The Peace of Knowing Christ, Part 2
The Peace of Knowing Christ, Part 2, 9.20.20
A warm welcome to you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ this morning. It is such a joy and privilege to be able to open the Word of God with you this morning. I know that I’ve said that before and will continue to say that in the future. The reason why I repeat myself is because I truly believe that. God has given us his word to direct us how we should glorify and enjoy him. Saying that never gets old for me. I believe what the Bible says. And I believe, dear friend, I believe that all of life’s problems find their solution the gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe that with all my heart. And we learn about the gospel in the Bible. I believe that with all my heart.
This morning we are continuing our study that we began last week. That study is on the peace of knowing Christ. This morning’s sermon forms part 2 in that series. Next week we will conclude this study on the peace of knowing Christ. So we have this morning’s sermon and next week’s sermon on the peace of knowing Christ. Let’s go ahead and open up together to Phil 4:7. That will be our passage this morning.
Peace is in high demand yet in low supply in our culture. We live in anxious times. As I alluded to last week, the reasons for this increased anxiety vary. We have this ongoing COVID-19 situation. This has led to increased social and personal anxiety. We have an upcoming presidential election coming up in about a month and a half. We might feel worried about the future of our country, and the coarse our country might take if the wrong candidate is elected. We have the increased social unrest, the increased racial tension, the increased tension between the police and the public. To add to this, we have our challenges with health, income, our jobs, our families, etc., etc., etc. There are many things in life that we can be anxious about and that we are anxious about. We all long for peace. We all long for serenity. We all long for order and stability.
God knows we have these desires and needs. He knows are struggles. And he has something to say to us about these challenges and struggles. While the Bible was written a long time ago, because it is the Word of God, it still speaks crystal clear to us today. Let’s go ahead and read the passage together.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Just one verse for you this morning. What we want to do is we want to take this verse and wring it dry. We want to get all that we can out of this verse. We want to say to it as Jacob said to the angel he wrestled, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” That’s what the job of the preacher is. Our job is not to speak what’s on our mind but to present the Word of God in all its power and clarity for the purpose of conforming Christians to the image of Christ.
What we are going to investigate this morning is the topic of God’s peace as taught in this passage of Scripture. I am going to do something this morning that I usually do not do. Each point of my sermon (there will be four) will have a P in it. Some pastors are very good at utilizing alliteration in their sermon points. They might structure their sermon with each point beginning with a word that has the same letter. I’m not good at this, dear brothers and sisters. But I’ve found some success with this for, at least, this sermon. Each of my points will have a word that begins with the letter P. Here is the first point for you this morning. It’s this: “The Promise of God’s Peace.”
The Promise of God’s Peace
Promises are very important for relationships. This is true of our relationship with other people. Last night as my children were going to bed one of my kids asked me if they could stay up a little later. I said no but I pinky promised that I would allow them to stay up tonight a little past their normal bed time. My child is going to hold me to that and if I don’t keep my promise my relationship with my child will suffer. But if I do, my relationship with my child will trust me the next time I promise them something. Relationships are established on promises.
This is also true in our relationship with God. If you are a Christian, you have made a promise to God that you live for Jesus Christ. This is why baptism is so important. When we come to Christ and are baptized, we promise to him that we will live for him and follow him. We make this commitment, this promise to God. This is so important. You cannot have Christianity with out it.
Also, God makes promises to us. These are so important. For the Christian, these promises are the basis of our lives. Without these promises from God we have nothing. But with these promises, we have everything. And we hold onto these promises as a matter of life and death. Sometimes in life all you can cling to are the promises that God makes to us in Scripture. And what we have in this passage, Phil 4:7, is a promise from God. A bedrock, immovable, unalterable promise from God. Look with me again at the passage.
