Do you believe that Jesus died to bring world peace?
This past week, a young man from Cambodia visited my office. He was part of a leadership development program. I asked, since he was visiting Northern Plains Biblical Seminary, if was a Christian. He said that he was. So, I asked him about the basis for his claim to be Christian and the reason for his visit to my office. He said that he was about spreading the news that Jesus intended for there to be peace on earth…now. I probed deeper and asked if he was also a Buddhist. He said his parents were and that he had become a Christian through the Unification Church movement.
Of course, the red flags flew up immediately. I asked him again how he knew he was a Christian. He said he had joined the Leadership Development Program that started in New Jersey and he wanted to share the peace of Jesus.
At this time, I picked up one of the tracks I like to share with people…EvanTell’s May I ask you a Question?” I quickly went through the tract with the young man and I encouraged him that he must trust in Christ alone for salvation. I told him that Christ’s work on the cross was sufficient and complete. He didn’t really understand this at all. I told him that Jesus wanted us to share the truth of the gospel, not that He came to bring world peace.
What is the Unification Church?
The Unification Church is a cultic group started by Sun Myung Moon of North Korea. Moon was raised in a Presbyterian church. The church was persecuted by the Japanese rulers of the time. The severe persecution resulted in divisions within the church and new movement in Korean Christianity.
One group arose that claimed to have received revelations from God regarding the rise of a Korean messiah. On Easter morning 1936, when Moon was 16 years-old, he had a vision in which Jesus asked him to complete His unfinished work as messiah. Moon went on to study the Bible and other world religions to develop his doctrines regarding God, love, sin, and the means of salvation.
In 1948, Moon was excommunicated by the Presbyterian Church. By 1954, he had founded the Holy Spirit Association for the unification of World Christianity (HSA-UWC) or the Unification Church.
Well, I just deleted the entire discussion of the doctrine of the Unification Church. It was just too much to easily grasp. The point is not to evaluate their entire theology, but rather to address the issue that the young Cambodian man discussed with me.
This Christian cult holds that Christ was unable to complete the purpose for which He came to earth. In order for Him to “bring peace” to the world a messiah must be commissioned so that the world will finally enjoy eternal peace, love, and joy.
Did Christ come to bring peace?
The popular notion is that Jesus came to earth to bring peace. This has allowed many Christian groups, including the Unification Church, to incorrectly teach that the world will be at peace. Many groups go out of their way to make room for peace between all groups. To do this, sound doctrine must be compromised.
There is always a balance between maintaining sound doctrine and maintaining relationships. We see in many groups such a strong desire to keep everyone happy and in a “good relationship” that they will avoid discussing the tough doctrinal issues. In the name of peace, compromises are being made.
I can understand this line of thinking to a certain degree. The heralds announced at Jesus’ birth, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”” (Luke 2:13–14). Some take this to imply that Jesus was coming to bring peace to mankind. But God’s peace is not to be given to those who have good will (i.e. the Unification Church), but to those who are recipients of God’s good will or favor—to those who have trusted in the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice. Thus, eternal peace only comes to those who have trusted in the truth of Christ; that He is sufficient to bring us back into relationship with God. Salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone.
However, Jesus did not come to earth to bring peace to the world. He did come to provide peace and freedom from fear to those who put their trust in Him (John 14:27). In John 16:33 we see, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”” Jesus words should comfort us, because He knew that the truth divides. The righteousness that Jesus brings will cause division (Matt 10:34). Jesus did not come “to bring peace on earth.” His righteousness will come by the “sword.”
To those who welcome Him, He offers peace, i.e. restored relationships with God (Rom. 5:1) and interpersonal reconciliation within the community of believers (Eph. 4:3). The peace of Jesus is not concerned with wars between nations, conflicts among unbelievers, or persecution of believers. Jesus actually promised hostility. The righteousness of Jesus was divisive—people either love Him or they hate Him; there seems to be no middle ground “
Why did Jesus come?
Each of the Gospels presents different aspects of why Jesus came to earth. John’s Gospel presents use with a call to light and truth. This call has three aspects.
Jesus came to reveal the light of truth that removes spiritual blindness (John 9:39)
Jesus came for judgment. Jesus was not sent to condemn the world (John 3:17; 12:47). He came to pronounce a decision on the ungodly as a judge (John 5:22, 27). The coming of Jesus was to be viewed as a moment of truth. The rejection of Him and His mission meant that condemnation was inevitable (John 3:18). The love and grace of God removes the camouflage of evil and sin (cf. John 3:19).
