The following is a sermon transcript preached by Timothy Williams.
Audio read by a professional reader is under construction.
Jesus’ Terms of Peace
I know everybody wants peace, right?
Isaiah 9:6 – For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
We want to begin to look at the peace of Jesus Christ tonight and to find out how we can get that peace. And what Jesus requires from us before we can ever get that peace because Jesus is the Prince of any peace that you can find. There’s nothing in the world that can satisfy like the peace of Jesus Christ. Finding the peace of Jesus Christ means that we’re going to have the grace and the strength to endure anything in this world. Look at Isaiah 27:2, God says:
Isaiah 27:2-3 – In that day—“Sing about a fruitful vineyard: I, the LORD, watch over it; I water it continually. I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it.”
Again, we see the presence of God in everything at this point. And this vineyard, whoever is in that vineyard finds the peace of God.
Isaiah 27:3-4 – I, the Lord, watch over it; I water it continually, I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it. I am not angry. If only there were briers and thorns confronting me! I would march against them in battle; I would set them all on fire.
But look at what He says in verse 5:
Isaiah 27:5 – Or else let them come to me for refuge; let them make peace with me, yes, let them make peace with me.
So we’re going to be talking about how we make peace with God and what it means to come before God and how we can have that peace that is in Jesus.
Let’s go to Luke 14:31. In this passage right here Jesus is going to tell us how to get the peace that He has. Luke 14:31, Jesus says:
Luke 14:31-33 – Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.
What are the terms of peace that Jesus has in mind? Jesus says consider even the world, if a king is going to go to battle and he realizes that somebody is going to attack him and that he doesn’t have the means to overcome that enemy he will ask “What are your conditions for peace? What are your terms for peace? What would it take for us to be friends with each other?” And he says that to the other king.
Now you notice in verse 31 Jesus about considering a king who is going to go to war and the person coming against him far outweighs his numbers and what he is able to do. In the same way each of us needs to look at God and see who’s coming and see the wrath that is coming. When we begin to consider coming to the peace of Jesus Christ the first thing we need to look at is hell. You have to realize that the wrath of God is coming before you ever ask for peace. You have to realize that Jesus Christ is coming and coming with wrath before we ever turn and say, “Okay, what are Your conditions for peace? How can I appease Your wrath? How can we be at peace with each other?”
In World War II when the Germans saw that they were going to lose, or at least the generals did, and the Allied forces were invading and conquering everywhere they went, a couple of the generals sent a message over to the Allied forces saying, “Look, let’s work out a surrender, let’s work out terms of peace.” And what the generals were hoping to do was to maintain a piece of Germany. They were hoping to rise up and rule over Germany and not wait for Germany to be completely destroyed. And of course the Allies wrote back and said, “Unconditional surrender.” And in the same way a lot of people come to God and they say, “God, these are my terms of peace. If You do this, if You allow me to keep this part of my life, we’ll be at peace with each other.” A lot of people live their Christian life in the same way. They send a message to God—their life declares they’ve sent that message to God. They’ll say, “God I’ll surrender this much over here but this area, this part of the country, this part, I’m going to rule and be king over.” And Jesus says in verse 32 that “if he’s not able he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.” The only kind of peace that we can have with God is absolute, unconditional surrender. Everything has to be given to Jesus Christ if we are to experience the peace that is in Jesus.
Verse 33, “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” There cannot be a small section of your heart that you want to hang on to. There cannot be a small area of your life that says, “I will rule here,” or “I’ll keep this pleasure here,” or “I’ll keep this aspect of my life,” and expect to have the peace of Jesus Christ. Now understand, Jesus is talking about the beginning point of following Him. He’s not talking about somebody that’s been in Jesus for twenty years and slowly working a little more surrender. He says, “If you want to be My disciples, if you even want to start at the beginning place, you’ve got to give it all up right now.” There has to be that complete surrender to God of everything before we’re ever going to begin to experience that peace and grow in that peace. The German generals could not have said to the Allies, “Let’s surrender a little bit of the time.” That wasn’t acceptable. Everything had to be unconditionally surrendered at that moment and at that time because they were an enemy worth being destroyed. There was nothing worth being salvaged or being saved, was there? There wasn’t anything good about the German army and what it was doing at that point. It needed to be completely destroyed.
And in the same way with us there is nothing that should be left alive and there should be nothing that we want left alive. If there is an area we’re holding on to, if we say, “But this was a good part of me,” or “This part was noble,” we do not see ourselves clearly yet in the light of the grace of God. Otherwise we would beg for an unconditional surrender. We would say to God, “Take it all, I don’t want any part of it.”
