THE ABSOLUTE PEACE AND ASSURANCE THAT COMES FROM KNOWING GOD
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
29 OCTOBER 1995
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
2 Timothy 4:6-22
1 John 4:18
When we talk about having the absolute peace and assurance that comes from knowing God, we are not talking about knowing about God, or even about believing in Him.
Many people know about God, and many others believe in Him, but still lack this absolute peace and assurance.
They still have fears.
So what's the difference?
This absolute peace and assurance only comes to our hearts and souls when we come to know the Lord our God in a personal way, as we come to know a friend, and even as we know members of our own family, in whom we have absolute trust.
We have fear, because we lack the assurance of God's perfect love, just as we are told in 1 John 4:18.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (NASU)
We lack peace because we don't trust fully in God's promises of a peaceful kingdom to come.
With all the evil in the world around us, we need to have the faith and hope to trust that our efforts to eliminate pain and suffering in this world can and will be achieved according to the promises of God, just as Isaiah told us (Isaiah 11:6-9).
6. And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the kid,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them.
7. Also the cow and the bear will graze;
Their young will lie down together;
And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8. And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den.
9. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
As the waters cover the sea.
God tells us through Isaiah why and when this peace will come.
It will come when the earth is full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
This is why we need to combine our work for peace with the knowledge of the Lord, and the understanding that true peace must include all peoples, all animals, and the environment.
Today, we're going to look at two people in the Bible who had this absolute peace and assurance, even though there were times in their lives when they acted otherwise.
The first is David, and we will see his expression of this faith in Psalm 65:1-13.
The second person is Paul, as he expresses his faith to Timothy in his second letter to him, 2 Timothy 4:6-22.
David sings forth from his heart and says (Psalm 65:1-13),
1. There will be silence before Thee, and praise in Zion, O God;
And to Thee the vow will be performed.
2. O Thou who dost hear prayer,
To Thee all men come.
In the simplicity of David's own faith, he sees the corruption of the people of Israel coming to an end, with all people coming back to God, for only He answers prayer.
And as David looks at the corruption around him, he sees the difference between a true believer's sins and those of the non-believers.
3. Iniquities prevail against me;
As for our transgressions, Thou dost forgive them.
4. How blessed is the one whom Thou dost choose, and bring near to Thee,
To dwell in Thy courts.
We will be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house,
Thy holy temple.
Do you see Davidís absolute peace and assurance, and that he counts himself among the saved even though he has committed some very serious sins?
He considers himself blessed by God.
5. By awesome deeds Thou dost answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation,
Thou who art the trust of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest sea;
6. Who dost establish the mountains by His strength,
Being girded with might;
7. Who dost still the roaring of the seas,
The roaring of their waves,
And the tumult of the peoples.
8. And they who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Thy signs;
Thou dost make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy.
We need to remember that people, animals, and the environment are blessed in the presence of the Lord.
The very creation process, and the way God maintains it, leaves even people who don't know Him in awe of His mighty works.
When we come to know God in a personal way, how much greater the peace and assurance we have just because of what we see around us.
Every day shines forth with His glory.
We don't seem to worry very much about whether or not we will have oxygen in the air to breathe, or whether we will be able to have water to drink.
We just seem to take such matters for granted. We have the assurance that these things will be here for the remainder of today and for tomorrow, and so on.
Thus we have a peace of mind about such things.
How much more should we have such peace and assurance about our life with God, for He created all these other things in which we have this peace and assurance.
9. Thou dost visit the earth, and cause it to overflow;
Thou dost greatly enrich it;
The stream of God is full of water;
Thou dost prepare their grain, for thus Thou dost prepare the earth.
10. Thou dost water its furrows abundantly;
Thou dost settle its ridges;
Thou dost soften it with showers;
Thou dost bless its growth.
11. Thou hast crowned the year with Thy bounty,
And Thy paths drip with fatness.
12. The pastures of the wilderness drip,
And the hills gird themselves with rejoicing.
13. The meadows are clothed with flocks,
And the valleys are covered with grain;
They shout for joy, yes, they sing.
Itís as though the whole earth shouts with joy and sings that our God is with us and gives us all that we need.
In earlier days, David used to take care of his family's flocks.
Perhaps it was there that he first began to see the mighty works of God in all aspects of His creation, and come to have such a strong faith.
Now let's take a look at the peace and assurance that is upon Paul's heart (2 Timothy 4:6-22), even when he knows that he will shortly be put to death.
6. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.
7. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;
8. in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
Do you see the peace and assurance that Paul has?
He may not want to be killed by the Romans, but he knows without a doubt that they can only kill his body, and that once freed from this confinement, he will be with the Lord forevermore.
But before he departs, he still wants to see Timothy again.
9. Make every effort to come to me soon;
10. for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.
11. Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.
There was a time when Paul didn't want Mark with him; but now, as he learns of Markís growth with the Lord, he desires to see him again.
Formerly, Paul couldn't seem to find a place for Mark in the ministry, but now he considers him useful.
Never count anyone out, just because they start out on the wrong foot.
12. But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.
13. When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments.
What importance this cloak had or what was written in the books and upon the parchments is unknown, but they must have been important to Paulís ministry which he was going to entrust to Timothy and possibly to Mark.
Perhaps these may have prompted Mark to write his Gospel.
But then Paul offers a serious caution.
14. Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.
15. Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.
Notice that Paul doesn't condemn Alexander, but leaves him in the hands of the Lord.
Remember that at first Paul vigorously opposed the Christians, and God repaid him by making him into an apostle.
Even though Alexander was probably a maker of idols, and was not likely to repent, as did Paul, he nevertheless leaves him to the Lord.
Paul has the assurance that the Lord will do the right thing. He doesn't have to do anything himself; thus, he won't be troubling himself over this matter, for it is in the hands of God.
16. At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them.
But at the same time that he speaks against Alexander, and believes that the Lord will punish him, he also acknowledges the unfaithful acts of many who were formerly with him, and he still prays for them.
He knows they believe, but they are weak in their faith.
But even if people desert us, we can be assured that God will not do so.
17. But the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me, in order that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was delivered out of the lion's mouth.
18. The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
The earth was full of a great many evil people and their deeds; how is it, then, that God can deliver him from so many situations?
He can take him away from such evil people.
He can take him home.
Thus, Paul says farewell:
19. Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.
20. Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus.
21. Make every effort to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, also Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren.
22. The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.
Paul still feels lonely at times, and he doesn't like being a prisoner in chains; but he knows the Lord is with Him.
And he knows that when the Lord considers it the right time to bring him home, the Lord will allow him to be killed; but in the meantime, Paul knows that the Lord will preserve him.
We all should have this same peace of mind and the assurance of our everlasting life with the Lord in heaven.
Do you have it?
I pray so!
If not, reach out to God and ask Him. If you truly want to serve Him, your prayer will be answered.
And with this peace and assurance go forth as God's peacemaking children, bringing peace to the world around us, to every human, to every animal, and to the environment.
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