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People talk a lot about peace during the Christmas season. But what is peace, and where does it come from? Voddie Baucham talks about true peace found in Christ.
Michelle: Today, we’re going to hear a sermon from Voddie Baucham from several years back. Like many great sermons, it’s still very relevant today and, also, for next year’s election cycle.
Voddie: There is no governmental transformation that can bring the peace that Christ came to bring. Listen, you can get your whole slate of candidates elected; and this peace would not come. You could have an ideal slate of candidates—people who aren’t even running; if we could just give you a piece of paper and say, “You write them down, and they’ll be in office,”—they would not and could not bring this peace.
Michelle: The prophet Isaiah said, “For to us a child is born. Unto a Son is given and the government will be upon His shoulders. He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” It is that peace that Voddie’s going to talk about today on FamilyLife This Week.
Welcome to FamilyLife This Week, I'm Michelle Hill. It is Christmas; whether you are ready or not, Christmas week is here. I just love Christmas; I really—I love it. I don't know if you’re like me; but I find myself caught up in the frenzy of the season, counting down the days and waiting for—well, a melt down of emotions; you know, that explosion because I can’t get it all done. I really count down to the 26th, when I can actually relax; but in a sense, that’s a waste of the holiday; isn’t it? The commercialization of Christmas—the expectations of others, the beautiful tree and activities for your kids on Pinterest®, living the best Christmas out on Instagram®—has really robbed us.
Today, we need to go back to the basics of Christmas. Let’s just start from the beginning—you know, the beginning when Jesus was born. Here’s the story from
And in the same way then there were shepherds out in the field keeping watch over the flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angels said to them, “Fear not for behold I bring to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, [All the children together] “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those whom He is pleased.”
Michelle: Isn’t that great? That's the basics of peace, so I thought what we needed this Christmas season was to be reminded what true peace is all about. For that, I turned to FamilyLife®’s good friend, Voddie Baucham. Voddie is a pastor, and he and his family live in Zambia. Here he is—talking about that peace we all so long for.
Voddie: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” or so the song tells us. What the song doesn’t tell us is that it’s also the most depressing time of the year/the most difficult time of the year for many. Suicide rate is up this time of the year; depression up this time of the year; frustration is up this time of the year.
There are a lot of reasons for this; but one of the reasons for this, I will argue, is an over-realized eschatology. What I mean by that is, when we look at the message of the incarnation, there are certain things that can only be understood from a full-orbed, well-rounded, well-grounded biblical worldview. If you don’t have said worldview, then you only have a truncated picture of what the incarnation means. What we have surrounding us is, not just a culture, but a world that has determined and decided to embrace the idea of the incarnation, or the ideals around the incarnation, but only in part.
We’ve decided to embrace it—and not just to embrace it—but we’ve decided to play it up. When you do that, in the midst of a culture and a world that either doesn’t understand or understands and openly rejects the fullness of the message, what you get is an over-realized eschatology. And with an over-realized eschatology, you get frustration, disappointment, discouragement, depression.
What do I mean by this? Well, the text that I’ve read—especially the end of the text that I’ve read—is very popular. This popular idea: “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men,” is a favorite translation of that last verse. We hear this, and it is embraced. It is easy to embrace; it’s easy to embrace, even by people who reject Christianity.
One of the largest Christmas trees in the world—and the most expensive Christmas tree in the world—can be found in a shopping mall in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates—the most expensive Christmas tree in the world, in the midst of a Muslim country. Now, in Islam, ascribing partners to God is shirk or blasphemy. It’s the worst kind of blasphemy that one can commit. In most Muslim countries, it is punishable by death.
The incarnation is about God—the second person of the Trinity wrapping Himself in flesh and coming, as a babe, in the manger. Yet, we have so truncated our understanding of this—ripped it out of its context and thrown it into the midst of a season of commercialism that takes this one idea: “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men,” and says this: “This is the reason for the season. It’s all about peace, and love, and family”; and who can’t embrace that? The only problem is that that’s not true; it’s not what it’s all about.
So when you have this over-blown sense/this truncated sense of what this time is all about—and this over-realized eschatology—and by that, I mean you look at what Jesus came to do in terms of the eschaton/in terms of the end of the age, you look at this idea of the horizontal peace that Christ will absolutely bring—the incarnation absolutely means that there will be peace between men; amen?—it means that. It means that wars will cease; it means that oppression will cease—it means all of those things, but not right now! So if that’s your picture, it can be depressing: “It means peace, but where’s the peace?”
