Blessed Are the Peacemakers

For They Shall be Called the Children of God.



Dr. John Hoole – October 18, 2015




We are going to be continuing in our series in the Beatitudes today – that first section of the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus describes for us the character of those that are truly righteous.  The theme of the whole sermon is the nature of true righteousness, and the beatitudes themselves center on hungering and thirsting after righteousness.  The beatitudes are not things you can work up in yourself, but are the marks of a person who has the Holy Spirit working in them.


The first three beatitudes produce the hunger for righteousness.  Being poor in spirit – coming to God as a beggar asking for His mercy and grace.  Mourning over sin and then becoming truly meek in being submissive to God.  The results of hungering and thirsting after righteousness leads to being merciful to others because you realize the mercy you have received.  Your striving  is not just to be good outwardly, but to be pure in heart.  This in turn leads to doing all you can to be a peacemaker.


Today, we come to the 7th of 8 Beatitudes, as mentioned in Matthew 5.


Matthew 5:9 KJV


9   Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.


PEACE!    America wants it; Israel wants it; Jordan wants it; Turkey wants it.  It appears that everybody wants it, but the problem is that each want it on their own terms.  Because man is basically selfish and each want peace only on their terms – it has eluded us.  And even when peace seems to have been formulated in treaties, it is none-the-less tenuous or fragile at best.


One of the commodities that is highly valued by the world is peace.  There are diverse opinions on how to gain peace, but is universally sought after.  During the years of the “cold war” people feared losing the quasi-peace that existed.  For several decades we lived on the brink of destroying each other under the policy of “MAD” – “Mutually Assured Destruction.”


Decision magazine some time ago stated:


“The nation of Tibet has been completely stripped of its personality in our generation by Communist China without a single protest being made in front of a single embassy.  There is peace in Tibet, but the Tibetans would end it if they could.”


     Here again is a certain type of peace,


There is also a certain semblance of peace in a tranquilizer, or in ‘mainlining’ cocaine – or going on a drunk.  And then there is the peace experienced by those withdrawn in mental institutions, and by “brainwashed prisoners” A hippy on an LSD trip may be another kind of peace.


But, most peace known in the world today is worse than war.  Or, at best, it is artificially induced and temporary.


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem concerning this kind of peace.  It was born out of the Civil War – about 1862 although Longfellow, a resident of the state of Maine, saw little war in his state.  But it was the ravages of war that inspired him to write this poem.  He sets the poem to music and we probably sing it sometime during every Christmas time.


It is called, “I heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

The first verse:


I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.


Longfellow’s second wife was fatally burned in a fire, and his son Charles was gravely injured in the war.  You can feel his anguish in the third verse:


And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”


Can’t you feel his emotions and despair?  He so much wanted the peace that only Jesus could bring.  The 4th stanza is a message of Hope and draws the song together, for he, being a Christian, knew God was still in control.


Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”


We talk at great length about peace, and many peace conferences are held.  Yet at the moment it seems that the world is heading toward anything but peace.  One writer has been quoted as saying this:  Peace is merely that brief, glorious, moment in history when everyone stops to reload their weapons.


The apostle Paul says in Romans 3:17:

17             And the way of peace they have not known."

                        That sure sounds like our world.


As we look around, we find that there is little personal, domestic, social, economic or political peace anywhere.  Even John D. Rockefeller’s 8½-million-dollar grant to start the United Nations seems almost a waste, as tensions have increased and tear at the world’s throat.  Untold millions of dollars are spent annually in search of peace.  Historians have calculated that over the last 4,000 years, there has been only 300 years where there was not a major conflict going on in the world.  Most of the men and women who are noted in earth’s history, were not noted for their efforts of peace, but for their conquests.


We don’t need only to look at the history books, but to look at the Word of God.  If we go to the book of Genesis and we look at the time of Noah, we read in Genesis 6:11 that the earth was “…the earth was filled with violence.”  That is why God had to bring the flood upon the earth.  The earth was filled with violence.


Then you could go from Noah to David in Psalm 55.


Psalms 55:9 NKJV

9   …I have seen violence and strife in the city.

     Although he was probably speaking of the city of Jerusalem, that could be spoken of most cities today.


