Gospel and the present Christianity - Part 02 of 04
There is no better gospel than knowing that one is free from sin and is on the way of salvation. Salvation is not `one time act' but a process beginning with baptism. A baptized faithful is on pilgrimage together with Christ, growing each day in stature unto the head of Christ, Eph 4:13. The faithful regularly and gradually acquire Christ's divinity through righteous living. God became man so that man might become divine. The journey to salvation does not end with death, for, death is only a separation of soul from the earthly body; soul does not go into nothingness rather it is waiting for the Day of Second Coming and Judgment. The journey ends with the Judgment when Lord the Great Judge shall, according to one's own doings while in earthly life say, "Go to the right side," Mat 25:33-34, one has successfully completed the goal of salvation. Constant spiritual guard is essential not to slip the track and lose the goal.
Jesus' preaching is speaking of God and the Kingdom of God; the gospel assumes greater dimension. He began his ministry by saying, "The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel," Mk 1:14-15. The purpose statement of Jesus is found in Luke 4:18. He read from Isaiah 49:8-9, "He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; to set at liberty those who are oppressed." He was truthful in his mission, faithfully preached the good news everywhere he went and to everyone he came in contact. He walked with those who walked, reached where people gathered; home, market place, synagogue and fishing place so to win souls. He comforted them, healed them, ate with them, lived with them, but at the same time kept aloof from sin and ultimately gave his life as ransom. He loved and cared for them without differentiating or choosing between male or female, rich and poor, ruler and the ruled, scholars and illiterate, healthy and the sick, affluent and the outcast, but shared the gospel equally with all. He taught them, corrected them, clarified their doubts and confronted the enemies of gospel, Mat 9:35. He employed simple language, parables and perfect modeling. He vigorously carried out the mission with zest and zeal, never wasting a moment of opportunity to win souls. He chose and appointed 12 apostles, Luke 9:1-2, and disciples, Luke 10:1-3, commanded them to carry out the same task without stop or hindrance. Gospel inevitably includes, comforting, giving peace, anointing, healing the sick and exorcism, accepting hospitality without grumbling or greed, without expecting reward or self-comfort and risking even life; it is not mere pedantry. He who handles the gospel and the work of the Kingdom of heaven should not be burdened how to gain worldly comforts. Jesus did not promise his followers an easy going and opulent life. He sent them saying, "Go your way, behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves." v3. He forewarned them that the way is difficult; there are wolves, that they should expect opposition from unrepentant and cruel enemies of gospel. Evangelism is not meant for those who seek material gains and personal comforts, v4. Christ has mandated them to lead a simple and blameless lifestyle. Luke mentions a special condition, "Greet no one on the road," v4. Jesus was not telling them to behave rudely or unmannerly but was insisting on the urgency of the gospel, that is, they must not waste time on matters other than preaching the Kingdom of heaven. The way to salvation is the way of gospel, the way of suffering. There is no salvation without bearing the cross.
According to Jesus, gospel was an ongoing process not stopping at any time until his Second Coming. For this purpose he chose twelve apostles and gave them special authority. Mark records the great commission: Jesus said, "God into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned;" believing is salvation and disbelieving is condemnation, 14:15-16. Mathew says in 28:20, Jesus sent the apostles with the same authority he had in heaven and on earth, to teach, to baptize and to observe his commandments. John is still more specific about the great commission of the apostles; "Jesus breathed on them and said, receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you remit, they are remitted unto them; whose sins you retain, they are retained," John 20:22-23. John records another special commission to Peter, "Feed my lambs, Feed my sheep and feed my sheep," John 21:15, 16, 17. Repetition of "sheep" twice in English version seems needless, if both import same meaning, In Syriac three distinct words are employed, and (1) "Emrai" means lamb, (2) "Erbai" means `he-sheep,' and (3) "Nkawotho" means she-sheep Thus Peter is appointed to shepherd the children, men and women flock in the house of God, second only to Christ Jesus.
To be contnd.....
Rev. Fr. K K John