Look at Matthew 11:28. For some people this is just too much of a cost to pay. They’re not willing to surrender it all to have that peace in Jesus and so they go to other kinds of peace. They look at gospels that are easy, they look at gospels that will soothe their conscience but there’s not that surrender before God of giving everything up, unconditionally, never to pick it up again. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says:
Matthew 11:28 – Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
That is good news; that is peace that he offers us. He says in verse 29:
Matthew 11:29-30 – Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Now let us understand that when an enemy conquers somebody else he rules that kingdom. Those people become subjects to him, they become slaves to him. And the same thing is true with God, that we have to put on a yoke. Let us praise God that He is the God who He is and not a Hitler. Or that we’re not enslaved to some God who enjoys torturing people or somehow He gets pleasure out of sending people to hell. Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you.” What we have to realize is that this unconditional surrender means that we also become slaves and servants of God. Before we ever become a son or a daughter of God, you first have to become a slave. Before you’ll ever know that peace that is in Jesus Christ you first have to become a servant of God, and then you will find that peace, but not before. You have to take that yoke and you have to put it on each day. And you have to begin to learn from Jesus on a daily basis what He would teach us. Then we find rest for our souls, and then we find that peace. Coming to Jesus Christ is not a spur of the moment thing. It is not a one evening decision, it is a daily decision. It’s putting on that yoke every single day if we’re going to experience that peace.
Now I want you to notice in verse 28 He says, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” And you will find rest for what? Let’s understand the kind of peace that He’s offering us. Not rest for your body. Not a peace like the world enjoys, the fishing, the boating and all the things that the world does, to find it. He says, “You will find rest for your souls,” which is a far cry from the peace of this world. Jesus isn’t even offering you that kind of peace, he’s not offering you a peace where your body is always going to feel well, where you’ll always be healthy, or where everything will go fine with your body. In fact, being in Jesus Christ it comes out the opposite. Let’s not expect something from Jesus Christ that He never intended to give. Let’s understand that we will have a peace that is beyond bodily comfort. It overcomes the world no matter what the world demands of us because we have a peace inside our souls. It overcomes any battle that we can face because we have a peace that transcends all of that and overcomes it.
In 2 Corinthians 7:5 Paul talks about his service to God. He talks about his labor for God. He says:
2 Corinthians 7:5 – For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within.
“For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest.” He might as well have put it this way: “When I became a Christian, we came in to the area of Denver, my body had no rest.” Jesus has not promised this body rest. He hasn’t promised me eight hours of sleep every night. He hasn’t promised me comfort. He has only promised me comfort for my soul. He says, “but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within.” He says his body could not find the rest that it sought or that it wanted. Jesus hasn’t offered us that kind of peace and that kind of rest. We have to become servants and we have to become slaves, before we ever become sons and before we ever have that peace that is deep within our hearts.
In Luke 9:57 it says that there’s a man that’s looking at Jesus Christ and deciding whether he wants to follow Jesus or not. And zeal, I know in a certain amount of joy he turned to Jesus in verse 57. It says:
Luke 9:57 – As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
How many people say that in churches today? Or how many people say they have committed themselves to God? They say, “I will follow Jesus wherever He goes.” And Jesus doesn’t turn to him and say, “Great, I’m glad you said that.” Jesus doesn’t turn to him and say, “Well, good, now you have the Holy Spirit, now you can come follow Me.” He doesn’t promise him all kinds of things. What does He do? He tries to turn him away. He says to him in verse 58:
Luke 9:58 – Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
He’s saying, “Understand that when you say you’re going to follow me, what that really means and what that entails.” It’s not the easy altar call, you know, he’s coming down the aisle saying, “I’ll follow you.” And Jesus is saying, “Look, realize that when you’re coming down that aisle to commit yourself to Me you may not have a place to lay your head.” Even the Son of Man, the Son of God, who owns the universe, who owns everything where everybody else sleeps, has no place to lay His head. And this is the Person you have chosen to follow. Jesus has not promised rest for your body. He’s only promised you rest for your souls and a peace that passes all the rest that your body could possibly find. So when we say to Jesus Christ, “I will follow You,” He turns to us and says, “You may not have a place to lay your head.”
In Romans 6:19 Paul again says if you’re going to have this peace you’re going to have to surrender all. The conditions for peace, the terms for peace, are unconditional surrender. Now I want you to look at your own life during the week and how many times you failed to ask God, “What is Your will in this situation?” That means you ruled in an area. That means that you sought to keep control of a certain area of your life. And how many times was that fear and trembling looking to God saying, “God, what is Your will in all circumstances, at all times?” In Romans 6:19 Paul says:
Romans 6:19 – 21 – I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!
You are weak in your natural selves. You are either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness. There is no middle ground. You have either totally surrendered to sin or you have totally surrendered to God. There is no middle ground. It’s only unconditional surrender on both ends. Verse 22:
Romans 6:22 – But now that you have been set free from sin and have becomes slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become what? Slaves to God. You see the result of becoming a slave to God is the Prince of Peace.
Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Now he says this up here in verse 19, “I put this in human terms because you are weak.” He’s saying, “Look, you guys are so sinful, you’re so used to looking at things in human terms of laws and this and that and doing this over here that I’ve got to portray Jesus Christ to you in such a fashion.” Because it’s not really slavery to be in Jesus Christ. It’s not really a cost to surrender everything. Remember Jesus said the kingdom of God is like a pearl hidden in a field. The man finds it and he sells everything in his joy to purchase the field. So he is trying to explain to these people, “Look, you need to offer yourself to obey God in everything.” And the only way he could seem to get his message across is to put it in the most basic terms that he can. He says, “Look, it’s not really a matter of being in slavery, of somehow losing all joy.” He says, “You gain joy, you gain Jesus Christ, but you’ve got to surrender everything.” And how many times we have to come back to ourselves and remind ourselves, “I am a slave to God. I am to be obedient to Him in all things.”
In John 8:34 it says that Jesus said:
John 8:34 – Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”
Now look at verse 35 of John 8 and remember what Paul said in Romans 6:19 about putting it in human terms. God really doesn’t want to run around talking about the fact that we’re slaves to Him. You know, that implies that you have to do what you’re told to do, that you don’t have any choice. To say that somebody is a slave to somebody else that’s something you fight against, you call it oppression. And that’s not how God wants to view us and not how He wants us to view our relationship with Him. If it is slavery for you to be obedient to God you won’t last too long. Because in John 8:35 Jesus says:
John 8:35 – Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.
If you’re always considering the Christian life to be in the context of slavery and those kind of human terms of what you have to do and how much drudgery it is, you have no permanent place in Jesus Christ. The things that God asks us to do ought to be our joy to do, ought to give us the peace. That’s why we do it, not because we’re told to do or because the sermon told we us had to do it or because we’re under conviction, but because it is life to us to do it. Because it brings us peace. Jesus says, “Now a slave has no permanent place in the family.” And there are a lot of people that are truly in their relationship with God nothing more than slaves. And they have no lasting peace, no lasting relationship with God. He goes on to say: “but a son belongs to it forever.”
Romans 8:36 – So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
How sad it is that Paul has to turn to other Christians and say, “Look, I’ve got to put this in human terms because you’re weak. You don’t seem to realize that you were a slave to sin. Now you become a slave to God.” Let’s get past the slavery aspect of what we have to do for God and get on to being sons and daughters. Not because you have to be in the family. Not because if you don’t you’re going to go to hell, but simply because we enjoy Him who is the Prince of Peace. Not because we find rest for our bodies or comfort or security but because we have rest in our souls and we love Him who gave us that peace.
Look at 2 Corinthians 5:15. When you give yourself to God you’ve said to God, “I will not live for myself any more.” Now do you consciously get up, is that really written in your heart? Is it something that the Spirit has been able to really put in there with joy? Is it really your joy to say, “I enjoy doing nothing that I want to do”?
So often people say to me, “Does that mean that I can never go camping again? Does that mean I can’t ever go skiing again? Or that I can’t go here?” And the answer is yes, you never can. That’s not even what the Gospel call is about. 2 Corinthians 5:15 says:
2 Corinthians 5:15 – And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
Who do we live for? We live for Jesus Christ. We do not live for ourselves. And so the minute we ask that question then the Gospel becomes slavery to us again, doesn’t it? It becomes a set of rules and chains and bondage that we can’t get out of. There is no peace in that. There is no lasting peace in being a permanent slave. Now we may start out there because we know we need to do it but you can’t ever stay there. You’ve got to get on to sonship or becoming a daughter. “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died.” What we live for, what gives us life, what gives us peace is doing the will of God. And when we begin to ask questions, “Can I never go do this here? Or what about this plan over here that I’ve got God? Or what about these thoughts here or these goals?” We are no longer living for God, we’re living for ourselves and we’ll lose that peace which is in Christ Jesus every single time. We’ll lose it every single time because God will turn to us and say, “No, you can’t go do that. No, it is not permissible for you to do that.” He’ll have to lay down the law, He’ll have to put on the chains and if you break those chains you’ll turn your back on God. We must live for Him and Him only; no thoughts for self.
To be a slave back in Roman times meant that you absolutely had no rights, no privileges, no consideration, nobody cared about you. You were property, you were a thing. And understand that when the writers were saying that you’re servants of God, understand that they understand clearly what slavery is about. In 1 Peter 2:16 he says:
1 Peter 2:16 – Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.
That is, you count yourself to be nothing and your master to be everything. You realize that you’re not entitled to a forty-hour work week and then you get to clock out. That’s not the nature of a slave or a servant. You’re not entitled to the best part of the house, you’re not entitled for the master to even talk to you. You’re not entitled to anything except to be a slave and a servant to that man. Count yourselves as a servant of God. You demand nothing from God. You come in each morning and you stay to hear from God what His will is for you. Now praise God that you follow a loving and good God, that God is a God of love and anything He asks is not only best for us but also brings glory to Himself. If we but would surrender, if we would consider ourselves to be servants of God. We’re free in this land. There are a lot of Christians that aren’t free. Those of us that are free should consider ourselves to be in prison for Jesus Christ. You’re not free to come and go as you choose or as you please. Now that can be chains to you or that can be life to you. That can be the grandest freedom there is in Christ Jesus or it can be the worst torture that you’ve ever found in this earth. That’s the nature of the Gospel. You see, it’s either one way or the other. You either love those chains that are in Christ Jesus or you hate Him who holds the chains.
