Apr 202017
 

Peace Through Christ

“So Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’ ” (Acts 10:34-43)

World War II ended in 1974 for Japanese Lieutenant, Hiroo Onoda. That was the year Onoda came out of hiding on the remote Philippine Island of Lubang and handed over his sword. Peace had been made 29 years earlier when Japan surrendered to the United States ending World War II, but Onoda either did not receive or did not trust the news until his former commander went back to Lubang in 1974 to personally deliver the news of peace to him. The Onoda story may provide us with a useful comparison for exploring the proclamation of the Gospel which Peter described as “peace through Jesus Christ.”

Through His death and resurrection, Christ won a cosmic war which pitted the world against God. Christ defeated the powers of sin, death and the devil: “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Col 2:15); “For ‘God has put all things under his feet’ ” (1 Cor 15:27a); and “[Christ] is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36). This is the good news of peace through Jesus Christ.

But Christ’s victory brought more than a cold peace between former enemies, His victory brought, reconciliation and grace. “For in [Christ] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Col 1:19-20) Christ’s victory brought the world a gracious God.

Therefore, beginning with the apostles, Christ commissioned His Church to proclaim the good news of peace through Him. Just like the story of Onoda, the good news of peace must be proclaimed and believed if the war is to end and peace and reconciliation are to be made between former enemies. Without this proclamation, humanity is still at war; it is still living under condemnation and wrath at enmity with God. As Paul wrote: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Rom 10:14)

War creates bitter enemies. For most American Christians, until recently, we have not experienced here at home the opposition which is the byproduct of the war against God. However, the war is showing signs of heating up. We have heard about skirmishes waged against pastors, such as Reformed Pastor Tim Keller and Lutheran Pastor Jonathon Fisk, and against small business owners, who hold traditional views on marriage and sexuality based on God’s Word. If you follow these stories, you may notice there are groups who will settle for nothing less than to discredit, demonize and/or financially penalize Christians who follow God’s Word as traditionally taught on these subjects. To be fair, not all so-called “progressives” on these subjects are publicly opposed to the teachings of Scripture, but there is a vocal, active minority who are.

However, if you look at the deeper issue, we should recognize that the enemy ultimately is not the Christians (who are Christ’s ambassadors, and in these skirmishes, may suffer for Christ); the enemy ultimately is Christ and His Word. Unbelievers either have not heard that the war is over, or do not believe that Christ has been victorious. Therefore, for them, the war continues on. As Christians, we may suffer as human representatives of Christ, but we should understand that in this war, our oppressors ultimately are the enemies of Christ and are fighting against God.

And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. (Acts 10:42)

The reality is that the war really is over; Christ has won (Christus Victor); the devil has lost; and God has appointed Christ to be judge of the living and the dead. There may be sinners lost or hiding in the jungle of unbelief, unconsciously following a defeated devil, but the cosmic war is over. Therefore, any temporary persecution that the world may inflict on Christ’s Church or His Christians on account of His Word has no eternal significance for us who are in Christ. On the other hand by continuing their war against God and His Word, unbelievers remain children of wrath. Should they land as unbelievers before Christ’s judgment seat on the last day, they will face the eternal consequences of their unbelief.

Therefore, Jesus has commanded His church to proclaim the good news of peace through Jesus Christ to all nations.

“To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43)

The good news of peace through Jesus Christ must be heard and believed to bring forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. He is Lord of all! Sadly not everyone who hears the Gospel comes to faith in Christ, and we who bring this good news, each in our individual vocations, can expect rejection and opposition by unbelievers. However, it is not the messenger but the message and its Author which the world ultimately rejects. Remembering this may help us as Christ’s ambassadors to love our enemies and to bless those who persecute us. For our Lord “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim 2:4) Amen.

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’ ” (Isa 52:7) Amen.

  29 Responses to “Jean’s Gospel: Peace Through Christ”

  1. I love the story of the Japanese soldier…he has become the perfect metaphor for folks who don’t know that whatever personal war they are in is over.

    One of the most difficult things to communicate to people pastorally is that the war with God is over…it’s hard to enjoy your walk with God when you’re waiting for the next bomb to drop.

    Good work, Jean…

  2. Now, as to the culture warring against Christian values, I see a more insidious threat than the ones noted here and commonly repeated.

    That is the demand of many to harden our hearts against the refugee and the stranger among us…a matter addressed more often in Scripture than the sexual issues we fight.

    Whenever the church forgoes sacrificial love in favor of political policy it has left home.

    Unfortunately, this threat comes from within…

  3. Jean

    I agree with the sentiment of the article, apart from the references to Keller, Fisk and “small business owners, who hold traditional views on marriage and sexuality based on God’s Word”. Keller has more to do with an inter-Presbyterian conflict and Fisk (who was certainly not prevented from speaking) with an academic/public square issue. Living in Indiana, we witnessed RFRA first hand… it protected no one and created chaos for businesses large and small. In good conscience, I think these are issues on which people of faith and good heart can hold varied views and not be seen as participants in a culture war.

