THE GOSPEL MESSAGE
In April 2004, we traveled to Uganda and Kenya on a missionary trip. As I had the opportunity to share with pastors from these two nations, I became increasingly conscious of the need to put the Gospel Message we are sharing within a proper framework that enables us to get a full picture of all that is in the mind of God.
This column is an attempt to meet the need. The way it is revealed in the scripture the Gospel journey is progressive. It goes from an appeal to people on individual basis to repent and seek peace with God on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice for mankind, to a warning to the nations on the eternal consequences of rejecting God’s mercy.
It reaches a climax in an outright proclamation of judgments and damnation on all creation that reject God. Thus, we can distinguish three stages as the Gospel of Salvation, the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Everlasting Gospel.
This column seeks to explore this progressive revelation of the Gospel message and helps to separate things properly.
It is written in simple language and is a useful tool for pastors and leaders.
One of the greatest tragedies that has befallen us as Christians today is not the persecution of those who name the Lord’s name that has recently heightened in Nigeria through Islamic fundamentalism.
I believe what has devastated the Church most is the tragedy of spiritual underdevelopment that has left the church on the periphery of the total provision of God. Many are malnourished and many are out-rightly starved because we have not appreciated the full scope of the provision that the Lord made for us through His death on the cross, which he ordained to be entered into through the preaching of the Gospel. The Gospel we have embraced has not really opened our eyes to see the full provision of God needless to say entering into it.
Our purpose in this pamphlet is to examine the subject of the Gospel in the light of the Scripture to see if we are getting the full dose of His provision. My impression is that many of us have become like patients diagnosed with malaria who are only taking one quarter of the dose recommended by the Doctor. The result is that sicknesses are not fully cured even though a diagnosis has been made. Jeremiah’s words are apt in this regards: if it was true in his generation, then it is truer in our own generation. Jeremiah may have had today’s priesthood in mind when he wrote so poignantly: “For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 8:11)
THE SCOPE OF THE GOSPEL MESSAGE
The Gospel actually means the good news especially concerning salvation and the kingdom of God as announced to the world by Christ. It is God reaching back to embrace man again after the tragic separation that resulted from the fall of Adam.
When we talk of the Gospel of the Kingdom, it is the way God brings people out of their selfish preferences and expressions to total submission to the will of God. This is so important that the Lord Himself taught His disciples to always pray for this to happen.
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father, which art in heaven. Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9-10)
The Kingdom of God is the rule of God and the establishment of His order. It is the government of heaven over the earth.
The Scriptural revelation of the gospel shows that God intended the gospel to impact the man, the nations of the world and then the entire universe. Ephesians 3:10 for example foresees that the gospel be preached to angelic beings in heavenly places.
THE THREE LEVELS OF POWER:
The Bible says that Jesus’ ministry transcended the heavens. Phil.2:9-10 puts it this way:“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
The Lord declared that all powers in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. He thereafter sent us to preach and make disciples of all nations in line with the fullness of the power that has been given to him. “And Jesus came and spake unto them saying, all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore (In this power) and teach (make disciples) of all nations.” (Matt.28:18-19) Have we realized the full extent of this power? Do we work in the fullness of this power? Are we aspiring to enter into this clear provision of God by arming ourselves with knowledge about the extent of His provision, and then paying the price necessary to walk in the fullness of that power? These are salient issues that our generation must never ignore because we are the people unto whom the end of the earth has come.
THE FALL AND GOD’S RESOLUTION
From the time of man’s fall in the Garden of Eden, it was clear from God’s response to the major actors and culprits that he would do something that would not only recover the loss but also bring redemption and renewal. In addressing Satan, the chief culprit in the drama of the fall, He said: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)
The preaching of the Gospel is therefore the God appointed means of fulfilling this prophecy. This means that in content the gospel must address everything affected by the fall including man, the inhabited earth, the entire universe and all creation. It is for this reason that the entire creation groans awaiting the manifestation of the sons of God who will have what it takes through the preaching of the right kind of gospel to bring it into liberty. (Rom.8:19-22).
The Scriptural revelation of the gospel envisages a three stage plan that expands in scope until every aspect of creation is impacted. Paul understood that through the gospel, the power of God was released: “For it (The Gospel) is the power of God.” (Rom.1:16). This three stage plan for the unfolding of the Gospel may be stated in ascending order as – The Gospel of God’s Grace, The Gospel of the Kingdom and the Everlasting Gospel. (Continues)