The thing that I fear and dread the most is that God would let me loose to do what I want to do. That even when I kick and even when I scream and I say, “God, I want to do that,” I don’t really want Him to let go. I don’t want those chains released. Those are freedom to me, they keep me from being in bondage to the sin and slavery of this world. But for those who want that sin, the chains that Jesus has are not freedom at all. Count yourselves as slaves to God then you’ll have that peace that’s in Christ Jesus. You’ll know Him who is the Prince of Peace. Those are sweet chains, they’re lovely chains. The commands that God gives are the sweetest commands a man can hear. They give rest down to the soul, down to the soul.
Turn to Deuteronomy 15:12. I think everybody goes through this in a relationship with God. When you first come to God you’re really naïve about what God has in mind and there comes that point of time and testing and saying, “Is this really worthwhile? Is this really what I want?” Especially in the context of fellowship and being with your brothers and sisters and the demands the Christian life lays on you because the demands are heavy. It’s an easy yoke, but the demands are heavy. In Deuteronomy 15:12 it says:
Deuteronomy 15:12-16 – If a fellow Hebrew, a man or a woman, sells himself to you and serves you six years, in the seventh year you must let him go free. And when you release him, do not send him away empty-handed. Supply him liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your winepress. Give to him as the LORD your God has blessed you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today. But if your servant says to you, “I do not want to leave you,” because he loves you and your family and is well off with you,
Does not God put each of us through the same test? Does it not say about King Hezekiah—I think it was him—that God removed His Spirit from him to see what was in his heart? Is there not that testing part where Satan comes to us and says, “Here, you can have all these things if you just leave God, if you just leave that household”? Or maybe even God comes that way. Maybe there are doors that swing open—that He allows to swing open—so we can go and be blessed in that direction but we’d have to leave Him. Maybe it even comes down to a ministry where God says, “Yeah, that door is open. Which do you want?” And there’s that testing quality of which household do you really want to be a part of. Do you want your freedom or do you still want to be a slave to God? Verse 16, “But if your servant says to you, ‘I do not want to leave you,’ because he loves you and your family and is well off with you…”
Deuteronomy 15:17 – then take an awl and push it through his ear lobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life. Do the same for your maidservant.
You take his ear and you put it to the door post and you take an awl and you hammer and you pierce his ear so that he will always be attentive and always say, “That’s where I belong, that’s my master, that’s who I listen to, that’s my peace, that’s who I love.” But God gives us those doors and those things swing open and a lot of men walk through them. You know it wouldn’t matter if you just camped over on the other side of the hill and could always see the Father there. It wouldn’t matter, would it? It wouldn’t matter if there were always that gleam and you can always kind of see Jesus, or there were always some prayers that you were within hearing distance of the Word of God. It wouldn’t matter, would it? Your ear isn’t pierced against the door, is it? You haven’t sold yourself as a slave to God. You don’t have that peace that passes all understanding. The Prince of Peace isn’t Lord of your life. He doesn’t rule over you. You have your own hill, you have your own mountain top and though you see the family of God you will not experience the peace that they have. Only those who are willing to have their ears pushed against that door to hear the call of the Master will have that peace and that joy. They will be able to say, “Though I am a servant I’m also a son and I love Him and He loves me.” If we want that peace it must be unconditional surrender. And there will come that time with each of you that God will say, “Do you want be set loose and do you want to be free?” He won’t hold over you the fires of hell. That’s to get you there in the first place. He won’t threaten you with disease and sickness and all kinds of torture. He will just simply say to you, “Which is more valuable to you, just My presence or the things of this world and your own comfort and your own pleasure, your own life?” Which will we choose? It all depends on how much you fall in love with Jesus. Because I guarantee you there are a lot of people that have left and they haven’t thought they’re going to hell. They found that they’re leaving God. God isn’t going to always threaten you into His household. Who wants a child or a son who stays in your house because if they go out there they’ll be tortured but they hate being in the household?
Look at John 10:1. We must offer ourselves to the voice of Jesus if we expect to have this peace. In John 10:1 Jesus says:
John 10:1-4 – I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.
They’ve sold everything, they’ve put their ear against the door post. They can hear the Master’s voice, they know that Master’s voice. It says in verse 5:
John 10:5 – But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.
Many times a thief, when he’s trying to steal a sheep, will try and mock the voice of the master and the sheep always know the difference. And even in a crowded room we know that if a bunch of children are playing and a mother yells out for her son or her daughter, that child recognizes that voice, and doesn’t necessarily even have to be a yell. Always hearing the Master’s voice. And that’s what’s so crucial and important, not law and not legalism and not a set of codes, but hearing the voice of Jesus. Verse 6:
John 10:6-9 – Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them. Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.”
