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Becoming a Peace Maker

Acts 8:4-25, English Standard Version

· Teaching

 

Acts 8:4–25 (ESV) — 4Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. 5Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. 7For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed, or lame were healed. 8So there was much joy in that city. 9But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed. 14Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.” 25Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.

Read Acts 8:18-25 and tell me how you would describe Peter here? What adjectives would you use to describe Peter?

Certainty Peter was bold, exercising apostolic authority and leadership but he was also expressing the love of Jesus. It may not seem like it at first, but Peter was operating as a peacemaker!

Many would push back and say:

  1. HOLD UP! PETER WAS A RABLE ROUSER! LOOK AT THIS VITRIOL HE SPITS AT SIMON?

B.The bible says blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God.

1.How badly we need peacemakers in our society!

C.Like it or not part of the ministry of Peacemaking involves:

1.Seeing clearly in order to take the speck out of a brother’s eye and establish peace.

2.Sin inhibits people from seeing and impedes judgement and is hurting people. Sin and Satan are real and they are really wreaking havoc. If you are a peacemaker you are not aware of the enemy, that is sin and Satan. You also are keenly aware of the remedy- that is Christ and His Gospel.

Matthew 7:1–5 (ESV) — 1“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

  1. Matthew 5:9 (ESV) — 9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
A.      Introducing others to the Gospel is making peace.

1. Let’s go back to the gospel as summarized by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15

2. 1 Corinthians 15:1–5 (ESV) — 1Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

3. GOSPEL OF PEACE

a) Colossians 1:20 (ESV) — 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

b) Ephesians 6:15 (ESV) — 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

c) Isaiah 52:7 (NASB95) —7 How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

B. Introducing people to Jesus is peacemaking
  1. Isaiah 9:6 (NASB95) — 6For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father,Prince of Peace.
  1. Peter’s struggle was not typically known to be passivity
    1. We don’t see him being passive very often. Although denying Jesus 3 times and when asked if he knew Jesus, he said he didn’t know that man.
    2. What we see more often though especially in the book of Acts we see Peter exercising strict judgment.
    3. We have to remember that he was God’s chosen vessel to shepherd the 1st-century church in Jerusalem. 
      1. He was fiercely guarding his flock and ensuring the message of the“gospel of peace” remained untainted. By false teachers and false prophets.
      2.  We also see based on the track record of his entire life that he is like the Pharisees or hypocrites that Jesus Warned about.
        1. Offering Simon an opportunity to repent.
  2. How does this apply to all of us?
    1.  We may not be in any official leadership capacity and have as many opportunities to confront sin to the degree Peter did. 
    2. But we are all called to be peacemakers
  3. How to be a peacemaker?
    1. Those who actively work to bring about peace and reconciliation where there is hatred and enmity.
    2. Sin is after all the biggest interceptor of peace and reconciliation to God and between men. Sin affects us and our entire community. 
      1. Sin has far-reaching ramifications. 

C. To engage peacemaking involves making a judgment about others than proceeding with wisdom and love with Jesus to confront sin through intercession, personal confrontation, and introducing people to the gospel.

  1. Therefore, peacemaking cannot be congruent with passivity and throwing your hands up and saying things like, “You be you boo” or “Hey to each his own, who am I to judge”

IV. Judging Spectrum

  1. One end you have passivity and inability to confront sin or acknowledge evil. On the other you have 
  2. As Jesus warned against being a fault-finder who judges harshly, self-righteously, or mercilessly
  3. Both create havoc by not introducing people to the gospel of peace, the prince of peace to establish peace.

Tips to judging well.

  1. Acknowledge Jesus Christ is the ultimate Judge.
    1. "I can do nothing on My own initiative As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (John 5:30)
  2. Remember the goal is restoration, not condemnation.
    1. Galatians 6:1–5 (ESV) — 1 brother, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.
  3. Hold yourself to a higher standard than you hold others.
    1. Matthew 7:1–5 (ESV) — 1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure, you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but does not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocritefirst take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
    2. Focus on being genuinely transformed by the renewing of your mind.
    3. A fault finder will be ineffective and often cause more wreckage than reconciliation.
  4. Do not hold those who do not profess Christ to the same standard as a professing Christian.
    1. 1cor 5:12 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church[a] whom you are to judge?
    2. Our responsibility with those who do not profess Christ is to introduce the gospel, sometimes as we read in the apostolic preaching you will link destructive to the gospel in order to establish guilt.
  5. Use wisdom in confronting sin in other’s lives.
    1. Inspect that sin in your own life and repent of that sin.
    2. Pray for that person to encounter Jesus.
    3. Ask how serious this sin is. Pray for wisdom if you are to confront that person or if you are to leave it to prayer.
    4. Ask if you are the right person to confront that person. How close is your relationship? Are there other people in this person’s life?
    5. Pray for timing. It may not be the right time to confront that person.
    6. Pray for wisdom of words, and a gentle heart. Don’t speak condemning at person. Remember the goal is restoration.
  6. Settle disputes inside the church first inside the church.
    1. 1 Corinthians 6:1–6 (ESV) — 1 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?

The beatitudes were taught by Jesus to his disciples. He was teaching them how to succeed in the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 5:2–10 (ESV) — 2And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Each beatitude builds upon the former. We find in Matthew 5:3 that the foundation is to be “poor in spirit”. In other words, to be so poor that you recognize you have no ability or personal resources in and of yourself to provide what your spirit needs. To be poor in Spirit means you are completely dependent upon the Holy Spirit to sustain spiritual vitality. Each beatitude thus builds upon this dependency. Eventually building to vs. 8 ”Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Those who confess their sin to God, repent, and partner with Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit live holy and transformed lives Jesus promises will “see God”. Therefore being pure in heart a prerequisite to seeing God clearly. Matthew 7 :5 eludes to this principle. Jesus says, “take out the log from their own eye” so you then can “see clearly” and help “remove the speck from your brother’s eye”. This speck is sin. Just like a speck in your eye, sin must be removed to see God clearly and finally establish peace in your life and others. It is upon this foundation of being pure in heart that we are able to be peacemakers. Finally, as we walk out the ministry of peacemaking, it can almost paradoxically stir up persecution. Jesus teaches us that if we are persecuted for this righteousness, we can rest assured that the Kingdom of heaven will be ours. Jesus is king, and the Kingdom of God is wherever He is reigning. His righteousness, joy and peace are ours as we faithfully walk out the ministry of peacemaking.

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