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18 February 2019

Hope for All Nations

Jesus reigns over the Cosmos
After his Resurrection, Jesus declared: “All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me; go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18-19).
Installed as Lord over all things, his disciples were commanded to proclaim his sovereignty and salvation to men and women of every nation, whether Jew or Gentile, Greek or barbarian, rich or poor, male or female (Psalm 2:8-10; Acts 1:7-9; Hebrews 1:1-4; Revelation 1:4-6).
By his self-sacrificial death, Jesus established a “priestly kingdom” of men and women from every nation, and for this very reason, the entire creation declares him “worthy” to receive all power, honor, and glory (Revelation 5:5-12).
The Apostle Paul wrote that God’s righteousness is “through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe, for there is no distinction” (Romans 3:22-30).  Sin is the Great Leveler; it condemns every man and woman to bondage, despair, death, and decay. Ethnicity, gender, social or economic status makes no difference; all die in the end.
But now, through Jesus, all may receive right standing before God on the same basis, whether Jew or Gentile, male or female, poor or rich.
Paul used his radical monotheism to make the same point.  “Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one and he will justify the circumcised on the basis of faith and the uncircumcised through faith” (Romans 3:27-31). No one is advantaged or disadvantaged because of biological descent, national origin, culture or social status.
The believer “has put on the new self that is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him, in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all and in all” (Colossians 3:11).
God in Christ is creating a new humanity with members drawn from every nation. Regardless of origin, each one is being shaped into the image of His Son.  Any distinction based on race, gender, culture or economic status imposed by society is wholly inappropriate among the followers of Jesus Christ.
No nation, race, society or culture can claim Jesus as its possession. The announcement of God’s salvation and the enthronement of Jesus as Lord over the Cosmos is a message of hope and life for all humanity.
Unfortunately, the institutional Church has a long history of linking the Gospel to specific nations, cultures, political ideologies and economic systems. This is the destructive lie promoted under the term “Christendom,” the identification of Christianity with specific races, nations, and societies.
“Christendom” is a counterfeit of the true and universal Kingdom of God over which Christ reigns supreme. Sad to say but the churches of my own country are particularly guilty of this egregious sin.
This and similar lies occur when men try to hijack Jesus in service to their self-serving political and economic agendas.  Such ideas contradict the teachings of Jesus; they are counterproductive to the Church’s mission to proclaim his message to all nations. The Gospel message transcends all national, ethnic, social and economic boundaries, and any attempt to limit it by such definitions violates it.
Scripture declares all believers are “sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female:  for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:28). 
The mission of the Church is to proclaim this Good News throughout the habitable earth. The completion of this task is necessary before this Age can be concluded and Jesus returns in glory for all to behold (Matthew 24:14). Nonetheless, neither national borders, racial biases nor societal demands will prevent this mission from reaching God’s intended goal - His word will not return to Him void.
A day is coming when Satan’s destructive works will vanish from the earth; sin and death will be no more. Creation itself will be liberated when Jesus appears to be glorified in his people and ushers in the consummated Kingdom of God. In the interim, his disciples are to proclaim this Good News to any and all who will hear (Romans 8:19-23; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28).
This Good News is for every man, woman, and child, wherever he or she may live, whatever his or her societal status.  All have sinned; all need God’s salvation; none deserve it, but God has graciously made it available to all on the same basis:   faith in Jesus Christ.  In the truest sense, the Gospel of Jesus is a universal and “inclusive” faith.
As disciples of this same Jesus, we ought to reject any attempt to associate, link or identify Christianity with particular nations, races or civilizations.

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