COVER FRONT - CHAPTERS 10, 11 - COMPLETI

Fervency needed to Preach the Gospel of Peace

Praise God for all the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ over the last few centuries. Not only has Christianity become the dominant religion of the West, but it has spread to every continent. Even in China, there is currently an estimate of 130 million Christians; moreover, there are now more Christians in Africa than in any other continent. That is astonishing.

 

The spread of the gospel as a result of tens of thousands of missionaries, who through the love of God and humanity, gave themselves for evangelism. It is profoundly moving and inspiring to hear of the sacrifices missionaries have made. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of preachers continue to spread the good news of Jesus Christ throughout the earth. Truly, God deserves the glory for this gospel work.

 

While the number of Christians increased, the number of divisions and factions in the form of multiplication of churches has also increased. There are now more than 30,000 denominations on earth and growing year by year. The sad state of affairs is that in countries where the majority of the population consider themselves Christians, corruption and moral standards continue spiraling downward. Something is missing!

 

The Lord Jesus said that a kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand (Matt. 12:25). The kingdom of God is made up of His people, those with faith in Jesus Christ. Since there are so many divisions including hostility toward each other among God's people, how can the kingdom of God have any influence and standing in the world today?

 

While the gospel of grace for personal salvation needs to continue to be preached throughout the Earth, the gospel of peace is what is critical and essential these days for unity among God's people in order that the world might believe in the reality of Jesus Christ unto the ending of this age.

 

The completion gospel: grace and peace

 

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God . . . ,

 

For He, Himself is our peace, who has made the two (Jews and Gentiles) one and has torn down the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing in His flesh the law of commandments and decrees. He did this to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace . . . He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. [Eph. 2:8, 14-15, 17]

 

Ephesians 2:8 may be one of the most famous verses in the New Testament: “Saved by grace.” This is the gospel of grace for personal salvation. Just about all preaching for the last few centuries until today is the proclamation of the gospel of grace. We wholeheartedly agree with this gospel; therefore, there’s little need at this juncture to elaborate.

 

However, the same chapter speaks of the need to preach peace. This is the peace between two divided and hostile people: the Jews and Gentiles. The division and enmity between these two peoples were literally created by God through “the law of commandments contained in ordinances” (Eph. 2:15). Even though Christ has abolished this wall of separation—the enmity or hatred—in His flesh on the cross to create one new man (Eph. 2:15-16), believers in Christ continued to struggle and segregate. It has been extremely difficult to overcome centuries of racism, cultural differences, and religious norms.

 

Consider the apostle Peter, he disobeyed God three times to eat the unclean animals, which is to say to eat with the Gentiles or those of the “nations” (Acts 10:13-16). By God’s mercy, Peter eventually went to preach the gospel to a Gentile household, and they all came to faith in Jesus Christ. However, even after this powerful experience, soon after in Antioch, he and all his fellow Jewish Christians withdrew and separated themselves from eating with ethnic or Gentile believers in Antioch who were not Jewish.

 

Therefore, the apostle Paul rebuked Peter publicly, because his separation could not be excused or tolerated. His partition is against the truth of the gospel. Division among believers is against the very purpose of the gospel, the reality of the gospel. Many preachers would give their lives to proclaim Jesus died for the sins of humanity because that is the truth. However, divisions between Christians have been ignored and treated as a minor issue. No, Jesus also died to bring divided people into one. That is just as much the truth as His dying to take away the sins of the world. This is the “fullness” or “completion” of the gospel (Rom. 15:19)!

 

John 11:52 clearly tells us that Jesus died in order to bring the scattered children of God into one. Somehow, Christians have neglected this truth of the gospel. They can preach boldly that Jesus Christ died for humanity’s sins (1 Cor. 15:3), but deafening silence concerning the preaching that Jesus died to unite God’s children!

 

But I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness [completion] of the blessing of the gospel of Christ (Rom. 15:29).

 

The apostle Paul preached the gospel of God to the saints (believers) in Rome (Rom. 1:7, 15), which is counterintuitive—“To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints” (Rom. 1:7). People normally associate the gospel is preached to the unbelieving, the “unsaved.” However, Paul is preaching to believers. The reason: the saints in Rome were already divided into multiple groups (Rom. 16), and they needed to be brought into oneness, one fellowship. It is understandable and perfectly natural for Jewish believers and Gentile believers to gather separately in order to keep their diet (remember Peter?); or for rich Christians to be segregated from slaves and those impoverished.

 

Therefore, the entire, full, complete gospel needed to be preached since they were divided—ergo disobedient (Rom. 11:32). Romans chapters 1-8 acclaims the gospel of grace (Rom. 5:2) for personal salvation: justification, sanctification, and glorification for individuals no matter the distinctions (Jews or those being called out from among the nations). A believer being brought into glory shares the same image as all believers in Jesus Christ, but this identification did not complete the entirety of the gospel message! That was only half of the epistle (Romans 1-8 but not Romans 9-16).

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!" (Rom. 10:15)

 

Paul used the second half of his letter to preach the gospel of peace (Rom. 10:15) to Christians in factions who had identified themselves into two contrary groups. The Jewish believers would consider themselves the superior group since they were chosen and a recipient of the law of Moses (Rom. 9:13; Acts 15:1); and, after all, “Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated” (Rom. 9:13). Conversely, the Gentile group also used Scripture to show that Israel (including the Jews—the “natural branches”) have been cut off, and now those from “among the nations” (aka, the “wild branches”) have been grafted into the common root that bore them both (Rom. 11:17).

 

The gospel of peace was needed to cause every divided believer who considers themselves more superior to repent and have their minds renewed. Each Christian, no matter with which group they have identified, would no longer think more highly of themselves because every member with different functions is needed in the One Body of Christ (Rom. 12:1-5).

