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Prince of Peace (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
December 22, 2021 3:00 am

Prince of Peace (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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December 22, 2021 3:00 am

“For unto us a child is born.” These words are at the heart of the Christmas story. But have we allowed their message to transform our hearts? Listen to Truth For Life with Alistair Begg to find out how Jesus’ birth can bring you everlasting peace.



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For unto us a child is born... Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg explains the ultimate purpose for Jesus' birth... A prince of peace. Someone who is himself peace. Someone who has achieved peace.

Someone who, in knowing him, becomes our very peace. Now, I'd like to suggest to you, in the balance of our time, that there are essentially only two reactions to the human predicament. Either men and women look around them at this relational disjuncture, this internal psychological mayhem, and they say, We can work it out.

Or they say, Help, I need somebody, not just anybody. I'm going to have to look beyond myself, because I've looked in, and frankly, the in that is in ought to be out, and I can't get it out. And I've read a lot, and I've thought a lot, and I know that I must be looking for someone.

I must be looking out and beyond myself. Instead of reaching in and reaching down, as it were, to search inside of me, I wonder, Is there someone who comes from outside of me and has the answer to my dilemma? Well, of course, that's the message of the Bible, isn't it? Instead of man finding God, it's the account of God finding man. For unto us, as a result of God's initiative, a child is born and a son is given, and this son is the prince of peace. Now, clearly, this peace is something more than just the absence of warfare, or even the presence of an inner sense of tranquility or well-being, or the enjoyment of harmony amongst those who were previously feuding.

All of those things are inevitably limited in their duration. There has been no lasting peace since the Garden of Eden. Is there someone?

Help! Is there somebody—not just anybody? Well, actually, this peace, of which we read, is an eternal peace. That's what it says in verse 7. Of the increase of his government in peace, there will be no end.

There will be no end. Well, what kind of peace is that? We've never known peace like that. At the end of the Second World War, Churchill was so concerned immediately to get on and deal with a Russian problem, wasn't he? Nobody would listen to him. They eventually threw him out as the prime minister, despite all that he'd done. He said, There is a great bear up there, and if we don't deal with that one, pretty soon it will come and swallow us up.

Oh, go home, Churchill, you're a warmonger. No, he said, I'm a realist. He died in 65, and by that time communism was pretty well entrenched, and everything that he had acknowledged had come to pass. Was he simply a pessimist?

No, he knew. Well, if there is a peace that is eternal, and if that peace is found in this Messiah, this wonderful Counselor, how does all that work? How do you get from a phrase, Prince of Peace, to the experience of peace within a life, within a home, within a nation, within a world, within a universe? If God has come in the person of this prince, we ought to expect that he has accomplished what he set out to do. And that is exactly what the Bible tells us. And for that reason, I want to end, as I've done in each of these studies, by looking at another portion of Scripture which helps us to see, worked out, as it were, the phrase that we've been considering. And for this, I invite you to turn to Colossians chapter 1.

And once there, I want you to notice three words, and we will be done. Here, in a section that begins with verse 15, Paul is introducing us to Jesus. You'll notice he begins, he's the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation, and so on. Let's look from verse 19. For God was pleased to of all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood shed on the cross. And the reason that this is so significant is because, verse 21, once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.

Well, let's start there and work back up. First word is alienation. Alienation. An alienation that touches our minds, our believing. And an alienation that is represented in our lives, our behaving. We behave wrongly because of our minds.

Our minds are wrong, and so we behave wrongly. And the predicament that is before us is that we are alienated from God. Now, you're not gonna find this anywhere else other than in the Bible. You won't find it addressed by anyone else or any other religion in this way. Buddhism will suggest to you that you look within yourself, that you try and find the answer somewhere in there. That's what makes it so appealing, because it blends the individualism of America with the fact that I can just believe pretty well what I create for myself. Nobody out there is telling me anything.

Nobody out there is making these proud assertions, as it were. But what we have to do is we have to say, Do these offerings of peace. Knock, as it were, off the throne. This amazing story of God becoming man, dying for his enemies, and praying for their forgiveness. That's the story of Christianity. God takes the initiative and comes to us.

The Prince of Peace dies for those who are opposed to him and simultaneously prays for the forgiveness of his enemies. And the reason that this has validity is because of the fact of alienation. Now, again, you can find alienation everywhere you turn.

Contemporary music and poetry and the arts are full of it, films are absolutely packed solid with it. And that's why so many of them appeal to us—the fractured relationships, the sense of internal dissonance, the sort of shadows of a God once known—are all there. And we go and we watch those things, and we read these things, and it tugs at us and pulls at us, and we wonder about it. And then we turn to the Bible, and the Bible says, The reason that you know relational alienation, the reason that you experience psychological alienation, the way you feel all messed up within yourself—all of those alienations are directly tied to verse 21 of Colossians 1. You are alienated from God and enemies in your mind.

