Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Everlasting Gospel, Part 5

Joel speaks of the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will follow the Lord’s arrival, Joel 2:27-32. Micah predicts the very town that the Messiah will hail from, and that the Messiah is the eternal God, Micah 5:2. Zechariah talks not only about the Messiah’s entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey, but how the Messiah will be pierced by those He offered Himself to; in fact He would be pierced by God! Zechariah 9:9; 12:10; 13:7.

Malachi (like Isaiah before him) tells us that the Messiah will be preceded by a forerunner that will herald His first appearance, Malachi 3:1; Isaiah 40:3. All of these prophecies were uttered 400 years or more before the coming of this Seed of the woman! Some were uttered thousands of years prior. God was preparing His people to receive the sum of His revelation about sin and salvation: and that sum was personified in Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, John 1:29; Hebrews 1:1-3. Micah caught a clear glimpse of the gospel as the Apostles would preach it when he wrote, “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity (sins) and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue (Hebrew kabas; also means “overcome”) our iniquities. You will cast our sins into the depths of the sea,” Micah 7:18-19.

The message for the Jews was the promise of the kingdom offered to David and the land promised to Abraham, both of which were incumbent on their acceptance of Christ, Amos 9:11-12; Zechariah 12:10-13:1; Malachi 4:2-3; Daniel 7:13-14, 22, 27. This was why the Jews needed to repent and believe the gospel. To repent simply means to change one’s mind about a matter. The Jews needed to perceive their sinful state before a holy God, and accept what God offered through Christ by faith. They were not worthy of the kingdom God promised David; no nation is. Their acceptance of Christ as their rightful ruler and Messiah would have ushered in a blissful era in Israel’s history; but God already knew the outcome. Israel, blinded by national pride and desperate to escape the Roman yoke, wanted a warrior-king like David who would liberate Israel, overthrow Rome, and bring the Jews back to national sovereignty. This was not the humble Shepherd’s task in His first advent. Sin had to be dealt with, so He came into this world to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself; God’s people had to be brought back into a right relationship with Him before the kingdom could be established.

When the Jews rejected Christ the message of the kingdom shifted. Whereas Christ first spoke of the kingdom of God being at hand, Matthew 4:17, now He spoke of the kingdom being within men, Luke 17:20-21. He told a parable of a long cessation while He went to receive another kingdom and His return after a long period of time, Luke 19:12-27. This could easily relate to the end of God’s dealings with Israel for a time, and the beginning of the church age, when Christ dwells in our hearts through faith, via the Holy Spirit’s indwelling power and activity. When the last saint for the church age (of which the prophets knew nothing, 1st Peter 1:10-12) is saved, then will come the Rapture and the Tribulation, and the promises to the Jews being fulfilled after God has subdued Satan’s kingdom and set Christ on the throne of David. The Millennium will be in part a fulfillment of God’s promises both to Abraham and to David: that is, land and lordship of Israel and the world through Jesus Christ the King, the Son of David.

Today the gospel is clarified in terms that erase any vestige of hope we might have had in pleading ignorance. We do not need to agree on what God’s plan is for Israel, or when the Rapture and Tribulation occur, or how it will occur. We do not need to agree on modes of baptism or the Lord’s Supper and the proper use of spiritual gifts in the church. We need to agree that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, and that He rose again from the dead the third day according to the Scriptures, 1st Corinthians 15:3-4. This is what we need to confess with our mouth and believe in our heart, and such faith only comes by hearing the gospel clearly and plainly given, Romans 10:9, 17. The Old Testament revelation made it clear that man was separated from God due to his sin; there was need for atonement to have the defilement of sin paid for. It was also clear that religion and service, however vehement, often and earnest would never be accepted before God. Sacrifice was needed; blood must be shed to atone for sin, since the penalty of sin was death, Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23; Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22. Yet man was not an unblemished creature, and therefore had no hope of atoning for himself, Romans 3:23; Psalm 49:7-9. If there was eternal redemption to be had, it would have to be supplied by God. And that is just what God did, Mark 10:45; John 1:29.

The everlasting gospel the angel declares in Revelation sums up the notion we are working toward: God has only dealt with man essentially in one way: by grace through faith in God alone, divorced of human effort or merit, 1st Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2; 1st Peter 1:19-21. We know this as well because God does not change, Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8. The gospel (or good news, which is what the word means) is clear: there is salvation in Jesus Christ alone, because Christ accomplished through His death what no one else could; He made an acceptable sacrifice to God in payment for our sins, and if someone comes to Him in faith they receive eternal life in Christ’s name.

Believing on Jesus’ name is synonymous with accepting His claims to deity, His efficacious sacrifice and His cleansing blood, His sanctifying Spirit, His Lordship and right to rule. We are admitting that we recognize and acknowledge the claims of Jesus Christ, agree with Him (repent), and place the hope and trust of our eternal welfare in His hands, out of which we can never be removed, John 10:28-30; 6:37; Romans 8:38-39. Jesus paid the ransom price for our souls; His blood is worth more than every man and woman alive, or who ever will live. His priesthood is eternal, which means not only are we saved forever, but His offer of redemption through the blood never expires, and it is available to all, regardless of our background, learning, religious upbringing, etc.
To be Concluded.

1 comment:

  1. Ian. I added myself to follow your blog but for some reason it posted a blank face profile photo???



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