The constant rising of the tide of pollution in the human world has made our life panicky every bit of the hour. Peace has been the tremendous need of the time in the present day global situation. Precisely, it is the clarion call of every human soul, every family, every society and every nation in all the world. Much has been done to earn peace and fraternity among men and among nations. But ‘peace’ is not a commonplace thing that we can buy it from a grocer’s shop. Peace without God is impossible in the life of men despite his effortless trial to bring peace and goodwill through dialogue and no war peace agreement etc. The on going differences, intolerance and hatred among men will only lead us to more wretched condition of life. On the other hand , money and wealth , position and power also can no way give you the real peace of heart. It is the gospel of Christ only that can bring permanent peace and solace to the frustrated human soul as well as in the national and international affairs.
2.What does the Gospel of Christ mean? In Anglo-Saxon, the word ‘Gospel’ means God spell or good news. The Greek word is ‘Evangelion’. The Gospel meant at the time of early church – oral transmission of the fact of life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
(a) Gospel as defined by Scripture-
(i)”The preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of mystery.” Rom16:26
(ii)”Gospel of God concerning his son Jesus Christ.”Rom1:1-4
(iii)”The gospel is the death and resurrection of Christ.”I Cor15:3-4
(iv)”It is the revelation of God’s plan of eternal salvation and reconciliation of fallen man.”Heb1:1-2
(v)”But we preach Christ crucified.” I Cor1:23
(vi)”-----it is the power of God unto Salvation to every one.” Rom1:16
(vii)”…it is such a great salvation” Heb 2:3
(b)The Characteristics of the Gospel: If we think the gospel of Christ to be a package of gifts from God, then it contains many wonderful items of gifts. It means that the package itself has many wonderful facets of glory.
(1) The Gospel of Great Joy:
In the first place, the gospel of Christ means the gospel of great joy, exceeding joy. It can bring joy to our sorrow stricken hearts. The Angel of the Lord Himself came down from heaven and appeared before the country shepherds and said,
“Fear not, For behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”Lk2:10-11
“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” Matt 2:10.
The message of the birth of Jesus brings joy to the whole world. Because, it is the message of a great Savior born for all men, for you and me. Christ is the source of all joy. Jesus Himself has said,
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11.(NIV)
“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” (KJV)
He also said, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive , and your joy will be complete. “ John 16:24(NIV).
The complete joy Jesus is talking about is the joy of the heart and the joy of the spirit that can take control of your life. The joy expressed here is a joy which is overflowing from within not from without. This deep inner joy is not the result of our worldly achievement. We can experience this fullness of joy only through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our lives. And this joy is lasting because , it is based on the true relationship with God through a consecrated life to our Lord Jesus Christ. “The joy of the Lord is your strength …” in Neh 8:10 is a promise of God to His people who are bowed down and burdened in the soul. They shall receive the oil of joy for mourning and their hearts will be comforted. Only Jesus can give you this joy because, He only is the source of all joy. The fullness of joy that He promises to us is abounding , supernatural and satisfying welling up to everlasting life. It is the joy which is not short lived but that remains in us all times, good times or bad times, night times or day times.
(2)The Gospel of Great Love:
Our God is a God of love (I Jn 4:8, 16). At the same time , our God is a God of history. He loved us in real history. “Elohim” is a generic term for deity where Greek equivalent is “Theos”. It refers to God as the creator who created the whole universe and man. EL Elyon, EL Shaddai, Yahweh are the names of God which are remarkable in biblical theology. They refer to God as the living God who progressively manifested Himself through actual historical events. “EL Elyon” means God Most High, EL Shaddai means God Almighty. The name par excellence for the God of Israel is Yehweh. Yehweh is directly involved throughout history in Israel’s deliverance from the bondage in Egypt who guided Israel to the promised Land. Our God is a Redeemer God and Yehweh is his name that manifests this very characteristic of God. God later showed His greatest love in history not only to Israel but to whole mankind by sending His only Son Jesus Christ who died on the cross. And this is the basis of our Salvation. Rom 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” (KJV). Let us see how other versions of the Bible translate, simplify and paraphrases this verse .
“But God has made clear his love to us, in that when we were still sinners, Christ gave his life for us.” Bible Basic English.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in that the Messia died on our behalf while we were still sinners.” Complete Jewish Bible.
