Christmas is Peace
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
This verse always reminds me of Glad’s Acapella Christmas album. They lead off with a song about this verse. It’s beautiful, as is the truth behind it — that because God sent His Son into the world, we have peace with Him. But this verse specifically says that God is at peace with those with whom he is pleased. Now who are these people that God is pleased with?
At our seeker discussion group this last week, one of the guys brought up some friends of his who consider themselves Christians but disagree with our view that we’re saved by grace alone through faith alone. His friends believe that we’re saved by grace and works together. Of course, we strongly disagree with that idea because the Bible disagrees with it. The viewpoint that says we’re saved by grace plus works basically says, “Glory to God almost in the highest.” Jesus couldn’t quite get the job of our salvation secured, so we had to pitch in and help the Son of God. So, “Glory to God almost in the highest with a little pat on the back for your own self.”
This was a continual problem with God’s people before Christ came — they depended upon their own righteousness.
10 But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
This is the testimony of the entirety of the gospel, that the death of Christ in our place pleased God, that Christ took the penalty that we deserve. If that’s the case, then what exactly is left for us to contribute? Just to clarify, we’re focusing on salvation here, not sanctification. Salvation is how we’re saved, how we’re brought back into a relationship with the God we have sinned against. Sanctification is how we live after we’re saved and that does involve our works, but that’s very different than contributing to our salvation with our works.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
That says it all. We have been declared “not guilty” (justified) by faith in what Christ has done. And because of that and that alone we have peace with God.
Glory to God in the highest!
It’s good news to know that we don’t have to be looking over our shoulders, wondering if we’ve done enough to earn God’s good favor. “Does He love me now? If only I was good enough to be loved by God!”
There are three tragedies when we don't rightly understand the gospel. First, people who continually wonder if God loves them can never be joyful Christians. Second, people who think God loves them because of their wonderful contribution to the world are blind to their own self-righteousness. Third, the people who think that because Christ has secured their salvation that nothing is now required of them as God’s children. (That’s called Antinomianism and it’s simply an ancient heresy with a modern day counterpart.)
The first group of people need to hear this good news of Christmas, that because of Christ and Christ alone we now have favor with God. The second group of people need to understand that “by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight.” (Romans 3:20) The third group of people need to understand that we’re saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone. It’s always accompanied by works. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.” (Ephesians 2:10)
The angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest" because He's the One who's done all the work to secure our salvation, from beginning to end.