The fruit of peace, part 1

Aug 15, 2013

This is a continuation of our series of occasional lectures dealing with The Fruits of the Spirit. Most recently, I taught here concerning the fruit of joy…and uh—also with patience and longsuffering and endurance! Remember how I told you how God “snookered” me into that? I thought I would avoid the difficult virtues by focusing on joy.

But, as we learned, we cannot go very far into joy without encountering longsuffering, patience, tribulations, endurance, perseverance, etc. That’s what I meant by God snookered me. We shall now continue mining in that same shaft of the riches of the fruits of the spirit. The fruit we shall discuss is peace. I think I am prepared for this, though. I expect that if we study to learn how to have peace, we will also encounter a lot about when there is no peace.

Before we commence exploring this specific fruit though, I had a few thoughts on the fruits of the Spirit in general that I would like to share with you. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, our lives should display a pattern of progressive spiritual growth. The evidence of that growth is the fruit. The fruits of the Spirit should be developing in all of us to greater and greater degrees. But think about this:

If we are to produce fruit, that tells us something about ourselves and about the fruit. Let’s talk about the fruit first. Where does fruit grow? Or what does fruit grow on? Trees. Then, metaphorically, we are trees, are we not? We could take that idea and run a long way with it. As you can imagine, one could run all the way back to Genesis, chapter 2, with it, but let’s set it aside for now.

Besides on trees, where else does fruit grow? Think of grapes and certain berries. On vines, or more specifically on the branches of vines. And didn’t Jesus say: “I am the vine, ye are the branches.”

So fruit grows in orchards and vineyards, and couldn’t we also say that fruit grows in gardens? Because the Hebrew word can mean either an orchard or a garden. And since fruit grows in orchards, gardens and in vineyards, then it follows from that, that metaphorically people are trees and people are plants and people are twigs and branches and so forth.

And now let’s talk about ourselves in relationship to the fruit. If we are the trees or plants or branches of a vine that produce fruit, is it our fruit? In a sense, we could say that a pear tree “owns” the pears, but in the more common parlance or usage, we know that the fruits of the pear tree belong to the owner of the pear tree. After all, left to itself, the pear tree drops its fruit to the ground and the fruit turns rotten.

So who owns your fruit? God does, right? Our Father in heaven is the owner of the vineyard and the garden. He is the owner of the orchard. Let’s see if this holds up elsewhere. When Jesus spoke to the masses, he spoke to them in parables.

We are going to look at Matthew 21, verse 33. There is a parallel passage to this found in Luke 20, verse 9, but we will omit that.

Matthew 21:33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:

The word “householder” there means the owner of the estate. So who does the householder symbolize? God the Father, is that not correct?

34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.

Now flip over to Luke 13. This is not a trick question, just because the answer is so obvious. What kind of plantings do we usually find in vineyards? Vines, right? Did it ever occur to you that the Bible says that in a particular vineyard, there was a tree planted?

Luke 13:6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

This is the only case I could find in the Scriptures where a tree was planted in a vineyard, so I would think that lends special importance to this parable. But that’s all an aside. The point we are focusing on is who owns the fruit. And so in this parable, it says that “a certain man” was the owner of the vineyard; and we can now easily identify this certain man as the Father.

All of this goes to demonstrate once again the over-arching concept of the sovereignty of God in all things, in that we are the creatures. We are the creation. The Father is the Creator. We are the trees. He is the owner of the orchard. The fruit we produce does not belong to us. If it did, we would just drop it on the ground and it would benefit no one as it turned rotten.

Well, you could say that the rotten fruit benefits no one except ourselves because it would become as fertilizer in the soil. However, the true purpose of fruit is to benefit its owner, not the tree itself. So these are things to keep in mind as we continue to study the specific fruits of the spirit.

There are various fruits of the Spirit mentioned in a number of places in the New Testament. Not all the same fruits are mentioned in all the locations, but notice that peace is mentioned in practically any listing of several fruits. For example, we read here in …

Colossians 3: 12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Now let us look at the epistle of James.

