Luke 2:14

Can there be peace on earth? Or was the song of the angels a farce? The shepherds heard the angels singing,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men." What about this peace on earth? Across
the two thousand years since the angels sang that hymn of gladness there have been only a few very brief periods
in which there has not been an active war going on somewhere on the earth. This Christmas will dawn in a world in
which many are still engaged in active, deadly conflicts. In spite of the periods of hope the world experiences ever
once in a while, most everyone senses that the world is edging closer and closer to its own destruction in a third
World War.

We need to face the truth! The truth is that our world will not know any lasting period of peace until some radical
changes are made in the world. The Bible gives us reason to believe that The One born in Bethlehem that
Christmas will return to the earth someday to make those needed changes. Until then the world will continue to
know "wars and rumors of wars." Regard¬less of any new political or economic system that we might create, the
situation will not change. The reason it will not change is that the cause of war is not found in the system, but in the
men who run the systems. The problem is that man is a fallen creature, a sinner, and because fallen man tries to
build his world without God, whatever he builds is under the judgment of God, and is predetermined to failure. So
can there be peace on the earth? Realis¬tically the answer is "no" for the present, if we are discussing the
relationships between the nations of the world.

But personal peace is a possibility. The angels did not really sing about nations, they sang about men. Most of the
modern translations reflect another reading in the song. They read, "Peace on earth among men of His good
pleasure." The force seems to be that those who are the objects of God's favor will know a personal peace while
they are on the earth. They may be living in a troubled, warring world, but they will be men of peace. Let's explore
this. What kind of personal peace is possible now, and how?

The great war that needed a conclusion was not between nations or men. In fact the world knew a rather shaky kind
of peace when Jesus was born. If you had been in Rome, the door to the Temple of Janus would have been closed
because there was no active war going on any place in the empire. When a war was in progress the doors were
opened so Janus the God of War could go forth with the armies of Rome. But the peace was one imposed and
sustained by the brutal power of the Roman legions. But the great war that was going on was the ageless conflict
between God and His Adversary the Devil. Man had joined in the conflict on the side of the Adversary in the garden
of Eden. Throughout the history of man, his attitude toward God had been one of rebellion and hostility.
Furthermore, man had not been able to find a way to conclude the conflict. There seemed to be no way for him to
find a basis for peace with Holy God.

The birth of Jesus Christ was directly related to this conflict between God and man. He was coming to the earth
from heaven as the "Prince of Peace". He was on a mission of peace. While on the earth He worked out the basis of
a new peace treaty between God and man. The treaty was based on a willingness of this One born to bear in his
body the sins of the world of mankind on a tree, and by dying in their stead, to pay the price for their sins. The one
thing that the treaty called for was those who wanted to enter into the treaty must place their trust in Jesus Christ,
and accept as a gift from God the new relationship that God offered. Under the terms of the treaty God promised
never to remember the transgressions of the rebels any more, and to accept them in his presence as His own sons
and daughters. He would impute to them the right¬eousness, of His Son, and treat them accordingly.

While the Bible does not use the word treaty, but rather the word "covenant", the basic idea is the same. The
primary difference between a treaty and a covenant, is that the treaty is usually something worked out through
negotiations, but the covenant is more a one sided kind of agree¬ment. The outcome of the work of Jesus Christ in
His mission to the earth is stated by Paul, ''Having been justified by God through faith, we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ.'' This peace with God refers to the present relationship between the justified and
God. It indi¬cates that all of the charges against them have been settled. The books of heaven are clean! They
have been forgiven. In a positive way it means that they are now the objects of the special favor of God. The
provisions of God are now freely flowing their way.

Dr. Addison H. Leitch gave a beautiful illustration of this in his book Interpreting Basic Theology. It was a personal
experience illustration. While he was sitting at the dining room table looking out the window and watching five boys
"fooling around" with a B B gun and wonder¬ing to himself how long it would be before they hurt one another with
the gun, it happened. One of the boys took careful aim at a little sparrow sitting on a limb just outside the dining
room window. With deliberate aim, he shot, but missed the bird and hit the window. Immediately all five of the boys
turned and ran, with Dr. Leitch soon in pursuit. But he did not catch them.

