He was voicing the fundamental pattern of faith to be followed in every age.

A vast majority of worshippers believe that there is no set pattern in religious activities. In accord with this idea, a variety of church organizations is excused on the ground that they furnish every person the means to express his individual personality and religious preferences. "Each man to his own tastes...."

The results of this attitude are all around us and they do not justify the charming optimism of these party-defenders. The Babylon of religious confusion that engulfs us flatly contradicts such pleasant predictions. Church divisions are rapidly increasing.... A gigantic effort among some of the larger bodies to unite contradicts the claim that these leaders really believe that religious division is a good thing for the human race.

A moral decline always follows increased religious confusion. We are experiencing the same results today that the nation of Israel suffered during the days of the Judges when "every man did that which was right in his own eyes." The grossest forms of violence and immoral behavior hang as a dark and ominous cloud over the land. A threatened major crisis in crime now has our national leaders perturbed. We will not solve this problem on a political level.... because it is not a political problem. It is basically a religious problem. Moral behavior is the result of spiritual faith, or a lack of it, and if faith has no pattern to guide it, then morality will have no pattern to guide it. (Emphasis mine, E.L.F.)

There is no work of faith where there is no pattern of faith. "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of (or, by the authority) the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him." (Col. 3:17)....

If our own congregations adopt works of faith that are not described in the sacred pattern, then such churches become nothing more than denominational bodies in the Babylon of religious confusion.... (Fred Amick, Bulletin of the church of Christ, 2121 East Wilshire Ave., Fullerton, Calif.)

Peace in the religious world cannot be had by each man doing "that which is right in his own eyes''; by saying God left a book of principles but no pattern. And this applies to churches of Christ, too!

It is true there is a realm where God left man free to use his judgment as to how (methods) to carry out God's commands. Many of these matters are matters of indifference. Where shall we baptize? In a stream? A pool? Heated or unheated water? It doesn't matter, for God never expressed His will in these matters.

How shall we preach? By chart? television? blackboard? pulpit? God didn't express His will as to how we preach (as to methods). He didn't express His will as to how we are to go to preach — walk, ride, fly. These are all matters of indifference. God expects you to use good judgment and go preach. The Devil hopes you won't go; and if you do, that you won't preach; and if you do preach, you will pervert it; but if you won't pervert it, that you will choose the most ineffective means of going and the least effective methods of teaching.

A word of caution here! Men, seeking to be effective in evangelism, organized the Missionary Society, arguing all the time that it was in the realm of the indifference — merely a method, simply one how of doing the work. But has not God expressed His will that the church is the organization to do evangelistic work? "For from you (church at Thessalonica) sounded out the word of the Lord...." (1 Thess. 1:8) (See Eph. 4:11, 12) Look at the above chart again. God has expressed His will as to the work of the church, and of the church at work. Hence, there is no place for another organization in the middle (Indifference, Expedients) section. Now the same may be said of Benevolent Societies, Edification Societies. While some preach there is no pattern, the truth of the case is that there is a pattern clearly set forth. The church is organized to do the benevolent work God wants the church to do. Methods are indifferent, but not so the organization.

Our liberal brethren often answer themselves when off-guard. One recently preached a fine sermon over the radio on why we sing but do not play instruments in worship to God. We have scriptural authority to sing in worship, the speaker said, whereas there is no scriptural authority for playing mechanical instruments in worship to God. That, said the speaker, is our only reason for not having instrumental music in worship. And I say to our liberal brethren that is the same reason we do not use the sponsoring churches (centralization) or contribute to the societies among us, benevolent, edificational, recreational, or evangelistical — there is no scriptural authority for churches of Christ doing so. If we are to have peace among brethren we must he of one mind; we must investigate God's word to learn His will; then, we must unite our wills with His — this brings peace with God and with all others who do the same. It does not take a "scholar" to determine what the work of the church is, and whether the church in the first century did this work or not. If one is forced to choose between having concord with brethren or concord with God, the choice is obvious — we must obey God. One should not be dogmatic in the realm of indifference, but yielding. One should be dogmatic where God has expressed his will, and be unyielding to any change.

A subsequent article will discuss the application of these principles as they relate to family affairs, business affairs, social and civic matters, and particularly to congregations of God's people.

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