Enemies in your mind. Well, if we are the enemies of God, if by our belief and by our behavior we turn our back on him, what hope is there for peace then? Unless, of course, this God from whom we are alienated is the one who takes the initiative, and that's exactly the prophecy of Isaiah 9. God takes on human flesh and provides for us the man who will represent all men. He comes to deal with our alienation by effecting—and here's our second word—reconciliation.

Reconciliation. God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Jesus. All of God that may be known is in Jesus. And through this Jesus, this Messiah, to reconcile to himself all things. In other words, there is a barrier between God and man.

And that barrier, the Bible describes, as sin—our passive indifference, our rebellion against him, all of that stuff that we understand that offends against our consciences, at least until we do it so many times that we flat-out don't care—and all of that offends against a holy God. Because he is just, he must punish sin. Because he is loving, he provides a solution in the midst of the execution of his judgment. And it is here that we find ourselves at the apex of the Christian claim. Because it is here that Paul is making sense, if you like, of the phrase from Isaiah 9, he is the Prince of Peace.

In what sense? Well, he is the prince who, by his sacrificial death, atones for sin, takes upon himself the righteous response of God to sin—not a burst of fiery anger, such as our horrible approach to life, when someone does something to us, but the settled indignation of the character of God to that which is opposed to him. Because he is just, he must deal with that. And here the Prince of Peace moves inexorably towards the cross of Calvary, and there he bears in his own body our sins. In a very realistic sense, we have to fasten on the fact that what is taking place on the cross is, to use an old-fashioned biblical word, a propitiation—that Christ in himself bears the wrath that we deserve and propitiates so that the story of the cross is not as many of us got it from the Passion movie.

The overwhelming response to the Passion by the general public went something like this. If they were unaware of the story of the Bible, they came out saying, That's a dreadful thing to do to a nice person. I can't believe people would do that to such a nice person. I think I'm going to try and be a nice person.

But I hope nobody does that to me. Is that the gospel? No. You see, the key to that movie was actually in the scroll that ran before ever it kicked into its opening scenes. And do you remember what it said? He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before his shearers is done, so he opened not his mouth. He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement that brought us peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed, so that in his sacrificial death is the answer to all of our human alienation. Again, I say to you, it is such an implausible claim that you might find his very implausibility appealing—that the answer to all of my life, all of its fractures and its failures, all of its disappointment and its dirtiness, all of its unfulfilled hopes and dreams may actually be traced to a moment in time on a hill outside Jerusalem, on a narrow strip of land at the point where three continents of the world intersect. Yes! You see, I say to you again, this Christmas story that everybody can set aside and dismantle with the Christmas lights is not the story to which we're introduced in the Bible.

No, you can go to Hallmark for that. You don't need to go to the Bible for that one. The real question is, are you reconciled then to God?

I say, well, I know a number of people who are sinners, but not myself. This is good for somebody. I must get this for someone.

I know somebody. Be honest. Isn't it so strange that we're able to look with clear eyes at all the stuff that is so obviously wrong, all the violence, all the hatred, all the broken-down business? We watch it on TV, we read it in the newspapers, and we're prepared to acknowledge things are really messed up. And yet we can't, somehow or another, face up to what is messy, untidy, ugly, and painful in our own little lives. No, you see, Jesus is a sufficient Savior.

That's what he's telling us here. He's reconciling the world to himself. And on the cross he has accomplished a reconciliation. And the issue for us is not achievement but acceptance. Our society, our immediate culture as a whole, remains completely unaware that a reconciliation has been achieved—that on the cross of Christ, the answer to all of our deep-seated angst has been provided. The reason it doesn't know is because, in many cases, those who believe don't know well enough to tell others about this, to tell them that in that alienation, the Prince of Peace has done a work of reconciliation which leads, in our final word, to transformation. Transformation—a transformation not only of the individual but a transformation of the whole universe.

Look at that. He reconciles to himself all things. Well, what do you mean, all things? Well, the one in whom all of God's fullness is found is the one who reconciles everything, whether things on the earth or things in heaven, and actually things under the earth as well. In other words, Paul just points out the cosmic sweep of the reconciling work of Jesus. Nothing in the universe lies outside the range of what Jesus has accomplished. Nothing and nobody lies outside the extent of God's reconciling work.

