by Steve Corgan
The gospel is good news! This is what the word “gospel” literally means, “glad tidings of peace and good news!” The Good News is: God has made peace between man and Himself through the cross of Jesus Christ. God isn’t mad or angry with mankind anymore. The demands of justice and judgment that would have resulted in our condemnation and punishment have been satisfied. Jesus has paid mankind’s outstanding debt that we couldn’t pay ourselves. The account is closed. The debt is settled. There isn’t any pending judgment or case in Heaven’s District Court with your name on it. Jesus arranged the settlement, judgment has been handed down, and the case is closed. You’ve been declared NOT GUILTY!
For many years I agreed that these statements were true. Yet I failed to recognize that most of the rest of what I believed contradicted these essential gospel truths. I related to God and lived my life as though peace with God was still yet to come, or at best precariously contingent upon my performance. I acknowledged these truths in theory but denied them in practice by living under a constant sense of impending judgment, fear, and punishment from God.
In Ephesians 6:15 Paul calls this message the “Gospel of Peace.” There’s been peace made between God and man. This is the good news that God has sent us to proclaim to the world. Sure there are many other truths in the word of God, but this is the message that the church has been commissioned to share with the world. The message is, “God’s not mad, angry, or wrathful. Peace has been made. You don’t need to be afraid of God any longer.” Any message that doesn’t communicate and minister peace, hope, and confidence toward God is the wrong message. We’ve been dispatched and ordained to preach the Gospel of Peace.
This is the message of peace that the angel proclaimed to the shepherds, announcing Jesus’ birth in Luke chapter two. He said,
“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace toward men with whom He is pleased.” Luke 2:10-14 NASB.
The world has embraced this Christmas “message of peace” as a proclamation of the end to man’s conflicts and wars. But in reality the scripture is speaking about peace in a much more serious conflict; the conflict between fallen man and a holy, righteous God. Jesus Himself said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34 NAS) The peace the angels were announcing was not peace on Earth between man and man, but an end to the enmity between God and man. That is what the gospel of peace is really about. God has made peace with man.
Notice that the angel said that this good news of peace is, “for all the people” and “toward men with whom He [God] is pleased.” God hasn’t made peace with just the righteous, the Jews, or His friends. He’s made peace with all mankind, even His enemies. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:10 NASB) It was while we were enemies that God reconciled us to Himself.
In addition Paul says, “It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but canceling them] and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration to favor).” (2 Corinthians 5:19, The Amplified Bible) The world is reconciled and restored to favor with God. Not the righteous crowd but the whoremongers, homosexuals, prostitutes, drug dealers, and pornographers. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, not the righteous. He said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son…” (John 3:16) The world that God gave Jesus to save, the world He reconciled to Himself on the cross, isn’t the physical planet Earth. The “world” is the human family of lost men and women.
Then Paul says the most amazing thing. He says that God is, “not counting up and holding against men their trespasses, but canceling them…” God is not taking into account, keeping track of, or holding against men their sins, but He has cancelled them; wiped them out. If you have a legalistic, religious, performance oriented understanding of the gospel this is hard for you to accept. It doesn’t say that He reconciled the Christians and is not holding their sins against them. It doesn’t say that when you get saved, get your life straightened out and turned around then God will forgive you. No, the Bible says that God has reconciled the world and cancelled their sins.
That’s right. God is not holding against men their sins. He doesn’t even keep track of them. That is good news to people living in fear all their lives with a sense of impending judgment and punishment at the hands of an angry God. But unfortunately that is just the sense of inferiority and fear that has been cultivated in the hearts of believers and unbelievers as a result of Christians preaching a message not born out of an understanding of the Gospel of Peace.
The Gospel of Peace is not the message that religion has preached and most of the world has heard. People have been told, “If you’ll repent, straighten up, quit sinning, and change God will like you, accept you, and forgive you.” But that’s not the Good News of the Gospel of Peace. The Good News is God has already forgiven them, made peace, reconciled the world to Himself, and He’s no longer holding against men their sins. This isn’t what I say. It’s what the Bible says.
Do we need to repent and quit sinning? Of course! Will our lives be better for it? Of course! But none of those things affect or change the way God feels about us. Our performance, good or bad, isn’t what His love and forgiveness is based upon. He loves you and me because of who He is and because of what Jesus did; not because of who I am or what I have or haven’t done. His love for you didn’t increase the day you got saved. His love for you doesn’t diminish when you mess up. He loves us with a perfect unconditional love that is unshaken by our shakiness, unchanging amidst our variableness, and rock solidly consistent in spite of our inconsistency. We’ve made Christianity about our performance, our righteousness, our faithfulness, and our love for God. In reality it’s about His love, His faithfulness, and His works, not ours. It’s all about Jesus; not you or me.
