The coronavirus crisis has led many people down a path of anxiety, fear, and despondency. Edwards was familiar with each of these maladies as he endured many challenging seasons throughout his life and ministry. One of those seasons is described in this article.
Imagine shepherding a congregation of people, only to find yourself expelled from the church. That is precisely what happened to Jonathan Edwards – America’s greatest intellectual. Within a month of his dismissal, Edwards pens a series of sermons – one of which is entitled The Peace Which Christ Gives His True Followers.
The Text: John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
That peace which Christ, when he died, left as a legacy to all his true saints, is very diverse from all those things which the men of this world bequeath to their children when they die.
It is not surprising that Edwards is inclined to turn to John 14:27, especially in light of the recent events that turned his world upside down. Three central propositions support the doctrine.
- Christ, at his death, made over the blessings of the new covenant to believers, as it were in a will or testament.
Edwards clearly shows how Christ promised not only peace but joy and grace and victory over the world. Indeed, we have a delightful inheritance.
- A great blessing that Christ, in his testament hath bequeathed to true followers, is his peace.
Two things are granted to believers in this monumental promise. First, Christ bestows true peace and comfort on every believer. Each believer experiences peace with God, peace with one another, and peace within themselves. Edwards notes, “By these means true saints are brought into a state of freedom from condemnation and all the curses of the law of God” (Rom. 8:34).
Second, Christ bestows his peace to his followers: “So Christ’s true disciples, though in the world they have tribulations, yet in God they have peace.”
- This legacy of Christ to his true disciples is very diverse from all that the men of the world ever leave to their children when they die.
Edwards assures believers that Christ’s peace differs from worldly pleasures in four specific ways.
- Christ’s peace is a reasonable peace and rest of soul.
- Christ’s peace is a virtuous and holy peace.
- Christ’s peace infinitely differs from the world in that it is unfailing and eternal peace.
Edwards urges believers to cling to Christ and make good use of the peace he gives so freely. He urges unbelievers to receive the free offer of Christ or suffer the temporal and eternal consequences: “As long as you continue to reject those offers and invitations of Christ, and continue in a Christless condition, you never will enjoy any true peace or comfort; but in whatever circumstances you are, you will be miserable.”
Edward’s choice of John 14:27 is certainly no surprise. His resolute handling of the text is no less bewildering, given his gospel-centered track-record as a pastor. The remarkable thing about this sermon is that Edwards forges into the future, unhindered by life-altering circumstances. This is an example of a Christ-exalting hope and a Christ-satisfied faith!
Hearken, therefore, to the friendly counsel that is given you this day: turn your feet into the way of peace; forsake the foolish and live. Forsake those things which are no other than the devil’s baits, and seek after this excellent peace and rest of Jesus Christ, that peace of God which passes all understanding.