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Friday, February 5, 2010

Four Aspects of the Gospel (2)

What's the gospel?

2. Jesus Christ brings peace to those with faith.

Arguably this is the earliest definition of the gospel in the Bible, as it makes its first clear appearance not in the New Testament but in the Old: "How delightful it is to see approaching over the mountains the feet of a messenger who announces peace, a messenger who brings good news [gospel], who announces deliverance, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns!' " (Isa. 52:7; see also Rom. 10:15; Eph. 6:15).

The Hebrew word for "peace" in Isaiah 52:7 is the familiar word shālōm.  The meaning of shālōm extends far beyond the English word "peace."  Shālōm in its broadest possible conception is wholeness or completeness.  In politics it is peace; in the human body it is health; in relationships it is mutual friendliness, loyalty, and respect; in any situation it is goodness to the nth degree.

The gospel is that this kind of peace, shālōm-peace, has been brought into the world by Jesus Christ.

In his Gospel, Luke kicks off Jesus' ministry in the synagogue at Nazareth, where Jesus reads another prophecy of Isaiah (61:1-2): "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news [gospel] to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:18-19).  Jesus brings wholeness to those who are lacking something: the poor, the captive, the blind, and the oppressed, physically, materially, economically, politically, socially, morally, and spiritually.  Jesus brings wholeness to the whole human person.  These are "the unfathomable riches of Christ" (Eph. 3:8).

Jesus not only announces peace but enacts it.  Summarizing his ministry, he tells John the Baptist in one breath that "The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them" (Matt. 11:5).  Jesus' gospel-preaching announces shālōm, and his healing makes shālōm in people's bodies.

The shālōm-peace that Jesus announced and demonstrated in his earthly ministry is to be completed in the age to come.  The gospel is that God's great Sabbath-rest of peace is out there, just a bit down the road, and if we hold on to our faith in God while we still do not see it, we will someday inherit it (Heb. 4:1-6).  It is no surprise that faith is essential to enter into eternal peace, because Jesus consistently required faith for people to receive physical peace (health) from him in this life.

The gospel of peace and the gospel of the kingdom are closely connected.  The reestablished reign of the true King is what establishes peace.  "[God] . . . proclaim[ed] the good news of peace through Jesus Christ," namely that "he is Lord of all" (Acts 10:38).

Beginning in this age and concluding in the age to come, Jesus Christ brings peace to those with faith.  That is good news.

3 comments:

  1. Hi friend, peace...

    Your blog very interesting.
    But I have some questions for you:

    First, why were you believe that Jesus is your God?

    Second, what do you response? If you know that Jesus is created by Constantine (the Roman Emperor at 325 AC) and the leaders of Christians in Nicea Convention on 325 AC (After Christ).

    Third, how about this information? (1) Deuteronomy 6:4 , “Hear O Israel Yahweh our God is the one, the only Yahweh.” (2) Paul wrote that “God is only one,” in Galatians 3:20 . (3) "I am Yahweh your God . . . You shall have no gods except me,” Exodus 20: 2,3.

    Fourth, how about this information? (1) Nowhere in the Bible is the day of worship changed from Saturday to Sunday. This change was not made by the Almighty, but by the Roman Church; (2) The name “Jesus” is derived from the Greek name “Ieasus,” which actually means “son of Zeus.” Sadly, when people call upon the name of Jesus they are actually speaking of Greek mythology.

    Fifth, how about this information? It was Roman Emperor Constantine who mandated Christianity to be the universal religion. Before he did this though, he made huge changes in the faith. Constantine gave several edicts that would separate the church from Biblical Judaism. These decrees mandated ancient pagan practices, like Christmas, Communion, Easter, and Sun day worship, as “Christian.”

    Sixth, how about this information? Christianity was corrupted by Paganism. The pure Deism of the first Christians was changed, by the Church of Rome, into the incomprehensible dogma of the trinity. Many of the pagan tenets, invented by the Egyptians and idealized by Plato, were retained as being worthy of belief.

