Friday, October 13, 2023

Post #19 The Doctrine of God - God's Attribute of Peace (also known as "Faithfulness")



        In our study of the Doctrine of God, we have endeavored to cover as many attributes as possible. In today's post we are going to explore that Divine attribute of God's "peace" or order. Theologian Wayne Grudem gives the following defintion of "God's Peace", 

"God's peace means that in God's being and in His actions He is separate from all confusion and disorder, yet He is continually active in innumerable well-ordered, fully controlled, simultaeous actions."

Grasping the Bible's teaching on God's peace or faithfulness

    The Bible certainly attests to the "orderliness" of God in His nature. What Grudem calls "God's peace" or "orderliness" sounds very similiar to what others refer to as God's "faithfulness". God is not a haphazard God. Some brief meditations on the inner-workings of the Trinity will bring out the beauty of this Divine attribute. 

    For instance, the persons of the Trinity never contradict one another. When we get to a detailed study of the doctrine of the Trinity in future posts, we will study what is known as "the doctrine of Divine operations". "Divine operations" describes how the Persons of the Trinity each perform aspects of the works of creation and redemption without contradiction to each other. 

    In creation, the Father authorizes (1 Corinthians 8:6), the Son actualizes or brings everything into being (Psalm 33:6; John 1:1-3), and the Spirit animates or brings forth life and activity. All three Persons do so as the One Creator God (Psalm 104). 

    In redemption, the Father is the architect of salvation (Ephesians 1:1-6), the Son accomplishes redemption (Ephesians 1:7-9), and the Spirit applies such in saving faith (Ephesians 1:10-14). Such division of labor is all one act, by one God, who is three Persons (Ephesians 1:11; Romans 11:36). 

    The attribute of God's peace or faithfulness underwrites the Trinity's work in creation and redemption. God's faithfulness reveals why the Trinity is always in perfect union, and why the plans of God reach their intended goal.

Biblical Scriptures that highlight God's peace or faithfulness

     The prophet Isaiah gives a most apt word-picture of this perfection of God in Isaiah 26:1-4,

"In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: “We have a strong city; He sets up walls and ramparts for security. 2 “Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter, the one that remains faithful. 3 “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. 4 “Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock."

    In the New Testament, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 14:33 "for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints." 

    Also, in 2 Thessalonians 3:16 he notes,

"Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all."

    This orderly, peaceful, faithful God, is extolled or praised by Moses in Deuteronomy 7:9,

"Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments."

    The Psalmist says of God's peace or faithfulness in Psalm 36:5,

"Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies."

    The peace or faithfulness of God is most applicable as noted in Jeremiah's words in Lamentation 3:22-24,

"The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”

    As one does a study of God's peace, orderliness, or what we are terming here, "faithfulness", the Scriptures are quite substantial. We've witnessed His peace in the Old Testament. The New Testament abounds with examples, with a sampling to follow below.

    In the New Testament, God's faithfulness explains why there is salvation (1 Corinthians 1:9). His peace or faithfulness protects believers when they avail themselves of Him in temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Thess 3:3). God's peace or faithfulness is a communicable attribute, conveyed by the Holy Spirit to the Christian (Galatians 5:22). We are told in 2 Timothy 2:13 that God's faithfulness outpaces us in those times we are unfaithful. 

    The Lord Jesus Christ as God incarnate is our faithful High Priest, representing the Christian (Hebrews 2:17; 3:2,6). We are told to "hold fast to Him who is faithful" (Hebrews 10:23). When the Christian suffers for Jesus' sake, they'll be preserved in their faith by Him who is faithful (1 Peter 4:19). The Christian has the promise that Jesus will forgive them when they sin (1 John 1:9). 

    We are told that the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard one's heart and mind in times of prayer (Philippians 4:19). In Revelation 1:5 and 3:14, we find Jesus attributed with this Divine attribute, called by the title "the Faithful witness". 

Why God's peace or faithfulness is enjoyed through Jesus Christ alone

      The word most often translated "peace" in the New Testament indicates the result of reconciliation accomplished by the incarnation of the Son of God. Jesus came the first-time to live, die, rise and ascend (see John 1:14-18; Philippians 2:5-11; 1 Timothy 3:15-16; 1 Peter 1:18; 2:21-22; Revelation 1:8, 17-18). He, as God, became the babe in the cradle; to be the Savior on the cross; to rise victoriously from the grave; to ascend in majesty. 

      The angels addressing the shepherds in Luke 2:14 state - 

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

       There are eight songs or lyrical poems recorded in Luke's infancy narratives of Jesus' life in the first two chapters of his Gospel. Some of these songs have names derived from the 4th century Latin Vulgate translation which was used through the Middle Ages. The particular song in Luke 2:14 is called "gloria in excelsis deo" or "glory to God in the highest" or simply "gloria".     Christians from the early centuries following the Apostles recognized that the only source of peace is when we are focused on God through Jesus Christ - thus, "glory to God in the highest". 

      Whenever we think of "peace", we consider how Christ came into our world to bring about reconciliation between believing sinners and the Father (see John 16:33). Jesus came as the Mediator of peace with God (see 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:1-2). 2 Corinthians 4:5-6 reminds us - 

"For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."

       Such bringing together of God and man in One Person would be the pattern for the goal of salvation - reconciliation. To reconcile sinful man and Holy God results in peace. We read in Ephesians 2:13-18 

"But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 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, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father."       

         Consider Romans 5:1-5, which speaks more poignantly about this peace applied to the sinner at saving faith: 

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 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. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 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."

Closing thoughts

          Years ago there used to be bumper-stickers that read: "No Jesus, No Peace / Know Jesus, Know Peace". Since Jesus came into our world over 2,000 years ago, hope, faith, joy and peace were made available to all who trust in Him by faith. God's attribute of peace is revealed to us and available only through Jesus Christ. He is our faith. He is our joy. He is our peace. He is faithful.

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