Call to Worship May 13 2018
Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke, J.C. Ryle Luke 12:49-59
“We learn, for another thing, from these verses — how useless it is to expect universal peace and harmony from the preaching of the Gospel. The disciples, like most Jews of their day, were probably expecting the Messiah’s kingdom immediately to appear. They thought the time was at hand when the wolf would lie down with the lamb, and men would no longer not hurt or destroy. (Isaiah 11:9.) Our Lord saw what was in their hearts, and checked their untimely expectations with a striking saying, “Do you think that I have come to send peace on earth? I tell you, No — but rather division.”
There is something at first sight very startling in this saying. It seems hard to reconcile it with the song of angels, which spoke of “peace on earth” as the companion of Christ’s Gospel. (Luke 2:14.) Yet as startling as the saying sounds — it is one which facts have proved to be literally true.
Peace is undoubtedly the result of the Gospel wherever it is believed and received. But wherever there are hearers of the Gospel who are hardened, impenitent, and determined to have their sins — the very message of peace, becomes the cause of division! Those who live after the flesh — will hate those who live after the Spirit. Those who are resolved to live for the world — will always act wickedly towards those who are resolved to serve Christ.
We may lament this state of things, but we cannot prevent it. Grace and nature can no more mix together — than oil and water. So long as men are disagreed upon first principles in religion — there can be no real cordiality between them. So long as some men are converted and some are unconverted — there can be no true peace.
Let us beware of unscriptural expectations. If we expect to see people of one heart and one mind, before they are converted — then we shall continually be disappointed.
Thousands of well-meaning people now-a-days are continually crying out for more “unity” among Christians. To attain this, they are ready to sacrifice almost anything, and to throw overboard even sound doctrine — if, by so doing, they can secure peace.
Such people would do well to remember that even gold may be bought too dearly; and that peace is useless — if it is purchased at the expense of truth. Surely they have forgotten the words of Christ, “I came not to send peace, but division.”
Let us never be moved by those who charge the Gospel with being the cause of strife and divisions upon earth. Such men only show their ignorance, when they talk in this way. It is not the Gospel which is to blame — but the corrupt heart of man! It is not God’s glorious remedy which is in fault — but the diseased nature of Adam’s race, which, like a self-willed child, refuses the medicine provided for its cure!
So long as some men and women will not repent and believe, and some will — there must needs be division. To be surprised at it, is the height of folly. The very existence of division — is one proof of Christ’s foresight, and of the truth of Christianity.
Let us thank God that a time is coming when there shall be no more divisions on earth, but all shall be of one mind. That time shall be when Jesus, the Prince of Peace, comes again in person, and puts down every enemy under His feet. When Satan is bound, when the wicked are separated from the righteous, and cast down to their own place — then, and not until then, will there be perfect peace. For that blessed time — let us wait, and watch and pray. The night is far spent. The day is at hand. Our divisions are only for a little season — but our peace shall endure to eternity.”