  4. Thanks Michael. Regarding my mention specifically of marriage and sexuality as issues where biblical values are rejected, I think these issues merit our serious attention because the order of the family arising out of the one flesh union of man and woman is IMO foundational to the manner in which God has ordered creation. At first glance, this may sound like an overstatement or exaggeration, but the more I wrestle with the issues we face in society as a whole, the more I see a connection to the undermining of the family. Moreover, the order of the family is a constant theme throughout the Bible, including having 3 Commandments out of the 10 Commandments address family issues.

    Regarding the issues of refugees and strangers, I trust you to take up those issues on the blog, as the Spirit leads you. You are much more educated in those issues than me. 🙂

  5. Jean,

    I think divorce and adultery in the church undermined us before the other issue arose…but you have a point.

    Even better, you have a crystal clear presentation of the Gospel here…crystal clear.

    That’s the big thing. 🙂

  6. The devil is using a two-pronged attack. (But remember, he has been ultimately defeated.)

    1. He attacks the conservatives among us by his attempts to destroy traditional morality.
    2. He attacks the liberal-minded among us by causing disdain for the poor and displaced.

    In the first instance, he gets us to feel rotten for telling those charming “gay” men who are so sweet and kind that unless they repent, they are lost and no, we will not go to their wedding.

    In the second case, he gets us to feel petulant and resentful at the presence of people who “don’t belong here” and we start to grumble about taxes and crime when the fact is, we are all overfed and don’t need 75 percent of the stuff cluttering up our very nice houses.

    So that’s how Satan does it. He entices us to hate traditional morality because it’s so mean (works on some people) or to hate our poor or newly arrived neighbor because he might be getting something for free or making our neighborhood look tacky. (works on other people.)

    What we have to do is ignore what the world says and concentrate on what God says.

    Sexual perversion, adultery, living together, divorce, p0rn and abortion are wrong and we don’t have to let non-believers make us feel like haters. Let them hate us. If we can’t stand up to a classmate or office-mate who gives us a frown because we aren’t PC enough for them, how can we stand up to real persecution?

    Likewise, showing disdain for the poor and desperate is wrong. Working to find a better way to help them is not wrong as long as the motive is “love my neighbor,” not “get rid of my neighbor.”

    Satan has used different strategies throughout the ages in the attempt to change our minds about what is right and what is wrong. Fore-warned is fore-armed!

    In Egypt, he gets people to bomb churches full of Christians. We are easy here in America, all he has to do is show us a few Hollywood movies and TV shows and we begin to doubt what the Lord has said.

  7. Hi Duane. Let me clarify a couple things from my article, in case I wasn’t clear.

    1) I am not suggesting that Christians are at war with the world. I am suggesting that the world is at war with God, and Christians get caught in the middle sometimes because we are Christ’s ambassadors here in the world.

    2) I am not taking about legislation, imposing biblical sexual morals on the world. I do think Christians have a right and duty to their families and brothers and sisters in Christ to support legislation which allows Christians to live, worship and earn a living in peace, without discrimination due to their Christian beliefs.

    3) Free speech should include the rights and protections for Christians to speak to groups who invite them and where participation is voluntary. I am finding that there is a vocal, anti-Christian minority, which doesn’t want Christians to have a voice in certain settings, like campus life, on topics with which they disagree. It’s not as though these anti-Christians are being forced to hear the Bible. They don’t want anyone else to either. By “anti-Christian”, I am speaking of people who are adverse to God’s Word (whether than call themselves Christian or not).

  8. Xenia,

    Much wisdom right there…

  9. Jean,

    You have a gift for clarity and brevity…your Gospel presentations are gold.

  10. Michael,

    I was reading Xenia’s #6, and really think you ought to cajole her into writing some article for the blog. She’s fantastic!

    Xenia, I agree with your very articulate summary of the works of Satan

  11. Jean,

    Xenia has an open invitation whenever she wants to write…our readers love her as do all of us.

  12. #7 Jean

    Thanks for the clarification, I do understand your position. I will, however, say again that there are nuances in your second and third points on which people of faith and good hearts can have differing positions.

  13. If we can’t stand up to a classmate or office-mate who gives us a frown because we aren’t PC enough for them, how can we stand up to real persecution?<<<

    I wrote this sentence with myself in mind.

    I was taking some horticulture classes at the local community college recently and one member of the class was the sweetest, kindest, winsomest, most lovable young man you could imagine. He showed compassion to everyone, even the uncool among us in class. He has a "husband."

    One day he decided to pour his heart out to me. (He knew I was a Christian.) He was born that way, there was nothing he could do about it, he loved his "husband," he was not a Christians but he was very spiritual…. etc. I didn't say anything but I gave him a hug. And by that hug I, as a representative of Christianity, condoned everything he said.

    Well, he was very huggable. I don't actually know what I should have said, as we were on a break in class and people were milling around and it was no time (or was it?) for a Gospel presentation. But I was cowed by his sincerity. I eventually dropped the class but I left him with the notion that Xenia the Christian approves of his lifestyle. And for that I am ashamed.