 

In other words, the juxtaposition of “Jacob vs. Esau” does not highlight the sovereignty of God but God’s desire to bring in His reconciliation between them both for He has “included all in disobedience that He might have mercy on them all” (Rom. 1:32). Remember, Jacob and Esau, embraced after their estrangement and the astonishing declaration by Jacob-Israel when this happened: “. . . inasmuch as I (Jacob) have seen your (Esau’s) face as though I had seen the face of God” (Gen. 33:10). Yes, Jacob had a “name change” at Penuel (the “face of God”—Gen. 32:31) akin to our salvation experience but the second half of the “face of God” was his reconciliation, his peace, with Esau! Yes, we exalt in Israel—but have we embraced our Esau?

 

The acceptance of the gospel of peace resulted in the Jewish and Gentile believers coming together—ekklesia! They can keep their distinctions, but no longer can they judge one another. They became one and manifested the kingdom of God: righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17).

 

It was in the ekklesia where diverse believers became one that God received glory. Even at the glorification of individual believers in Romans 8, there was no record of God receiving glory; however, differing Christians in their distinctiveness yet sharing in this completion gospel gave glory to God in one accord and with one mouth (Rom. 15:6).

 

This is the completion of the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ that Paul spoke of at the end of Romans 15. If the fullness of the blessings of the gospel is to be realized, then both the gospel of grace and the gospel of peace needs to be preached. Let’s not withhold the full blessings upon Christians; let’s preach the gospel of peace with as much fervency as the gospel of grace—for this is the complete work of the cross!

 

Finally, in Romans 16, the gospel of peace is carried out by those going to greet believers with whom they normally do not associate. Through their proactive, without prejudice, and indiscriminate greeting, the one fellowship now realized spread from house to house. The gospel of peace brought in the God of peace to crush Satan under the feet of those greeting one another (Rom. 16:20). By going to greet one another they were stomping on Satan is with feet shod with the “preparation of the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15).

 

May the Lord raise up His people to preach the gospel of peace with as much or more fervency, intensity, and desperation as the preaching of the gospel of grace. There will be a fresh appreciation of the oneness of God’s ekklesia and the finality of crushing Satan’s head.

 

The Lord’s ekklesia is not a “nice to have” item. The Lord must have His ekklesia. He died for His ekklesia (Eph. 5:25). He is still building up His ekklesia through His followers. This is the kingdom gospel that must be preached to prepare His bride and end this age!

 

Yes, Christians today need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ again. They need to hear how Jesus, the God-man, died, resurrected, ascended to be the Lord of all, and has poured out His Spirit to be in His believers and while clothing them with power from on high. All of this work is to join His believers with Him in sharing His anointing with the same mission to build His ekklesia, the oneness of His people.

 

Will you rise up with the full backing of the Lord’s authority to preach the gospel of peace? Let’s team-up to spread the complete gospel of Christ God and bring the full blessings upon God’s people!

 

 

The gospel of the kingdom

 

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matt. 24:14)

 

Since this verse has been much used relating to the gospel for the end-time, we would like to provide another perspective. This verse has mostly been used to encourage Christians in a couple of ways: to be a missionary to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in every corner of the globe, or to preach obedience to King Jesus in a kind of Lordship salvation. Some have even postponed “this gospel of the kingdom” until the final 70th Week of Daniel which would occur during the time of the “tribulation” at the very end of the age and would be preached primarily by Israel’s 144,000 evangelists after the “Rapture of the Church.”

 

However, according to Jesus both in Matthew 16 and 18 it is those building His ekklesia during this current age who have the keys to the kingdom. Believers enter into God’s kingdom through regeneration (born anew, from above), and manifest the kingdom through their oneness.

 

Revelation 5:9-10 and Revelation 7:9-17 clearly show us God’s kingdom is composed of believers from every tribe, language, people, and nation. This is the diversity in unity of God’s kingdom. The kingdom of God is made up of distinct individuals in harmony with each other like a symphony. It is through His ekklesia the multi-faceted wisdom of God is displayed (Eph. 3:10-11).

 

Jesus’ disciples wanted to know when Jesus would manifest His Kingdom and when would be the end of the present age (Matt. 24:3). What they got from Jesus was a series of statements regarding divisive, prophetic accounts about “wars and rumors of wars” climaxing in what is described as the “beginning of sorrows” (viz., the ‘birth pangs of the Messianic Age” characterized by racial conflict [nation against nation or “ethnos” vs. “ethnos”—acute “nationalism”] and ideological struggles [“kingdom against kingdom”—e.g., capitalism vs. communism]). Then these global divisions would be seen in a much more personal antagonistic way one to another—ultimately “the love of many would grow cold” which is the total opposite of His ekklesia.

 

Frankly, Jesus says nothing that we would consider “positive” until He says: “But he who endures to the end shall be saved . . . And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:13-14). After the “Abomination of Desolation” in vs. 15, it gets much worse, according to Jesus, after this declaration of the Good News of the kingdom, until His actual coming again in glory. All this to say the only positive in the midst of all this hatred, deceit, falsehood, wars, indifference, and strife is this oasis of the kingdom battering the “Gates of Hades”—His Ekklesia, His Kingdom; this alone is GOOD NEWS and that’s what the disciples should be preaching!

 

Yes, Jesus spoke of preaching the gospel of the kingdom in the midst of degradation—not only within the world in general, but among His people. They were betraying and hating one another, and their love has/had grown cold (Matt. 24:10-12). Isn’t this the general condition of Christians in the division? Now is the time to preach the gospel of the kingdom. Diversity in unity within the Trinity. This is the gospel of peace to God’s people that they may love one another and manifest God’s kingdom on earth, now.

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