The Good News - Home
By David A. DePra
And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven……From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. (Mat 16:16-17, 21-25)
In this passage we find a principle that governs God’s dealings with man. That is not an exaggeration. Furthermore, it is a Truth that, according to Jesus, governs even God’s dealings with the saved. Jesus said, "IF any man be my disciple…." He is not talking there about salvation. He is talking about the path required after salvation for discipleship. And the word IF shows that we have a choice.
Jesus is drawing a very distinct line in this passage. He contrasts, "the things of God," over and against, "the things of man." He contrasts, "losing your life to find it," over and against, "trying to save your life and losing it." He contrasts, in response to Peter, the necessity of the Cross as God’s path to life, over and against Peter’s plea that the Cross was a path to death, ruination, and defeat. Make no question, there is a line being drawn here. Indeed, we see, clearly and definitively, TWO GOSPELS. The gospel of Satan is being contrast with the gospel of God. And we need to see the difference.
The Gospel of Satan
Jesus had just announced that He must go to the Cross. But Peter objected. Remember – this same Peter, just moments before, had confessed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Savior – the Son of the living God. You would have thought that Peter would have believed that Jesus knew what He was talking about. You would have thought that Peter would have known that Jesus’ prediction of His death was God’s will. Could the Son of God be wrong about such a thing? But instead, Peter says, "Far be it from You, Lord! This shall NOT happen to You!"
The meaning is a bit obscured in the English translation. Peter was actually saying, "Be merciful to Yourself, Jesus, this doesn’t need to happen to You!" In effect, Peter was saying, "Jesus, You are the Son of God. God would never allow, or expect, such a thing to happen to You. You have obeyed God and are to be used of Him to bring in this great kingdom You have been telling us to expect. So cut Yourself some slack. This isn’t going to be required."
What was Jesus’ response to Peter? "Get behind Me, Satan!" Get that: Satan. This is the Son of God talking. I submit that He is telling it like it is. At that point, because of Peter’s desire to have God’s kingdom HIS way, and because of Peter’s ignorance, Satan was able to use him. Thus, in the words of Peter to Jesus, what we have is a clear revelation of the gospel of Satan.
And so we come to this question: What is this gospel of Satan? Remember that Peter was not asking Jesus to forsake God. He was not telling Him to sin – not in the moral sense. In fact, behind Peter’s plea was a sincere desire for the kingdom of God. Sure. A dead Messiah can’t bring in the kingdom, or so Peter thought. So Peter wanted Jesus alive so that the kingdom he expected would come, and so that Jesus could do God’s will. BUT – Peter demanded that all of this would be possible without the Cross. Indeed, he thought the only way it could happen was without the Cross.
If you turn to Matthew 4, you will find Satan offering Jesus all of the kingdoms of the world in exchange for worship. This is the SAME gospel – it is the offer of all that God wanted Jesus to have, but WITHOUT the need to get it through the Cross and resurrection. Satan is consistent, I’ll give him that. And so it is here, through poor Peter. I’m glad Peter finally saw the Truth and got free.
Jesus rebuked Peter greatly – the same Peter He had called, "blessed," only minutes earlier when Peter confessed He was the Christ. Jesus then went on to elaborate as to WHY Peter was so wrong. He gives a teaching as to the requirements for discipleship. But then He said, "Whoever would save his life shall lose it. But whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it." Thus, the Truth revealed in this passage was not only applicable to Jesus personally, but also to all of those who would become His followers.
What we find in the words of Jesus once again stands in stark contrast to the words of Peter. We must see this. Peter suggested that the Cross was something negative – something God would not require because Jesus was the Son of God. In short, Peter thought the Cross would keep Jesus – and also us -- from God’s will. To Peter, the Cross would prove that God was unfaithful. "Far be it from You! This will never happen to YOU!" And so on. But Jesus knew that the Cross was something positive – something God had to require because Jesus WAS faithful. Jesus knew that the Cross, rather than take away from us, and keep us from fulfilling God’s purpose in our lives, would actually be the means and instrumentality by which all that God has for us would be made possible.
We must see this. The gospel of Satan states that because God is good, God would not require suffering, or require anyone to lose their life for His sake. But the Gospel of God states that because God is good, He must deliver us from ourselves. And that means we must lose our SELF for His sake. Only then can we be delivered from self, and from all that keeps us from experiencing true life in Christ.
Jesus actually makes trying to save one’s life equal to seeking and desiring, "the things of man." He makes losing your life for His sake equal to seeking and desiring, "the things of God."
What we see in all of this is that the Cross – and my experience of it – is the most vital aspect of my Christian walk. Many people today gladly preach that Jesus died for us. They rightly point to that fact as the basis for our salvation. But more and more today, the necessary of the POWER of the Cross, and the WORK of the Cross, in the Christian experience, is being pushed aside. Even ridiculed. And yet Jesus said, "If any man would be my disciple – would follow Me – let him deny himself, pick up His Cross, and follow me." The Cross is therefore not only central to the issue of salvation, but it is central to our on-going walk with Christ.
Satan is still around, preaching his gospel through many who claim to follow Jesus. If he preached it through Peter at one point, then we can be sure that it is possible that he preach it through many today who claim to be called of God – through many who confess that Jesus is the Christ! Just like Peter. And how might that gospel of Satan be preached? Either by contradicting the words of Jesus, or simply by neglecting and ignoring them.
The basic way in which the gospel of Satan is always preached is the SAME WAY Peter preached it on that day. What Satan does is offer people all the things of God – he offers them what God wants them to have. But he offers all of this WITHOUT the necessity of the Cross. He says to them, "Far be it from you, that you would have to LOSE YOUR SELF! No! You don’t have to LOSE your self to find true life in Christ! In fact, you can actually get God to give you YOUR LIFE YOUR WAY! Isn’t He a good God? Isn’t He merciful? Isn’t He loving? Away with this Cross business! That is a negative message. God loves you too much to require that!"
