Kingdom Truth - What is the Kingdom of Heaven in the Bible?
Chapter 8, Part 7
Blessed are the Peacemakers
"Peacemaker" is originally the word "peace" with a verb "accomplished". This combination is seen in the New Testament twice. It occurs once as a verb and is translated as "having made peace". The other occasion is a noun and is the "peacemaker" in this verse. The former refers to the great accomplishment Christ did on the cross. The latter refers to the royal character that Kingdom personnel should accomplish the commission of peace between God and man. It is through us that everything in heaven and on earth will make peace with God. This is because of what is recorded in the Scriptures: "Now all these things are from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting the trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation." (2 Cor. 5:18-19) Therefore, whosoever is willing to inherit from God the Kingdom which is prepared from the foundation of the world should have the ambition and fruit of leading the lost to the Lord. To have all these, one must pay special attention to the "Parable of Talents" given by Christ when he was on earth (Luke 19:11-27). The following is a brief discussion on the commission and the testimony of the peacemaker:
A. The Mission of the Peacemaker
In the past, one of the main reasons why Chinese churches did not grow is because the believers did not pay attention to what the Lord said, "Freely you received, freely give!” In worship, revival meetings and conferences, one often hears the speaker loudly urging the listeners to have zeal and lead the lost to Jesus. He rebukes his audience for being selfish and hiding the saving grace of Christ, allowing tens of thousands of non-believers to enter into eternal fire and suffer eternal punishment. However, the listeners often have excuses such as "I am not well versed in the Bible" or "I have no theological training". They develop a circular reasoning to prove that it is not that they are unwilling but that they are unable! They never realized that the Lord never commanded them to preach theology nor the Bible to the non-believers! This is because the spiritual understanding (nous) of the non-believer has not yet been "restored". If you talk to them about these things, it would be simply a waste of time! What then does He want us to do? He wants us to give our testimony because He said, "You are witnesses of these things." (Luke 24:48) What are "these things"? Thank God, there are examples in the Scriptures! When the Lord was on earth, after He cast out the "legion" of unclean spirit in Gerasenes from the demon-possessed man, the man entreated that he might accompany Him. He did not allow it but said to him, "Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you". The Scriptures record: "And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him (notice 'for him')." (Mark 5:19-20) This is the request from the gracious Lord to the man from Gerasenes. This is also the hope He has upon us who are saved by grace -- He wants us to tell others the great things He has done for us! A Chinese proverb says: "Every family has a book of difficulties". As for believers, it can also be said that "Every believer can testify". Unless you have not accepted Jesus into your life, you do have spiritual experiences to testify of. You would have repented (original meaning is a change of the mind), experienced joy and peace from the forgiveness of sin, and became God's children. As long as we are willing to clearly tell others of our salvation (or born again) experience, the Holy Spirit will use our experience to begin working in the heart of the listener. He will be convicted and be willing to accept Jesus as we have accepted Him. Thank God, even though not a single person on earth is able to make another person believe in Jesus, as long as we are willing to accomplish the mission of peace, the Holy Spirit will take responsibility to accomplish all that is required for salvation. Hallelujah!
B. The Testimony of the Peacemaker
At this point, some reader may say, "To lead others to the Lord and accomplish the peace between God and man is easy to say but it is not so simple to make it work!” This is true! But if you realize the difficulty, then it is easier to do! There are two reasons that why it is difficult to make peace: (1) Because One does not See the Importance of People's Soul. When our Lord was on earth, He came to Bethsaida and spit on the eyes of a blind man. He also laid His hands on him and asked, "Do you see anything?" And he looked up and said, "I see men for I am seeing them like trees, walking about." (Mark 8:22-24) This is the main reason why the majority of Christians are unable to lead people to the Lord. They see people as trees! People and trees are quite different, people have spirit and trees do not. If people are like trees without spirit, then when people die, it is the end. If so, it would be the most stupid thing on earth to witness to people! Thank God, people have a spirit because He said "...fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matt. 11:28) The Scriptures also say, "...then dust will return to earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it." (Eccl. 12:7)
How can we then not see people like trees? We will need the gracious Lord to lay His hands on us because the Scriptures say, "Then again He laid His hands upon his eyes, and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly". We need to pray for ourselves just as Paul prayed for the church at Ephesus. The church at Ephesus is a good church that has "...faith in the Lord Jesus...and...love for all the saints". Paul still has to pray for them so that "the eyes of their hearts may be enlightened". How much more do we need such grace! Pray that the Lord will let us see how precious people's souls are and also what is the hope of His calling. Please remember, the Lord gave the servant a talent of silver for the purpose of 'doing business'. God called us to make peace with Him so that we can call others to make peace with Him. Thanks be to God.
