Peace By All Means and Always
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to Paul's second Thessalonian letter. We want to meditate together on one verse of Scripture from chapter 3. You will remember that we have been meditating upon this Thessalonian letter for quite some time now. We are coming to the concluding thoughts on the letter, and in the midst of the concluding paragraphs we find one verse of Scripture which should be a rich blessing to our hearts today. I refer to II Thessalonians, chapter 3, verse 16:

I Thessalonians 3

16Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.

Notice those words again, please, and recognize them as a prayer, because that is what they are:

I Thessalonians 3

16Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.

If you will glance at the last chapter of I Thessalonians, you will notice that the apostle closed the first letter to the Thessalonians with a prayer very much along this line. In I Thessalonians, chapter 5, verse 23, he said:

I Thessalonians 5

23And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In I Thessalonians, chapter 5, he addresses his prayer request to the “God of peace.” In II Thessalonians, chapter 3, he addresses it to the “Lord of peace”–one to the Father and another to the Son.

Prayer Related to Present Living

In I Thessalonians, chapter 5, verse 23, he is praying that the God of peace will eventually present us blameless before His throne at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. But in II Thessalonians, chapter 3, verse 16, he is emphasizing not peace when we stand in the presence of the Lord, but peace here and now as we cope with our everyday problems of ordinary living; and so the request which we notice in verse 16 is a request that is related not to the future but to the present–not to what we will be when God has completed His work in us, but what we need right now as we cope with the problems of everyday life.

We would like to remind you that what he is actually praying for is that we may live in a good state of health in the here and now. We would like for you to remember that the word “peace” does not denote a mere absence of trouble. A dead man has no trouble, but I don't know anyone in his right mind who wants to be dead. It does not denote a mere absence of trouble; rather, it suggests a good state of health in relation to everyday living.

The word “peace” comes from a Greek word the root meaning of which suggests everything being jointed together rightly, fitly. It suggests everything being in its right place. When anything is out of place or anything is out of joint, regardless of what it may be, there can be no real peace.

Turn in your Bibles, please, keeping a marker here in II Thessalonians because we will be coming back shortly, to the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 7. You will notice in verse 26 the account that Stephen gave of how Moses acted when he came of age and felt the impulse to deliver his brethren from the hand of the Egyptians. Beginning with verse 25, we read:

Acts 7

25For he [Moses] supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.
26And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?

We are not primarily interested in the quarrel between these Israelites, but we are interested in one phrase in verse 26. It is the phrase, “at one.” “He would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?” The phrase “at one” is the translation of the Greek word which is translated “peace” in our text today. It suggests to us what we have tried to lay before you already, that peace is that state of mind where everything is at one. Peace, as far as individuals are concerned, is that condition where individuals are at one, everything dove-tailing into its proper place.

Peace In the Midst of Adversity

This word “peace” refers to quietness and tranquility in the midst of adverse conditions. If you will turn over to chapter 24 of the Acts of the Apostles, you will find a concrete illustration of this thing about which I speak. In verse 1, we read:

Acts 24

1And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul.
2And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence,
3We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.

You will recognize these words as an address from the orator Tertullus to the governor Felix as he made preparation to accuse Paul. Of course he was running true to form. He wanted to butter Felix up, so he thought of all the nice things he could say to him. One of the things was in the second verse when he said, “We enjoy great quietness.” If you will notice that word “quietness,” you will realize that it is the translation of our Greek word translated “peace” in our original text. So we recognize “peace” to be a state of tranquility and a state of quietness.

This becomes even more evident if you refer in your minds to the history of the times and remember that there was a state of agitation and war everywhere, but this particular province under the leadership of Felix was enjoying a state of tranquility. That is the real meaning of the word “peace”–a state of tranquility in the midst of adverse circumstances. That is what the apostle was praying for when he said, “Now the Lord of peace give you peace by all means.”

Turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Isaiah, chapter 57. I ask you to turn to this Old Testament book because in it there is more about peace, much of it by illustration, than in any other book of the Bible. In the portion to which I have asked you to turn, we find peace illustrated both negatively and positively. Sometimes we are able to learn what something is by learning what it is not. If you will notice in verse 20:

Isaiah 57

20But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
21There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.

If you want to know what peace is not, look at a trouble sea in the midst of a storm, and you will see the waves casting up mire and dirt. And listen to what Isaiah says as he reminds you that the unsaved are like the troubled sea; they have no real peace.

Now turn over a page to chapter 66 of the book of Isaiah for the other side of the illustration. Here the Lord Jesus Christ is talking about that golden age which we refer to as the Millennium that is going to come upon the earth, and He speaks of what He is going to do for His people and for His land. In verse 12, he says:

Isaiah 66

12For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck *f1[nurse]*F2, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled [rocked] upon her knees.

Notice the complete state of tranquility as it is illustrated in this verse of Scripture by a quiet river in contrast to a troubled sea and by a little child perfectly content, nursing in the lap of a loving mother.

These illustrations emphasize what peace is. It is important for us to know what the apostle is praying for when he prays.

