Peace Within Thy Walls

Cecil B. Douthitt

In the city of Jerusalem the tabernacle finally was stationed and later the temple was built there by David's son Solomon. There the Jewish sacrifices were offered and their feasts observed. There, God recorded his name and promised to meet with the Israelites.

No other place on earth was so dear to David's heart as the house of God, the place of worship. He rejoiced at the arrival of the appointed time for worship. "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go unto the house of Jehovah." (Ps. 122:1). Unto him a day there was better than a thousand elsewhere. "For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness." (Ps, 84:10) He prayed for the opportunity to dwell there. "One thing have I asked of Jehovah, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of Jehovah all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of Jehovah, and to inquire in his temple." (Ps. 27:4) He expressed in song God's love for the place of worship. "Jehovah loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God." (Ps. 87:2, 3)

But that tabernacle and temple were types of the church, and both were furnished largely with figures of things to come. Those types and shadows of which David sang find their reality and substance in the church of our Lord, which is now the house of God, and which is composed of men and women as living stones in this holy temple.

Moreover, David was a prophet and God had sworn with an oath unto him that of the fruit of his loins he would set one upon his throne, and David foreseeing this made many prophetic utterances concerning the church over which his Son and Lord would reign supreme.

In view of the prophetic nature of many of the Psalms of David we do not wonder that he prayed: "Peace be within thy walls." (Ps. 122:7) Peace is as precious in the house of God today as it was in the temple of old. It is as essential to the purpose and growth of the church as it has ever been to the continued success of any nation, family, or individual.

Where there is peace there is tranquility of mind, amicable relations among people, and harmony between persons. It is the very opposite of confusion, strife, and division.

Peace is a state to be sought, followed after, and pursued. Jesus gave the specific order: "Be at peace one with another." (Mk. 9:50) The same injunction was enlarged upon by the inspired Paul: "If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men." (Rom. 12:18) "So then let us follow after things which make for peace," (Rom. 14:19) He that would "follow after peace with all men" has the promise of a happier life and better days: "He that would love life and see good days…let him seek peace and pursue it." (I Pet. 3:11)

Peace has not always prevailed in the churches. The church at Corinth at one time became the very essence of discord and confusion. The contentions among them were pointed out by Paul as evidence of carnality, and after the manner of men, they were actually suing one another, for which they were firmly rebuked. Their factious spirit had culminated in a desecration of the Lord's Supper, and the congregation could no longer observe it in a decent manner. Peace did not exist there, The things they had followed after caused strife and confusion, not peace.

Some things are pursued and followed after today, which do not "make for peace." A truce or a granting of mutual concessions with sin and error never brought peace to any group of Christians. The scriptures demand a continuous warfare against sin and error, rather than the raising of a white flag. By resisting the devil, and in no other way, he can be made to flee. (Jas. 4:7) Compromising with him never caused him to make any contribution whatever to the peace of the brethren, nor to install one electric fan in the Tartarus compartment of Hades. "War the good warfare," "fight the good fight of the faith," are the orders of the Captain of our Salvation.

Instead of following these orders some otherwise good brethren recently have signed an armistice of mutual concessions with the defenders of one of the worst peace-destroying "isms" of modern times. No "ism" has ever become a "wasm" through compromise. "Come ye out from among them, and be yet separate" is a command of both the Old and New Testaments. What can any gospel believer hope to gain by yoking himself up with a teacher of error? It is worse than yoking the ox with an ass. When they are so yoked together it is necessary for the ox to adopt a few characteristics of the ass, and when he becomes both asinine and bovine in his ways he is neither a good ox nor a good ass. When righteousness and iniquity can have fellowship, when light and darkness have communion, when Christ and Belial can have concord, when the temple of God and idols can have agreement, then, and not until then, will mutual concessions with error bring peace.

A neutral attitude toward the disturbers of the peace is neither conducive to peace nor scriptural, and no inspired man ever assumed such an attitude toward those who cause division and strife among brethren. There have been marathon fence-setters during every issue that has risen. What have they done? When the fight is over they invariably fall off the fence on the side of the majority. "Well, it is just not my nature to expose, refute, and rebuke," says one, "I must preach a positive gospel." Such an apology is no more logical than the plea that it is not my nature to pray, to give, or to visit the sick. When a man becomes a Christian his nature is supposed to be so transformed by the renewing of his mind as to conform to every command of the gospel, even the command to reprove, rebuke and exhort. If his nature is not such as to enable him to do that, his nature needs changing, not the scriptures. Usually those whose nature will not allow them to oppose error can do almost a super-human job in criticizing the "method" of those who do oppose it. Some of them can send out anonymous letters scurrilous enough to make Jim Farley's mailbags stink. Neutrality in either reality or pretence does not create peace nor maintain it.

All things that "make for peace" may be included in one word truth. There can be no universal peace of the divine sort until all think, speak and act according to truth. It is not possible to obey the divine injunction to speak the same thing, to be of the same mind and the same judgment, except such speaking and thinking be in harmony with the truth. All who preach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth are doing much to make David's prayer for peace a reality. The truth will make us free from all sin, including the sin of strife and slander; when believed and obeyed it will bring harmony, tranquility, calmness-peace.

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Author: jfm

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