In a few days he found out that the boy's name was Dave White. Also in a few days Dr. Leitch had the window
replaced and paid for it himself. But Dave White was evading him. The other boys had come back to the vacant lot
to play, but not Dave. Dave, the guilty one, was not in¬clined to do any confessing or to face the one he had
wronged. So Dr. Leitch went looking for him. His purpose in looking for him was not to punish him, but to save him
from the misery he was in.. Finally he caught him alone, and confronted him with the issue. Dave stood before him
trembling with fear and rebellion. He was ready to run or to fight in defense. When Dr. Leitch assured him that the
window was already replaced, and paid for, and that he did not want Dave to pay it, and that all he wanted was
Dave to come back and play with the other boys, Dave could not believe it. All he wanted was the friendship of
Dave, but Dave could not believe it. It was only after much persuasion, that Dave finally became convinced. When
he did become con¬vinced, it was such an exciting thing to behold. He relaxed and began to smile. He was now
able to freely come close to the Leitch house again. Fear was gone. He now had peace with Dr. Leitch. He was
ready to do anything for the professor within his power.

This is precisely what God has done. God has freely paid the price for our transgression against Him. He comes to
us offering to us reco4ciliation. He forgives all, and welcomes us back into His fellowship. Those who accept His
offer by faith have "peace with God." They have this peace with God on the earth, right now, in their present
circumstances. This was really the peace that the angels saw becoming a possibility. The conflict between God and
man was not about to be settled by the God of grace and mercy. A peace that would be personal and perman¬ent
was about to be offered to man.

To those who know peace with God the peace of God is a possibility. Jesus spoke of this peace when He promised,
"Peace I leave with you, my peace give I unto you." Though He lived in the midst of conflict and trouble, Jesus was
always a man of peace. He was kept by the peace of God always. He bequeathed this peace to His disciples before
He left them alone in the world. Paul wrote of this Peace to the Phillipians. "Be anxious in nothing: but in everything
by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be known unto God, and the peace of God which
passeth all understanding shall keep your heart and mind through Jesus Christ our Lord.'' This is different from the
peace with God. This is the calm and tranquility that one knows as they face life day by day.

Many scholars find both aspects of this peace in the statement of Jesus. When He said, "Peace I leave with you", it
is the peace of God. The peace of God is that awareness that comes of God through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
There are different aspects of this peace. First, it provides for man a peaceful relationship with himself. You never
find the Lord Jesus agitated or upset with Himself. He was always at peace with Himself. His awareness of and
Commitment to His Heavenly Father, provided for Him a sense of tranquility regarding His own life. He saw His life
resting in the hand of His Father moment by moment     he was at rest.

Out of this there was a peaceful attitude toward others. Because Jesus was at peace with God and himself, it made
possible peaceful relationships with others. While others may have had a problem with Jesus, He did not have a
problem with them. Those who came to Him never found Him to be anything less than a man of love and peace.
What they did, or did not do, did not cause Him to become anxious or fretful. He was at peace.

Furthermore, He was at peace with life itself. He never felt threatened by life because He was sure of the provisions
and adequacy of His heavenly Father. Why become depressed if the Father has everything under control. Paul
experienced this kind of peace. In the same Phillipians chapter from which I quoted, he spoke of "content in
whatever state" he might be in. He testified of a confidence that he could do all things through the strength of
Christ. This is the peace of God in experience. It is this peace that allows Simon Peter to lay down in the jail at
Jerusalem and get a good nights sleep even though he knows that he might face death in the morning.

Such a peace does not come through positive thinking, or better circumstances. It comes through Jesus Christ our
Lord. This is the reason the angels were so excited that Christmas night. They knew that the door to a life of peace
was being flung open to the race of troubled men that lived upon the earth. You can know this peace while you are
on the earth.

How much peace do you know this Christmas? Do you know personally that you have peace with God? Can you
confidently sing, "It is well, it is well with my soul?" That is a wondrous thing!

Do you know the peace of God? Could your life be described as restful, tranquil, calm, peaceful? Jesus Christ
purposes just that kind of life for you. This peace is His Christmas gift to every life that crowns Him Lord.