He’ll find that peace for him who hears the voice of God. He will be able to say, “The name of my God is Prince of Peace.” And he’ll say it with conviction and he’ll say it with power and he’ll say it with life. Verse 10:
John 10:10 – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
There is a fullness of life in Jesus, not a recreation in Jesus. To become a Christian means your life is turned upside down. I mean, you talk about a full life, you don’t know which way it’s going next. But not in terms of human joy and human comfort. You may go into Macedonia and find no rest for your body, I mean, that’s full life, you’ve got a lot happening. Some of the worst things I can think of is just having my nice little career somewhere. Following Jesus Christ is exciting, but not in the way the world considers exciting. Verse 11 says:
John 10:11-14 – I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.
We don’t serve a God who doesn’t care and who doesn’t love. It’s just the total opposite, and though we sell ourselves to be slaves to Him, though we are just merely sheep and He is the Shepherd, He is a good Shepherd, full of life and full of peace. We don’t know it because we don’t offer ourselves. We haven’t surrendered unconditionally before God. We keep surrendering an inch at a time and it never happens. What God is finally wanting is the complete surrender. Not that that makes you perfect or that you’ll never do anything wrong, but the heart is at rest because it’s given everything to God and has decided it will never turn back. And some of you are surrendering an inch at a time and a block at a time and Jesus has to go in and attack, so you never experience that peace and you never will until you finally let go and give it all. The worst torture in the life is surrendering an inch at a time.
John 10:15-16 – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
All because of the voice of God. All because of the loving call of the Shepherd. Don’t think for a moment that this Shepherd calls with harsh tones and voices. He’s not harsh with His sheep, He calls in love songs. He calls no doubt as David played the harp unto God as a shepherd of the sheep. He warns and pleads that goats might become sheep. But He calls the sheep with songs of love. And all He asks is that we surrender everything.
Luke 17:7 tells us that if we belong to God He owes us nothing. He owes you absolutely nothing. You owe Him everything. He doesn’t have to put your life together, He doesn’t have to make everything run smooth. He doesn’t have to give you freedom or a job or health or nothing. If you serve Jesus Christ for five years at the end of five years He owes you nothing. A slave doesn’t earn that kind of thing. A slave earns his keep and that’s about it. In Luke 17:7 it says:
Luke 17:7-9 – Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, “Come along now and sit down to eat”? Would he not rather say, “Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink”? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?
Why is it that God should thank us for doing anything righteous or good or holy? We were created to do that in the first place. I mean, it’s grace upon grace that Hebrews calls us to believe that God rewards those who love and seek after Him because He owes us nothing. We’ve done our duty, we’ve only done what was asked of us. Verse 10:
Luke 17:10 – So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”
“Unworthy servants.” Not saying it from our lips but from our hearts. He doesn’t owe me peace, He doesn’t owe me any kind of comfort, I’ve just done what’s right and what’s proper. I know the world rewards everybody for the good that they do, but we never should expect or demand from God such a thing. It’s enough that He’s a Good Shepherd, it’s enough that He’s a God of love.
In John 15:9 it tells us that if we’re to have this peace that Jesus has then we have to become slaves not only to God but to each other. In John 15:9 it says:
John 15:9-11 – As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
If we are to have the peace, the joy, and the rest that is in Jesus Christ, then we must become slaves to one another. Not playing socializing games at church, not talking about fellowship so much, but talking about being slaves to each other. Verse 12:
John 15:12-15 – My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I have learned from my Father I have made known to you.
You see you pass from the place of slavery into the place of being friends of God. Of being able to boast, “My friend is God.” I no longer call you servants. What does that mean? Up until this time Jesus has considered them servants and slaves. But what makes their joy complete? Where do they get this peace? How do we fulfill this peace that God calls us to have in our life? By being slaves to one another. “Because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I have learned from my Father I have made known to you.” Our joy becomes complete, it becomes full, it becomes overflowing when we become servants of each other, when we lay down our life just as Jesus laid down His life for us. To lay hold of the Prince of Peace is to not only lose your life for God but to lose your life for others; to no longer live for yourself but to live for others. No thought of having a good self-esteem or pleasing some part of you or that somehow you have to love yourself in order to love other people. But to love God with everything which means to love one another and to lay down our life; to mean that you don’t consider yourself to have any rights, nobody has to treat you nice. Nobody owes you a thank you. Nobody owes you a pat on the back or encouragement. You lay down your life. How often was Jesus encouraged? When was the last time you heard Peter walk up to Jesus and put his arm around Him and say, “You know, let’s go to Jerusalem and die. This is great”? When did they ever turn to Jesus and say, “Gee, Jesus, thanks”? It means you lay down your life, you become the servant, you become the slave of everybody else if you belong to Jesus Christ. And it doesn’t matter what other people do and it doesn’t matter what they say. Your joy is full because you obeyed Jesus and your peace comes from Him. Not because you get a nice little church plaque that says you put on the best socials and dinners during the year.
In Matthew 20:26 Jesus said:
Matthew 20:26-27 – Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—
“Must be your slave.” He repeats it twice. You want to be great in this church? Then you have to become a servant. If you want to become first, you have to become a slave. That’s where the peace is, that’s where the joy is, and that’s a sign that you’ve surrendered everything to God. Verse 28:
Matthew 20:28 – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Why do you think there’s so much selfish ambition in the church? Men wanting to be teachers or to do this or to be known for this ministry, because they don’t consider themselves a servant to everybody else. A slave isn’t entitled to a parade. He just does his duty, just does his work, he just quietly goes about serving his God. And he does it out of love.