A Prevailing Peace

If you will glance back at our original text, II Thessalonians, chapter 3, you will notice that he not only defines the thing for which he is praying, but he describes it as well, so there will be no misunderstanding about it. Notice verse 16:

I Thessalonians 3

16Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means…

Notice that little phrase, “always by all means,” and particularly the phrase, “by all means,” for that phrase suggests the first descriptive thing I want to say to you today about this peace for which he prayed. And that is, it is a prevailing peace. This phrase, “by all means,” is the translation of two Greek words; and it is so difficult a translation, because of the varied shades of meaning, that translators have suggested quite a few different meanings for the phrase. Not that there is any contradiction, but it takes all of these to get all of the juice out of this morsel.

Let me suggest to you some of the ways in which this phrase has been translated. It has been translated, “give you peace no matter what happens,” and that is good, isn't it? That was what he was praying for: “Lord, give these people peace no matter what happens.” It is amazing how tranquil we can be, it is amazing how quiet we can be, if nothing disrupting ever occurs. But he is praying that we may have peace no matter what happens.

Another individual has translated the phrase, “give you peace whatever comes.” Whatever comes, may you have this state of tranquility.

One translator, in order to gather up all of these phrases into one descriptive paragraph, says, “The Lord give you peace in all ways, under all circumstances, and under all conditions.” That pretty well describes what Paul was praying for.

I would like to pause in our discussion to ask you a very personal question. Do you have that kind of peace? Do you have that kind of peace which produces a tranquil state of mind in the midst of whatever circumstances you may be, under whatever conditions you may find yourself? Look at our text again.

I Thessalonians 3

16Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means…

Notice that phrase again, “by all means,” as I suggest to you that the peace that Paul is praying for is a very practical peace. It isn't some figment of his imagination; it is a peace that you may have if you take advantage of the means by which this peace is produced in your life–“by all means.”

Christ's Work of Righteousness

I would like for us to think briefly about some of the means by which this peace can become your present possession. Turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Isaiah, chapter 32, verse 17. It has one of the most sublime doctrinal statements of New Testament truth that you will find even in the New Testament:

Isaiah 32

17And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.

Notice those words again: The work of righteousness [it doesn't say “works” of righteousness] shall result in peace, and the effect of that work of righteousness shall be quietness and assurance for ever. What was the work of righteousness of which the Spirit of God speaks in Isaiah, chapter 32, verse 17? It is that work which was performed upon the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ when He died for your sins and for mine. That is the work that produces peace. It is the effect of that work which produces a state of tranquility and assurance for ever.

Tie this verse in with the truth more familiar to many of us recorded in the book of Romans, chapter 5, verse 1, where we read:

Romans 5

1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ:

We have peace with God by virtue of our faith. Our faith in what? In the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross, the work of righteousness.

Earlier in our discussion we noticed in the Word of God that the wicked have no peace, and they do not. Any person who has never received the Lord Jesus Christ does not know anything about this state of tranquility that I am speaking about today. The wicked know no peace, but the very moment an individual receives the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior, the very moment he is willing to accept what Christ has done on the Cross as a sacrifice for his sins, that moment he knows peace with God–tranquility and quietness!

So the first means for peace, the basic means for peace, is related to your relationship to Jesus Christ. If you are not rightly related to Him, there is no peace.

A Life Yielded to the Holy Spirit

Turn in your Bibles, please, to chapter 8 of the book of Romans and notice the second means of peace. I say to you that the first means of peace is faith in the finished work of Christ. The second means of peace if a life yielded to the Holy Spirit of God. You may know peace *ULwith*UL God because you trusted Christ as your Savior, but you will never know the peace *ULof*UL God until you learn to walk in the Spirit instead of the flesh. In the book of Romans, chapter 8, verse 6, we read:

Romans 8

6For to be carnally minded is death [that is, to be fleshly minded is death]; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

To have a mind controlled by the Spirit of God is peace!

We won't take the time to turn to Galatians, chapter 5, verse 22, today, but were we to do that, you would see that the third fruit in the cluster of fruits produced in the life of the believer by the Holy Spirit is peace. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace. Now, it is impossible for the Holy Spirit to produce this fruit in the believer's life unless the Holy Spirit has control. So we say to you that a life yielded to the Holy Spirit is a means of peace.

In Psalm 37, verse 37, we have a bit of advice that it would be well for all of us to heed. The Spirit of God said, “Mark the man who walks in the way of the Lord, keep your eye on him; mark the man whose way is perfect, for the end of that man is peace.” The man who is walking in the maturity of the Spirit of God can expect to have a life that is marked by a state of tranquility.

A Mind Occupied With God

Turn in your Bibles, please, once again to the book of Isaiah, chapter 26, as I remind you of the third means of peace. The third means of peace is a mind occupied with God and with His Word. The mind that is occupied with God and with His Word can be guaranteed peace. Our minds are occupied in this day and time with a great many different things, and many times when we are in a state of restlessness, our minds are occupied with things instead of with the Lord. Notice Isaiah, chapter 26, verse 3:

Isaiah 26

3Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusted in thee.

