PEACE IN A TROUBLED WORLD
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
In light of all that is going on in our world today, it may sound strange to hear that you can have peace in a troubled world. In our beloved country every day we have:
- 10 teens commit suicide
- 135,000 teens bring a gun to school
- 7,742 teens become sexually active
- 2,705 teen girls get pregnant
- 1,106 teen girls have abortions
- 623 teens get a sexually transmitted disease
- 211 teens are arrested for drug abuse
- 437 teens are arrested for drinking or drunk driving
- 1,512 teens drop out of school
- 1,629 teens are in adult jails
As shocking as this is, it is not only a national dilemma but also a global plague. Jesus knew this situation would engulf the globe prior to His return by prophesying that “iniquity would abound” but He added, “Let not your heart be troubled”. What did He mean by this reassuring statement of comfort?
I want to let you in on the greatest truth I know. Everything I can say about real peace is centered in this fact. Without it, none of us can ever be genuinely at rest.
This truth has transformed millions of people throughout the history of the world. It has made derelicts into saints, hypocrites into godly men and women, and sinners into children of God. It is the truth of salvation in Jesus Christ.
Throughout this study, we have touched on some priceless spiritual verities that have a direct bearing on how to deal with the issues of life that can cause us to feel baffled, bewildered-perhaps even befuddled. In fact, we might say that achieving genuine satisfaction is completely a spiritual issue. To me, satisfaction is the normal state of a healthy soul. A person who neglects his spiritual needs cut himself off from the possibility of knowing real and lasting peace and fulfillment.
The greatest spiritual truth of all is what God has done to redeem us from our sins. By giving His Son to die in our place, God has paid the price of our sin and is able to save us from the bondage and dissatisfaction that comes with it.
Let me clearly say that I am not speaking of religion. Many people who are religious know nothing about salvation. Religion is of human origin, and it almost always requires that we do something. God’s salvation, however, is entirely His work on our behalf. It requires absolutely nothing since God has already accomplished all that is necessary. Our part is to simply accept it by faith.
A personal commitment
I had the privilege of conducting two wonderful interviews with the Reverend Peter Marshall. He was the co-author (with David Manuel) of two marvelous historical accounts of God’s plan for America and divine intervention in the founding of our nation-The Light and the Glory and From Sea to Shining Sea. Peter grew up in a marvelous Christian family. His father, the late Dr. Peter Marshall, was for many years chaplain of the United States Senate, and his mother, the late Catherine Marshall, is known and loved by millions for her many wonderful books.
I asked Peter what impact his distinguished parents had on his coming to Christ. He explained that they had made clear to him from his youth just what it means to be a Christian. As a result, he never took Christianity for granted, and he never assumed that just because his parents were well-known Christian leaders, he was automatically a Christian as well.
In fact, Peter told me it was not until he was 21 years of age that he felt he had really committed his life to the Lord. Although he had grown up surrounded by Christian teaching and in his head knew it was true, he had not yielded his heart in making a personal commitment to Jesus Christ.
“I graduated from college, and I was lost,” he told me. “I had no idea who I was or why I was here. I thought I was going into the Foreign Service, the United States Diplomatic Corps, but the Lord shut that door and it didn’t work out. So I had nothing. No plans. No goals. Nothing.
“Then I went to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes conference in Colorado in the summer of 1961 and heard Don Moomaw speak. I gave my life to the Lord as a result of that encounter. Two weeks later I was in seminary, and in 1965 I was ordained to the gospel ministry.”
God took Peter Marshall’s aimless life and gave him direction. And, as I interviewed him, Peter expressed his concern and burden that many people do not understand what Christianity really is.
“Christianity is not just running around trying to do great things for God,” he said. “We must understand that we need Jesus Christ because we are sinful human beings-weak and needy. In my pride, I had a hard time accepting this.”
I believe one of the reasons so many people-so many religious people-are dissatisfied is that they perceive religion as something we do for God. But true peace begins when we accept what God has done for us! The Bible says, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8,9).
You see, if salvation were something we could earn for ourselves, it would only contribute to our pride, for when we earned salvation, we would have much about which to brag and boast. Thus, what Peter Marshall says is absolutely correct-all of us are needy sinners-there is none righteous, no, not one…for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:10,23). Yes, all of us fall short of God’s standards, and if we are to receive salvation from our sins, we must receive it as a gift, not as a meritorious award for service.
What sin does to us
Some may have difficulty accepting the fact that all of us are sinners. We all know people who are good, moral, honest, generous, thoughtful human beings. Surely they are not sinners in the same way hardened criminals are sinners-are they?
From God’s perspective, the answer is “yes.” Because His standard is absolute holiness-one hundred percent perfection-the issue is not how many sins we commit or what kind of sins we commit, but if we have sinned at all. And Scripture is clear that none of us can honestly say we have never sinned.
In the presence of absolute holiness, even the smallest sin is as offensive and out of place as the darkest, most heinous act of evil one can imagine. Because God is so completely holy and uncompromisingly righteous, He cannot permit sin to exist in His presence. And the only just penalty for sin is death-For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).
But just as God is holy, righteous, and just, Scripture also informs us that He is a God of mercy and love. Because of His great love for us, He does not wish to condemn us without mercy. Since in His righteousness He cannot simply overlook sin, He found a way that He could make us righteous without compromising His own holiness. However, it cost Him the sacrifice of His Son!
Perhaps the most familiar verse in all of Scripture is John 3:16-For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. That verse, more than any other, has opened people’s eyes to the truth of God’s salvation and the way to real satisfaction.
What this all means is that you do not have to earn God’s approval. You do not have to work to make yourself righteous. You do not have to become deserving of God’s grace. All the work has been done by God himself, and He offers His grace freely to those who will receive it by faith!
Nothing gives a greater sense of personal worth than the truth that God loves us so much that He gave His Son to pay the price for our sins. And nothing on earth brings more complete satisfaction than the confidence of knowing you are secure in God’s salvation.
May I ask you some important personal questions? What are you counting on to make yourself acceptable to God? If you were to stand before Him and give an account of your life, what could you point to that might make you acceptable to Him? Would it be your own works of righteousness? I hope not, because Isaiah 64:6 says, all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. God cannot accept works of righteousness from unrighteous people. Would you point to your heritage? Scripture is clear that salvation is not anyone’s birthright. In fact, Jesus said, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3).
The only thing any of us can point to that makes us acceptable to God is the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. We must simply trust Him with childlike faith and receive His gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).