“It’s about family and love.” The fact of the matter is: “My family gets together; there’s a lot of stuff going on; love’s not part of it.” What about family members, who are no longer with us? If the season is all about family, and togetherness, and love; then when there are family members, who are no longer with us, we simply highlight our lack of that thing that this time is supposed to be all about.
“It’s about that perfect gift and the perfect response”; it doesn't come—or that lasts for a moment—and then the kid, who screamed at the top of his lungs, is spending more time playing with the box than with the thing that came out of it. If you can’t say, “Amen”; you ought to say, “Ouch.” [Laughter]
Then this Black Friday thing comes and Christmas started right after Thanksgiving. Now, if you’re paying attention, and you go to Walmart®, it starts right after Halloween. We’re absolutely wrung out by emotional, unrealistic songs for two months that paint unrealistic pictures about unrealistic reunions and snow that most of us don’t get. Try selling that in Africa, y’all; and it just never materializes.
But what’s offered here in this text always materializes; it never disappoints. In order to get that, you have to understand what is meant by this peace.
Several questions that I’d like to answer about this peace/this peace of the incarnation. First of all, “Who needs this peace?” It’s interesting—but often, when you hear this spoken about more broadly, when you hear this spoken about in culture, at large—in the culture that absolutely rejects Christianity, rejects the Bible, rejects everything that Jesus is about—they reject the man Jesus; they love the baby in the manger; amen?
As long as you can keep them ooh-ing and awwing in the manger, He’s good. The minute He becomes a man, who demands something of us, “Crucify Him!” That’s the disposition of our culture. With the disposition of our culture, this idea of peace, we often think about the strife that is in the world. The baby came to the manger to end the strife that is in the world—always find this ironic.
By the way, I love this time of year; as an apologist, I do. I really love this time of year as an apologist. It is an awesome opportunity to press home the gospel and to call people out for their hypocrisy. They love this time of the year, and they want peace—they want world peace. You can go: “Where does that come from? How does the baby in the manger give us world peace if He’s not the second person of the Trinity? How is that accomplished? How are we going to get that? Are we merely going to sing enough about the idea of the baby in the manger that somehow that will bring peace?”
As that Texas theologian, Dr. Phil, would say, “How’s that working for you?” The answer is: “It’s not! You can’t get there from here.” A baby was born in a manger to bring us peace; how? “If you reject the message of the gospel, how do you get peace from the baby in the manger?”
“Well, He was an example.” An example of what?—and an example to whom? How was He an example? What is it that we’re to do that He did that is going to make the world a place of peace? The answer is: “Nothing! There is nothing that He did that I can do that will make the world a place of peace.”
So who needs this peace? Well, it’s not just the people in power. Oftentimes, this is the way we look at it: “Eventually, these people in power, who are causing all of these wars, they will get the message and then there will be peace.” Interestingly enough, this message comes to shepherds in a field—not people in power—isn’t that interesting? The angels do not go and announce, in the highest most powerful place of the government, “This is it; your time has come; you guys are going to bring peace.” No; they go announce to shepherds, in the middle of the field; and what do they announce?—that a Savior has been born.
Michelle: I really hate to do this; because it seems like Voddie is in such a really good spot and is just really bringing the Word to us, but we need to take a quick break. When we come back, we’re going to talk about: “What’s our condition without peace?” Stay tuned; we’ll be back in two minutes.
[Radio Station Spot Break]
Welcome back to FamilyLife This Week, I'm Michelle Hill. It is Christmastime. We are in the middle of Christmas week; and also, in the middle of listening to a sermon on peace from Voddie Baucham. Here he is, talking about how we lost that peace in the first place. He’s picking it up from Ephesians 2.
Voddie: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air; the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
What kind of peace? See, this is an interesting thing—when this time of year is all about horizontal peace and peace between men, that’s not threatening to me at all. I can acknowledge that; I can acknowledge that, and it can be completely outward: “Yes, there needs to be peace between men. Those who are fighting need to stop fighting. I’m not fighting with anyone, so that has absolutely nothing to do with me; so I can stand on my moral high horse and say, ‘You stop fighting now. Let there be peace on earth.”” Even if I do want to own it, “I just means a little adjustment in my behavior; but I’m capable of that.”
