THE GOSPEL OF PEACE – A work in progress

THE GOSPEL OF PEACE – A work in progress

(In view of the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus)

 

Reflections:

Isa 52:7

7 How beautiful on the mountains

are the feet of those who bring good news,

who proclaim peace,

who bring good tidings,

NIV

Eph 6:14-15

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

NIV

Gen 6:11-13

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.

NIV

As I write, July 22nd, 2012, the world news reflects the violence of our American society.  The U.S. Presidential campaign paused due to the killings in the Colorado Theater showing the new Batman movie.  Just a week or so earlier, another crazy gunman shot multiple people in my own hometown of Tuscaloosa, AL.  Today also, Norway is marking the first anniversary of the killing rampage that took snuffed out the lives of 77 beautiful human beings.  This kind of news is bad news.  Where is the Good News being preached today?  Where is the Good News of the Gospel of Peace being preached?  In Christian churches, one would think, especially from the viewpoint of a non Christian world which can understand the message of this man, Jesus, even if they do not believe in him.  Unfortunately the Gospel of Peace is not preached and some would wonder if it is even welcome in Christian churches.  When did you ever hear a sermon on the Gospel of Peace?  Will you ever hear one?  Why not? What is the Gospel of Peace, anyway?  Just how much do even lifelong Christians really believe in this Jesus, the Prince of Peace?

 

What is the Gospel?

 

1 Corinthians 15

1 Now I make known unto you brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand,2 by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain.3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;4 and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures;

  1. The Cross

Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.  (God is no longer at war with mankind).  (People, principalities and powers can be forgiven and transformed). All sin, evil, hurt and pain have been assimilated by Jesus on the cross….

Luke 23:33 And when they came unto the place which is called The skull, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand and the other on the left.34 And Jesus said, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And parting his garments among them, they cast lots.35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also scoffed at him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if this is the Christ of God, his chosen

(Jesus is the lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world…)

  1. Jesus Preached
    1. Jesus preached to the spirits in prison (without constraints of time).  It is the message of the gospel that Jesus Himself preached that brings ultimate peace with God to man and among men and for men.

1      Peter 3:18 Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God; being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;19 in which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison,20 that aforetime were disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water:21 which also after a true likeness doth now save you, even baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ;22 who is on the right hand of God, having gone into heaven; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

(Perhaps Hell is not separation from God….  Jesus went to the underworld…  God is omnipresent, In Him we live and move, and have our being.  It is we who attempt to separate ourselves from God, and God allows us to think we actually are, but we are not really, as long as we exist.)

Some would label this, heretical “post mortem” beliefs, but, is this really outside the realm and ability of the risen Jesus, who, even as a God-Man, raised Lazarus from the dead?  Or, is there a moment, effectively a thousand years, in which, just before every human dies, that Jesus continues (continued) his preaching to mankind, revealing Himself in His irresistible Grace to all mankind and perhaps all mankind will be saved?

  1. As in Adam
    1.  As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.

1      Cor 5:20 But now hath Christ been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of them that are asleep.21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; then they that are Christ’s, at his coming.

  1. How many died in Adam?      All?
  2. How many made alive?          All?
  3. Death, burial, resurrection
  4. We are included in this gospel of peace, of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  All mankind share or will share in their own death, burial and resurrection.  Some say; “but, this is only for believers”.
  5.  All things under His feet…..
    1. Jesus placed above all, Jesus resurrected from the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky….  Hebrews 2: 5-9 and on….

Heb 2:5 For not unto angels did he subject the world to come, whereof we speak.6 But one hath somewhere testified, saying, 7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels;8 Thou didst put all things in subjection under his feet.

  1. We are to share in this suffering and in this glory.   Is it His feet, or our feet?  Is it both His and our feet?   Psalm 8: 6 …….

4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? 5 For thou hast made him but little lower than God,6 Thou makest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands;7 All sheep and oxen,8 The birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,9 O Jehovah, our Lord,

  1. All things are reconciled.  Col. 1:15-21     Jesus is the centrality of the universe, before all time began, all things created for Him visible and invisible, thrones and dominions (principalities and powers).

15 who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;16 for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him;17 and he is before all things, and in him all things consist.18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.19 For it was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all the fulness dwell;20 and through him to reconcile all things unto himself, having made peace through the blood of his cross; through him, I say, whether things upon the earth, or things in the heavens.21 And you, being in time past alienated and enemies in your mind in your evil works,22

All things reconciled, making peace through the blood of His cross.  The good news of the gospel of this peace has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven (by Jesus who preached to the dead, outside of the realm of time).  This is good news, a principle element of the gospel, a gospel inclusive of peace to all mankind.  Note that all things in heaven and earth include angels, good and fallen, who were in heaven, (at the time this was written no one was in heaven but God and angels).

