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24 April 2020

Sign and Hope of the Gospel

SYNOPSIS:  The task of the Church is to proclaim the Good News of the kingdom in every inhabited corner of the earth. The completion of that task is necessary before Jesus returns in glory to consummate all things.

Open Bible Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
By Aaron Burden on Unsplash
After his Resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples and proclaimed, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations." During his ministry, Jesus commanded his disciples NOT to preach to Gentiles or Samaritans, although he did so on a few occasions. Instead, they were to proclaim the Good News of God’s Kingdom only to the “lost sheep of Israel” (Matthew 10:1-6, 28:18).

However, once Jesus had been resurrected and made Lord over all things, his followers were tasked with bringing the Gospel to all the nations, to Jews and Gentiles alike.  Just before he ascended into heaven, he commanded his disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they “received power when the Holy Spirit came upon them.”  Thereafter, they would be “his witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:7-9).

The Apostle Paul wrote a lengthy letter to the churches in Rome that were experiencing tensions between Jewish and Gentile members.  In it, he described the “righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe, for there is no distinction.”  Sin is the Great Leveler that put every man and woman in the same desperate place, both Jew and Gentile.
  • (Romans 3:22-30) – “A righteousness of God through faith in [Jesus] Christ, unto all that have faith; for there is no distinction,— For all, have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; Being declared righteous freely by his favour through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:—Whom God hath set forth as a propitiatory covering, through faith in his blood, for a showing forth of his righteousness, by reason of the passing-by of the previously committed sins, In the forbearance of God,—with a view to a showing forth of his righteousness in the present season, that he might be righteous even when declaring righteous him that hath faith in Jesus. Where, then, the boasting! It is excluded. Through what kind of law? Of works? Nay! but through a law of faith: For we reckon that a man is to be declared righteous by faith, apart from works of law. Or [is God] the God of Jews only, and not of the nations also? Yea! of the nations also:—If, at all events, God is one, who will declare righteous—the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through their faith.” – (The Emphasized Bible).
But now, with the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, all may receive this right-standing before God on the same basis, whether Jew or Gentile, that is, from faith in Jesus.  There are, therefore, no grounds for human boasting or self-confidence, “Since all have sinned and lack the glory of God.” 

Paul appealed to his monotheistic faith.  “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 from faith and the uncircumcised through faith.” No individual is more advantaged or disadvantaged before God because of his or her biological ancestry, national origin, or native culture. The true heirs and children of Abraham are constituted in Jesus Christ. Those who come to faith in Christ--
  • Have 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.”
World Map - Photo by Andrew Stutesman on Unsplash
By Andrew Stutesman on Unsplash

In Jesus, God is creating a new humanity with men and women drawn from every nation, and shaping it into the image of His Son. The traditional distinctions of race, gender, and economic status by which society divides itself are inappropriate in the Body of Christ. The announcement of God’s glorious salvation is 
One Message intended for all men and women (Colossians 3:11).

The Church has a long and sad history of linking the faith of Jesus to specific nations, cultures, civilizations, political ideologies, and economic systems.  Such efforts are contrary to the teachings of Scripture and counterproductive to the task of the global mission assigned to the church by Jesus himself.  The Gospel is a message that transcends and tears down all these manmade walls.

The scriptures declare that all believers are--
  • The 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 in every inhabited corner of the earth. Its completion is necessary before this Age can end with the return of Jesus in glory for all to behold. National borders, cultural imperatives, and ethnic barriers will not prevent the Divine proclamation from reaching God’s intended goal. His word will not return to Him void (Matthew 24:14).

A day is coming when the destructive works of the Devil will vanish completely from the earth.  Sin, along with Death, the last enemy,” will be eliminated forever.  This grand triumph will coincide with the arrival of Jesus in majesty and power at the End of this Age, at which time, he will reward his faithful followers and usher in the consummated Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:20-28).
God’s reign will then be consummated in all its glory throughout the Universe.  In the interim, His sons and daughters are called to proclaim this Good News to any and all who will hear and respond in repentance and faith.
The Good News about what God has accomplished in Jesus Christ is for every man and woman wherever he or she may live.  All men have sinned, all need God’s gracious salvation, no man deserves it. However, God has made it available freely to anyone, and to all on the same basis - Faith in Jesus Christ.  In this sense, the Gospel is a universal, “inclusive” message.

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