2023-01-08 “The Peace of God, from the God of Peace”

Cornerstone EPC                                                                                     Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                                   January 8, 2023

The Peace of God, from the God of Peace”
Philippians 4:8-9

We have reached, by God’s grace, the year of grace 2023.1 Last week we got a good word from this pulpit, via the preaching of ruling elder Dick Byland, in his sermon from Isaiah 6:1-8 entitled “What Next, Lord?” This week we get another good word to fortify our souls for the new year. We shall note the peace of God, to be sure—and how welcome this peace will be to our oft-troubled souls. We also shall note the source of this peace, namely, the God of peace—and we ask Catherine Marshall’s rhetorical question, “Can anything be better than His presence?”2 Let us give our attention once again to the Word of God read and proclaimed in this place.


We get an excellent path to peace blazed for us by the Lord, through His inspired penman, the Apostle Paul, in this portion of Philippians. Let us note the trail markings—the things we are to do—that lead to true peace. First, we rejoice. We rejoice in the Lord: both in Who He is and in what He does. We rejoice both in the Lord’s being and in His works. Moreover, we do this always—we do this all the time, in every circumstance (whether events trend fair or foul), and in every condition (whether weak or strong, rich or poor, et al.). Rejoicing is sufficiently important for the Lord, through Paul, to repeat Himself: “Again, I shall say, rejoice ye.”

Joy permeates the entire letter to the Philippians. This is especially remarkable in light of Paul’s external situation. He languishes in Roman custody, at the praetorium—and he has been incarcerated, at the time he wrote Philippians, for about five years. Paul endures some people who preach Christ only to make trouble for Him (1:12 ff.). He endures at least the possibility of his martyrdom (1:19 ff.). He endures the concern over Epaphroditus’ severe illness (2:25 ff.), he endures concern over those who may mislead the Philippians to glory in fleshly things rather than Christ (3:2 ff.), and he endures the ongoing conflict between Euodia and Syntyche in the Philippian church (4:2-3). Yet, despite all of this, he calls the Philippians—and the Lord calls us—to rejoice. Remember, no matter how sad, or bleak, or lonely our circumstances, we may—yea, we can, through the Holy Spirit—rejoice in the Lord.

Second, we display reasonableness, moderation, and gentleness, among others (Greek epieikes [epieikhV]). This Greek word has a number of meanings, but the closest appropriate meanings to our context today, in my view, are gentleness and forbearance. Therefore, let us not be provoked easily: either to anger on the one hand or to anxiety on the other hand. Why should we display this gentle forbearance: to one another in Christ and to a world estranged from Him? We should do this, and can do this, because the Lord is near. After all, He is the Friend sticking closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24), especially to the brokenhearted and to the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). If the Lord be as close as He says He is, and if we perceive that closeness, then there is no need for anything else except gentle forbearance in His people.

Third, let your requests be made known to God. Paul gets to this command with a prior one, namely, in effect, “Have no anxiety about anything.” The antidote for anxiety follows closely. We, by prayer and by plea, with thanksgiving, must present our requests unto God. The word plea implies unusual urgency; hence, we pray, and we pray fervently as the Lord leads and enables. Let us not omit thanksgiving, however. Too often, when buffeted by anxiety-producing concerns, we omit thanksgiving and run roughshod to petition. Yet, as we remember all the elements of this antidote to anxiety—and practice them—then a blessed result occurs, which we will consider more fully later.

Fourth, meditate on the good. Think, at length and in depth, on those things listed in verse eight: things true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Especially now, in our bad-news world, we need to meditate on the good—because the not-so-good, the low, and the evil bombard our souls. Let us take us the shield of faith, by which we extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one—and let us do this in part by meditating upon the good.

Fifth, and finally today, practice the good. Paul urged the Philippians to practice what they learned, received, heard, and saw in him (4:9, cf. 1 Corinthians 11:1, where Paul tells that church, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”). We apply this injunction rightly when we do those things that Scripture enjoins upon us—especially as we see them performed and embodied by Godly folk around us.

Then, when the Spirit of God empowers our performance of these deeds which lead to peace, peace comes. The Lord tells us, through Paul, that His peace—a peace which surpasses all understanding, a peace which the world cannot give (cf. John 14:27)—will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. This peace will protect us even while the evil of this world, and the world below, assails our hearts and minds. We truly shall enjoy peace in the midst of the storm. We shall enjoy inner tranquility even (and maybe especially) in the midst of event that ordinarily provoke anxiety. Moreover, not only will the peace of God guard us, but also the very God of peace will be with us. If God be with us, and for us (and He is both of these in Christ), then peace cannot fail to prevail.

The God of peace has made peace (cf. Romans 5:1). He has made peace between Himself and elect sinners by the interposition of the body and life-blood of His Son. Furthermore, the God of peace gives peace. He quiets adversaries who would raise themselves against us. He calms our troubled souls. He remains ever with us—never leaving us nor forsaking us, even to the end of the age (Hebrews 13:5, Matthew 28:20). Therefore, receive, or continue to receive Christ Jesus as Lord. Walk in Him, and—both in the receipt of Christ and in the walk in Him (Colossians 2:6—receive the peace of God from the God of peace, Who ever will be our Immanuel: God with us.


1I first noted the phrase year of grace, in place of A. D. (anno Domini: in the year of our Lord), in Baroness Emma Orczy’s novel The Scarlet Pimpernel (1905).

2Catherine Marshall, The Helper (New York: Avon Books, a division of the Hearst Corporation, 1978), 33.