(2). Because One does not Know How to Lead Others to the Lord
Taking the first step is always the hardest. If a person has not led others to the Lord and experienced peacemaking between God and man, it is really troubling because one would not know where to start. I would like to make a few suggestions. Those who desire to be Kingdom personnel may give it a try. First, don't be greedy. We can only eat one meal at a time and souls are saved one at a time. Ask the Lord who you should approach first. It could be a relative, schoolmate or a buddy...You must pray for him daily and ask the Lord to open his eyes so that he can see life is vain and uncertain. How one needs to go beyond materialism and see the reality of eternity! At the same time, ask God to open a way for you so that you can have an opportunity to witness. God always hears sincere and righteous prayers! Then one day, if you run into each other, invite him over. After some small talk, you should use the occasion and say. "Joe, is it okay if I share a little experience with you?" If he replies yes, then thank God for opening up a way for you. You should then tell him of your misunderstandings of Jesus, church and Christians before you believed (that is if you had any). On the other hand, you can share the troubles, frustrations and helplessness in life, etc. Then share how the Lord led you step by step so that you might understand why he died for you, resurrected and ascended into heaven, etc. Tell how you repented of your sins and was forgiven, and set free from the power of sin. Then, share how you invited Him into your heart, experienced the inner change and a breakthrough in living and how you are enjoying the peace and joy of believing in Jesus... After witnessing, you must ask him, "Joe, are you willing to accept Jesus like I did?" If you don't ask, all would be lost. So you must ask. By the grace of God, many will say, "I am willing". If so, you lead him to Jesus and ask him to pray after you sentence by sentence. Help him to take out the trash (sins) of his heart for Jesus to pick up and clean him up inside. Then ask him to invite Jesus into his heart. After praying, if he is sincere, you can ask him, "Can you tell me where is Jesus now?" In most instances, he will point to his heart and say, "Here". Praise the Lord, salvation is just that simple but we often make such a big deal out of it and end up frustrating ourselves and blaming Joe for not willing to believe in Jesus! In the event Joe is unwilling to accept Jesus, do not be discouraged! We would not know that in time, when he has reached his end, he would remember our testimony and ask Jesus for help. Perhaps he will hear the gospel again and our witness would help him understand how to accept Jesus. Regardless, we cannot be discouraged in witnessing for the Lord! When the time comes, there will be the harvest (Eccl. 11:1). Although some may refuse, it does not mean that if he refuses, all is lost. I often say to such people, "Okay, maybe you want to do this slowly. I was wondering if you could help me on a small matter?" Their answer is usually, "Can I help you?" I would say, "Certainly". Then he would ask, "Please tell me". I will then say, "Will you please pray daily with these words, Jesus, I like to believe in you but I do not know how. Please teach me the way!" At the same time, you have to tell him that all we can do is to point him the way but we cannot convince him to believe. As long as he is sincere and will pray, Jesus will meet up with him. Thank God, some might take three or four days, some may take ten days. I have told one person in the morning and he met Jesus that night. Praise the Lord; He is not a dead teacher but a living Savior!
...For They shall be called Sons of God
"Making peace between God and man" is the requirement and that they "Shall be called children of God" is the promise. It is also the position formed by the character of Kingdom personnel. However, there is a theological problem here. Did not the Scripture say, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God"? Then why does this verse say that only peacemakers can be called children (sons) of God? So, which is the proper way to become a child of God? Is it by believing in His name or by accomplishing peacemaking? To answer this question, we must understand that the Scripture is written in ancient languages. In ancient languages, each word can have many meanings and technical phrases also have several explanations. For example, the "son of God" in the Old Testament can mean the Messiah (Pss. 2:7), angel (Job 1:6), Israelite (Exod. 4:22), king (2 Sam. 7:14) and leader (Pss. 82:6). In the New Testament, other than Christ, there is a distinction between believers who are sons saved by grace and sons of the Kingdom of God. The former become sons of God by believing (accepting) of Jesus (John 1:12) or in other words, they are led by the Holy Spirit to become sons (Rom. 8:14). The latter overcame and become sons of God (Rev. 21:7) and they are also called sons in glory (Heb. 2:10 and Rom. 8:21). In addition, there are sons who are sanctified and they refer to those who are willing to be separate and not touch what is unclean (2 Cor. 6:17-18). This is because salvation is a trilogy that comprises of salvation from sin, sanctification and inheritance of the Kingdom. Praise the Lord! In conclusion, the sons of God mentioned here refer to those who are chosen, overcomers and peacemakers between God and man. They are the future personnel of the Kingdom and worthy to be called the Sons of the Kingdom. May God help us! Since we are called, we should become chosen. Since we are saved, we should be overcomers. Since we have made peace with God, we should be messengers of peacemaking to others for God! May glory, honor, thanks and praises be to the One on the throne and the Lamb from now and forevermore, Amen!