In 1 Corinthians 9:19 Paul says:
1 Corinthians 9:19 – Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.
“I make myself a slave.” He says, “No man seeks to serve me, I seek to serve them. I demand nothing from anybody else. I lay my life down to serve them and to be servants to them.” None of us can really relate to what slavery is all about and how much you’re not considered anything—not even noticed. No one owes you anything, no rights, no nothing. And when you get indignant that somebody doesn’t treat you right, remember they don’t owe you anything. You’re a slave and a servant to them. And that’s what God calls us to do. That’s where the peace is and how so few want to lose their lives.
In Luke 22:41, if we’re to know this peace then you have to resolve yourself to do God’s will in everything. We’re going to see that Jesus did not have rest in His body. He didn’t have that comfort from there. His peace was a lot deeper than that. Verse 41:
Luke 22:41-42 – He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
If you’re to know the peace that Jesus has then you have to say this. You have to go into the prayer closet and walking in your daily life you have to say, “God, this is what I’d like to do. I’d like to be doing this on a particular day, but God, whatever Your will is.” And there may be that battle and that struggle. Look on to what is says next:
Luke 22:43 – An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.
That’s how great the battle was.
Luke 22:44 – And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
That’s how much the turmoil was there, but He knew that peace was in what? Only doing God’s will and He’s closest to the cross. And if we’re to do that you’d better believe there’s going to be times of tremendous battle where God is saying, “You’re going to go here” and you’re going to say, “No, I don’t want to go there.” And there’s going to have to be that wrestling process until you surrender completely before God. You have to resolve yourself that in every single thing from the smallest of details to the largest of projects in your life that you will resolve to do one thing and that is the will of God. There is no greater peace than that.
I know there are things that God has called me to do that have been steps of faith and as long as I knew that I heard His voice and I knew that’s what He called me to do I’ve always been able to be courageous. It’s when I don’t know and when I don’t know that voice that I begin to shake. Once Jesus resolved and once He surrendered and once He could hear that voice, He went to the cross and died and never looked back. He never got on the cross and said, “This is too much.” Verse 45 says:
Luke 22:45 – When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.
They couldn’t stay awake with Him but He was a servant and He was a slave and they offered Him no comfort but He died for them anyway. Listen, you seek to serve God. I may not be worth serving, I certainly am not. Your brothers and sisters may not be worthy of you laying down your life, the odds are they’re not. But I’m not the one that will reward you and repay you. And even if I’m the slimiest snake there is and the most sinister pastor there is, if you seek to serve God He will reward you and certainly repay me. If you serve your brothers and sisters and though you think they’re your friends but they’re really your enemies, God will repay. He knows those who are His. The ultimate thing is you have to serve God regardless of who men are. Though they be asleep, lay down your life.
In James 4:13 it says, and you see if you’ve ever heard this out in the world:
James 4:13 – Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”
We’ve got these plans down, “This is what we’re going to do.” And you hear it from the mouths of Christians. Certainly not surrendered Christians and not those who know peace. What do projects matter anyway? So what if you go to this city? So what if you take this vacation or do that? There’s no joy in it if Jesus is not there. Verse 14:
James 4:14-15 – Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live.” Just stop right there. “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live.” We will live and do this or that. Whatever it is. What is God’s will in every circumstance? What is God’s will tomorrow? That’s where you find your peace—it really is. And nowhere else. “My sheep know my voice, they know where I lead.” They know where to follow, and the only way to hear that voice and to have that peace and to be like Him is to ask Jesus, “Jesus, what are Your conditions for peace? What are Your terms?” And He will always say, “Unconditional surrender.” It goes on to say in verse 16:
James 4:16 – As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.
“All such boasting is evil”—even if it sounds good. Even if it says, “We’ll minister here or we’ll do that there.” If there is not that resounding, clear, pure ring that says, “This is the Lord’s will.” If it’s a man doing a project or a religious work or whatever it is, all such boasting is evil. There must be that overwhelming fragrance and smell of the beauty of Jesus that says His presence is in it. That is God’s will. Although the Shepherd might call one sheep, all the rest of the sheep can hear that voice and recognize that He is calling that sheep to do a work. There must be that ring and that acknowledgment and that saying, “Yes, I hear the voice of the Shepherd and He is calling for that to be done.” Oh we try to make what we do look noble and spiritual when we want to do it. I never weigh when something looks good, even in my own life, let alone someone else’s. Does it have the ring of the Master? Does it have the telltale signs of the cross in it? Everything else is evil and just vain boasting. I don’t care if you baptize a hundred people and come back with all kinds of joy about what’s done, if it doesn’t have the ring of God in it, it’s worthless and it’s evil bragging.
