“Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the Good News of God. ‘The time has come,’ He said. ‘The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the Good News!‘”
Our good news is the Kingdom of God: the Kingdom invitation is “Repent and believe the good news!”
In fact, this message of repentance and faith is the foundation of hope for the Church; what I mean by that is that we place all our trust in this message that says if we repent of our sins and turn from them, and believe with all our heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, then when he returns we will be saved.
And it has been this way since the beginning.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”
The enemies of God did not expect it; the foes of Truth mocked it; the children of God did not understand it. Yet God magnified His glory by dwelling Himself in the flesh and suffering among us so that he could remove the veil of flesh that has hindered mankind from knowing Him.
It was through this marvelous act that we have been reconciled to God through Christ as Jesus overcame the enemies that held us in bondage and set us free in the Truth.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which you were called in one Body; and be thankful! Let the Word of Christ dwell richly within you…”
The good news is that Jesus Christ is our shepherd (John 10:11, 17-18). Therefore, just as He followed the commands of His Father exactly, so also has He made us His Church and filled us with His Word, the Holy Spirit, and taught us to live as He lived.
THE LIVING BODY OF THE GOSPEL
This is why we are the living embodiment of the Gospel for all mankind.
As living Gospels we testify of deep mysteries and truths that are beyond the grasp of the flesh: “…but the greatest of these is Love” (1 Cor. 13:13).
It was God’s love that Jesus should die on the cross, which neither the enemy (Satan) nor the teachers of the Law (Pharisees and Sadducees) could understand.
But so that the scriptures could be fulfilled,
“The cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God! For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.’”
1 Corinthians 1:18-19
Therefore, the proceedings of this article will focus on one of the foremost elements of the gospel; love. It is the thing that confounded and dumfounded the generation that Christ came to, and it is something that still eludes many today, who either reject or distort His great love!
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life”
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. So we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and IN TRUTH”
1 John 3:16-18
let us see that,
“Those who had received [Peter’s] words were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teachings and to fellowship; to the breaking of bread and to Prayer.”
“Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe…. and all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
The gospel declares God-like Love and, indeed, it declares God-love.
The followers of Christ are followers of God-love; therefore, to deny His love is to deny Him. To change God’s love and mold it after our own ways is to completely reject the Gospel and mold a new Jesus, one that is not the Christ.
This Gospel love fills the followers of Christ to the brim.
If you re-read Acts 2:43-47, look at the various ways that they were filled with love:
- Their love was full of awe for God.
- Their love was full of devotion to His teachings.
- Their love was full of fellowship and the sharing of bread.
- Their love was full of prayer.
- Their love was full of community and generosity.
- Their love was full of gladness and sincerity of heart.
- Their love was full of praise for God.
God is the source of this love that caused them to be overflowing living gospels.
In them the scripture was true which says, “Love never fails.”
They received a great revelation of the gospel, which gave them insight and understanding into love. All of these virtues; awe, devotion, generosity, community, sincerity, and praises grew in the fertile soils of faith, hope, and love.
“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and IN TRUTH”
1 John 3:18
The love of the living gospel knows no bounds! It is not confined to words alone, but it abounds in action and flourishes in Truth.
This is why Christians pour out mercy, kindness, charity, and grace upon beggars and sinners, the condemned and the homeless, the weak and the sick, the destitute and the wicked, the liars and the thieves, kings and rulers of all the nations. All this we do in Truth, never corrupting or distorting the Love of God, never removing the conviction of the Spirit, but always to restore everyone who will accept our love to God.
The whole world see’s our love, if indeed we love.
Therefore, let our love be first of all pure. Let it be holy and righteous; not distinguishing between the rich and the poor but let it light the path for every sinner to repentance and reconciliation.
This is why it cannot delight in unrighteousness; rather, it delights when the unrighteous are made righteous, just as also our Father does not delight in the destruction of the wicked, but rather desires that they repent and turn from their sin (Ezekiel 33:11).
Love in Action
Love feeds the poor and does not turn them away (Mt 25:36-38; Jn 21:14-19; Rm 12:20).
The world will know the love of Christ if it feels it first. Love that cannot be physically felt is empty, and the world knows this.
Therefore, let the world feel our love on the first front, that is the physical realm of suffering. We should be servants of the poor and displaced. In our love we must be patient, and let our love grow in patience. Even when patience is lacking, love learns patience.
If our love is jealous, then it is not love. Instead, our love should be kind and gentle, full of meekness, just as the Word says, “Blessed are the meek”. There is no boasting or arrogance in love, only a humble and joyful submission and pouring out of itself for others. Love is forgetful, as it does not count wrongs.
Because our love is from Christ, it is of Him. For this reason love does not rejoice in unrighteousness and deceit. It takes no pleasure in wickedness or suffering.
So we listen to the Word as the Word instructs us in Love:
“If I… do not have love… I have become nothing…. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor… and do not have love, it profits me nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant. It does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own and it is not provoked, nor does it take into account a wrong suffered.
It does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the Truth; love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-8
I hope that we will not dismiss this as an ideal entirely out-of-reach, but rather, understand that we must grow into this love in maturity as we grow into Christ.
The Great Exhortation To Love
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
Never repay evil for evil to anyone! Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
We must learn brotherly love, this gospel love, as if serving the Lord Himself (v10-11).
In embracing the entire Body, that is the Church, we are free to receive from all the Spiritual gifts bestowed upon her. This leads us in a full knowledge of the hope that we have in Jesus Christ and produces an abundant love that rejoices all the more in Christ!
We should become practitioners of hospitality and allow our blessings, in whatever measure we have them, to flow out in abundance as we master our craft of love (v13).
Let us become blessings and reject cursing and embrace blessing even those who curse us (v14).
Jesus’ love was demonstrated not only in His tender care of the needy, provision for the poor, and miracles for the sick, but also in blessing those who cursed Him and ultimately laying down His life for the enemies who wanted Him dead!
We should join our brothers, whether in rejoicing or weeping, with unity of mind and join even the lowly upon this earth because we know the Love of Christ.
No one who repays evil for evil practices the Love of God. We’ve been freed from the flesh through which we practice evil, now we live in the Light and must practice righteousness in peace with all men so far as it depends on us. We do not seek revenge because we fear the wrath of God, which is surely to come upon all the unrighteousness of man.
In all things, we are not overcome by evil but we overcome evil with good.
“This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life. As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you… Now, little Children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.”
1 John 3:25, 27-28
Now, we who have the anointing of the Holy Spirit, let us embrace this all the more and be in need of instruction from no one as the Holy Spirit Himself teaches us all things!
Abide in Him, walk in the same way that Jesus walked, showing Love to everyone we come across. In this way we will have confidence and not be afraid when He returns!
Take it further:
- Isaiah 53:5-6, 10-11
- Matthew 25:36-38
- John 21:14-19
- Acts 2:17-21, 39; 16:31-40
- Romans 12:6-21
- 1 Corinthians 9:22-23
- 2 Corinthians 11:1-3
- Galatians 1:6-10
- Colossians 4:5-6;
- 1 Peter 2:9; 3:15; 4:10-11