Christian Ethics Free Course: LESSON FOUR: PEACE: (PART TWO)
Read: Eph. 2:14-17; 2Cor. 10:3-5.
In this second part, we look at the New Testament teaching on this issue and our response as God’s people living in a new covenant.
A. THE NEW TESTAMENT APPROACH TO VIOLENCE:
(i) A VIOLENT AGE
Jesus recognised and prophesied that this age would be characterised by war. See Mt. 24:6-7. The book of Revelation speaks continually of the strife of sinful men but also of God using war as an instrument of His righteous judgement. Revelation ch. 9 is a good example of this and reminds us of the continuity between the revelation of the Old Testament and that of the New.
Jesus is in ultimate control of world history (See Rev. 6:1-8; 5). He is the awesome Lord of glory who rules with a rod of iron.
(ii) LOVE YOUR ENEMIES
Against this backdrop to world history, Jesus both taught and practised non-violence (See Mt. 5:9). Read Mt. 5:38-48 for an astonishing new ethic that applied not only to civil enemies but also to the occupying Roman army. Love in this context doesn’t mean personal endearment – they were, after all, enemies – but it does mean consideration and kindness. Paul has the same thought in Rom. 12:17-21.
We are called to be a law-abiding people of peace.
B. THE GOSPEL OF PEACE:
(i) THE PRINCE OF PEACE
The birth of Jesus was announced in terms of peace. See Lk. 2:14.
Isaiah prophesied that wars would end wherever He reigned. Note in particular the last of the four titles given to Jesus in Isa. 9:6.
(ii) PEACE THROUGH THE CROSS
True peace was accomplished through the death of Jesus on the cross. Read: Eph. 2:14-17.
(iii) NEW PEOPLE, NEW SOCIETY
The gospel transforms both our inner nature and our outer conduct.
It removes the covetousness and the anger from our souls. See Tit. 3:3-5. The more this gospel spreads, the greater the prospects for peace in our time, in the streets, in the nation, in the world.
C. WHAT ARE GOD’S PEOPLE TO DO?
We have a positive contribution to make in mitigating the worse effects of sin. As light we show the way; as salt we slow down the putrefaction. Although we cannot absolutely prevent war we can make a marked difference.
(i) WE ARE TO PRAY
War is more likely to occur when we fail to pray. Look up and consider 1 Tim. 2:1-4. As we pray we are to recognise the sovereignty of God over the affairs of this world.
Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords. We must also recognise a satanic strategy. In spite of stories of servicemen coming to the Lord, (in which we rejoice), war hinders the gospel – and nuclear war hinders the gospel absolutely. The devil would love to pre-empt Christ’s return for His bride by engineering a nuclear holocaust which would destroy the human race. Our prayers can prevent it.
(ii) LIVE IN HOPE
Read Psalm 91 and write out in your own words what it promises.
We are to put faith in God, not in people. We must refuse the fear of this generation. Our concern about nuclear war must not be first to save our own skins but to see God’s purposes achieved. Instead of cowering we are to conquer.
(iii) FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT
We are called to spiritual warfare. Our ‘holy war’ is described in 2 Cor. 10:3-5. Read also Eph. 6:10-2O. Who is the enemy (v12)? Consider each piece of armour, noting that some are for defence, some for attack.
(iv) DO GOOD TO ALL PEOPLE
If we find ourselves in a conflict situation, our first concern must be to alleviate suffering.
This may be by doing medical work or by sacrificing our lives to save others. This is often a dilemma for peace-loving Christians. We want to be pacifists but circumstances can appear on occasions to make that untenable. We must obey our conscience. Whether we fight in these circumstances or declare ourselves to be conscientious objectors, it will take courage to serve the good of others.
(v) PREACH RIGHTEOUSNESS
We must speak out against unrighteousness, not only as it is found in individuals, but where it is institutional and political.
As peace-makers we must advocate reductions in internal tension, including realistic multi-lateral disarmament policies, both of nuclear and conventional weapons.
Righteousness exalts a nation – even Sodom and Gomorrah could have been spared if sufficient righteous people had been found. Gen.18:20-33. Proclaiming the gospel will turn many to righteousness and bring peace in our land. This is our distinctive contribution to society and we must become confident enough to share it. ‘Righteousness marches’ will achieve more for peace than ‘peace marches’!
1. Jesus instructed us to turn the other cheek. .
Does this mean that a Christian should refuse to defend himself when being assaulted in the street or should stand passively by while a friend or relative is being assaulted? Ponder, and write out your answer.
2. “Well, nuclear war and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, Armageddon, and the coming war with Russia, what does this have to do with you and me? It says this: prepare to meet thy God. If you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, none of this should bring fear to your heart, because we are all going up in the Rapture before any of it occurs” – Jerry Falwell.
Ponder this statement. Do you agree with this paragraph? Is it Biblical or not? Are there any dangers in this ‘Christian’ attitude?
3. ‘‘Criticism, anger and malice are all right in the church provided we don’t actually get physical about it.” Do you agree? Give reasons for / against.
1. Read (or listen to a tape / CD) the book of Revelation right through at one sitting to get an overall picture.
Don’t worry about trying to understand every detail. font>
2. What has God spoken to you about in this lesson? Lay it out before Him in prayer and respond in obedience.