Light reveals the Father to man, so the absence oflight, or darkness, indicates the state (death) wherein man does not konw God. Thus, the blind (those who do not see) are those who admit thei helplessness and inablity. They therefore must trust Jesus for salvaton and are subsequently made to see. Those who think they see but really don’t rely upon self-trust and pride which ultimately binds them regarding the wonders of Jesus. In other words, they blind themselves (2 Cor 4:4).
Therefore, the light of Christ transforms human blindness into spiritual sight and dynamic life. Yet, the light of the truth only makes the blind blinder. As long as Jesus was in the world, He was the light of the world (John 9:5). In that capacity, He came to bear witness to the truth (John 18:37). Once He departed, those whose eyes were opened by the light became the light of the world (Matt. 5:14).
The purpose of the light is to reveal the Father to Man. The absence of light indicates that man does not know God. To be in the light means the blindness to the Father is removed and the result is life, i.e. salvation. To remain in the darkness is to claim self-righteousness that results in spiritual death. Rejecting the revelation of eternal life through Christ leads to eternal separation from God (John 3:19-21). As the light of the world, the Christian disciple is responsible for bringing the truth (John 14:6) to the world.
Jesus came to provide an abundant life for the sheep of His fold (John 10:10)
The thief might be considered the “false shepherd.” He steals, kills, and destroys the flock. These false shepherds are actually Jesus’ evil opponents who “…threaten the security of the flock.” The followers of the Unification Church and other false shepherds fall into this category.
Jesus, the “true shepherd,” cares for the flock; He came to give life, but not just ordinary life. He gives life that exceeds necessity. Jesus becomes the protector of the flock. He is the “agent of wholeness, of eternal life, of secure pasture, and of release from the realm of darkness.” In addition, He is the “Savior of the world (John 4:42)” and He provides life to the fullest (John 10:10).
The Gospel of John presents Jesus’ concern for life (3:16; 5:40; 6:47; 10:10, 28; 11; 14:6; 17:2). Others have pointed out that “…Jesus is concerned with the celebrations of life. As John points out he is concerned not only with the future but with true life now, with abundant living in joyful relationship with the Father.” This should not be considered unusual since Jesus is the basis of created life in the universe. Jesus sustains life in the universe because He is the agent of the life within it. Because there is life in the Word (John 1:1) there is life on earth. Life does not exist spontaneously; it exists because of Him. Because of this life of His all created beings have life.
Jesus came to bring light into the world (John 12:46)
Added to Jesus as a light to the world, John introduces the concept of abiding or remaining. The Christian is not to remain in darkness, but he must move into the light. Abiding is, therefore, the key word of discipleship.
Now that the light has come, those who willfully reject it have no excuse (John 15:22). To hate Jesus is to hate God. To love Jesus is to abide in Him (John 15:7) and to be His disciples by bearing much fruit (John 15:8).
The world’s lack of knowledge concerning Christ is not because the people did not see or hear Jesus. Jesus did come. The gospel was presented. The people purposely rejected the message through disobedience. Therefore they are guilty of sin. However, those who did receive the message did so by faith. Jesus is the light of the world. His words are the words of God. Faith in Him alone brings us to the truth and to salvation. Contrary to what is taught by groups such as the Unification Church, Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient to bring us into a renewed relationship with God.
Truth is foundational to John’s writing. Truth is not an intellectual concept only dealing with substantiating facts. Truth is involved with life-oriented integrity (John 14:6). Jesus gave Himself to His disciples. The primary purpose of Jesus as a light in John’s gospel is 1) to bring people to Himself and God and in the process bring them to integrity of life; 2) to integrate truth into life; and 3) to provide men with correct thinking (one can be correct intellectually and theologically, but still lack integrity of life).
What does this mean to us?
Jesus did not come to bring world peace; He came so that we could live again.
Truth Fellowship Live made a critical decision this evening. We have decided to move forward with God’s guidance into a new location. We will soon be at the corner of 12th and Expressway in Bismarck, ND. This decision was not made lightly. Through much prayer we decided that we have a vital ministry to offer to the Bismarck region and beyond. Our broadcasted messages are already serving a global audience. We now need to emphasize the ministry we need to do in the Bismarck/Mandan region.
As I wrote last week: God has brought us together as a church for a reason. Our responsibility is to trust God and to do the work of the ministry. God has given us gifted people that are in TFL “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;” (Eph 4:12–13).
We have answered the call and we are ready to do our part in accomplishing the great commission: “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” (Matthew 28:18–20).
We are under God’s authority to evangelize and disciple those He sends our way.
Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and get ready to do God’s business? Look for us at the corner of 12th and Expressway around mid-July, 2013—come worship, serve, and minister with us.