“But God has shown us how much he loves us – it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us.” Good News Translation.
“But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Holman Christian Standard.
“But God shows his great love for us in this way—Christ died for us while we were still sinners.” New Century Version.
“But here is how God has shown his love for us while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” New International Reader’s Version.
“But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.” The Message (MSG)
Throughout the Bible we can see that our God is a benevolent God who loves us and sent His only beloved Son to die on our behalf. The original Hebrew word (verb) for love concerning God’s love towards man is ‘aheb’ while Greek equivalent is ‘agapao’. However the word ‘love’ is also used in the Bible in different ways giving diverse meanings and theological concepts. There are different words in Greek used for love such as the following---
1. erao, eros--- which signify sexual desire, passion for physical union.
2. philio, philia – affection of friends or relatives.
3. philadelphia -- love of the brethren.
4. philanthropia -- love of mankind.
5. stergo, storge -- affection, familial love—husband- wife, brother- sister relationship.
This comparison illustrates how diverse are the meanings of love. But the love of God which is ‘aheb’ in Heb and ‘agapao’, ‘agape’ in Gr is supreme and unselfish and can no way be explained in human terms. The love of God shows His concern for all men and historically appropriated in choosing the nation of Israel. The other words used in the Bible incorporating the meaning of the undying love and concern of God for His people are— Mercy, kindness, loving kindness, grace, charity, plenteous, compassion etc . as in Ps 86:15, “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering , and plenteous in mercy and truth.” Ps 63:3, “Because thy loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.” It is important to delve into the scriptures how they literally describes the love of God towards men. Few examples are cited below using different versions and translations.
II Cor 9:15 . (This verse speaks about God’s wonderful gift, that is the gift of His Son.) “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift----“ NIV
“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift---“ KJV
“Thank God for his Son- a gift too wonderful for words—“ New Living Translation
“Thank God for his gift that words can’t describe.” Common English Bible
“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift.” English Standard Version.
“I thank God for his gift that words cannot describe.” God’s Word Translation
“Let us thank God for his priceless gift.” Good News Translation
“Let us give thanks to God for his gift. It is so great that no one can tell how wonderful it really is!.” New International Reader’s Version
“Praise be to God for what he has given , which words have no power to say.” Bible in Basic English.
Indeed, we have no words to say and our words have no power to say about God’s love to us which is – indescribable, unspeakable, too wonderful for words, that words can’t describe, inexpressible, priceless, no one can tell how wonderful it is!
I John 3:1
“Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us…” American Standard Version
“See what great love the Father has given us in naming us the children of God…” Bible Basic English
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us in that we should be called God’s children….” Common English Bible
“See what love the Father has lavished on us in letting us be called God’s children….” Complete Jewish Bible
“Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called and should be the sons of God….” Douay – Rheims
“Consider this: The Father has given us his love . He loves us so much that we are actually called God’s dear children…..” God’s Word Translation
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are…” NIV
“How great is the love the Father has given us so freely! Now we can be called children of God. And that’s what we really are !....” New International Reader’s Version
“SEE how very much our heavenly Father loves us , for he allows us to be his children, and we are really are !.....” New Living Translation
‘What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it…. We’re called children of God…” The Message (MSG)
“See what marvelous love the Father has bestowed upon us… “ Weymouth New Testament.
The whole Bible is a historical book which truly describes God’s love for men through historic events. God’s love is not only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal nor a philosophical outlook written by men of God but truly manifested in the person of Jesus Christ who died for us and also risen again. Jesus Himself said, “ The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life , and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:10,11(NIV) And there is the love of Jesus. He also said, “ As the Father has loved me , so have I loved you. Now remain in my love . If you obey my commands , you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:9- 13(NIV)
(3)The Gospel of Great Peace:
The Gospel of Christ also means the Gospel of Great Peace. When Jesus was born on earth , a great multitude of heavenly host came down on earth with an angel and sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14 Jesus Christ is our peace and his birth brings the message of peace to all mankind. What is peace?