It is not your responsibility to maintain peace. Will you remember that? It is not your responsibility to keep peace. It is your responsibility to stay your mind on the Lord, to fix your mind on Him; and as you fix your mind on Him, He will keep you in that state of constant tranquility.

How are you going to fix your mind on Him? Well, of course, you may occupy your mind with thoughts of Him, but it might be wise for us to relate several other passages of Scripture to this one that we may see how we can stay our minds on Him. Turn back in your Bibles to Psalm 119, which you recognize as the longest psalm in the Bible, and it has for its continuous theme in every paragraph the Word of God. Notice verse 165:

Psalms 119

165Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

That last statement could better be translated, “nothing shall cause them to stumble.” When you are talking about loving the law, you are talking about loving the Word; and of course, if you love the Word, if means that you are spending time within the Word, and you are giving the Word a chance to work in your life. Those who love the Word of God with the idea of incorporating it into their lives have peace.

Turn, please, to the book of Romans, chapter 15, as I remind you what it really means to love the Word of God, what it really means to incorporate the Word of God into your life and into your experience.

Romans 15

13Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Many of us by our actions stop this verse before it is finished. We read, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace,” and we go around asking God to give us joy, and we go around asking God to give us peace. “Oh, God, if you would just give me some peace about this.” And we act as though God were going to wave some magic wand and create the peace in our hearts. Well, I believe in a miracle-working God today, but I would like to remind you that God always works according to means unless there is a need to do otherwise. And the means for peace is believing. Did you notice that? “The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing”–in believing the Word of God. As you become familiar with the Word and the Word becomes a very part of your life, you believe it and you have peace. So I say to you that a mind occupied with God and with His Word is a means of peace.

Singing as a Means of Peace

Then I would like to suggest to you a last means of peace among a number that are presented in the Word of God as I ask you to turn in your Bibles, please, to Paul's letter to the Colossians, chapter 3. This chapter presents to us a means of peace that sometimes I think we don't recognize as such and perhaps we don't take advantage of.

Colossians 3

15And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

What is a means of peace? Well, this is so practical it is almost mundane–singing. Singing is a means of peace. The little chorus “Sing the Clouds Away” does have a scriptural basis, for you are able to do that, singing to one another in psalms and hymns–and incidentally that is songs accompanied by a musical instrument. It is said that we have no Scripture for using musical instruments in our worship services; here is one. Psalms and hymns–songs accompanied by a musical instrument–and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Sing the clouds away!

A very concrete illustration of this is found in an experience recorded in the Word of God. You will remember that Paul and Silas were in jail in the deepest part of the dungeon, suffering physically because of the beating which they had received. The Scripture says that at midnight they began to sing, and peace was forthcoming. So I would say to you that a heart which sings will know peace.

Prayer as a Means of Peace

I would like to add that a heart which prays will know peace. Will you go back to the Philippian letter, please, to chapter 4, and notice in verse 6:

Philippians 4

6Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

So, I say to you a heart which sings has peace and a heart which prays has peace, because this verse of Scripture says, “Worry about nothing; be thankful for anything; pray about everything.” What is the natural result? “The peace of God which passeth all understanding shall guard your heart through Christ Jesus.”

Someone may say, “I can't help but worry. It gets hold of me before I know what is happening. How can I keep from worrying?” Well, you can put some guards at the door of your heart, at the door of your mind, that will keep out worry; and those guards will be thankful, praying hearts. When you learn to be thankful for anything, even if you have to be thankful by faith, and if you learn to pray about everything, God will post guards at the door of your heart that will keep out worry.

Derivation of Peace

One last thing I would say to you as I ask you to turn back to II Thessalonians, chapter 3, and that is, I would like for you to notice with me the derivation of this peace. We read in verse 16:

I Thessalonians 3

16Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.

Did you notice that this bit of prayer concerning peace begins with the Lord and ends with the Lord? “The Lord of peace give you peace; the Lord be with you all.” A very literal rendering of this first statement in verse 16 is: “The Lord of peace Himself give you [and I like this] His peace–the Lord of peace Himself give you the peace which He enjoys all the time.” And if that seems a bit strange, I would remind you of what the Savior said in chapter 14 of the Gospel of John, verse 27, before He left this earth: “My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” Notice what he said: “My peace give I unto you.” How are you going to get this peace? You can get this peace only if you accept the package in which it comes.

Conclusion

And so we would remind you, according to chapter 16 of the Gospel of John, verse 33, what the Lord Jesus Christ Himself said: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but in Me ye shall have peace.” He is our peace, Paul declares in Ephesians, chapter 2, verse 14; and I would suggest to you that if you recognize the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in your life, you will enjoy this peace.

I have at times referred to a very interesting little book written in the language of another century called *ULPracticing the Presence of God*UL. You may not agree with everything that is in the little book, but it is a practice that you would do well to emulate–practicing the presence of God, believing that Jesus Christ is living in you and that you are never alone; in Him you have that peace.


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