Preserved and Perfected by the God of Peace and Power

We feel constrained to begin the year with a benediction, and it shall be one of the most beautiful and confidence-producing that the Holy Scriptures contain: —

"Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (Hebrews 13:20-21).

No servant of the Lord ever lived so stormy and strenuous a life as Paul the apostle. Such were the persecutions that he suffered and the burdens that he bore, that he said, "I die daily." There was no relief, no relaxation for him in the conflict in which he was involved as he faced the world, for neither the devil nor men would endure his brave preaching of Christ and Him crucified, and he could do no other, for the love of Christ — the greatest power that ever entered a human life — constrained him. His life was a continuous day and night warfare in which no quarter was given and no armistice proclaimed. Yet he had a refuge, he knew THE GOD OF PEACE. It is the fact that this title is given to God here, that is one of the proofs that Paul was the writer of this Epistle, for the other New Testament writers who lived, we should judge, easier lives than he did, do not use it, while in five other places Paul does; it seems to have been a joy and delight to Him to invoke God in this character on behalf of the saints, and it must have been because He knew so well the strength and support that comes from the presence of the God of Peace.

To the Roman, Corinthian and Philippian saints he wrote of God as the God of peace, and he seems to have exulted in the thought that in all their trials He would be with them, and what more could they have desired? But for these Hebrew Christians he was specially solicitous, for they were being greatly harried, and were in much conflict, and were inclined to grow discouraged and weary. And so in his benediction he enlarges upon what the God of peace had done and still would do for them, and there is great cheer in his words for us.

Many today are discouraged, the pressure in every way is great, and faith and love seem to be on the wane. Certainly as we look back on the past we marvel at the mercy that has brought us hitherto, many a time we faced the future with fear, yet God did not fail, nor will He; and as we face it again as a New Year begins, our faith may take a fresh hold of the God of peace, and we may commit our future into His hands with confidence, and rest in Him. If we make our requests known to Him with thanksgiving, His peace will keep us; if we give our thoughts to things holy and true, He Himself will walk with us. Troubled. Christian, you may have the God of peace as your daily companion, and may be without fear, for that means that though the storm rages around you, your heart may be at rest, for He keeps in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed upon Him, because be trusts in Him.

But what has the God of peace done? He BROUGHT AGAIN FROM THE DEAD OUR LORD JESUS. Then the God of peace is also the God of power, for He has triumphed over death, and death is the greatest force that ever men knew. We have, generally speaking, more confidence in a person who possesses power, especially if we know that such a person has an interest in us. But all power is with God, and He uses His power in infinite wisdom and love on our behalf. The power of God is always on our behalf, for God is for us, He does not always use His power to still the storm for us, but to keep us quiet and restful in it, which is a greater triumph. The greatest foe, death, has been defeated, and OUR LORD JESUS has been raised up out of it. Mark His title here, he is our Lord Jesus, the Lamb who died for us is our Lord. When we see this, how glad we are to submit to His authority, for He exercises it in perfect love, and in submission to His will we find rest to our souls.

And our Lord Jesus is THAT GREAT SHEPHERD OF THE SHEEP. Here is preservation for us, for He who died to save us, now lives: to hold us in everlasting security. As the Good Shepherd He made the greatest sacrifice for us and reached us when we were lying under the power of death and Satan, and as the great Shepherd He will lead us safely into "the house of the Lord for ever," for that is our goal, and there we must dwell, even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death to reach it, for the Lord is our Shepherd.

It was through THE BLOOD OF THE EVERLASTING COVENANT that our Lord Jesus was brought again from the dead. That everlasting Covenant is the will of God for our blessing No man's will that is not against the public good, and that had been sealed and signed by him when in a sane mind can be revoked. The everlasting Covenant is the will of the God of peace, His will for blessing it has been sealed by the blood of Jesus, and it demanded that He who died to bring it into force should be raised up to execute it. He is the great Administrator of the will of God. But let us understand the force of it all. The God of peace must do everything in perfect righteousness, for there could be no peace apart from righteousness, and it is in righteousness that He has raised up our Lord Jesus, who has redeemed us by His blood, and now in perfect righteousness on the same basis — the precious blood — He can take us in hand, to bring us into entire accord with His will that covenanted our blessing before ever we had being.

And what is it that the God of peace proposes to do for us from this time onward? To MAKE YOU PERFECT IN EVERY GOOD WORK TO DO HIS WILL. And what a perfection this will be if it is His work. We may have our standards, our notions as to what we should like to be; let us drop them, and yield ourselves wholly to God. He will patiently work in us with His own standard in view, which is conformity to Christ. Let us not be afraid of the will of God. The natural thought of our hearts before we knew the God of peace was that His will must be against us, but it is not so. God's will is good, perfect, acceptable, and so we prove it to be when we present our bodies to Him that our lives may be moulded by His grace. The will of God is for us, and against everything that could be against us. The blood of the Covenant is the proof of this. He brings good works out of us by working in us. What is external is the result of what is internal, He would have our hearts, our secret inward life pleasing to Himself, for He desires truth in the inward parts, and it is His work to produce the motives within us that are well pleasing to Him. And is this possible? Back to our memories come those words that sounded from the Father's lips, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." May we also be well-pleasing to God. Yes, we may, through Jesus Christ our Lord, for thus our benediction continues. WORKING IN YOU THAT WHICH IS WELL-PLEASING IN HIS SIGHT, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST.

This New Year must be marked by good works, and they must be the fruit of the life within, the life of Jesus made manifest in our mortal flesh, and as we live within the compass of our benediction, we shall know what the PEACE of God is and His POWER, we shall be PRESERVED by the Great Shepherd whose flock we are, and PERFECTED by the will of God, through Jesus Christ TO WHOM BE GLORY FOR EVER AND EVER. AMEN.