You could go to Asaph in Psalm 73.


Psalms 73:6 NKJV


6   Therefore pride serves as their necklace; Violence covers them like a garment.


            The whole world, as it were, wears as its clothing violence.


Ezekiel 7:23 NKJV


23   …For the land is filled with crimes of blood, And the city is full of “violence.“


And the wise man, Solomon, writes in Proverbs 13:2 NKJV


2   ... the soul of the unfaithful feeds on violence.


But in Romans 15:33 (NKJV) we read that God is our peace.


33             Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.


Scripture contains 400 direct references to peace, and many more indirect ones.  The Bible opens with peace in the Garden of Eden and closes with peace in eternity.  The spiritual history of mankind can be charted based on the theme of peace.  Although the peace on earth in the garden was interrupted when man sinned, at the cross Jesus Christ made peace a reality once again.  And He has become the peace of all who place their faith in Him.  Peace can now reign in the hearts of those who are His.  And one day He will come as the Prince of Peace and establish a worldwide kingdom of peace.


So, what can we learn from the 7th Beatitude?  As we learned in our study of the 6th beatitude, each beatitude requires a change in our hearts.


With each of the beatitudes, another nail is driven into a coffin.  Inside the coffin lies the corpse of a false understanding of salvation.  This false understanding said that a person can be a follower of Christ without being changed.  Or, to say it differently, a person can inherit eternal life even if his attitudes and actions are like the attitudes and actions of unbelievers,.


One after the other the beatitudes tell us that the promised blessings, for both now and eternity, will be given only to those who have become new creatures in Christ.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.(Matthew 5:7)If we don’t obtain mercy, we receive judgment.  If we don’t see God, we are not in heaven.  If we are not called the children of God, we are outside the family.


As we saw last week, from the beginning to end the Sermon on the Mount cries out, “Get yourself a new heart!  Become a new person!"  Unless our righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, we will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:20).




What are its qualities?  Or, if it is easier, tell me what peace is NOT.  Peace is another one of those words that is used so much that it has lost some of its meaning.  It can mean anything from a serene and tranquil place – a peaceful setting, to no longer shooting at each other.


First of all, peace is NOT just passivity.  It is not stagnation.  Nor is peace is not just freedom from conflict.


Peace can be experienced despite all the adverse reverses of life.


In John 14:27 (NKJV), Jesus says:


27    Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.


There really are only two kinds of peace:


            1.  There is the peace that Jesus gives, and…

            2.  There is the peace that the world gives.


The first is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and is the result of a relationship with the Prince of Peace.  As such it is more inward.  At least that is where it starts.


What then is peace?  The peace of which Christ speaks in this beatitude, and about which the rest of Scripture speaks, is unlike that which the world knows and strives for.  God’s peace has nothing to do with politics, armies and navies, or even councils of churches.  It has nothing to do with statesmanship, no matter how great the person.  Neither has it anything to do with arbitration, compromise, negotiated truces, or treaties.  God’s peace, the peace of which the Bible speaks, never evades issues.  It knows nothing of peace at any price.  It does not gloss over or hide, rationalize or excuse.  It confronts problems and seeks to solve them, and after the problems are solved it builds a bridge between those who were separated by the problems.


The concept of peace Jesus is speaking of in the 7th beatitude is not the Greek concept, but the Hebrew concept.  The Hebrew word, Shalom, was consistently translated as this Greek word for peace.  And doing so gave the word a new richness and depth of meaning.


The word still carried the idea of being the opposite of war, as is seen in Zechariah 8:10“There was no peace because of his enemies, and I set all men one against another.”  But “peace” also came to be used in contexts that had nothing to do with war.  It took on more of the general sense of well-being in contrast to evil in every possible form.  “Her [wisdom] ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.” (Proverbs 3:17).


This peace could include the good which comes from God, such as in Numbers 6:26“The LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.”  The word “peace” did not merely mean “rest” anymore, but it could denote the salvation of man which could not be overthrown by any violence or misfortune,.


The Jewish greeting shalomwishes “peace” and expresses the desire that the one who is greeted will have all the righteousness and goodness God can give.  The deepest meaning of the term is “God’s highest good to you.”


