| The Everlasting Gospel|
The Everlasting Gospel
"Having the everlasting gospel to preach unto those who dwell on the earth."Revelation 14:6.
This worldwide proclamation of the glad message has been going on for ages. It is to be wider, and louder, and more urgent as the end draws near. The gospel is to be preached to all nations for a witness before the end comes.
The proclamation is made by an angelan angel flying in mid-heaven, the position of the sun at noonthat all may see and hear. Angels in the book of Revelation, are representatives of the invisible agencies at work on earth.
They are living and personal agencies, though invisiblesuperhuman powers, setting in motion the whole machinery of the world; and in the case of the present angel, the special machinery for the promulgation of the everlasting gospel. This book of the Revelation (like Daniel and Zechariah) takes us 'within the veil that hides the material from the spiritual', the human from the superhuman. It gives us the hidden, or supernatural side of Church history; the secret springs and invisible agencies which produce events and factschanges for good or evil; it gives us a glimpse of the true laws of nature, or at least of those living powers and processes by which these laws are regulated and made to subserve the Creator's purpose. It shows us that angels have far more to do with our world and its history than we suppose; it keeps before us, what is so much needed in our day, the supernatural world of intelligence, and life, and strength, outside of oursyet quite as real and trueclosely though invisibly connected with us, and operating at all points, animate and inanimate, spiritual and physical, upon the course of things in this lower sphere of ours. These 'ministering angels' (Hebrews 1:14) have far more numerous and various ministries in connection with earth and its history than we usually ascribe to them.
This angel is seen 'preaching' (he has the 'evangel to evangelize,' as the words are literally), making the good news known. Not that he actually preaches as men do; both by stirring up human agencies and in other more secret ways communicating it to men. Satan and his angels work for evil, in the dissemination of error, the sowing of tares, the inventing of strong delusions; and why should it be thought incredible that good angels might, in their sphere of good, do the like service for truth and righteousness? How Satan tempted Christhow he made Ananias lie to Godhow he sowed the tareshow he leavens the world with errorhow he beguiles us with his subtletywe know not; but he does so. Just as the law was given by angels, as the 'word was spoken by angels' (Hebrews 2:2), as 'the angel testified these things in the Churches' (Revelation 22:16), so this angel in mid-heaven may be understood as proclaiming the everlasting gospel. Angelic lips may not be heard; but human lips, set in motion by agencies which eye has not seen, may proclaim it. There is here a new proclamation of an old thing; a re-promulgation on a wider circle of the everlasting gospel in the last days, just before the great act of judgment is consummated.
I. The GOSPEL. It is a 'glad message' from God to man; good news from heaven to earth. In it we have not man speaking to God, but God to man; not earth crying to heaven, but heaven to earth; it is love descending, not love ascending. It is the gladdest of all glad tidings that ever came to earth. It is the true good news
(1) It is the true good news of God's free love. To be good news, it must be the news of love. And for that love to be available or accessible to the sinner, it must be absolutely and unconditionally free. God's free love is the very essence and marrow of the gospel. And it is as large as it is free.
(2) It is the true good news of God's great gift. God gave His Sonand the Son gave Himself. Here is a gift beyond all measure and pricean 'unspeakable gift.' Of this the gospel is the glad message.
(3) It is the true good news of God's propitiation for sin. It was not a mere gift, but a gift which was to be a propitiationan atonementa sacrificial giftthe gift of a substitute and surety. One special part of the value and suitableness of this giftthat which made it so pre-eminently a gift of sinnerswas its sacrificial character. It was an offering for sin. It contained cleansing and reconciling blood. Yes, Christ is the propitiation for our sins! God has set Him forth as a propitiation. This is the very gladness of the glad message.
(4) It is the true good news of God's righteousness. He is the righteousness of Godand He was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. We bring glad tidings of a divine righteousness in preaching the gospel of the grace of Godrighteousness for the unrighteous, yes, for the most unrighteous of the sons of men!
