Series: PPE for the Christian life, by Rosie Moore.
“Stand firm then…with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Eph 6:15).
Warren Wiersbe reminds Christians, “We have only one gospel and we must be extremely careful to preach it exactly as God gave it to us, for we will be judged for what we preach” (Stand, p63).
In the war that Satan is waging against us, there is nothing as dangerous to our Enemy as the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So, it makes perfect sense that he would go to any length to obfuscate, confuse and pervert the Gospel. After all, it’s the only message that can save human beings from the wrath of God. Only the Gospel can make God’s enemies into his friends. And only the Gospel can bring us peace with God, leading us to love Him and love people. So, Paul warns, it is on this unchanging Gospel of peace that a Christian must firmly stand against the devil’s evil schemes and spiritual onslaughts (Eph 6:11-12).
The “shoes” of spiritual warfare are a visceral image of our firm standing in the true Gospel.
A firm footing
In the first century, Roman soldiers wore sandals with hobnails on the soles to give them a firm grip on all sorts of slippery and uneven surfaces. The Greek word ‘readiness’ means a firm footing, or a strong foundation (Eph 6:15). Without a firm footing in the Gospel of Christ, a Christian soldier will not be prepared to stand, let alone fight against our great Enemy, the devil.
But what exactly is this Gospel? In 1 Corinthians 15:1-7, Paul describes the Gospel as “a message of first importance”, passed on by the apostles, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures, and appeared alive to Peter, and then to the twelve, and hundreds of other eye witnesses. Paul evidently believed that the Gospel announced by Jesus needed no improvement or tweaking. And the God-breathed Scriptures are all we need to fully understand and embrace this Gospel by faith.
A shaky footing
So, when a person says, “It doesn’t really matter whether or not Jesus’s body came back to life, only that the spirit of Christ lives on today”, this is a false gospel. Likewise, statements like these that I’ve heard lately do not reflect the Biblical Gospel: “Man’s fundamental problem is not sin, but power dynamics or whiteness.” “It’s not our job to talk about sin or our need for Jesus— it’s our job to just love people.” “Jesus and the Bible have been misunderstood for 2000 years of church history. We need a new, culturally relevant reading of Scripture.” “Surely God wouldn’t actually require a sacrifice to atone for sin! After all, weren’t we created good?” “You can’t just believe in Christ’s forgiveness! There’s work you must do to be acceptable.” These are just some of the ways that the Gospel of grace can be twisted, truncated, or added to.
Satan hates the Gospel message, because it spells his nemesis. Thus, he will cook up any scheme to distract people from the Gospel that brings freedom and joy in Christ. He will lure them to accept a different Gospel, which is in fact no gospel at all (Gal 1:7). That is why Paul uses strong words to warn the Galatian believers against any works-based gospel: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the Gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:6-8).
No doubt, Paul was thinking of Isaiah’s Servant songs (Isa.52 & 53) as he wrote Ephesians 6:15:
“How beautiful on 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 52:7-8 ESV).
Isaiah goes on to describe this herald of good news—a future Messiah with a “marred appearance”, with “no beauty that we should desire him…acquainted with grief…despised and not esteemed” (Isa 53:2-3). Yet, this is the Servant-King who wrapped himself in flesh, to “sprinkle many nations” and to “comfort his people” (Isa 52:9; 15). He is the beautiful Saviour who has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, smitten by God and afflicted…pierced for our transgressions and crushed for all our iniquities. Upon him was the punishment that brought us peace… All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way, yet the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:5-6).
Two millennia ago, Jesus Christ died on a cross “to make an offering for our guilt…to bear the sin of many…to make many to be accounted as righteous” (Isa 53:1-12). This is how Christ brought peace to rebels like you and me the moment we placed our trust in Him. And this is the Gospel of peace on which every Christian must take our stand for the rest of our lives.
In recent weeks, I saw a demonstration of the power of this beautiful Gospel in the life of a friend called Jenny. For several months now, our women’s Bible study has been praying for Jen’s brother, who had terminal cancer. One Wednesday, I’d prepared a Bible study on Luke 12:4-7, based on Martin Morrison’s devotion, “Do not fear those who kill only the body.” Moved by Christ’s clear message, that afternoon Jenny scheduled a Zoom call with her brother, asking us to pray at 4pm as she shared the Gospel with him. We all held our breath, knowing that he was an atheist and that Jen was desperate not to ruin their relationship or cause him distress. But by evening, God’s grace and peace had prevailed over hostility, as Jen’s brother and sister-in-law were both won over by the beauty of Christ’s Gospel and a sister’s love in making it known. We rejoiced with the angels, not just over one, but two sinners who repented and joined the family of God! (Luke 15:10) The Lord graciously gave Jen two more weeks with her brother before He took his newly adopted son home to heaven. “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation” (Isa 52:7-8).
A beautiful Gospel
It’s stunning that Christ has entrusted us to proclaim this clear and wonderful Gospel! It is a true message that rings out with beauty, hope and peace for a world at war. Even the angels sang when Christ was born “to bring peace to those on whom his favour rests” (Luke 2:14). And that is why, as Christ’s ambassadors, we need to wear his Gospel shoes at all times. They give us stability, so that we’re not carried away by all kinds of strange teachings (Heb 13:9). They give us balance, so that we don’t focus on one doctrine of Scripture at the expense of other teachings and commands. They give us mobility, so that, like Jenny, we can adapt our ways of sharing the gospel and respond to Satan’s schemes. But, whoever we are and wherever we find ourselves, we must always be ready to boldly and humbly witness for Christ (1 Peter 3:15). It is an immense privilege to be a servant of this precious message of peace (2 Cor 5:18-20). Like the Apostle Paul, may we honestly affirm: “I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:24).
Lord Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for our many sins and for forgiving us once-for-all. Keep your Gospel flame burning in our hearts, so that we never grow lukewarm or lose our first love. Help us to love you and your Gospel so deeply that we will speak your truth boldly and gently every time you open a door for us, just as the saints before us did. May our manner always be worthy of the Gospel of Christ and may we not be frightened by our opponents (Phil 1:27-28). In Jesus’ precious name and for his Gospel sake, Amen.
Listen to this great song, which reminds us that we are just nobodies, trying to tell everybody, about Somebody who saved our souls.