Saturday, October 05, 2013
Does God Declare Peace to All People?
Recently, infamous “pastor” and author, Joel Osteen, declared God’s peace on everyone (“he likes you, he accepts you, he approves of you”) including homosexuals.
At Christmas time we so often hear part of Luke 2:14 proclaimed, but not the entire verse and context, thus everyone presumes that God’s peace is bestowed upon all people, without qualification.
What does Scripture say about peace? Who gets it? Everyone? Do we declare God is at peace with everyone? Does God bestow peace on all people? Is there no warring parties between the two that must be reconciled?
Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace. It’s His to give or to withhold. His Gospel is the Gospel of peace.
Isa 9:6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Eph 6:15 and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE;
Eph. 6:15 is a quote from Isa 52:7 How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, "Your God reigns!"
And one of the most used verses in Scripture to say God offers peace to all men:
Luk 2:14 "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."
With whom is the Father truly pleased?
Mat 3:17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."
This is crucial to understand. The ONLY one with whom the Father is absolutely and thoroughly well-pleased in and of Himself is God the Son, Who is perfect in all ways and never did nor could sin because of His absolute deity and holiness. From Adam, on, God has been displeased with all men (remember the Flood?). Moreover there has be war between Him and man since then. There is hostility between these two parties that requires reconciliation. It is because of this hostility of all unbelievers toward God that necessitates the absolute need for reconciliation on our part toward God if we’re to ever be saved and go to Heaven. God has no warring parties, no rebels, in His kingdom.
Col 1:20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. Col 1:21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach--
Rom 5:1 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.
Rom 8:6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
If we are in Christ, who is our peace, we are now at peace with God the Father.
So look a little closer to the famous declaration of peace we so often hear at Christmastime.
John MacArthur notes on this verse of Luke:
2:14 the highest. I.e., heaven. peace. This is not to be taken as a universal declaration of peace toward all humanity. Rather, peace with God is a corollary of justification (see note on Rom. 5:1). goodwill toward men. Note the marginal rendering. The Gr. word for "goodwill" is also used in 10:21. The verb form of the same word is used in 3:22; 12:32. In each case, it refers to God’s sovereign good pleasure. So a better rendering here might be "peace toward men on whom God’s sovereign pleasure rests." God’s peace is not a reward for those who have good will, but a gracious gift to those who are the objects of His good will.
The adoration of the angels over the good news of the Savior's birth. This is pure, perfect, holy praise given to God alone because He is supremely worthy because He has sent Jesus to save sinners. He has sent Jesus to bring peace among men on earth. In the highest place, glory to God. In the lowest place, salvation to sinners.
And then verse 14 ends with an interesting statement, "With whom He is pleased." That can be very misleading...very misleading if you're not careful. It sounds like He's going to give salvation to those who earn it...to those who earn it. The King James Bible says, "On earth peace, good will toward men." That also sounds like God is going to bring peace and good will toward those who earn it, those who deserve it.
But the Greek literally says, "Men of His good pleasure...Men of His good pleasure." It's a genitive. There's an alternative reading here but the best reading would be "Peace among men of His good pleasure." Or to put it another way, "Peace among men of His good will." It's not...it's not men who have earned it. It's God who has given it because it's His pleasure to give it.
Salvation peace belongs to those whom God is pleased to give it to. That's what it's saying. It's the same words in chapter 3 verse 22, for the Father says about the Son at His baptism, "You're My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased."
There are some in whom God chooses, in whom He wills salvation. It's not the result of what good men have done. Angels are not rejoicing and glorifying God for what men have done or will do. Angels are not rejoicing that some men will merit salvation. They're glorifying God because though none can merit salvation, God is pleased to give it by His own good pleasure. And there will be salvation peace among men of His good pleasure.
If you are a person who has been given the gift of salvation, you are a person of His good pleasure. It's incredible, incredible truth. Men to whom He extends His good pleasure. He gets all the credit. He gets all the glory. We couldn't devise a plan of salvation. We couldn't earn a plan...we couldn't earn salvation so if we're saved it's because God designed it and God was pleased to give it.
Saying it another way, there is salvation peace, peace between man and God, among those whom God has chosen to delight in. And so the angels are praising God because He has chosen to delight in bringing salvation peace to sinners.
So, do we declare God’s peace to everyone? Is God actually at peace with all men, accepting them, approving of them, and liking them, as Osteen declares?
MacArthur clearly shows from Scripture God is not at peace with all men based on Luke 2:14, but there are more passages of Scripture.
Jer 23:16 Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; They speak a vision of their own imagination, Not from the mouth of the LORD. 17 "They keep saying to those who despise Me, 'The LORD has said, "You will have peace"'; And as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart, They say, 'Calamity will not come upon you.'
Mat 10:11 "And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city. 12 "As you enter the house, give it your greeting. 13 "If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. 14 "Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. 15 "Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.
2Jn 1:9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; 11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.
Scripture is clear that God’s peace is not granted nor indiscriminately given to all mankind, because all men are at war with God. Not all are chosen to be His children; most are to remain His enemy. Hell demonstrates that God is not at peace with all people.
If God does not indiscriminately grant peace to all people, then Christians shouldn’t either. At best it softens the horrible and doubly sharp sword of Truth that convicts men of their multiple offenses against the thrice holy God of Scripture. It’s to lie about the real relationship between God and man. The only peace one has with God is found solely in the Person and work of the risen Lord Jesus Christ.
Outside of Christ we are at war with God and He with us.
Inside of Christ we are at peace with God and He is pleased with us because of Christ and His righteousness (justification).
To lie to an enemy and tell them “Peace, peace!” when there is no peace, while guns are pointed in his direction, is deceiving. Spiritually speaking, to tell the enemy of God "Peace, peace! There is no calamity that will befall you!" it is to hate their souls and hate God. It is to lie about the holiness of God, His demand for holiness, our inability of any righteousness, and our doom if we do not humbly repent of all of our sins and turn to Christ alone for salvation, knowing there’s nothing good in us at all.
Such liars are condemned by God. They themselves war against the Word and God Himself, as did the Serpent in the Garden ("Did God really say you would die? You will not die!") and He will judge them accordingly.
Heb 10:31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.