    Seventh, how about this information? There are many similarities between the pagan god of Christ and the Christian version of Jesus. For example, Greek mythology tells of Christ bring born to the virgin Isis on December 25.

    Eighth, how about this information? The word “trinity” cannot be found in the Bible. It wasn’t formally a part of church doctrine until the 4th century, when the Church first began teaching god as being in three separate persons.

    Thanks for you answer.
    I hope we can be friend, although we have different perspective.
    If you willing visit my blog, and read my article at http://sosiologidakwah.blogspot.com
    And... if you love books, read The Holy Qur'an please...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Aristiono, thank you for your peaceable comment. Because it is not quite on the same subject as this blog entry, I was going to reply to you in private. But perhaps other readers might benefit from this open exchange (although if you reply again, I probably will not reply openly so as not to get too far off the topic).

    I reply according to the points of your comment.

    1. To be precise, Jesus is God in that he fully has the nature of God. But THE GOD, who is One, is the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. In other words, Jesus is not "my God" as opposed to some other gods out there. The true God is the Trinity (more on that later). But I believe Jesus is God because Jesus said and did things that only God could say and so, and God the Father identified Jesus' uniqueness by raising him from the dead permanently.

    2. Jesus was/is a historical person. He was not invented by the Council of Nicea.

    3. Amen. Any Christian who does not believe these Scriptures is not a Christian but an idolater.

    4. (1) We have evidence that the early Christians, in the very first generation after Jesus, met on Sunday to commemorate Jesus' resurrection (see, for example, Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). We also know that they understood the seventh-day Sabbath as a picture, and the reality had come in Jesus Christ, so seeing one day of the week as holier than another didn't matter anymore (see Romans 14:5; Colossians 2:16-17). (2) "Jesus" is the English way of writing the Greek name "Iesous." "Iesous" is the Greek way of writing the Hebrew name "Yeshua" or "Yehoshua," which in English is "Joshua." That name means "Yahweh saves."

    5. Constantine had power, but not that much power. Christians were already celebrating those holidays (certainly Sunday worship, Holy Communion, and Easter) before Constantine came along. But even if all those celebrations (except for Communion, a command from the Lord himself) disappeared, they wouldn't change the truth that Jesus died and rose again and is coming to judge the living and the dead.

    ReplyDelete
  3. 6. Early Christians found much falsehood and much truth in pagan thought. They refuted what was false and explained how what was true fit with what God had revealed in Jesus by the Holy Spirit. There is some degree of truth in all non-Christian belief systems, including yours. The kernel of truth within a belief system is what makes it last so long. Christians don't claim that every other religion is wrong about everything. We claim that they are missing the central things: that there is one God, who is a Trinity of persons, and that the Son became human to save the rest of us sinful people.

    7. I think you are talking about similarities between Horus and Jesus. There are some superficial similarities, but so what? What makes Jesus Christ and his story unique is not that there is no other character like him. Jesus is unique because he is the only one who is real, the only one who lived in recorded history to be seen and touched by eyewitnesses. Did Horus do that?

    8. The word "trinity" is not found in the Bible, as you say, but then again, neither is the word "Bible." The word "trinity" is a handle, so to speak, used to "pick up" the content of the doctrine. It's like a nickname. Is a nickname a person? No, but it is the word we use to refer to a person. Likewise, "trinity" is the word we use to refer to the truth that there is a single God who exists in three persons. This truth rests on every page of the New Testament, even if it isn't spelled out exactly the way they did it in the 4th century. The Christians who fell down and worshiped Jesus as Lord and God the day he rose while still acknowledging that Jesus had a Father and that there is only one God—these Christians believed in the Trinity, even if they would not have put it that way.

    Why is it so incredible to you that comprehending the Triune God is so difficult? Shouldn't we be more disturbed by a god who is perfectly easy for us to understand? Wouldn't that be something like a god made in our image instead of the God in whose image we are made?

    Finally, thank you for recommending the Qur'an. I have desired to read it for some years, and I am sure I will do so someday. Be blessed by God, friend.

    ReplyDelete