My Hope for Peace
by: Barbara Hawkins RN
If you have questions or comments regarding what I have written, you are welcome to email me at Bghawkins8@comcast.net. Please put “Kid Talk Peace” in the subject line. I will try to respond in a helpful manner. Thank you.
The idea of Jesus as the Savior and Son of God can be mocked, not taken seriously, or even be a real frustration to people. His name may be used by some like a swear word but bring peace, comfort, and hope to others. The most important decisions we will make in our lives are not ones such as: Where will I live? What should I do to make a living? Should I marry? The most important decisions we make in life are: Who is Jesus Christ and who is He to me? For those decisions will greatly impact one’s life on earth and determine one’s eternity.
When a paralyzed man was lowered by friends (through a hole chopped in a roof) to Jesus for a healing – “seeing their faith, He said, ‘Friend your sins are forgiven you.’ And the scribes and Pharisees began to reason saying, ‘Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ But Jesus aware of their reasonings, answered and said to them, ‘Why are you reasoning in your hearts? Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins have been forgiven you,’ or to say ‘Rise up and walk’? but in order that you may know the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, rise, and take up your stretcher and go home.’ And at once he took up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God.” (Luke 5:19-25)
The prophecy in Dan. 7:13-14 is regarding the “Son of Man”– “And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and to Him was given dominion, glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him.” If I wrong someone named Ruth, it would be logical that Ruth would be the person who has the right/authority to forgive me. It would seem strange, illogical if someone unknown to either of us, said they forgave my wrong, my sin against Ruth. What right/authority would they have to do that? But Jesus did that type of thing in the account in Luke. Jesus was claiming the authority to do what only God had authority to do and the scribes and Pharisees knew that. There are many places in the New Testament (NT) where Jesus is indicated to be God. (Titus 2:13, John 1:1-14, Hebrews 1:8, etc.)
Some malign the Bible and say it has been changed over time. This is not true. The best translators of the Bible refer to the oldest manuscripts to do their translations. According to Josh McDowell in More Than a Carpenter (Tyndale House Publishes, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois, 1977, page 74), “More than twenty thousand copies of New Testament manuscripts are in existence as of 2009” and less than 700 of the Iliad, which is “second to the New Testament in manuscript authority.” McDowell quotes Sir Frederic Kenyon who was a former director and principal librarian at the British Museum and his authority on ancient manuscripts was second to none. Regarding the New Testament Sir Kenyon concluded: “The interval then between the dates of the original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed.”
Though the New Testament text we have is what was written originally, people might doubt its factual basis. There are several historical items that help me to rest in the authority of the NT. I will briefly summarize a few.
There were numerous Old Testament Prophesies Jesus fulfilled (where the Messiah was to be born, His lineage, His rejection, means of death, type of burial, etc.). There are too many prophecies fulfilled to be statistically possible by chance alone. After the death of Jesus, his disciples were fearful and at least some disciples returned to their prior occupation as fishermen. After His resurrection He appeared to the disciples over a period of 40 days. Of Jesus’ closest disciples (after Judas killed himself), all 11 endured persecution for their message of Jesus as the risen from the dead/resurrected Messiah, God in the flesh. 10 of the 11 were historically reported to have died martyrs’ deaths. People sometimes die for untrue beliefs when they think the beliefs are true. But 10 people are not going to be willing to die for something they know to be a lie.
Additionally, people do not have group hallucinations. The 11 of them (and more than 500 others) did not have group hallucinations. Instead over a period of many days they saw the resurrected Jesus as He proved who He was by overcoming death and coming back to life.
Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)
C.S. Lewis wrote, “Christ says that He is ‘humble and meek’ and we believe Him not noticing that, if He were merely a man, humility and meekness are the very last characteristics we could attribute to some of His sayings. I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon, or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” (Mere Christianity, New York: Macmillan,1960, pp 40-41)
Personally, I believe all of us have “issues.” Some people more than others, but none of us are perfect. All of us have likely been victimized, by many people, who have done us wrong. And all of us have victimized at least one other person – done someone wrong. We have been unkind to, or selfish with, and/or dishonest to someone at least once. If you are like me, you have messed up, done wrong to others a number of times. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Biblically “Sin” can be defined as “to miss the mark” or “to do or go wrong” or “an offense.” Biblically death can be defined “the death of the body with implied idea of future misery in hell.” Romans 8:5-8 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the flesh, but those who are according to the spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Biblically “flesh” can be defined as “the sensuous nature of man.” Romans 10:9,10 “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
As a teenager, I definitely had doubts and confusion about Christianity, wondering if it was a Santa Claus type of concept. I don’t think I ever heard the message of salvation until I went to college. When I talked to my mom about doubts, she presented to me the idea of – “Why would the disciples be willing to die for a lie?” That seemed to have some validity as an argument for the truth of who Jesus was. When the “message of salvation” was explained to me, that I needed to confess my sins, turn from them, and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. I could easily admit to God I had done wrong/sinned. However, the praying to receive Him as Lord was intimidating. I was reluctant to do what I was concerned might be giving too much control to a God I was not sure I could trust.
Someone presented what Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-11 and that had an impact on me. Verses 9- 11 say, “what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” I prayed to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, but I still had some apprehension. Life truly has challenges, but it will whether we are believers in Jesus or not. But I have been greatly blessed to have Jesus and His believers to help me walk through some extremely painful, difficult times. Significant challenges/concerns continue in my life. I am so grateful that as I hold on to the Lord, He will help me learn, grow and then help others who are having challenges. As recorded in John 16:33 Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” If living in this world is only about having food to eat, a place to live, comfort, entertainment, physical desires met, that seems pretty shallow. I am grateful there is an all-powerful, all knowing, present everywhere God who has given me free will and wants to be involved in my life. He is not looking for perfection, but for relationship and minds and hearts willing to seek Him, be willing to yield to Him and the fullness of life, truth, strength, wisdom He offers us.
Praying the prayer of salvation is the huge first step in building a relationship with God. Imagine having an amazingly wise, very influential friend or relative who is important to us, and sincerely interested in having a relationship with us. If we are smart, we will pursue a close relationship with that person. That requires spending time with that person and striving to express honestly what is going on in our lives, living in the truth. It also involves trying to understand their heart, seeking their wisdom, and listening. God wants a relationship with us and is all-powerful and all knowing. Pursuing a close relationship with Him is truly wise – and He is always available.
Reading and applying what we learn in the Bible/the Word is very important. There is an acrostic which may seem a bit simplistic, but I find to be true. The Bible contains Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. Understanding the Word can be challenging if not familiar with it. I have done Precept Bible studies for years to help me and think they are very good at promoting a better appreciation and comprehension of the Word. I understand Bible Study Fellowship is also good. One needs to be careful which Bible translation they read and which Bible study they join. According to Preceptaustin.org, the New American Standard and English Standard Version of the Bible are among the “more literal, word for word translations.” The New International Version of the Bible, is a “thought-for-thought… translation which can be helpful for new believers.” If a particular group has only one/their “version” of the Bible they allow, that group is very possibly inclined to have teaching that distorts the Word. The Word says in Hebrews 10:25 says “let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another...” Finding a good Bible believing church is important for receiving good teaching, and finding a place to make friends, get encouragement and prayer, and give encouragement to others in need of it. It would also be a place that offers the message of salvation and seriously encourages people to have a personal relationship with the God. I have so appreciated the friends that I have made who have helped me through tough times and sometimes helped me see different ways of dealing with people and issues. Those are almost always believers in the Lord Jesus.
Life will have challenges but through the Lord we can live as overcomers and have more peace. 1 John 5:4 “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.” John 14:27 (Jesus speaking) “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” Seeking the Lord and His will for our lives will help us to live as overcomers (even in times that challenge us) and give us more peace. Indeed, it is the wisest and most eternally important thing we can do with our lives.