(i)The Webster Dictionary has given the concept of peace as- “A state of tranquility of mind” “Freedom from disgusting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.” “Harmony.” The Longman’s Dictionary puts it this way- “Quiet and restful conditions with nothing to worry.” “A state of freedom from disorder within a country.” “Freedom from war.” “Freedom from worry.” From the above point of view we can redefine peace as- “Freedom not only from external forces like, war, violence, injustices, sicknesses, all kinds of inhuman activities, etc, but also a freedom from fear, oppression of thoughts or hectic emotions, depressions, afflictions and any other such psychosis to save our body and mind and the society as well.”
(ii) The Biblical Concept of Peace:
“Peace” is a gift of God. “The Lord…..give you peace.” Num 6:26 The root word for ‘peace’ in Hebrew is “Shalom”. The simple and general idea of the word is "well-being”. However the word is used to give a wider range of meaning. It implies the wholeness of well-being of health (body), mind (soul) and the spirit of an individual. It also speaks of the well-being of the whole land where he lives. The meaning goes deeper as we look at Judges 6:23 and 24. The angel of the Lord appeared before Gideon and spoke to him, “Peace be to you, do not be afraid, you are not going to die.”v23 Gideon built an alter for the Lord and called the place “Yahweh Salem”- which means, “The Lord is Peace”. V24. This is a striking definition. Here ‘Peace’ is identified with the Lord Himself. Peace is seen here as
WHOLENESS OF GOD. “Wholeness of God” means the WHOLENESS OF HIS BEING, the WHOLENESS OF HIS PRESENCE, the WHOLENESS OF HIS SALVATION or the WHOLENESS OF HIS GRACE.
‘Peace be to you’- for Gideon would mean the very presence of God to have fellowship with him for which he needed not to be afraid even of death. It is God’s peace, i.e., God’s presence, that which enables us to maintain peace of mind even in the midst of death , trouble, persecution , fear, sickness, affliction, and any other such situation that may prevail. Peace is not a worldly thing that we can inherit it through worldly things like, money, wealth, or pleasure. Peace is spiritual as God is a Spirit. Peace originates from God.
(i) God as the Peace-maker: The word is “Shiloh” which means “Peace-Maker”, “the Rest Giver”, or “the Giver of Peace”. Gen. 49:10; Mic 5:5; Num. 6:26 God is indeed our Peace-Maker. God is designated as- “God of Peace” in Heb 13 13:20; Ph 4:9 “God of Love and Peace,” IICor 13:11 He gives us the “Perfect peace”, Is 26:3 “Great peace” has they which love His law. Ps 119:165 Our God is a God who makes peace with people by sending His own Son to die on the cross and give us eternal life .Eph 2:15
(ii) Messiah as the Peace-Maker: The word ‘Shiloh’ also refers to the promised Messiah, the Christ. He is called the “Prince of Peace” Is. 9:6 “He will be their peace” Mic. 5:5 He is called the “King of Salem,” which means, the “King of Peace.” Heb 7:2
(iii) Jesus Christ as the Peace-Maker: In the N.T., Jesus Christ is regarded as our peace. ”He is our peace” Heb 2:14; see Rom 5:1. His birth on earth is full of peace and good will. “….on earth peace, good will toward men.” Lk 2:14. He is indeed our peace-maker. He gave away His own life to make peace with us. “So making peace…” Eph 2:15 also Col 1:20. The King of Salem mentioned in Heb.7:2 refers to our Lord Jesus Christ. He is our real King of Peace. He is our Giver of Peace. Jesus said to His disciples,, “Peace, I leave with you, my peace….I give unto you: not as the world giveth……Let not your heart be troubled. “ Jn 14:27. He is indeed our “Lord of Peace.” Paul says, “Now may the Lord of Peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.” IIThess 3:16. Every time Jesus appeared to his disciples after His resurrection, He said to them, “Peace be to you” Jn 20:19,21,26. Jesus might have meant to say that “Peace Himself has come to you. Therefore, you need not live in fear or anxiety.” This is exactly what God had said to Gideon. The Legacy of Peace of Christ has been deposited in the heart of the believers. The inner tranquility of mind and heart rested in Christ will not be shaken by the tribulation in this evil world. Jn 16:33. The Peace engraved in our hearts is not temporal but a peace which is eternal. IIThess 3:16 It is Jesus only who can give you the real peace and rest to your soul .He is our Shiloh, the rest giver. He said,” Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.” Mt 11:28,29 Jesus answered , “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13,14 Jesus is talking here about peace which He is willing to give every one who believes.
