THE GOSPEL OF GOD’S GRACE
“In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphrus, our dear fellow servant who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.” Colossians 1:6b-8.
How did the gospel of God’s grace get to be what it is today in so many places across the world? What happened that the gospel became “God wants you rich” or “God wants you to walk in divine health” or even “receive Jesus as your personal Saviour so that you can go to heaven when you die”?
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that there should not be rich Christians or,healthy believers or that we don’t go to be with Jesus when we die. But is this what our faith is all about? What is the heart of the good news that Jesus came from heaven to bring and to demonstrate? He called it “the good news of the kingdom of God”, and it’s nothing new.
God’s people had forgotten who was in charge. They gave themselves to idols and reaped the fruit of it – messed-up lives and conflict all around them. Isaiah had to remind them of the truth:
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.'” Isaiah 52:7.
The good news is that God is still in charge – even though it may not seem like it. People everywhere are trying to find out who rules this planet, or who rules their country or their city or their family. What a relief, when we discover that God is still here, that He has not abdicated or gone somewhere else, and that His plans are still on track! The ones who believe that He is working everything out according to His will are learning to relax and allow Him to steer the ship.
Although Jesus came to die for our sins, He did much more than that while He walked among men. He came to reveal the Father, to take us to the Father and to reconcile the whole disjointed universe to Himself so that He can restore everything to its former glory and purpose. God did not abandon His plan in despair when Adam derailed it. It was already on His agenda to provide a solution from before the beginning of creation.
Paul described the good news as “the gospel of God’s grace”. Before He ever revealed Himself to humans, He was unknown and unknowable. He is so “other” than His created universe that it would take supernatural revelation for humans to recognise Him in the world around us and in our spirits. On top of that, because we have inherited Adam’s nature, our minds are in rebellion against Him and darkened in our understanding.
God sent Jesus to be a mirror image of Himself so that we could actually see Him in a person of flesh and blood. For what purpose? To know and experience a part of His nature that is unknowable outside of our imperfect humanity – His grace. How can we know God’s grace unless we need it? How could Paul experience grace unless he felt his weakness? In his desperate prayer to be free from his persecutors, God assured him:
“…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9.
It was good news that God was in charge. It was a relief to know that He was still ruling His world. He was still giving people the power to live among ungodly people in ways that reflect Him when they choose to turn away from trying to run their own lives. This good news was spreading like wildfire across the world and Paul was elated. It had reached the people in Colossae and they had embraced it. It was changing their lives and their community.
The good news is not 9nly about heaven by and by. It’s also about heaven coming to earth here and now because God’s in charge. It’s about loving instead of hating; it’s about forgiving instead of getting even; it’s about sharing instead of grabbing; it’s about doing life together as God’s children in God’s family; it’s about cleaning up our messy lives, burying our differences and living in peace and safety with one another because we can.
It’s about showing the world what life can look like when we let God rule us. It’s about bringing heaven to earth now in preparation for the day when Jesus returns to take charge here forever. He will restore everything, throw out and destroy everything and everyone that disrupts including the devil and his minions, forever.
No, He will not abandon the earth. He will make everything new just as He said He would and we can be part of it if we get involved now.
SCRIPTURE TAKEN FROM THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.