  1.  Who is included?
    1. a.       Phillipians  2: 6-11

5 Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:6 who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped,7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men;8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross.9 Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name;10 that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth,11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus died, buried, resurrected for all.  All are included in the Love of God.  Every tongue will confess….  Thus, if confession that Jesus is Lord is a requirement for ultimate salvation, and Jesus is the only way to salvation and inclusion in God’s love, then, will every one do it?

I am reminded of the woman caught in adultery….  Having been already included in the knowledge of God, Jesus knew already everything about her, and everything about us, since in Him we live and move and have our being….  His question was, “woman, where are your accusers?” Jesus, the exact representation of God, was not accusing her…..  Jesus knows this woman, and us intimately, since we are already included in his love….  Is it possible, that we, if we are attempting to share the Gospel, and view sin as separating us from God, would walk right by Jesus while we look for our accusers?  To share the Gospel, we must share the Good News that God loves us, and is at Peace with us, through Jesus.

This is merely a “proof text” synopsis of my vision of what the gospel of peace is, a question recently asked of me.  I realize this is not the proper way to exegete Scriptures, but it is a start and a work in progress in answering this question, “What is the Gospel of Peace?”

A recent book, by Bob Bell, “Love Wins” which I have read, has caused much consternation among some evangelical types that have labeled it “Universalism” and “Heretical”.  It seems some would prefer that they only would be saved, and unbelievers or unevangelized will go to hell.  It seems to me that the Gospel of Peace has been little understood in mainstream historical Christianity since 300 AD, but this Gospel portrays a loving Jesus who whishes otherwise, and has promised he would call ALL men to himself.  Well, will he, or won’t he?  Will it be a calling to salvation, or a calling, if so desired by the free will of the one called, to a “separation” from God, if that be possible, or to annihilation?   One well versed in the biblical text can prove that many will go to hell, and few are saved, and Satan himself can prove it and looks forward to it, still perhaps believing he is correct and God is wrong…..  I submit that much written by humans and even spoken by Jesus were written and spoken in a context before the cross event, the central point and focus of the universe and the Gospel of Peace.  Things have radically changed since the cross event, the focal event of the Gospel of Peace….  The Apostle Paul spoke of this Gospel of Peace, often in apparent conflict with other believers in early Christianity, who believed in the centrality of the law…

The good news synopsized in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus appears to me good news, not bad news, which the world needs to hear……

John 3:16-21

 

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.   19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

NIV

In view of John 3:16, why have Christians killed each other through Millennia?  These are the people, human beings, whom Christians they (we)  will be sharing eternity with, if we believe in him….  Also, would it not be better to set the example Jesus set, of dying for one’s enemy, so more time could be given for the enemy to believe by the Christian’s example, like some Amish would do, for instance, than going about to kill the enemy, thus, according to some evangelical thinking processes, (not mine), consigning this enemy to hell forevermore?  What kind of example does a Christian set, anyway, if he takes up the sword, and not the cross?

Eph 6:

12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.13 Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand.14 Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;16 withal taking up the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one.

We cannot of our own power trample the evil and the evil powers of this world under our feet.  Our feet must be beautiful, and well shod with the Gospel of Peace.  In this age of seemingly increasing violence, which should bring back memories of the violence God was displeased with spoken of in Genesis 6, We must look to another world to come, another Kingdom, for the power needed to defeat evil with good, not more evil.  Even if our own blood flows under the alter, it is sounds of silence, that of the dying lamb, sacrificed before God without words, but sent to us with love by a God who has died for the whole world, both friends and enemies, friends and enemies who will live again, because, and only because the God of Peace can resurrect to life those who have suffered, those who have died, and have been brought to life again in another Kingdom, not of this world.

However, what the world does not need, but has basically had for 1,700 years, are sounds of silence from Christian churches and ministers regarding this Gospel of Peace which should be proclaimed to the world.  Beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who proclaim this Gospel. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.”  Becoming a peacemaker is a work in progress…. becoming a child of God is a work in progress… Understanding the Gospel of Peace is also a work in progress… Let us all work together on all three, for we ourselves are also works in progress…

John Cooper

http://www.jcooperFORpeace.org

About jcooperforpeace
Peacemaker in Fellowship Engaged in Active Nonviolence and Social Justice

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