“And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.”
How beautifully this third part of the Christian’s armour follows upon the girdle of truth and the breastplate of righteousness! They belong together; the one follows upon the other. Having experienced the wonder of being righteous in Christ before God, the Word of God becomes for us the gospel of peace, and nothing is more wonderful in the consciousness of the Christian warrior than peace.
As the truth is the girdle and righteousness the breastplate, so this preparation of the gospel of peace is our heavily spiked military shoes. We do not read of a preparedness unto the gospel of peace, but of a preparedness of the gospel of peace. Of course, the church must always be ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. And every child of God must be ready to give an account of the hope that is in him. But the text speaks of a preparedness of the gospel of peace. This is a preparedness which comes to us from the gospel of peace. It is this gospel of peace which constitutes the Christian soldier’s preparedness in the world, enables him to stand in the midst of his fearful battle and struggle.
How wonderful is the gospel! The gospel in this text surely refers to the entire Scriptures. The whole Word of God is the gospel because every part of it is related to the gospel. Besides, the word “gospel” means: good news, glad tidings.
In Galatians 3:8 the gospel is obviously identified with the promise. God, preaching the gospel to Abraham, preached the promise to him. Hence, the gospel is no offer. How could a mere offer, God’s offer of salvation to all men, dependent, therefore, upon the will of a sinner, ever be good news? How could such a preaching serve this Christian warrior, equip him with these military shoes for the battle? Need we say more?
The gospel is good news because it concerns the promise. And God’s promise is a divine solemn announcement of what He will do, never dependent upon anything outside of Himself. The promise of God is unconditional—He alone fulfills it. This is clearly stated in Heb. 6:13-14. The promise of God is as sure and as faithful as God is faithful. Fact is, He confirms it with an oath—see Heb. 6:13-18. And this promise is also strictly particular. Heb. 6:17-18 speaks of God’s immutable counsel and the heirs of the promise, namely the elect.
Indeed, the promise is good news, glad tidings. This is true, first of all, because of Him Who promises: the unchangeably faithful covenant God. This is true, secondly, because of him to whom the promise is made. Mind you, we are conceived and born dead in sins and in trespasses. We are hopelessly lost in our sin and guilt, worthy of eternal condemnation, do not desire salvation and can do nothing in our own behalf. And, thirdly, please notice what is promised by God! The Lord promises, not only salvation, but salvation in everlasting glory and heavenly immortality.
We read now of the gospel of peace. Hence, peace is the content of this gospel, these glad tidings. Indeed, how rich, according to Scripture, is the gospel! It is as rich in its content as the promise of God is rich. Of course, the content of the promise is Christ. This promise implies the forgiveness of sins, our righteousness before God in Christ, and our adoption unto children of God. It implies that we receive, in Christ, all the spiritual blessings of salvation, that we are heirs of eternal life and glory, of the incorruptible and undefilable inheritance that fadeth not away. Indeed, the gospel has for its content Christ and all His spiritual blessings of salvation as ultimately realized in heavenly life and glory.
In this text we read of the gospel of peace. Peace means harmony, unity, concord. God is the God of peace. The triune God is in perfect harmony with Himself. Peace for us is harmony and fellowship with God. Spiritual peace means that, spiritually, we, who by nature are enemies of God, are now at peace with Him, love Him, and live in blessed harmony with Him. But we can also speak of peace in the judicial sense. This means that the middle wall of partition between God and us has been removed, that the guilt of sin has been paid, that His covenant fellowship with us has been established as according to His law, that God has reconciled us to Himself and we are heirs of His fellowship and communion. It is this judicial peace which is meant in this text. To have this peace means that we have the unspeakably blessed assurance of heart and soul that God is not against us but for us, that He has made peace with us, has laid the basis and foundation for His eternal covenant of friendship with us.
The gospel of peace! The gospel of peace is, the gospel that proclaims peace. As the gospel of peace, it is also the power of God which also works peace in our souls and consciousness, grants us the assurance that all is well between the living God and us. Indeed, of all the blessings of salvation, of all the riches of the promise of the gospel, the apostle singles out this one, lays his finger upon this one gift of grace as so necessary and vital for the Christian soldier in the midst of the world.
