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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Romans 15:33 – Peace the outcome of dedication

It is likely that the last verse of Romans 15 closes the section of the letter that began in Romans 12:1 (chapter 16 is mainly about personal greetings). Paul began this section by instructing his readers to be dedicated to the Lord; then he explained various ways in which they could do so; now he assures them that they could know the presence of the God of peace. It is not hard to deduce that he is saying that those dedicated to God will know this peace.
Thinking about promised peace can lead some to ask if we can have peace in all situations. The answer from the Bible is that we can, even in the most difficult of conditions that we encounter. We will not get peace from looking at the circumstances, but from reminding ourselves that changed circumstances don’t mean that God has changed in his character. He is always working things for our good, which means that we can have peace even when our minds are puzzled and our emotions are disturbed.
This may seem impossible to those who don’t understand how God is able to do this in the lives of his people. Perhaps the best known example of having such peace is given by the psalmist when he sees the Lord as his shepherd even when going through the valley of the shadow of death. In the darkest of situations the Holy Spirit can convey peace to us and he often does this by causing us to think about God’s promises concerning his great purposes of blessing for his people. So we should make it our aim to know as many of God’s promises as we can.
We can know peace by using our minds to control our feelings. A biblical passage that makes this clear is Paul’s words in Philippians 4:8-9: ‘Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.’ Those verses make clear that if we think about inappropriate things we will not have God’s peace.

Another verse that links peace with a proper use of the mind is Isaiah 26:3: ‘You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.’ The thrust of that verse is obvious. In order to know peace in our souls we have to think about God. There are many things about him to focus on – his power, his wisdom, his promises, his purpose. It is good to let our minds dwell on the God who has made peace through his Son and who gives peace by his Spirit.

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