Let me finish in this way. When Adam sinned, turns his back on God, a huge dislocation took place that not only affected Adam and his wife and the two of them and their kids, but affected the garden, and suddenly there were thistles—ironically, thistles being the emblem of Scotland, but why we would choose a weed, who would ever know? But nevertheless, in the garden of Eden, there was no emblem for Scotland, no thistles, no thorns, no nothing, just pristine beauty. But man turns his back on God and dislocates his relationship with God, his relationship with other people, and his relationship with creation itself. So, we do have something to say to people who start out on the periphery and say, Are you concerned about creation? Are you concerned about the environment? The answer is, absolutely I am. Are you concerned about the issues of AIDS and the fact of disease? Without any question at all. Does Christianity have anything to say to the predicaments of the human heart whereby people are lost and entrapped in their own psychological disorders and find themselves enveloped in all kinds of things?

Without question. In fact, I'd love to introduce you to a person—somebody, not just anybody. The Prince of Peace. Because by his coming, his death and his resurrection, the age to come—which will be finally put together according to God's timetable—but the age to come has dawned.

And little glimpses of it, little insights to it, are to be seen. But one day, the San Francisco Zoo tiger will no longer jump over its wall, unless it just jumps over and says, Could I have a bowl of Rice Krispies, please? Well, they're not actually says it, but it just jumps over, and it jumps over for a cuddle.

Why? Because of Isaiah 11, the lion will lie down with the lamb. Well, what is that describing? It's describing what happens when the prince finally says, Okay, let's put the whole thing together. The day is going to come when the accouterments of war will be put away once and for all, they'll be totally obsolete, when the diseases that ravage our bodies will be no more, and God will provide a new heaven and a new earth, and the structures of government within that new heaven and new earth will not be about man's power and his predilections and his posturing but will be about the glory of God. Why?

How? Because a child is born. The child is the prince of peace. And if you would know peace, you must come to the prince.

And what a welcome you will receive! For he has taken the initiative, in making a reconciliation, which he doesn't ask us to achieve but to accept. So, which way do you want to go out? Under which lyric? Your choice.

Say, Hey, thanks, Al, that was fine, you know, almost on time, not bad, but hey, we can work it out. We're fine. Or, help. I need somebody. Not just anybody.

See, because your view of the world has to deal with your life now and has to deal with your death then. What a strange thing I have in my repertoire. That not one in a thousand have. You say, This is going to be good.

It is. That is, that I can say the words of committal for a graveside ceremony without looking at my notes. Why? Because I've said them so many times. And why?

Because I believe them with all my heart. And so I'll finish with them. It goes like this, Forasmuch as it is pleased Almighty God, To receive to himself the soul of our dear brother here departed. We therefore commit his body to the ground, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, In the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall change our earthly bodies, That they may be like unto his glorious body, According to the mighty working, Whereby he is able to subdue all things, Even death to himself. Your choice.

We can work it out or help. I need this Prince of Peace. It is God who has taken the initiative.

The question is, How will you choose to respond? That's Alistair Begg today on Truth for Life. Alistair returns to close with prayer in just a minute so please keep listening. Maybe today's message has opened your eyes to the realization that you've been trying to fix your problems on your own.

Maybe you're ready to admit that you need help. Help that is found only in Jesus. Let me encourage you to visit the learn more page on our website. It's there that Alistair explains the message of the gospel. You can watch a short illustrated video that outlines God's plan for salvation.

You'll find these and other helpful resources when you visit truthforlife.org slash learn more. And if you're already a believer in Jesus, you know that prayer is an important spiritual discipline for all of us. But if we're honest, we admit that sometimes our prayers can become routine.

Our words sound shallow. Well today we want to recommend to you a book titled Piercing Heaven, Prayers of the Puritans. This is a book that won't just refresh your prayer life, it'll take it to a whole new level. The book Piercing Heaven is a rich collection of carefully selected and slightly updated prayers written by 32 Puritan writers including people like John Bunyan and Brad Street and George Whitfield. Each prayer has a title based on a theme. The book is arranged by topic so you can work through the prayers from beginning to end or you can look for a prayer that fits your current situation. For example you'll find prayers that help you through doubts or temptations, through times of sadness or suffering. There are prayers of praise and thanksgiving. There are even prayers to help you start or end each day. When you give to support Truth for Life, we invite you to request a copy of Piercing Heaven.

Simply tap the image you see in the mobile app or call 888-588-7884. Now here's Alistair. Just with a prayer from Augustine, O Lord, to be turned from you is to fall, to be turned to you is to rise, and to stand in you is to abide forever. Grant us in all our duties your help, in all our perplexities your guidance, in all our dangers your protection, and in all our sorrows your peace. And may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God our Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all evermore. Amen.

I'm Bob Lapine. If you have children or if you're a child at heart, Christmas morning can't get here soon enough. It's hard to have to wait for a gift you really want or a gift you need. Tomorrow we'll learn how the promises of God led to lifetimes of eager anticipation. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-06 13:20:05 / 2023-07-06 13:28:09 / 8

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