I want you to notice first how v. 7 begins. What is the first word that occurs. It’s “and.” This is a very important “and.” This is an “and” you can bank your life on. It’s very significant. It’s significance relates to the logical connection that Paul makes between v. 6 and 7. The thought Paul mentions in v. 6 is logically connected to v. 7. Let’s look at v. 6 to determine the logical connection. Paul says in v. 6,
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Verse 6 is all about commands. Paul here is commanding us. He’s telling us what to do. Verse 6 does not mention anything about what God will do. Verse 6 concerns what we need to do. Verse 7 is different, though. Verse 7 is about what God will do. And the “and” establishes the logical link of obedience to God in v. 6 entails experiencing the promises and blessings of God in v. 7. Paul is saying here that if you follow what God says in v. 6 you will reap the benefit and blessing of v. 7. Obedience to v. 6 is the gateway to the blessing and promise in v. 7. The “and” guarantees the link.
This idea is further established with the tense of the verb “guard.” Once again, dear brothers and sisters, looking at the passage. What is the tense of the verb “guard?” It’s future. Paul is saying that, “If you follow and obey v. 6, this will happen.” Notice what Paul doesn’t say here. Paul does not say,
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, may guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Paul doesn’t say “may” or “might.” “Mays” and “mights” are such weak words.
I always get a kick out reading articles where the conclusion of the article is that some thesis “may” or “might” be true. So I stumbled across this article entitled, “
Coffee linked to longer survival in patients with colorectal cancer, study says.
How interesting. I drink coffee. If it protects me from cancer, great. But then I kept reading the article. The conclusion is this,
Coffee consumption may be associated with reduced risk of disease progression and death in patients with advanced or metastatic colorectal cancer.
Oh come on! May be associated? How weak of a conclusion. Now I am not bashing science here. I love science. I do. But it’s conclusions are often very tenuous and uncertain.
You can’t live your life basing it on “mays” or “mights.” They’re too weak. We needs some certainty. We need some fortitude. We need more than, “Well, God might help. He may do this. Or, he may do that.” Dear friends, that’s some terrible theology. We need some “wills.” God will do this, or God will do that. That’s what we have here. We need to base our lives not on mays or might but on wills. And that’s what we get here. We get a “will.” God will do this. He guarantees it. You can base your life on it.
So if you struggle with anxiety, when you have anxious thoughts, lay hold to this promise of God and obey what v. 6 says. Lay hold of v. 7, while you obey v. 6. That’s the application. God will keep his word. His Son died to show you that. Pray, dear friend, with thanksgiving. Do that all the time.
The Power of God’s Peace
Now we will look at the power of God’s peace. So the first point was the promise of God’s peace. I argued that for those who obey v. 6, God will certainly, definitely bring about v. 7. God’s promises his peace to us. Now the second point is this: “The Power of God’s Peace.”
The anxieties that we experience can be so intense, so strong, so crippling. They can seem to dominate us and control us. Hold sway over our beliefs and feelings. Anxiety can be like a prison that you cannot escape. Your thoughts go from this direction to that direction. And there’s nothing you can do to control them. What a sinister sin anxiety can be. A powerful foe. An enslaving and crippling sin.
Do not fear, though, dear believer. The power of God is greater than the sins of man. Amen!? What we have in this passage is a breath taking view of the peace that God gives to the believer. I want you to notice how this peace is described by Paul. Paul writes,
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
See that relative clause, “which surpasses all understanding?” That will be the portion of the verse that we drill into for this point. This peace that God gives “surpasses all understanding?” What’s Paul mean here?
There is then tension in the Christian life between confirming that we know God but also affirming that our knowledge of God just barely scratches the surfaces of who God is. We must affirm that we know God. We must affirm that the knowledge of God is possible. If we don’t affirm that we can know God, what hope in the world do we have? We have no hope if we do not know him. We must confess our belief in the knowledge of God.