(5) It is the true good news of God's kingdom. The 'gospel of the kingdom' is its special designation. It is good news of a kingdom, and of the new and living way, and of the open gate into that kingdom for sinners. There is a glorious kingdomthere is free access to it; its gates are open; God bids us welcome. This is our gospel. Enter in, O man, O sinner, into the kingdom of God!
II. The EVERLASTING gospel. We read of eternal or everlasting salvation, eternal or everlasting redemption; and here is the same word applied to the good news concerning these.
(1) Its past is everlastingIt came forth from the bosom of Him from who the only-begotten Son came; it is the embodiment of His eternal purpose. It was hidden in the eternal ages; and from these it has come out to us. It is no new thing to God; no unexpected thing devised to meet a sudden emergency. It is from everlastinglike the love and grace out of which it sprang.
(2) Its future is everlastingIt is forever and ever. Its gladness is forever; its provisions last forever; and what it does for those who believe it, it does forever. The eternal future is filled with the trophies and bright with the splendors of this glorious gospel.
(3) It is illimitableIt extends on all sides, through all space as well as through all time. Its center is the cross; its circumference is nowhere, or rather everywhere, round the whole universe of God.
(4) It is unchangeableLike Him of whom it brings good news, it is the same yesterday, today, and forever. It is without variableness or shadow of turning. One gospel, only oneyet that one sufficient for worlds of sinnersthe same forever. It does not know progress or progressive development, for it is perfect.
(5) It is the gospel of every age and nationIt is not for one century more than another, but for all; not for one nation more than another, but for all. It suits the nineteenth century as truly as the first; civilized Europe as truly as barbarian Madagascar. It is the gospel for the agesin every age the same, supplying the same needs, addressing itself to the same kinds of sinners pardoning the same sins, removing the same fears and sorrows. It is the everlasting gospel; more truly such than the everlasting hills or the everlasting stars. It is a gospel for fallen menhuman, and yet divineof earth, and yet of heaven.
And this gospel is to be enforced in the last days by a special argument'Fear God, and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come.' The gospel changes not, yet each age furnishes its own potent reasons for receiving itthe last age the most potent and irresistible of all. Now or never! For the last trumpet is about to sound. Now or never! For the son of man is just at hand!
| 2009/11/7 13:26||Profile|
| Re: The Everlasting Gospel|
If we examine the preaching, the gospel preaching, of the Apostles, we shall see that it presented the most immense and humanly inexplicable and ununderstandable realities; and such presentation was based upon two essential factors: one, the preacher being endued and endowed with the mighty Spirit of God; and, two, complete dependence and faith that that same Spirit would give to the hearers ability to receive the truth. Apart from these two things the preaching was indeed 'foolishness'. We shall come on this again as we proceed.
Of the many humanly inexplicable and ununderstandable factors, the all-inclusive one - in Apostolic preaching - was the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. As an example (and do note that this is what Paul specifically called his gospel) take 1 Corinthians 15. Having made the statement that this is what he preached as his gospel, he proceeded to this long, long discourse on resurrection. Read it carefully in detail and say to yourself: 'This is the gospel.' It is not some extra, detached, advanced teaching. It is not an 'ology'; that is 'Christ-ology', 'Church-ology', 'Theology', etc.; it is the gospel! It is all gathered into and based upon resurrection, beginning with Christ and expanding and advancing until all believers are in a state of immortal glory for all eternity.