Let’s look at Romans 12:1 because the question then comes up, “How can I know the will of God?” And “How can I know this voice?” It’s what we said in the beginning, how we got started—you have to surrender. You have to sign the contract, the peace treaty. It all has to be given up. Romans 12:1 says:
Romans 12:1 – Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
Remember what we said? This isn’t heavy chains of bondage, this is rich freedom in Jesus. The greatest freedom is being a slave to God. There is no greater joy than that. “To offer your bodies as living sacrifices.” Remember there’s no peace for the body. You offer your body as a living sacrifice. You say, “God, my body is a vessel by which You choose whatever You want to do.” “Holy and pleasing to God.” That is, it’s holy, it’s complete, there are no impurities in what you’re offering to God. It’s totally separated. “This is your spiritual act of worship.” And then it says in verse 2:
Romans 12:2 – Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” And then there’s a “then,” that you can circle and underline and highlight. “Then you will be able to test,” and not only a test, but you’ll be able to approve what God’s will is—“his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Not only will you be able to say, “Yeah, that is God’s will,” but you’ll be able to approve it. You’ll be able to say, “That is perfect, that is complete, that is full of peace, that has life in it, though it cost me my life.” It’s good and it’s pleasing and it’s perfect and you say, “I wouldn’t want anything else, it’s perfect. That which God has willed in my life to work and to live out, it’s perfect, I couldn’t pick anything better than that.” But only after what? You’ve surrendered your body as a living sacrifice. Then you can test, then you can examine, then you can you say, “Is this God’s will or not?” Then when it’s all done you can rejoice that you discovered what that will is.
Let’s look at Matthew 5:9 because we want to talk about peacemakers for just a moment. In Matthew 5:9 it tells us who’s going to see God and who is the son of God. It says:
Matthew 5:9 – Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
But what kind of peace? What kind of peace have we been looking at? The peace that brings comfort and rest to my body? A peace that allows me to keep my sin in my life and hold on to certain territories of my heart? The kind of peace that allows me to hold on to certain sins in my life and never really get around to surrender to Him, of always remaining hidden a little bit? A kind of peace that allows me to keep my dignity and who I am and never become a slave to anybody else? The kind of peace that allows me a pat on the back and to be puffed up at church and bring myself together and be held up as a spiritual man? “Blessed are the peacemakers.” But what kind of peace? What kind of peace do we offer to other people? What kind of peace do we want to listen to? There’s only one kind of peace that any peacemaker in God is interested in and that is a man having peace with God. Not peace with himself, forget that nonsense. You go ahead and try and have peace with yourself as you stand in the presence of God. It’ll never happen. He has to declare you clean when you’re unworthy of being declared clean. Unworthy servants who have merely done their duty. Try and find peace within yourself. Find the pastors and the teachers that will pat you on the back and say, “Everything is fine, everything is smooth, you don’t need to worry about anything, you’re okay.” Oh, I’ve heard it so many times at Bible studies as young Christians are baptized and say, “I wrestled last night and thought I was losing my salvation and there just wasn’t something right between me and God,” and I heard an elder say, “Everybody goes through that. Don’t worry about it.”
And I turned and I said, “Look, these are those times to come before God to make your salvation sure.” And they looked like I said something strange. What kind of peace are we talking about here and what kind of peace do we offer people? More importantly, what kind of peace do you want somebody to offer to you? What kind of messages and teachers and sermons are we interested in?
Look at Jeremiah 8:8. There is for sure a peace in God’s Word. He is the Prince of Peace. And He brings rich life to anybody who comes to Him and you’ll have a peace that passes all understanding. But that peace only comes by becoming a slave and a servant, having your ear pierced, of surrendering unconditionally everything, of entering the Garden of Gethsemane and praying before God and saying, “God, whatever Your will is in my life.” In Jeremiah 8:8 it talks about some preachers. They were proud of their wisdom and their knowledge and their understanding of the Word and they thought they had it down. And God turned to them and said:
Jeremiah 8:8 – How can you say, “We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD,” when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely?
How can you say you’re so wise? “We have the Word of God” is what they’re saying. Many churches brag about the fact that they preach the Word of God, “Oh, we’re a biblical church; we’re a New Testament church.” “What kind of peace do those people have?” is the question, not whether they can check off five things they do exactly right that you happen to agree with. Do they have a peace really with God? Do you sense a living peace that overcomes everything else? Do you sense they are slaves and servants of God? Do you sense that within their fellowship as they love each other and they lay down their life that people really are becoming slaves to one another? Do you really pick up on the fact that while they fellowship and they communicate with each other that they’re dealing with sins in each other’s lives, wanting each person to be at peace with God? Are these the kind of peacemakers and are these the kind of people that we listen to? How can you say we are so wise just because we have the law of the Lord when it says what? “When actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely.” They had the Word of the Lord, there’s no doubt about it but they handled it all wrong. They overemphasized the peace and de-emphasized the purity. Or they talked about purity but didn’t live it. There are all different ways to talk about the Word of God and lie with it.