Sin consciousness produces fear, guilt, inferiority, and a sense of impending judgment and punishment before God. What was Adam and Eve’s response as soon as they became conscious of sin? They hid from God in fear. Everything they knew about God was good. He had only been good to them. They had every reason to believe that God would help them out of their dilemma. When God came into the garden why wasn’t Adam’s first thought, “Let’s run to God Eve, He can help us and fix this problem”? But the sin induced sense of fear, guilt, and inferiority had already invaded their hearts. Instead of running to God they hid from Him. In reality they had no reason to fear God. But fear became the dominating emotion in their relationship with God instead of the acceptance, trust, and confidence produced by the revelation of His love. The central focus of their relationship with God went from being about Him and His love and goodness to being about them and their failure, their inability, and sin. Unfortunately this is where most people’s mindset remains fixed today.
When we preach a message that magnifies man’s failure, inability, guiltiness, and sin it doesn’t cause him to want to run to God, but as in Adam’s case, sin consciousness causes man to want to run and hide from God. By preaching the wrong message, we’ve actually driven fallen man away from God by magnifying the problem rather than proclaiming the solution. The Gospel of Peace resolves those issues. It is God’s fix for man’s problems of fear, sin, guilt, and unworthiness.
“Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” (Romans 10:13-15)
Isaiah prophesied what God was going to do through the cross of Jesus Christ hundreds of years in advance. He said, “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” (Isaiah 53:5-6.) Jesus was pierced for your transgressions; He was crushed for your iniquities. He was chastened for you and the iniquity of the whole world was placed on Him.
Now allow me to pose a few questions. Was this just a symbolic foreshadowing of something better that God was going to do or did Jesus really pay the price, once for all time and for all humanity? Did He really settle the issue of man’s delinquent account? There can be no other answer but YES, Jesus settled it once and for all.
“And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14)
When did He do it? Paul says it was when you were still dead in your transgressions. It didn’t happen when you believed it and accepted it. That’s when you accepted what God had done and entered into the provision and benefit of it.
Will there be a final judgment and hell? Yes, the Bible is very clear about that. But the issue at that final judgment will be: Do you trust in the work and righteousness of Jesus Christ, or are you trusting in your own works and righteousness? From God’s perspective the problem was taken care of almost two thousand years ago on Calvary. Paul says that God has, “taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross,” (Colossians 2:14)
The message most Christians have preached to the world keeps taking man’s sin problem and the debt that he owed down off the cross and putting it back in the way again. God has plainly said that He’s taken it out of the way. We keep reminding the world of their sinfulness, shortcomings, and failure and how it’s a problem for God, when in reality it’s no problem for God at all. Man’s alienation from God is because of man’s misunderstanding and unwillingness, not God’s. Paul said, “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled” Colosians 1:21 KJV. The problem of alienation and enmity with God is in man’s mind, not God’s mind. God has resolved it and He’s satisfied. It’s sin consciousness, failure consciousness, and inferiority consciousness that keep man hiding from the God whose plans for him are only good. The main point of our message is supposed to be the good news that God has taken care of the problem. Man’s failure, shortcomings, and sinfulness are no longer the obstacles separating us from God. The only thing that separates man from God today is man himself not accepting God’s free gift.
“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:6-10)
Paul says that it was while we were still helpless, still sinners, still enemies of God He reconciled us to Himself. This is God’s demonstration of His great love for us. But I’ve found out that when I tell most people just how good God is they don’t believe He can be this good.
For instance most Christians don’t really believe that God has totally forgiven them. They still live under a cloud of impending judgment and punishment. When something goes wrong in their life the first thought is, “Uh oh, I know I’ve done something wrong,” or “I know I haven’t been praying enough or reading the Bible enough or confessing the word enough,” or “This must be a generational curse or result of my sin.”
If that pattern is familiar, it should be an indication to you that you’re still not established in God’s love and the Gospel of Peace. How much prayer is enough? How much Bible study is enough? When will you ever be good enough to be good enough to please a perfect God? “Enough” will never come when your relationship with God is based on what you do for Him rather than what He’s done for you.
“We need have no fear of someone who loves us perfectly; his perfect love for us eliminates all dread of what he might do to us. If we are afraid, it is for fear of what he might do to us and shows that we are not fully convinced that he really loves us. So you see, our love for him comes as a result of his loving us first.” (1 John 4:17-19, The Living Bible)
If you’re haunted by fear of what God may do to you because of your imperfection and failure; if dread torments you, John says that it shows that you’re not fully convinced of God’s love for you. A revelation of the Gospel of Peace is one of the essential elements to help you understand and realize the love God has for you. He doesn’t love us because of our great love for Him. We love Him because and in response to knowing that He first loved us with a perfect unconditional love. That’s why we have confidence before Him. Go find somebody and tell him or her about the Gospel of Peace. Tell them, “Cheer up! God isn’t mad at you.” The world needs to hear!