Rev. David Holwick  ZQ
First Baptist Church               CHRISTMAS SUNDAY
Ledgewood, New Jersey
December 23, 1990
                                                               Luke 2:14
                    PEACE ON EARTH, GOODWILL TO MEN

  I. Peace is one of the greatest longings of mankind.
      A. Often lacking in history.

           A "Canadian Army Journal" article says historians calculate since
              3600 B.C., the world has known only 292 years of peace.
           During this period there have been 14,531 wars, large and small.
              3,640,000,000 people have been killed.
           Since 650 B.C. there have been 1,656 arms races, only 16 of
              which have not ended in war.
           Those 16 caused the economic collapse of the countries
                                                                Tan #7148
      B. Major conflict perhaps only 2 weeks away in Mideast.
          1) Chaplain David Moran there now.
          2) My brother Jeb has received orders to go, after Christmas.

      C. Signs of peace around world, but peace through disintegration of
           hostile governments, not stable peace.
          1) Note turmoil in USSR, threats of harsh dictatorship.
          2) World could blow up at any time.

      D. Is genuine peace possible?

 II. Peace is the greatest promise of the Christmas event.
      A. Old Testament prophets:  "Prince of peace" is coming.   Isa 9:6
          1) His reign of peace will never end.         Isa 9:7
          2) Even Jerusalem will know peace.            Isa 33:20
          3) By wounds of Messiah we receive peace.     Isa 53:5

      B. New Testament view of peace.
          1) Angels herald peace for earth.           Luke 2:14
              a) Not a wish, but a present reality.
              b) Jews - peace (shalom) is equivalent to salvation.
                  1> Peace arrived personally for Simeon.     Luke 2:29
          2) Teachings of Jesus.
              a) Blessed are peacemakers.                 Matt 5:9
              b) Those who believe in Jesus will experience inner peace.

III. Qualifications - how much peace is possible in this life?
      A. Jesus himself gave predictions of war up to the end.   Matt 24
          1) He foretold last great battle, Armageddon.
          2) Jesus did not come to bring peace, but a sword.   Matt 10:34
              a) Division in families in view, but similar to divisions
                   in world.

      B. Peace is possible now, but not in way many expect.
          1) United Nations won't bring it about.

 IV. Followers of Jesus can have inner spiritual peace.
      A. Correct translation:  "Peace to men on whom God's favor rests."
          1) Not "peace to people who are nice."
          2) Must be in right relationship with God.
              a) Not a "natural" state due to our sin.        Rom 5:1-2
              b) Available to all.   (Not predestination)
              c) Must be chosen, by accepting Jesus.

      B. God gives us peace of mind by taking away our sins.    Isa 53:5
          1) It is a peace that is different from the world's
               conception.                   John 14:27
          2) Based on Jesus' overcoming the world.    John 16:33
              a) In Jesus, we can have peace even when all is falling
                   apart around us.
              b) (Corrie ten Boom and her sense of peace in concentration

  V. Broader peace is also possible right now.
      A. Peace in our relationships.
          1) Peace must begin with individuals.
              a) Haddam Hussein - must not be satisfied with himself.
                  1> Has declared war on his own tribes (Kurds) and Iran.
                  2> He needs to be changed.
              b) At least one person must change to influence a
                  1> Start with yourself.
          2) Peace in our families.
              a) Have you had any fights this Christmas season?
                  1> Putting up tree.
              b) Be a peacemaker.

      B. Peace in our communities.
          1) New Yorkers have been set back by racial tensions.
               Inevitable, or fixable?   Jesus would say fix it.
          2) Many Christians are making a difference.

      C. Peace in our world.
          1) We live in a hostile world, but we are still called to be
                peacemakers.                                     Matt 5:9

          Reader's Digest article, Jan 1990:

          Medical missionary Bruce Olson was captured by Columbian
             communists in October 1988.
          He was beaten and kept bound most of the time.
          The soldiers were waiting for a ransom, but the mission wouldn't
          Olson endured pain by concentrating on the spirit and doing God's
             will in his current situation.
          He was tortured but able to influence the guerrillas by teaching
             and healing them.

          After a while they even let him conduct worship services.
             They couldn't understand how he could pay back evil with good.
             Olson was able to lead some of them to the Lord.
          While very ill a bird sang outside, reminding him of how the
             Motilone Indians sang the Scriptures.
          When the soldiers could not break him they apologized and
             released him.
          2) Pray for peace.
              a) "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

 VI. Jesus came to earth for a reason.
      A. His promise will one day be fulfilled in an absolute way.
          1) Peace of millennial kingdom.
          2) It will be God's doing, not ours.

      B. Do your part of bringing it about by being a person of peace.
          1) In way you treat others.
          2) In way you lead them to faith in God.

      C. Begin by making peace with God in your own heart.
          1) He offers best Christmas gift - salvation.
          2) Salvation from fear, guilt, defeat.

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Copyright © Rev. W. David Holwick, 1999

First Baptist Church; Ledgewood, New Jersey

This document last modified November 22, 1999