Nevertheless, God is God. God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. God is not like us. He is far beyond us. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. I mean try thinking about the doctrine of Trinity. What a mysterious doctrine, and yet this doctrine stands in the center of Christianity. God is incomprehensible. He so glorious, so power, so beautiful, so gracious, merciful, just, and good, he exceeds our understand.
His peace, the peace that he gives to the believer, “surpasses all understanding.” It is beyond our comprehension. His power is limitless to you, dear Christian. That’s the point that is emphasized with this statement, “which surpasses all understanding.” Dear friends, your sin is worse than you think, but God’s grace is better than you think. It’s infinite, beyond our comprehension. That’s what his peace is towards you. That’s it’s power.
The application of this point is don’t think you have it all figured out. If there is something that troubles you in your life, something that produces anxiety, don’t think you know the limits of God’s power. Don’t pretend like you know what the future holds. God, the eternal, infitinite, unchangeable God, reigns and rules. And his peace towards you is beyond imagination. Therefore, don’t think you know what is going to happen to you, like anxiety pretends it knows, trust in God, dear friend. He is infinitely powerful.
The Protection of God’s Peace
Now for our third point, “The protection of God’s peace.” First point was the promise of God’s peace, second point was the power, third point is the protection of God’s peace.
Paul states that the “peace of God,” the peace that God gives to the believer “guards” our hearts and our minds. Let’s first investigate this word “guard.” Looking at the passage. What the peace of God will do is that it will “guard” our hearts and minds. What does “guard” mean?
Guard is a good translation. It can also mean provide security, protect, keep, watch. The idea here is that God will watch out for, will concern himself with protecting the believer from anxiety.
Paul states that there are two entities that that peace of God will guard. The first part of us that the peace of God will guard is our “hearts.” When the word “heart” occurs in Scripture it can have several different meanings. Somethings the heart can refer to the soul, the mind, and the emotions. All of them. “Heart,” the Greek word is καρδία (which is from where we get the word cardiology, which is the study of the heart), is a flexible word. But in this context, “hearts” is contrasted with “minds.” By including a reference to both hearts and minds, Paul is limiting the word “hearts” to mean “emotions” or “feelings.” We might understand Paul to be saying that the peace of God will guard your emotions, will guard your feelings, will guard the side of you that doesn’t have to do with your thinking, your thoughts.
As people, we have emotions and feelings. We are not just robots who make decisions, but we are people who feel. We are happy, sad, mad, angry, and joyful. Anxiety effects our emotions. We can have anxious feelings. We might be unsettled, uneasy, jittery, and scared. These feelings are real and can be crippling.
God’s peace is there to protect We might understand Paul to be saying that the peace of God will guard your emotions, will guard your feelings, will guard the side of you that doesn’t have to do with your thinking, your thoughts. God will go to war with the enemy of anxiety as it seeks to lay hold to your emotions.
Along with anxious feelings and emotions, we can also have anxious thoughts. The peace of God protects us from these anxious thoughts, too. Once again, looking at the passage. Paul writes,
And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds
I am taking minds here in contrast to emotions and feelings. I’m interpreting minds as “thoughts.” The peace of God protects us from having anxious thoughts. As with our emotions, God’s peace protects our thoughts.
Bringing this picture together, here’s an illustration to help us understand what Paul is saying. Anxiety is pictured as an enemy that comes in to destroy. Like an invader from a distant land who comes to pillage, destroy, and loot, that is how anxiety is. It comes to wreck your life. The peace of God is like a warrior who watches over the believer’s heart and mind to protect it from the onslaught of anxiety. The peace of God watches over, guards, protects your emotions and your thoughts. As the distant invader comes, the peace of God goes out to destroy and defeat the enemy. The peace of God is a faithful warrior, relentless in his attacks on anxiety. He successfully, again and again, protects you from anxiety.
