The Prince of Peace

The Prince of Peace

The Prince of Peace of Isaiah 9 shattered the longing for an idyllic, earthly paradise by his disturbing declaration that he “did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34).   These are not the words of a self-proclaimed, dreamy-eyed, delusional messiah.  No indeed!  He took pains to get his message across: he was not born of the virgin Mary to bring an end to all conflict, suffering and evil then afflicting the people of the earth in the first century Roman Empire.

In fact, he prophesied that his coming would bring more conflict and calamity, setting “a man against his father and a daughter against her mother…”  The sword he unsheathed was not to drive out the Roman legions from the holy land, but to divide humanity into two irreconcilable kingdoms.  To the forces of darkness the penetration of his Light into their domain was as threatening as it was abhorrent. 

The human instruments of evil, Herod and later the Jewish leaders, sought with an intensity beyond their understanding to extinguish that Light.  The former didn’t succeed, and the latter hardly had time to savor their elimination of the threat from Nazareth before the Light reappeared out of the darkness of the grave.  His radiance blinded those who thought they could see and gave sight to those who knew they were stumbling in the darkness of their own sin. So it is today.

It is not the pacification of all hostilities that the church is commanded to pursue: only the Prince of Peace can do that.  He told us that the conflict between ‘good and evil,’ between the kingdoms of darkness and light will not end until he wraps up history with a shout of triumph.  Knowing that the spiritual battle will rage until that moment, we should not be discouraged nor agitated that it continues in our time.  Neither should we retreat into a bunker mentality and passively wait until the warfare is ended. 

Rather, we must continually focus our sights on the Light of the world.  Celebrating the coming of the Son of Man, the Son of God, is a reaffirmation that the Lord of All has not abandoned godless humanity to wallow in its own immorality or struggle fruitlessly against its own mortality.  The Hope of Israel is the Hope of us all!  In him is all the fullness of God – immortal, invisible, eternal, holy, just, merciful, gracious, loving. 

Though the unrighteousness of men will continue for a while longer, the Prince of Peace has come to bring peace now with the Holy God and everlasting joy to his people.  The Bronx Household of Faith is placed here on this piece of contested ground in the global struggle to bring good tidings of peace and joy to those still in darkness.  Although the battle still rages, the war is won!

Household Memories from 2015

Even If You Should Suffer: Thoughts on the Supreme Court’s Latest Ruling

Even If You Should Suffer: Thoughts on the Supreme Court’s Latest Ruling

In I Peter 3: 14 we are given an essential perspective for facing the coming cultural upheaval the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex ‘marriage’ will generate: “But even if you should suffer for righteousness sake, you will be blessed.” Much of the response to that arrogant redefining of the God-given, universally accepted and historically practiced “natural marriage” from Christian and conservative writers has been to warn of further efforts to punish and silence those who oppose the LBGT agenda.

The four dissenting justices (Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito) issued strong opposition to the majority’s politically correct disregard of the Constitution and warned that religious freedom will come under prolonged, relentless attack. The majority knew from the oral arguments in April that approving same-sex ‘marriage’ would lead to assaults on Christian institutions and churches which recognize only heterosexual marriages but religious freedom is less important to them than ‘marriage equality.’

Such thinking is not only the viewpoint of the ‘progressive’ elite in our society; polls indicate that 60% of Americans believe people should be able to ‘marry’ whomever they choose, regardless of gender. This does not bode well for constitutional protections religious institutions have been afforded throughout our history. Refusing to recognize same-sex unions is already seen as ‘hateful’ by many and ​may ​soon be considered grounds for losing tax exempt status and expose churches and Christian institutions to punitive lawsuits. Other consequences will be developed by those bent on silencing every form of dissent from their goal of gaining not just acceptance​,​ but ​also ​approval of their sin.

Affirming the absolutes of scripture may be costly, both to the church and individuals: we must be resolute in our commitment to be faithful to our Lord. If we waver on something so clearly expressed in the Word of God -​-​ marriage can only be between a man and a woman, what will we waver on next? Jesus said, “…whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory…” (Luke 9:26). When the topic comes up, confirm your belief in God’s definition of marriage; do it without being obnoxious or defensive, but say it. You may be ridiculed, belittled, accused of intolerance or mocked, but remember Peter’s words: “…even if you should suffer for righteousness sake, you will be blessed.”

By This Is My Father Glorified

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. (John 15:8, ESV)

Certainly these words of our Lord Jesus capture the highest and purest object of prayer — that the Father may be glorified. It is to bring glory to the Living God that we yearn to bear fruit, both in character and spiritual reproduction. IN the daily discipline of praying for specific requests, we can sometimes forge these are but small steps toward achieving the greater purpose: the exaltation of our God and Savior. The key to effective prayer seems to be that unity with God’s purpose and therefore joyful expectation of the answer. “Lord, teach us to pray.”

Originally written February, 1985

Christmas is for Sinners

‘Happy Holidays’ is slowly replacing ‘Merry Christmas’ in our post-Christian culture. Fewer and fewer stores have greetings or displays which have anything to do with the birth of Jesus. It is not surprising. The human heart does not find the true Jesus attractive; in fact, He is (rightly) perceived as a threat to self-rule and self-exaltation. As in first century Jerusalem, He must be marginalized or, failing that, destroyed.

Less obvious, perhaps, is the gradual but monumental shift of emphasis in many of our churches. Rather than redemption, the “good news” seems to be the promise of psychological integration. Instead of a call to holiness, there are suggested paths to “wholeness”.  In place of sacrifice and serving, there are benefits and blessings. Yet, the glorious truth cannot be suppressed: Jesus Christ came to save sinners!

 

Originally written Christmas, 2003

Lift Him Up

“When I am lifted up, I will draw all men to Myself.” John 12:32

The truth and comfort of this promise has been impressed upon us lately.  Neither victories (with their joys) nor defeats (with their sorrows) are to be our focus, but simply to faithfully exalt our Risen Lord by our lives and words.  As bondslaves, we are to do our Master’s bidding–regardless of its apparent effectiveness.  So the admonition to “not grow weary in well-doing.”  Perhaps, at times, we are too concerned about “results” and “success” in trying to “bring people to Christ” and not concerned enough about lifting Him up and then trusting Him to draw people to Himself as He promised.

 

originally written November, 1989