The Moore American

February 5, 2014

God’s peace is imperative

By Kenny Dickenson
The Moore American

MOORE — Welcome and good morning to all of our friends. Thank you for joining us today, Moore American readers.

I know that in the early months of 2014 you’ve paused for some personal examination retrospectively, personally and spiritually. Reaching for your outward goals may be worthy, but it is far more important to reach for something special within.

There is one precious inward gem that we all should strive for in this new year. It’s greater than money, fame, even health. It’s peace.

Peace is something we develop gradually through good and difficult times. The apostle Paul says that peace the Lord gives is a peace “passeth all understanding” (Php. 4:7). That’s the kind of peace I want. I know you do, too.

For the first month of 2014, let’s pause together to emphasize this powerful element. There are few stories that illustrate the power of peace more than the story of an old-time songwriter named Horatio G. Spafford.

In 1873, Horatio G. Spafford wrote one of the most beautiful gospel hymns ever written. When I’ve considered the words of his great hymn through the years, I’ve often thought Spafford must have been well-acquainted with difficulties.

It would be many years after first singing his hymn that I would learn of his agony.

In 1870, Spafford and his wife, Anna, lost their only son to pneumonia. He was just four years old.

A year later, tragedy struck again as Spafford, his wife and their four daughters lost most of their income in the great fire of Chicago. They held their lives together for the next couple of years, and in 1873 decided to take a trip to England to re-energize them.

Spafford stayed back in Chicago a few days to attend to some urgent business, and he sent his wife and daughters on ahead.

Halfway across the Atlantic on their voyage, an English vessel struck their ship, and it went down in less than 15 minutes. Spafford’s wife survived, incredibly, but the four daughters – Annie, Bessie, Maggie and Tanetta — did not.

H.G. Spafford immediately boarded a ship to join his devastated wife in Whales.

As he sailed, he spent many difficult hours on the deck of that ship grieving over his great loss. It is said that when the ship came to the approximate place where the girls went down, Spafford felt a rare comfort and peace. A daughter who would be born later, Bertha Spafford-Vesser, said that it was on that journey that her father wrote his greatest hymn.

Somewhere during that heartbreaking voyage, Spafford retired from the deck to his chamber and sat down tearfully to pen the great words to this great poem.

“When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea-billows roll, Whatever my lot, Thou haste me to say, “It is well, it is well with my soul”

Can we turn to the scriptures and find out how one can have that inner peace in one’s life? Let’s go first to Rom. 15:33 “Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.”

2 Cor. 13:11 “Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.”

Col. 3:15 “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”

Don’t you want to be in that one body where this peace is?

There is a great lesson that can be learned from these scriptures. Did you notice that the apostle Paul wrote these epistles to Christians? First to the church of Rome (Rom. 1:7), church in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:1-2) and the church in Colossae (Col. 1:1-2).

The name Christian is an honorable name (Jas. 2:7). This is why Paul persuaded people to be Christians (Ac. 26:28). The church is the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:26-27), and the bride rejoices to honor the name of her husband by wearing His name alone. 

Whatever the new testament meant when it was written is still what it means today.

We may see the Word of God through our prejudiced and biased eyes but the truth does not change (Jo. 17:17).

Perhaps the most unpleasant doctrine of the Bible is that of teaching that there is but one body, one church, which God recognizes and accepts. We may wish it were some other way but wishing will not make it so.

We are not inclined to estrange people nor insult them. On the other hand, we do not have the permission to legislate for God. When He has spoken, it must be well with our soul as found in Jer. 38:20, “the voice of the Lord, which I speak unto thee: so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul”.

There is “but one body” (1 Cor. 12:20). Individuals enter this one body (1 Cor. 12:13) by believing (Jo. 8:24), repenting (Ac. 3:19), confessing (Ac. 8:37) and being immersed (Ac. 8:35-38; Matt. 28:18-20). 

Christ is understood to be the savior of the body, the church in Eph. 5:23-25. It is not a matter of getting in the church and consequently Christ will save you, but, when you are saved, Christ adds you to his church (Ac. 2:47).

Obviously, He does not add you to some church instituted by man and governed by human creeds and regulations.