So often we think that are feelings and thoughts are beyond our control. Our emotions and thoughts run wild and are difficult to tame. What do we do? Well, if you experience this, dear friend, you have to lay hold of this truth, you have to believe what God says here that he will fight for you, that he will against anxiety’s crippling attack against your emotions and feelings, and you have to follow v. 6. Specifically, in your prayers, tell God, tell him that you believe v. 7. You believe it with all your heart. And tell him that in prayer. Ask him to “guard your emotions and your thoughts.” Prayer, dear friend.
The Place of God’s Peace
Our last point this morning is this: “the place of God’s peace.” So covering our points this morning. With this last point we’re asking, “Where is this peace found?” That’s the question we’re asking.
Paul answers this question for us with a short prepositional phrase to conclude v. 7. Paul explains that the promise of God’s peace is found “in Christ.” This language of “in Christ” occurs throughout the NT, especially in Paul. When it occurs, it can indicate the believers union with Christ. The Bible teaches that by means of the Holy Spirit the believe is united with Christ in a mystical union that is by grace through faith. As Christians, we are united with Christ. Our union with Christ is the basis of our entire Christian life. He is our Lord, our master, even our very life. He is our everything. We are united with him.
Paul is teaching here that this blessing of the peace of God only comes through union with Christ. In other words, to receive God’s blessings you must be united to God’s Son. God does not give his peace, the peace of God as this passage speaks of, is limited to those who are in Christ. To receive the promise and blessing of this passage you have to be united to Christ by faith. You have to be a Christian. This blessing of peace is only for Christians.
My Mother’s Illustration
One thing my mother used to always say to me growing up was, “How can people live without Christ? How can people live in this world without his comfort, his hope, peace, and protection?” She would often say this when she would about some tragedy striking one of her non-Christian friends. How true is that for us this morning as we approach this passage.
There are so many things in this world that produce anxiety in us. We know it as Christians, don’t we? We Christians struggle with anxiety, don’t we. We do. I do. You do. And yet we have Jesus. We have him. We have this peace. We might struggle to attain it by faith but we know that God cares for us.
What an awful reality to not have Christ. Think about it. With Christ we have the assurance that God will be with us, that he will care for us. We have the promise of his peace.
If you are not a Christian, dear friend, you have no hope. You have no peace in this world. You have nothing to base your life on. You might be crippled by anxiety, by fears, by dread. And you have no way to address these matters. Yes, you might have the power of positive thinking or the power of some prescription medication to combat you anxiety, but these are falls hopes. The absolute agony it is to live without Christ. Dear friend, how can you live like that? I wouldn’t be able to. Life is too hard to live it without Christ. And for the non-Christian the difficulty is just beginning. The Bible teaches that the non-Christian will forever suffer an agonizing experience in hell for the payment for their sins. How terrible. How awful. How excruciating.
But just think. Jesus can solve your anxiety problem, dear friend. He can. He can solve your anxiety problem because he can take away your sins. You have anxiety because of your sins. Anxiety is a consequence of sins. Jesus can take it away. The peace of God through Jesus Christ. Will you accept that peace of God in Jesus Christ? Won’t you take him. He is the medicine you need, dear friend.
Let me end with this little statement I read as a sixth grader. Do y’all remember AOL instant messenger? You young bucks have no idea what AOL messenger is. AOL messenger was basically text messaging on the computer which required an internet connection. It took forever to log on. It was slow. It was clunky. But it was fun. The memories.
My memory gets real fuzzy here but I remember that on AOL instant messenger you could have a profile. This profile might say something important about you or something. You know, just something for people to click to see more info about you. I had a Christian friend who I was friends with on AOL messenger. One day I remember checking her profile. This was before I met Kathryn so it was OK then. And I’ll never forget what her profile said. I remember it to this day. It said this.
No Jesus, no peace; know Jesus, know peace.
Dear friends, that is the truth. Jesus Christ is the answer to all of your problems, life included. If you are not a Christian, what are you waiting for? Jesus offers you everything you need. Without him, you will never know peace. Jesus is the answer to all of life’s problems—anxiety, included.