(3) The Gospel of Great Salvation:
The Gospel of Christ also means the Gospel of Salvation or the Gospel of Eternal Life , God’s saving grace to all mankind which is available only in the person of Jesus Christ through faith. Hebrew 2:3 has called it as “so great salvation”(KJV) and “such a great salvation”(NIV). Salvation is the sum total of God’s righteous work to save men through the sacrifice of His own Son, Jesus Christ. There are several terms frequently used for salvation in the Bible. One of the most important word in Heb is ‘yasha’ which signifies the meaning of freedom from bondage. The Greek equivalent for ‘yasha’ is ‘soterio’ which is translated as salvation and ‘soter’ which means ‘savior’. In the Old Testament, the concept of salvation was however rooted in Israel’s deliverance from the bondage of Egyptian rule in Egypt in the book of Exodus— a physical deliverance. In the New Testament, the concept is however spiritual which signifies a deliverance from the bondage of sin and death and also a deliverance from God’s judgment— from the eternal punishment in hell. Salvation is therefore, the result of God’s righteous act of redemption, reconciliation, propitiation and giving of eternal life through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Redemption- means full remittance of payment for sin. It is because, Christ has paid it all for us by shedding his own blood. Reconciliation- means the restoration of peace and relationship with God because of Christ’s death. Propitiation- means that God’s wrath has been appeased because of the offering of Christ on the altar of sacrifice. The word ‘salvation’ is used exclusively in the Old Testament mainly in Psalms and in the book of Isaiah.
“..thou art the God of my salvation..” Ps 25:5
“The Lord is my light and my salvation. Ps 27:1
“He that is our God is the God of salvation” Ps 68:20
“Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him” Ps 85:9
“The Lord….. become my salvation” Ps 118:14
“Behold, God is my salvation” Is 12:2
“…. An everlasting salvation” Is 45:17
It is very interesting to see that the “salvation” of the Old Testament always referred to Jesus as the only Lord of salvation in the New Testament. 2Tim 2:10 reads,
“….that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
” Acts 4:12 reads,
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, where we must be saved.
” Rom 1:16,
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
Jesus Himself has said,
“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” John 10:28
“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life….John 3:36
Jesus is the only man, i.e., the only God- man who can say, “….I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man commeth unto the Father , but by me.” John 14:6 (KJV)
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ “ (NIV)
The whole Gospel of John is a testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ, even the whole Scriptures starting from Genesis to Revelation testify of Him. Jesus Himself said, in John 5:39, 40,
“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you posses eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”(NIV)
If these are the characteristics of the gospel of Christ, then it brings joy, peace and goodwill rather than the conflicts and frustrations; it brings love and reconciliation rather than divisions, intolerance and hatred among men. The children of God are not only the messengers of eternal life but they are also the messengers of peace, love, joy, and tolerance to reconcile people to people in this existing world. It is the children of God , the believers in Christ whom God has appointed to blow the trumpet of peace in these last days in all the world—peace among nations, peace among tribes, peace among various ethnic groups, peace in the society, peace in the family and peace also in the personal life. It is also a kind of social gospel. Dr. Samuel Zwemer, the great missionary statesman said, “The gospel not only coverts individuals but changes society. On every mission field from the days of William Carey, the missionaries have carried a real social gospel. They established standards of purity and hygiene, promoted industry, elevated womanhood, restrained antisocial customs, abolished cannibalism, human sacrifice and cruelty, organized famine relief, checked tribal wars and changed the social structures of society.” The children of God are the most privileged people to proclaim such a wonderful gospel in all the world. This is indeed our priority. And this what Christ had commanded us to do. Jesus’ commission to His disciples in Matthew 28:19 is known as the GRAT COMMISSION where He says, “Go ye therefore, make disciples of all nations and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Holy Ghost..” The Great Commission refers to the need of evangelization among every sect or group of people in all the world irrespective of black and white, small and great, civilized or uncivilized. The emphasis is exceedingly great in reaching every individual. For the Bible says, “….non should perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 The need of evangelization is therefore essentially very great because the Gospel has the power to save men and give eternal life. It has the power to change or transform the life of a man. It is the Christ, the ELIXER who gives us life more abundantly . Jesus said, “….I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Dear reader, do you believe that Jesus can really give you a life full of joy, love and peace, a life which is everlasting, a life with God in heaven ?
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