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How To Summarize the Gospel in Two Words

We didn’t earn this. We don’t deserve this. Nothing in our sinful and rebellious selves warrants this. Grace finds its root in the generosity of God who gives freely to us.

J.I. Packer wrote, “God is good to all in some ways but good to some in all ways.” We’re the “some.” Every other religion in the world boils down to a sort of cosmic barter system. People bring their good stuff to their god, whether it’s good actions, good money, or good sacrifices, and in exchange their god gives them some of His good stuff. Christianity stands apart from this system as a grace-based belief system that is built squarely on the extravagant goodness of God. Nothing in us is motivational, and nothing we can do can pay Him back. The only part we have in grace is the receiving of it: “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

And what does that grace lead to for the Christian? It leads to peace.

Now we tend to think of peace not in terms of what it is, but in terms of what it is not. Peace, to us, means the lack of conflict. And that’s certainly true for the Christian. For whether we know it or not, we once all were enemies of God, at war with Him. But because of what Christ has done, that conflict has been dissolved into glorious adoption: “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).

Not only that, but because of the sacrifice of Jesus we have peace with our fellow man, for through His death Jesus has brought reconciliation in our horizontal relationships as well as our vertical ones. So while it is true that the peace we have because of God’s grace means a lack of conflict, it means much more.

In the Bible sense of the word, peace is not merely this lack of conflict; it means wholeness. Completeness. Lacking nothing. And this is what we have in Christ.

For in Christ, God has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavens (Eph. 1:3). We lack nothing when we have Christ. He has made us whole humans again, right with Him and right with our fellows.

In two words, this is the gospel: Grace and peace. And these two words are a good reminder for my soul today. In a turbulent world, in an unsure future, with questions of life and death and everything else hanging around us at all times, here are two words that can lift our eyes, and then our souls, to that great hill at Calvary from where our help comes.

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