“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” —1 Peter 5:10
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 4:12-19; John 16:33
A peacemaker is one who has first found peace with God. To reconcile the disputes of others before one has peace with God is a futile effort. Why? Someone cannot minister what they don’t have. Those who do possess the peace of God can then become a “blessed peacemaker,” someone who brings corporate reform and harmony because it is present in his life. The message of the peacemaker isn’t social or political in nature—it’s spiritual. True, lasting change, either in families, churches, or countries isn’t spawned by “correct” legislation. It’s the result of society coming to peace with its Maker through the ministry of peacemakers.
Christ closes the Beatitudes with the subject of persecution. “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,” He says (Matthew 5:10). Knowing that the Beatitudes are for all believers, so too must we conclude that persecution is for all believers. This isn’t to say that every believer will experience physical persecution, but all believers will experience some type of persecution, whether it’s spiritual, financial, political, mental, etc. This persecution implies a chasing or driving away, something that would keep us from our goal of righteousness in Jesus Christ.
Even more, persecution should not only be seen as evidence of making a stand for Christ, but is a way of being “tried in fire.” Tertullian said, “The blood of the martyrs became the seed of the church.” When people are persecuted, they’re required to make a stand—either for Jesus or against Him. Therefore, persecution becomes the refining fire of dedication. It’s interesting to see that the reward of persecution is one and the same as the reward given to the poor in spirit. Our hope in conversion is also the hope that carries us through persecution—the coming King and His Kingdom.
- Jesus Christ is the only way we can have true peace (Colossians 1:20). How might we forget His provision and participate in strife and division? Proverbs 10:12; 13:10; 26:21; 29:22; James 3:16.
- In what ways should Christians pursue peace? Romans 12:18; 14:19; Ecclesiastes 10:4; Matthew 5:25-26; Colossians 3:15; Ephesians 4:3. What blessings follow those who seek peace? James 3:16-18; Psalm 29:11; 119:165; Proverbs 12:20.
- Why is it futile for men to seek personal and social peace apart from salvation and complete trust in Christ? Romans 8:6; 5:1; Ephesians 2:1-3; 4:17-19; Proverbs 14:34.
- What promises have been given to us as the children of God? Romans 8:17; 1 Peter 4:12-13; 2 Peter 1:3-10; Psalm 34:18-19; John 12:46; 14:12; Mark 11:24; Isaiah 41:17; Hebrews 2:18; Revelation 3:21.
- Discuss the significance of promises in the Beatitudes beginning with the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew5:3) and ending with the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:10). Aren’t each of the eight blessings a different facet of the same thing—eternal life?
- What should our response be to persecution and what are the blessings of persecution? Matthew 5:12; Acts 5:41; James 1:2-4; 2 Corinthians 4:11, 17; Matthew 10:22; Romans 8:17. What consolation is there in knowing the prophets of the Old Testament were also persecuted?
- Matthew 5:11 tells us that persecution for His sake results in Kingdom rewards. How can we feel persecuted but not be persecuted for His sake at all? 1 Peter 4:12-16; 2:19-20.
- We are called to bless those that persecute us. From the following verses, how can we do this in a practical way? Ephesians 4:29; Romans 12:17-21; Exodus 23:4; Proverbs 24:17; 20:22; Matthew 5:39-44.
As the children of God, we are to be at peace with our brothers at all times. This week, prayerfully determine if you have something against a brother or sister. If you do, ask for forgiveness and wisdom from God, and go to your brother to seek reconciliation. This is a necessity if we’re truly peacemakers.