    I was taken aback that he opened up to me and I didn't have time to figure out the right thing to say. I am given to impulsive acts of spontaneous hugging, so that's what I default to but I believe I was wrong. I need to be better prepared, I think. Kind but not condoning.

  14. Thanks, Jean and Michael.

  15. In my mind I was thinking “Oh you poor sweet lost kid” but that’s not what came across I am pretty sure.

  16. #13 Xenia

    If I may say so, I think you’re being a bit hard on yourself. You were being kind to him, not his lifestyle. Love and compassion is never out of season…

  17. “I don’t actually know what I should have said”

    I understand this. I’m no John the Baptist, walking around the grocery store telling people to “Repent”! I’m just not a talker period. I think sometimes when people know we’re Christians and we show small kindnesses (hugs and listening) it does more to convict than going JTB on them.

    I’ve heard somewhere that sometimes it’s better to talk to God about people than talk to people about God.

    I don’t know. I think I’ve got enough problems of my own to confront others about theirs.

  18. I’ve heard somewhere that sometimes it’s better to talk to God about people than talk to people about God. <<<

    Good advice.

  19. Duane, I don’t know. It bothered me and still does. I think the Holy Spirit speaks to me through my conscience (which is not overly tender, in my case) so I think He’s telling me something.

  20. Xenia,

    Just my two cents. Paul wrote:

    “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another.”

    As one human being to another, based on what you wrote, I think you were very loving and did nothing wrong. If, on the other hand, he had invited you to share your faith, or asked you for advice about his marriage or sexuality, or what you thought of his situation, etc., then you would have perhaps invited him to meet over coffee or something, for a private conversation. But, I don’t think that Christians are required or should proactively go around judging other people’s sin in the world. (in the Body of Christ, the situation is different).

  21. Jean, thanks.

    Well, enough about me. Let’s continue on with the discussion of Jean’s excellent article.

  22. i like the thoughts about the war being over in some respects, but, in truth the war is not over… yes, it has been won, but the shooting is still going on…
    my late husband was in the navy, spent time on Guam where there were still Japanese soldiers holding out in the hills, they’d occasionally try to take a shot at a sailor and, if hit that man would have been just as dead – killed by enemy fire in 1955 – as the sailor killed in 1945…
    the Church is in a similar position now, are we not? we’re told to stand, to hold our ground, but we don’t have orders to search out and kill… our job is to hold the ground, prepared to welcome the surrendering into the fold

  23. “I’ve heard somewhere that sometimes it’s better to talk to God about people than talk to people about God.”

    Brilliant!

    I hope it’s okay that I steal that and post it on Facebook.

    And other venues.

    I have heard it said that “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.” 🙂

    In all seriousness, I hope you don’t mind, Joel and Phoenix Preacher.

  24. CostcoCal,

    I THINK it was from Chaplain Mike over at Internet Monk. This advice has really stuck with me, especially as I’ve bumbled my way through sharing my faith with others. I usually come across more like Chris Farley than J.I. Packer. Thank God He does the work for us. 🙂

  25. Joel,

    “Fat guy in a liiiitle coat.” 🙂

    Seriously, I love your attitude and perspective.

  26. Thank you CC. That’s very encouraging.

    If I may be so bold, Xenia above writes:

    “I was taking some horticulture classes at the local community college recently and one member of the class was the sweetest, kindest, winsomest, most lovable young man you could imagine. He showed compassion to everyone, even the uncool among us in class.”

    Maybe… just maybe… if Christians could take a cue from this gay man about how to treat fellow human beings the world might be a nicer place to live.

    Just a thought….

  27. may i add my amen to those who have observed that Xenia did do the right thing when she followed her instinct and returned that gay fella’s trust with a warm hug…
    in addition to the reasons already observed by others here, because…
    from what little i have learned in the past year or so of the workings of the brain – stimulus, trauma etc – i think many are very sincere when they tell you, “I’ve always been gay…”
    our libido is much more influenced by our life experiences than we tend to recognize… there are more twisted responses than just the homosexual’s out there…
    it is the condition of civilization that produces most of this, i think – not all, but most of it – we confuse the symptom and the cause – IMHO
    our grandparents were on target when they tried, with varied success, to withhold the details of the birds and the bees from their malleable* young’uns until puberty – IMNSHO… again

    *i’m not implying that, if junior walks in on mom and dad or catches their dog in heat out in the street doing what comes naturally, that junior’s life has been destroyed, like most of life, it’s not that cut and dried – for the record

  28. “or catches their dog in heat out in the street doing what comes naturally, that junior’s life has been destroyed,”

    I don’t know Em. My uncle’s dog was a machine. It was a bit disturbing. lol.

    Good points Em.

  29. Xenia,
    Just one more for you: showing someone love does not mean you’re condoning their whole lifestyle. It means the love overflowed your banks and splashed onto a needy soul.

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