What you end up with as the outcome of the gospel of Satan – if it were possible -- is a man possessing all of the things of God, but without the work of the Cross dealing with the man himself. You have man continuing on the throne of his own life, ruling over all that God has for him. In short, the SELF life of man remains in tact, and God affirms it as so.
Satan has always wanted this. It is really what HE is all about. And when Adam fell, man came under that same kind of nature – human version, of course. Thus, the gospel of Satan is really an affirmation of man in his fallen condition – but religiously so -- with the stamp of approval of God Himself upon it. The gospel of Satan makes the Cross something that is negative – something that will take away from you that which is good.
The Truth is, God has completely set aside into death what Adam became. God put it all to death in Christ. There is no place for the sovereignty of man over himself in the kingdom of God, and there is no possibility for man to receive anything God has for us as long as we remain on the throne. Thus, the Cross is God’s means of delivering us from all that keeps us from being able to experiencing Him.
Let’s ask some honest questions: When is the last time, on Christian television, that you heard someone preach that the means by which you enter into the blessings of God is by daily carrying your personal Cross? When is the last time that you were told that, yes, God has for us all blessings in His Son, but you must LOSE YOUR LIFE TO FIND HIM – and those blessings? When is the last time you were told that all spiritual power is directly related to your dependence upon Christ? When is the last time you were told that the entire issue of discipleship is contingent upon whether you pick up your Cross – upon whether you pick up an instrument of DEATH? Nope. Usually, you are told that you can enter into the blessings of God by other means – by giving money, by confessing those blessings into existence, or by doing good works. Rarely do you EVER hear the words of Jesus from Matthew 16 echoed, taught, or made central to the Christian walk! Can anyone see what is happening here? Can we see who is behind this omission? This contradiction? How could it be more plain, more obvious, and more front and center, as to the Satanic true nature of so much that is spreading everywhere today in the church? At what point are we OUT of excuses on this matter?
Let’s get down to brass tacks: Any gospel that tells you that you can have what YOU want, or even what GOD wants for you – but offers a means other than the Cross – is the gospel of Satan. Period.
In contrast, the Cross is God’s means whereby He rightly relates us to Himself. Until we begin to carry our Cross as a disciple, we are not going to be rightly related to God. We may have lots of religion – and believe that we are right with God. But until a person LOSES HIS LIFE – that is, loses their SELF LIFE – until that happens, that SELF LIFE is going to be in charge. And as long as it is, that SELF life will corrupt the things of God, take possession of them, and use the things of God for a SELF agenda. This is not something we need to plot, devise, or plan. It is simply the nature of things – the nature of the FLESH -- and we are going to DO IT until the Cross sets us free.
I’m not sure if many of us really grasp this Truth. But it is CERTAIN: Ignore the Cross and the flesh will be in control, yes, even over the things of God in your life. Ignore the Cross and you are going to continue to try to SAVE YOUR LIFE – and you might even try to do that thinking, as did Peter, that this is good. You will think you are in God’s will. You many not even have a frame of reference otherwise. You will simply go on, totally blind to the fact that you are operating in the flesh, rather than in the Spirit. Millions are deceived in this way today, and many of them would tell you they are, "filled with the Spirit."
It is an amazing thing – people have been deceived into thinking that the solution to what ails them is that they need to get, "filled with the Spirit." Like it is an experience. Well, sure, it would be fantastic if we were all, "filled with the Spirit," as the Bible means it. But you cannot get filled with the Spirit until you are emptied of SELF – and that takes the Cross. Thus, to bypass the necessity of the ongoing work of the Cross, and think that you can just be filled with the Spirit is deception.
The Truth of the matter is, if you are filled with the Spirit, the Spirit will bring the Cross. Not maybe. Thus, if you think the Christian life is a matter of God giving you your dreams, and fulfilling all of your desires, and giving you all the riches of Jesus – but if your notion of this is that you can have it without first LOSING all of this into the hands of God – you are deceived. The point is, God will give us very little in this life unless we have first passed through death and resurrection over it. Christians don’t want to believe that, but it is right there in the Bible a hundred different ways.
The Cross is the means by which God sets us free to be rightly related to Himself. Then we can be trusted with the things of God. There is nothing worse than a person who tries to take ownership over the things of God, and exercise authority, and move in the realm of God – nothing worse than someone who does those things, but who is NOT rightly related to God through Christ. That person is ripe for deception. And Satan loves it.
If the Cross is the means by which we LOSE OURSELVES – are set free from self-ownership and the SELF life – then can we see that we are fit to operate in the things of God? For we will be in them to HIS glory, and not ours. But if we are not free from the self-life, then we are going, one way or another, to use the things of God for our own agenda. We may use them religiously, or even think we are doing God service. But the life of Christ cannot move in what we are doing. That is because OUR LIFE is in charge.
The Cross will bring us to just this place: We will know, and experience, what it really means to belong to God. We will be set free from bondage to SELF. We will experience resurrection life in Christ.
But you see, when all that you know is your SELF life, and when all you hear is teaching as to how this isn’t all that bad – in fact, that God wants to give you your best life now, well, to lose your life is going to sound negative. You might even find yourself saying, "Far be it from me. God won’t require that!" Yet you will be wrong. God WILL require that – and it is His mercy that DOES. He wants to set us free and rightly relate us to Himself.
This matter of the Cross stands as the dividing line between the old creation and the new. It determines which kingdom rules. It decides who is my Lord. It is just that important.
The Good News - Home