However, when we understand this properly—and when we understand that the enmity is between God and man, and the need for peace is a vertical one, and that Christ came in order to bring peace between you and me and God—now, we have to acknowledge the fact that we are sinners in desperate need of a Savior; that we stand under the wrath of an Almighty, holy and righteous God; and that there is nothing in us, about us, or around us that can do anything to change it until heaven breaks into earth.
You are an enemy of God—under the judgment of God/deserving the wrath of God—unless and until you have come to Him, in repentance and faith, and the finished work of Christ upon the cross has been applied to you. Until that moment, you remain under the wrath of Almighty God. This is a message you will not hear in the mall in Abu Dhabi/probably not the mall in Orlando.
This is the message that calls everything into question. This is the message that gets me out of my comfort zone. This is the message that gets me out of the center of the universe—as the one who’s okay—who, at most, needs to, maybe, be a little nicer. This message is completely different. This message reminds me that I’m not alright. But you see this is why the good news is good, and this is why it never disappoints; because the fact of the matter is: “All those, who come to Him in repentance and faith, are received by Him, redeemed by Him, and saved by Him.”
So what do we do with this peace? We do what the angels did; we announce it to all. That’s the beauty of this passage to me. You see, it doesn't just come—Jesus is not an aristocrat, born to a royal family, with an announcement that comes to the leader of this royal family: “Now, things are going to change from the top down so that the world can be whipped into shape.” No; He’s a baby born in a manger to a peasant girl, whose first visitors were shepherds. The announcement is made; and the announcement is made to shepherds, not powerful men by any stretch of the imagination/not influential men at all.
Now, it is incumbent upon us to announce/to announce the good news:
“What is the good news?”—the good news is that, “Regardless of how dysfunctional your family is, there is peace with God”; amen? The good news is: “No matter how disappointing your gift giving or receiving may be, there’s peace with God.”
“The good news is, regardless of whether the turkey is moist and succulent, or you can’t afford one, there's peace with God.”
“Regardless of whether shots are being fired in anger all over the world or not, there’s peace with God.”
And more significantly than that: “This peace that Christ has come to bring ensures and guarantees the greater peace that all the world will experience when, one day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
You see the good news—when you understand this properly—is that, you not only get the vertical peace, but the horizontal peace. You, not only get the right now peace, but you get the forever peace.
The reason this is such a depressing time of year is because the sting and offense of the gospel is being avoided by those who want the benefits without the confrontation. We want to hold on to the idea of lasting peace without confronting the idea of sin being dealt with on an old rugged cross. That will always lead to disappointment, defeat, depression, and a whole host of other things far worse than that.
So there is good news. The good news is that: “The Prince of peace has come, and that He has inaugurated peace for those who come to Him in repentance and faith. He brings peace between us and God and for the entire world, that is anxious and groaning in anticipation; He is going to bring everlasting peace.” This is as sure as His first coming in the manger.
Michelle: Voddie Baucham bringing our Christmas message today. You know, it was the prophet Isaiah who said that Christ would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” As Voddie said, all those who come to Him, in repentance and faith, are saved by Him. He brings the perfect peace, and we need to announce that perfect peace to all. One day, He will bring everlasting peace; and that’s really good news for us today.
You know, if you don’t have a church you regularly attend, I want you to think about finding one with a Christmas Eve service; so that you can soak up the peace that you’ll find there. Not that you can't find that peace of God in your home, but join with others and share the joy of finding God’s peace on Christmas Eve. If it's a Bible-believing church that preaches God’s Word, you might find yourself there Sunday after Sunday.
Next week, we’re going to peer into the new year. You’re probably thinking, “Already?!” Yes, already. It’s never too soon to be thinking about those New Year’s resolutions and how we should be leading our children through that process.
Vicki Courtney is going to share about the journey that God took her on last year when she opened up her heart and mind to see, maybe there are some changes that God had for her through some New Year resolutions that she was able to pass on to her grandchildren. I hope you can join us for that.
Thanks for listening. I want to thank the president of FamilyLife, David Robbins, along with our station partners around the country; and a big thank you today to our engineer, Keith Lynch. Thanks to our producers, Bruce Goff and Marques Holt; and a special “Thank you,” to Shawn and Jen Marvel’s girls, who read Luke 2:8-14 for us at the beginning of the show. Justin Adams is our mastering engineer, and Megan Martin is our production coordinator.
Our program is a production of FamilyLife Today, and our mission is to effectively develop godly families who change the world one home at a time.
I'm Michelle Hill, inviting you to join us again next time for another edition of FamilyLife This Week.
Children: Merry Christmas! [Children chatting in the background]
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