by Spiros Zodhiates
"Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 1:3).
Peace is a word that is on every lip in this day of turmoil. Everybody professes to desire peace-even those whose responsibility it is to wage war. Said Napoleon on St. Helena, "The more I study the world, the more I am convinced of the inability of brute force to create anything durable."
Some persons believe that we can achieve the total absence of war through controlling our environment. But if they will take the trouble to glance through history, they will find that there were very few years in which man was able to enjoy peace on earth.
Paul's salutation to the Corinthians embodies more theology and realistic thinking than is usually realized. "Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." If we hope for peace in the world or in our heart without the acceptance of God's grace to overcome man's sinful human nature, we are doomed to disappointment. Peace will never come about by the efforts of unregenerate man. We may change environmental factors, but our own sinful hearts can only be changed by the Lord Jesus Christ, since He alone paid the penalty for sin. Peace in the universe, both in nature and among men, will be achieved only when two things happen:
First, when this age of grace closes. This will take place when every last man, woman, and child that is to believe, believes.
Second, when those who reject the Lord Jesus are no longer allowed to act against God. They will be forced to submit to His control. Paul tells us this will take place (1 Cor. 15:24-28) after the Second Coming of the Lord. His First Coming introduced the era of grace. His Second Coming will introduce the era of a changed universe, where peace will be the norm.
At this time, genuine peace exists only in the hearts and lives of those who have voluntarily accepted the grace of God. But their environment, both in man and nature, is full of war, disease, and death. These are the undesirable and inescapable consequences of that one little word that most men do not want to acknowledge-sin. Eliminate sin in the world and you will have universal peace. Subdue the sinful human nature of man through the grace of God, and you will have peace in the individual. This is possible only on an individual basis, as men here and there respond to God's proffered grace with a wholehearted "yes!"
Paul knew very well that universal peace was impossible in his day, so he made no fanciful and unrealistic wish to the Corinthians for peace in their time. Such peace would entail the absence of evil.
We must be realistic in our thinking about peace. It is impossible to achieve it on a worldwide scale. Nature is fallen and corrupt, and so is mankind. The age of grace is an age of storm, death, war, and destruction. James put it succinctly when he asked, "From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?" (James 4:1).
But in the midst of it all, Paul says to the Corinthians, there can be peace for those who have accepted the grace of God. Are you one of them?
From A Richer Life for You (First Corinthians 1) Published by AMG Publishers