And now we read of the preparedness of the gospel of peace. We interpret this expression, “preparedness of the gospel of peace, in the same sense as the other similar expressions in this Christian armour. Even as the girdle of trust, etc., means that the truth is the girdle, so the gospel of peace is this preparedness, and this preparedness constitutes our shoes in this battle. This preparedness of the gospel of peace means that this peace, as wrought in Christ and experienced in the soul and consciousness of the Christian warrior, is our preparedness. It constitutes our heavily spiked shoes, enabling us to stand in the battle, to hold our ground and sustain every onslaught of the enemy.
Surely, the apostle here is not speaking of a preparedness, a readiness, for the gospel of peace. The idea, then, would be that we must be ready to preach the gospel; preaching it, we will turn the hearts and minds of many of our enemies to become friends and join our ranks in this struggle of the ages. How impossible is this view! The apostle here is emphasizing the gigantic struggle of all the ages between the Church and the World, between the seed of the serpent and that of the woman. That world surely never becomes the church, that Seed of the woman never becomes that of the serpent, even as wolves never become sheep and the tares never become wheat. The question here is not how many of the foe we can induce to join our ranks, but that we are engaged with him in a relentless, uncompromising struggle even until the end.
These shoes are the spiked shoes, the hobnailed sandals of the Roman soldier. With these shoes he stands, holds his own, maintains his position, cannot be forced into surrender or retreat.
How wonderful are these shoes of this preparedness of the gospel of peace! Why can I sustain my position in the midst of this struggle of the ages? Why is it that this gospel of peace grants me this preparedness, this state of heart and mind and soul to be able to endure? Are not the odds stacked up hopelessly against me . . .?
On the one hand, we now have peace with God. God is now for me; who can, therefore, be against me? God is on my side; what, then, can man or all the forces of hell and darkness do unto me? What else matters now? I am righteous in Christ before God; my sins and iniquities are all forgiven; I am an heir of everlasting glory. Indeed, with all due consideration to whatever may be my distress in the world, what does it really matter? Can this present light affliction (II Cor. 4:17) be compared with the glory that shall follow? Can this life ever be compared with that which is to come? Shall one drop of affliction and sorrow (in comparison with the eternal bliss) be likened to that endless ocean of immortal life and bliss? I am at peace with God: He is for me and on my side; this I know through the wonder of the gospel of peace. However, this is not all. Fact is, I am as yet in the battle, in the struggle of the ages. O, this affliction may be light when compared with the endless glory and immortality, but the fact remains that I am as yet in this affliction, and this suffering can be very hard and grievous.
But, there is still more. On the other hand, this peace with God surely means more than that God is for me and that my eternal victory is, therefore, sure and certain. It also means that I am now more than conqueror, that God is for me, also now. It also means that He causes all things, now, to work together for my good, yea, that every attack of the enemy somehow is necessary unto my eternal life and glory. I have peace with God! Then I also have peace with all things.
The Holland translation is better here. It is better because it reads that we must shoe our feet.
Indeed, this preparedness is not our work. We read literally: “Having shod our feet with the preparedness of the gospel of peace.” This preparedness is surely not our work. O, we do not make these thickly spiked shoes. They were surely prepared for us, eternally and upon the cross. . . . And it is only by His irresistible grace and Holy Spirit that we become partakers of this preparedness. God it is Who unites us with Christ by His gift, a true and living faith.
Yet, we must put these shoes upon our feet. That is, we must enter consciously, through faith, into this work of God in Christ. We must appropriate it unto ourselves. We must study the gospel, familiarize ourselves with all that it declares to us concerning this mighty peace-making work of God in Christ Jesus. We must surely know the Scriptures, all the Scriptures, how God made peace with us in Christ, and how true it is that He is for us, always for us, and never against us. We must live near these Scriptures, appropriate them unto ourselves by a true and living faith; and when we are in the thick of the battle and inclined to become discouraged and despondent, we must stand in that gospel of peace, look at our present light affliction in the light of the unfailing promises of our God, and believe that also now everything is working that far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (II Cor. 4:18). Indeed, also in the battle we are more than conquerors.