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God.” Because what did Jesus come to bring? Peace between man and God. But not at any cost. Not at God saying, “Okay, everything is fine, you can keep your opinion and your life.” Only with unconditional surrender. So what does that mean in my relationship with anybody in this body and in their relationship with me? What are they looking for? They’re asking one central question, “If I have peace with God, do they see an unconditional surrender there before Jesus Christ?” Verse 9 says:
Jeremiah 8:9-10 – The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped. Since they have rejected the word of the LORD, what kind of wisdom do they have? Therefore I will give their wives to other men and their fields to new owners. From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.
All practice what? Deceit. We love to lie to ourselves and we especially love pastors who will make our lies look good, or who are greedy for gain—whether that be for people or for money. Why do you think there’s so much selling of the Gospel? So many love gifts going out? We love to pay the pastors to give us lying messages. Because we can lie to ourselves, we can have peace with ourselves. One of the very few things I have with God is peace with Tim. I think if I have it too long He is sure that I don’t keep it too long. The only kind of peace that I’m interested in is that God can turn to me and say, “You are an unworthy servant, but guess what? You’re my family, it’s called grace and called mercy.” Indeed, blessed are the peacemakers, but not those who lie and practice deceit. Verse 11:
Jeremiah 8:11 – They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace.
And what do they say? They say, “Peace, peace” when there is no peace. There are times when I’ve turned to my brothers and sisters and from the Spirit I’ve said, “Be at peace, everything is fine.” And it comes from the Holy Spirit. But there are men in churches and pastors and teachers and tapes and everything that you can get, that’s all you’re going to hear is “Peace, peace, peace, everything is fine.” But there is no peace because there’s never been an unconditional surrender. There’s never been a considering of who’s coming to war against you and you can’t stand against Him who is coming, so you ask, “God, what are Your terms of peace?” And He says, “Everything.” Until there is that in our life daily we will never know the peace that God wants to bring. Oh, we’ll hear the prophet say, “Peace, peace.” We’ll love it to ring in our ears, but we’ll never feel it from the Prince of Peace. We’ll never hear the voice of the Good Shepherd that really does give us that rest deep in our soul knowing that we belong to Him until there is that unconditional, complete surrender before Him. And what do you need to have it? Verse 12:
Jeremiah 8:12 – Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when they are punished, says the LORD.
You’ve got to get guilty. You’ve got to say you’re an unworthy servant. And you’ve got to say it with conviction. A people who no longer know how to feel guilty or to blush for what they do. And yet they sing and talk of what? Peace. They talk of peace.
And finally, Ezekiel 13:8. It says:
Ezekiel 13:8 – Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because of your false words and lying visions, I am against you, declares the Sovereign LORD.
Quit listening to your other Gospel calls out there and your messages and hear what God has to say. The Sovereign Lord, the Holy One, it’s to Him you answer anyway.
Ezekiel 13-9 – My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will not belong to the council of my people or be listed in the records of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD.
These people didn’t know it, why? Because they were willing to listen to men who gave them lying visions. They didn’t have that peace with God. They didn’t even know there was a difference between the voice of the Shepherd and the voice of the false prophet. They couldn’t tell the distinction because they never got to that place where they could hear Jesus say, “Look, if you’re going to be at peace with Me, these are My conditions, these are My terms. This is where you sign on the treaty.” Unconditional and complete surrender. Have we even said it with our lips? How many of us have even gone into the prayer closet and said to God, “God, I give it all to you”?
I can remember a time when I was a young Christian and I was looking at this and I told myself I was going to get up every morning and just get before God and bend my knees and say, “God, whatever Your will is today.” And I can remember that battle and that humiliation. And everything about the sinful nature detested what I was doing. And I knew I had said it before with my lips, “I surrender everything,” but it was resolving in my own heart that I was going to have that ear pierced and I was going to come before God and I was going to say, “God, whatever Your will is today, whatever You want to show me,” and knowing what kind of God He is and what kinds of things He can demand from His children.
What do we want to hear? What kind of peacemakers do we really want? What kind of fellowship do we want? Who do you want talking to you? Verse 10:
Ezekiel 13:10 – Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash,
Oh, there’s a wall built that looks righteous, but it’s not clean, it doesn’t have that purity about it. It has whitewash on and the first good rain, the first good cleansing and it just all crumbles. It talks about the levels in heaven and the streets—that they’re jasper and they’re pure and they’re clean and the water is holy. And that’s the kind of fellowship we should have with each other and that’s the kind of Gospel we should preach to each other. And this is the kind of peace we offer with each other. Not peace with yourself so that you can be comfortable with who you are, or a peace that says everything is fine when it’s not fine. I’m not going to lie to you. If I tell you everything is fine I’m going to know that I feel that from the Lord. I’m not going to flatter you or lie to you and I don’t expect you to do the same to me. Indeed, His name is Prince of Peace. And my prayer is that we all want that peace. And that we really do consider Him worthy to just give everything.
Let’s go ahead and pray.
Father, teach us about the government that is in Jesus. About the Shepherd, who He is, Father. Write on our hearts, Father, that He is the Prince of Peace.