James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

And let’s look next at …

Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Finally, Galatians 5 is where we find the longest list of fruits of the spirit—and yet, not all of them are listed here either. But again, we do find the virtue of peace is listed among them.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

All these virtues and others fall under the general term of godliness. Godliness is not optional for us as Christians. The pursuit of godliness is the work of a Christian. Speaking of the works of a believer, let me repeat something from last time because this applies to all the fruits, and it is critically important that we understand this.

If we do not understand this concept, we will find ourselves drifting back into the false doctrine of works whereby almost the entire population of Europe was held in bondage to the medieval church. In other words, people were enslaved by religion because they did not understand this doctrine correctly.

We seek the grace of all these fruits and we seek to practice these works in our daily lives, not in order to earn salvation, because salvation is not earned. It is a free gift. Instead, we practice the fruits because we are saved, not in order to get saved. We work at manifesting the fruits because doing so is pleasing to our heavenly Father. We want to please Him because He has already saved us for eternal life. And so godliness is part of our sanctification process.

I would guess that among the most used words in the world, are the words love and peace—no matter what the language. Because above everything else, people desire to love and to be loved.

Likewise, the desire for peace is also universal. I remember a couple of decades ago, back in my days of intense patriotic activities, I remember reading in a book called The Communese-English Dictionary.

It was all about how the communists redefine words as part of their strategy to transform a free nation into a communist, totalitarian nation. One of the word definitions that sticks out in my mind is that to the communist, peace does not simply mean the absence of war.

According to their perverted minds, peace refers only to the time when there is no longer any opposition to communism, whenever communism reigns supreme. How different is that from the fruit of the Spirit that the Bible defines as peace!

Our standard of truth is God’s Word. The Bible speaks of peace on three levels. By the way, we recognize that from time immemorial there have always been men who did not desire peace, men who are evil and who thrive on bringing death and destruction. So when we say that men desire peace, we understand that there are those exceptions, but in general men seek peace on three levels: 1) peace with God, 2) peace with other men, and 3) peace with ourselves.

Let’s start with some expansive definitions of both the common Hebrew and Greek words for peace. The Hebrew word for peace is found in the English word Jerusalem, and many of us know the Hebrew word for peace. It is shalom!

Here’s my Bibleworks software definition of shalom, which is taken from Strong’s, combined with some other Hebrew concordances.

H7965 shalowm {shaw-lome’} or shalom {shaw-lome’} 1) completeness, soundness, welfare, peace 1a) completeness (in number) 1b) safety, soundness (in body) 1c) welfare, health, prosperity 1d) peace, quiet, tranquility, contentment 1e) peace, friendship 1e1) of human relationships 1e2) with God especially in covenant relationship 1f) peace (from war) 1g) peace (as adjective)

Did you notice that I emphasized three levels of peace? Recognize them now in the definition of the Greek word for peace.

1) a state of national tranquility 1a) exemption from the rage and havoc of war 2) peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord 3) security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous) 4) of the Messiah’s peace 4a) the way that leads to peace (salvation) 5) of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is 6) the blessed state of devout and upright men after death

That last one, of course, is how we commonly refer to our dearly departed ones and we say “may he rest in peace.”

Do you know any girl or a woman named Irene? Irene is a beautiful name. It comes from the Greek word G1515 eirene {i-ray’-nay} Transliterating the Greek to English we find it is almost exactly the English name Irene. Now drop the “I” and what do you have? Rene or Renee, also derived from the Greek word for peace.

I say that Irene is beautiful name. You see, in the Bible, beauty is connected with peace. Paul paraphrases Isaiah when he writes in…

Romans 10:15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

So we have the three aspects of peace: peace with God, peace with other men and peace within ourselves. These are not mutually exclusive facets of the thing we call peace. They are all integral components of the one peace that comes from God. They overlap each other in that as one develops peace on one level, it automatically flows over into the other levels as well. It is all part of the peace that is a fruit of the Spirit.

And that is why ungodly men in the corridors of political power can never bring about true and lasting peace among men. Because if they themselves do not possess the peace that comes from God, how can they ever bring about peace among nations? (To be continued.)

Category: Teaching