The most that man’s peace can offer is a truce, the temporary cessation of hostilities.  But whether on an international scale or an individual scale, a truce is seldom more than a cold war.  Until disagreements and hatereds are resolved, the conflicts merely go underground, where they tend to fester, grow, and break out again.  God’s peace, however, not only stops the hostilities, but settles the issues and brings the parties together in mutual love and harmony.


James confirms the nature of God’s peace when he writes, in James 3:17“But wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable.”  This verse gives the same order as in beatitudes six and seven – purity and peaceable.  God’s way to peace is through purity.  Peace can never be fully realized at the expense of a changed heart.  Peace that ignores the cleansing that brings purity is not God’s peace.


The writer of the book of Hebrews also links peace with purity when he instructs believers to “pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:4)Peace cannot be divorced from holiness.  Psalm 85:10 says it so beautifully: Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”


Biblically speaking, then, where there is true peace there is righteousness, holiness and purity.  Trying to bring harmony by compromising righteousness forfeits both.


But someone might ask, what about the words found in Matthew 10:34?


Matthew 10:34 NKJV


34   Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.


Some think that this is the antithesis of the seventh beatitude.  His meaning, however, was that the peace He came to bring is not peace at any price.  There will be opposition before there is harmony.  This leads directly into the next and last beatitude, which speaks of believers who are “persecuted for righteousness’ sake.”


To be peacemakers on God’s terms requires being peacemakers on the terms of truth and righteousness.  The world will have fierce opposition to this.


When believers bring truth of God’s peace to bear on a world that loves falsehood, there will be resistance and strife before there is peace.  When believers set forth God’s standards of righteousness before a world that loves wickedness, there is an inevitable potential for conflict.  Yet, that is the only way.


We will say more about this in our study of the eighth and final beatitude, which says the peacemaker will be persecuted for the very righteousness and purity they live and teach.




Let me address the messengers of peace – called “peacemakers.”  The messengers of peace are believers in Jesus Christ.  Yes, only believers can be the peacemakers spoken of here.  Only those who belong to the Maker of peace can be messengers of peace.  Paul tells us that “God has called us to peace.” (1 Corinthians 7:15).


When Jesus says that peacemakers are blessed, He is not saying that those who negotiate truces between warring nations will be called children or sons of God.  He is saying those that bring true peace are His children.


What is true peace?  It begins by gaining peace with God.


Romans 5:1 NKJV


5   Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,


We were His enemies because of our sin.  Something had to be done to end the war that was between us.  A truce would no have been enough because that would have left us in our sins and we would eventually have to pay the price for those sins.  God sent His own son Jesus Christ to pay the penalty of our sin so that we could be reconciled with God.


Peacemaking is indeed a high standard and a worthy vocation, yielding a wonderful reward that is worth submitting to God and seek his glorification.


And in 2 Corinthians 5:18, we read that God has “given us the ministry of reconciliation.”  The ministry of reconciliation is the ministry of peacemaking.




Let’s now look at the blessing peacemakers receive.  Jesus says here that the blessing given to peacemakers is that they “will be called the children of God.”  Remember, we have said all along that the beatitudes are characteristics of those who are the truly saved.  This blessing once again proves the point.  It is only the redeemed that can be called “children of God.”  Paul tells us in several places that it is not the natural man but the man or woman who has the Holy Spirit that is adopted as a son of God.


Romans 8:14-17 (NKJV) puts it this way:


14    For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

15   For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."

16   The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

17   and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.


In Galatians 4:4-7 (NKJV) Paul puts it this way:


4   But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,

5   to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

6   And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out,  "Abba, Father!"

7   Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.


And then we read in the Gospel of John:


John 1:12 NKJV


12   But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:


One becomes a child of God through the work of the Holy Spirit and not by one’s own efforts.  So, again I stress the point that the blessings described in the various Beatitudes belong to the true believer in Jesus Christ.  But let me caution you here.


Many people may profess to know Christ, but the reality of their relationship with Him will come out in their changed character, a character that will be conforming more and more to all the things listed in the beatitudes.


The blessings given to those that are peacemakers is that they shall be called the children of God.  They are those that belong to God as His adopted children and they are joint heirs with Christ.