Peace: False and True
By William W. Fereday
William W. Fereday was born in England in 1863, was saved at 16 and almost immediately started to preach. He spent the whole of his life in the study and exposition of the Scripture of Truth and traveled extensively and spent a considerable time in Scotland and the continent of Europe. He was a faithful expositor of the Word of God. He lived for many years in Rothesay, Scotland, and the last five years of his life at Machermore Eventide Home, Scotland, from where he went to be with the Lord at the age of 96. (Adapted from a preface by A. M. S. Gooding)
Found in the July 1916 issue of "Our Hope." A monthly magazine devoted to Bible Study, especially the Prophetic Word. A. C. Gaebelein, editor. New York City
"They have healed the hurt of My people slightly, saying, Peace, Peace, when there is no peace."-Jeremiah 6:14.
"And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh."-Ephesians 2:17.
Two preachers of peace are seeking to gain the attention of the children of men. Both are in earnest, and in each case the preaching is intended to produce eternal results. These preachers are Satan and Christ. Neither is, of course, in person upon the earth speaking with audible voice. Both make their appeal to men by means of human instruments. There are thus two orders of preachers amongst us, both energized by supernatural power, and both preaching peace to men. Hell energizes the one; Heaven energizes the other. The one order proclaims a false peace - a peace resting upon rotten foundations, and from which there must sooner or later come an awful awakening; the other proclaims a true peace - a peace founded upon the immutable basis of the Saviour's atoning blood.
Let me remind you of a remarkable parable which once came from the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ. You will find it in Luke 11:21-22. "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace; but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armor wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils." The strong man here is Satan; the stronger than he is Christ Himself. The strong man's palace is this world; and his goods are the men and women who live therein. It is Satan's policy to keep these in peace, to lull them to sleep, so that serious thoughts may never disturb their minds. As 1 John 5:19 puts it: "The whole world lieth in wickedness." He has his arguments for all classes and for all ages, and all designed to keep souls in a state of unconcern and death. Suppose a young person becomes awakened to the great realities of God and eternity. Satan at once preaches peace by saying, "Time enough yet. Life is before you. Don't spoil your pleasures by serious thoughts." Suppose a middle-aged man to be aroused, again comes along the destroyer with the suggestion that now is the time to make money, and the man who fills his head with solemn considerations will fall back in the commercial struggle. "Time enough yet" is once more the text. Or suppose a religious person to become exercised as to whether all is well for eternity, Satan at once protests that one so morally excellent, and so devoutly religious, can have nothing to fear, for all must be well. Yet the wise man has said: "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Prov. 14:12). The man or woman who is trusting in religion or morality for salvation is building upon sand. Woe to them if they heed the lulling voice saying, "Peace, Peace," when indeed there is no peace.
Hezekiah says in Isa. 28:17, "Behold, for peace I had great bitterness." It is a mercy from God when a false peace is smashed up. The "great bitterness" which results is not pleasant, but it is nevertheless the way to God. See Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9:9 three whole days unable to eat and drink. When a man goes off his food thus his mind must surely be deeply agitated. The fact is, Saul had made the fearful discovery that with all his blamelessness of life and his religious zeal he was at heart an enemy of God and His Son. The best man of his time saw himself to be "the chief of sinners!" Oh, the bitterness of it? Have we been in the depths thus?
Our first text thus speaks of a false peace; our second tells us of a true peace, proclaimed by the Christ of God. "He came and preached peace," says the apostle, "to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh." He is manifestly speaking of Christ in resurrection. But what lies behind resurrection? Death. Christ has been down into death, and this on behalf of sinners. At Calvary the storm of divine judgment broke upon His holy head. All the waves and billows of God's wrath rolled over Him. But the storm has spent itself now; sunshine has come, and the Christ who died is alive again from amongst the dead, and glorified on high. The God of peace has brought back from the tomb the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the everlasting covenant. He is now righteously able to preach peace to men everywhere. The peace He proclaims is not a mere soporific for the conscience, but the blessed knowledge that every question has been equitably settled by His atoning blood, and that, in consequence, every storm cloud has been dispelled forever. "He is our peace," says the apostle. The very fact that He is now accepted in heaven is the public proof that the horizon Godward has been cleared once and for all for those who believe in His name.
Hence the absurdity of bidding a man make his peace with God. The thing is impossible. No man can of himself get rid of a single sin. But in truth there is no peace to make. Christ has "made peace through the blood of His cross" (Col. 1:20), and this He now proclaims to all in the Gospel by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, He "was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 4:25, 5:l).
Would you have peace with God? It is good to be at peace with our fellow-creatures, to feel as we walk up and down the street that there is no enmity between ourselves and a single living soul; but it is better far to be at peace with our God. This happy position may be realized today by all who will humble themselves at the divine feet, and consent to be saved by grace alone.