| 2009/11/7 13:35||Profile|
| Re: |
What is the Gospel? It is Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh in terms of sonship, to generate a new race after His own kind, to bring many sons to glory. That is it in brief. Oh, that is something very much more than getting your sins forgiven, that is very much more than justification by faith. It is that, but it is infinitely more than that, and all the other things included; the deep, deep inner secret of God, how He is eventually going to have triumph in His original purpose; and what we have been seeing is this, that the faith is not a system of doctrine at all. The faith, according to the New Testament, is sonship, and it is in relation to sonship as an inward, spiritual reality brought about by this work of God in generation, it is that which is the occasion of all the conflict. The Son came and, right at His coming, hell was moved from beneath to withstand Him and to make His entrance into this world impossible, and to get Him out of it as soon as could be. All the way along it was upon this very point - "If thou be the Son..." Hear it in the wilderness, Satan saying, "If thou be the Son..." It is an assault upon sonship in terms of doubt, to try to paralyse the effect of that sonship by introducing some question about it. "If thou be the Son..." So it was all the way through; and then on the Cross you hear that Satanic hiss again, coming through the Jews who cried, "If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross" (Matt. 27:40). Only when we are in conditions and circumstances of extreme pressure and adversity, only then are we able to understand a little of what it meant to have that question raised at such a time. You the Son of God! Poor Son of God! Look at you, look at your condition, look at your situation! God has left you! This is the outworking of your own foolish ways, your own self-chosen way; there is no trace of sonship about this! "If thou be the Son..." - raising the question again in the light of the awful conditions. It is the assault upon sonship.
And then the assault was transferred from the Son to His seed, and we know quite well that the real nature of spiritual conflict is not around our creed, our profession; it is over the spiritual life that is in us. It is about that mystery in us of a difference. We are going the same way as He went, we are being subjected to the testing fires of adversity. The Lord allows conditions to arise in our lives which seem wholeheartedly to deny that we are sons, that we have been born out from God, that God is with us, that God is in us by His Spirit. All the conditions seem at times to put God far from us, and there is nothing whatever to argue that we are sons. That is the test of faith.
And the faith is just that; not only faith in Him but the faith is that we are sons, sons of God, in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation, in the midst of a world that is hostile, in the midst of a cosmos full of antagonistic spirits. Yes, the fact of sonship is there through new birth, but sonship is something more than birth, sonship is maturity. That is where the consideration at this time comes in. It is so clear that the New Testament shows that the continuation unto the full growth of sonship is as vital and as important as the beginning of sonship; that is, the bringing of the Lord's people to full spiritual growth is as important as bringing them to new birth. That is where there has been a breakdown.
That brings us right back to what I was saying at the beginning. Today, and for a long time, evangelical leaders have put all the emphasis, or the main emphasis, upon getting people saved. They are interested in that more than anything else, and that is the direction of their main occupation. With what result? That we see a most unsatisfactory state among Christians, and that too in the face of the fact that the very existence of the New Testament itself is the evidence that to bring converted people to full spiritual growth is as important as bringing them to new birth. Why have we the New Testament, with Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and all the other letters, occupied with the fight of the faith to bring believers to full growth? Every one of them is a battleground.
Look at Paul's fight for Galatia. What a fight it was against those Judaizers who had come in, and were causing arrest to the spiritual progress of the believers there. Paul had to say, "I marvel that you are so soon removed... unto another gospel". Hebrews is another battleground. All these letters are battlegrounds, and they all have to do, not with the conversion of the unsaved but the going on of the saved, the terrific fight of sonship. Why? Because the issue is not that babes are going to oust the powers of darkness, but full-grown believers. The Church has to come to maturity.
So the Apostle says, "When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men... and he gave some apostles: and some, prophets"; and so on. What for? "The perfecting of the saints... till we all attain unto the unity of the faith... unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph. 4:8,11-13). The unity of the faith, the fulness of Christ. You see, that is the thing that comes to light. It is just as important for the seed or the family or the Body to come to spiritual full-growth as it is for it to be begotten at all. That is a tremendous thing. The mystery of the Gospel is not just getting people born again. The mystery of the Gospel is the fulness of Christ, and that only begins at new birth. This is the disclosed secret, this Gospel, and it is the occasion of the tremendous, unrelenting conflict, a cosmic conflict with principalities, powers, world-rulers of this darkness, spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies (Eph. 6:12). That is where the wrestling goes on.
| 2009/11/7 13:41||Profile|