THE GLORIOUS GOSPEL - 2
In these studies, we are discussing what the Bible again and again, calls, "The glorious Gospel of Christ",
and we are suggesting some reasons why it is, indeed, a glorious Gospel. The first and foremost is the
fact, it sets before us the Glorious Person of Christ. Indeed, indeed, Christ Risen and glorified is the
Gospel; -God's own "good news" for a lost world.
Moving on from that point, we now wish to show that that glorious Gospel relates to a glorious plan and
purpose that has ever been in the heart of God. For that reason, also, it is a glorious Gospel.
It is interesting to notice that Peter's sermon on the Day of Pentecost emphasises that the "strange things"
happening in Jerusalem on that day, were events that had been prophesied centuries earlier. He quotes the
words of Joel regarding the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; -words written 800 years before that time. He
also mentions the prophetic word of David, uttered centuries before Joel. Peter simply tells his audience,
-"This is THAT"! God was working according to His foretold plan; -step by step fulfilling His foreknown
purpose. The time had come for Messiah to be raised from the dead, and highly exalted, -and to pour
forth His Blessed Spirit. All was transpiring "according to purpose". That; we now say, is a further reason
why God's Gospel is "glorious"; -it accords with, and further unfolds, God's great eternal plan.
The fact that God has a plan, and is working to that plan, is stated many times in the Bible, -but there are
also passages which indicate certain glorious aspects of that plan. Let us give some examples. Ephesians
1: 9 speaks of "God's good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself". The following verse tells us
what that purpose is; - "That in...the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ,
both which are in heaven and which are on earth" (Eph.1 :10). The original wording here is, we believe,
most enlightening, -and carries with it very far -reaching significance. The phrase "gather together in
one" means literally to "head up into one", or to "bring under HEADSHIP". The word used is the
ordinary word for "head", -as in Matt.1 0:30, and, at the end of Ephesians one, -it is applied to Christ,
"the Head of the Church which is His Body" (Eph.1: 22). One translator, (Jerusalem Bible), has rendered
Eph.1: 9 -"He has let us know the mystery of His purpose, -the hidden plan He so kindly made in Christ
from the beginning...that He would bring everything together under Christ as Head". We can only pause
and say, "What a glorious purpose that is'". It visualises both the positional and the VITAL Headship of
Christ over everything that makes up God's new creation; -all gathered, all assembled, all placed, under
the Living Headship of Christ! That will be the kind of government that will operate in the "fullness of
times", -the final age towards which all other ages have always been moving. That, we say, is part of
God's eternal plan and purpose. And our Christian Gospel is glorious because it is related to that
GLORIOUS PURPOSE. Indeed, it is itself a part of that purpose, or should we say, that purpose is part of
the Gospel. Glorious Gospel indeed!
Needless to say, there are countless aspects to that Great Divine purpose, and here we can only touch
lightly on one or two of them. We would like, however, to make a comment on something that is stated in
the third chapter of Ephesians. Verse ten of that chapter tells us that God planned to show forth His own
"manifold wisdom" to principalities and powers in heavenly places, -and to do so through the
instrumentality of the Church. To understand that verse, one needs to absorb what Paul has been saying
in the earlier verses of the chapter. There, he has discussed the fact that both Jews and Gentiles had been
brought together in God's Church, -in fact they no longer knew each other as "Jew" or "Gentile". They
were all part of God's NEW Man, and their NEW citizenship was in Heaven! All earlier considerations
and distinctions had been crucified and buried in the death and burial of the Lord, and now Life was
NEW under the Headship of Christ. "Irreconcilables" had been reconciled, and God's wisdom had
accomplished it, -the Wisdom of the Cross. Principalities and powers, "looking on", saw ex-Jews and
ex-Gen- tiles greeting each other as "Brother", and they could only marvel at this masterpiece of divine
wisdom. All are now "bound together in ONE 'bundle of Life'"! (1 Sam.25:29). WHAT WISDOM!
Putting it into very simple terms, we could say that, in ages past, God planned to "educate" countless
unseen beings, on the subject of His own inscrutable wisdom, -and to use the Church as His chosen
blackboard. It is in the Church that there lies the evidence of what God's wisdom can do. "Of the twain,
He has made One NEW Man" (Eph.2:15), -and peace has followed. And He did it- "in Himself". What
the wisest of this world have never been able to do, HE HAS DONE, -in the all- surpassing wisdom of
the Cross. What an accomplishment, -what a great Eternal Plan, now gloriously realised !
It would be right to say that, since the fall of Adam, humanity has been a shattered vessel, with
countless widely -scattered particles, -but now God has a NEW vessel, -renewed men under the Headship
of His Son. All that was "old" has been crucified and buried in the (representative) death of Christ, and a
NEW humanity has emerged in the reality of Christ's resurrection. In that New Man there is no Jew nor
Greek; -all is HEAVENLY! There is seen the "manifold wisdom of God", and principalities and powers
are amazed at such an accomplishment. "What hath GOD wrought!"(Num.23:23).
It is important to notice the word "now" in Eph.3:10. Paul expected the enlightening work ("education",
we called it!) to go on in his day. It was not just something planned for the future. Wherever there are
living expressions of God's Church, it is now impacting on those unseen powers, -they are seeing the
evidence of the immensity of God's "manifold wisdom". THEY too, are learning the wisdom of the Cross.
Surely this should encourage those of us who are called to preach the Gospel. Unseen forces are looking
on, and they are learning their lessons.
We would like to close off this section by quoting Gal.3:27,28:-
"For as many of you as have been baptized (placed or plunged) into Christ have put on (been clothed
with) Christ. THERE is neither Jew nor Greek, THERE is neither bond nor free; THERE is neither male
nor female: FOR YE ARE ALL ONE IN CHRIST JESUS".
Manifold wisdom indeed! What a plan, -what a purpose, -WHAT A GOSPEL!
YE ARE MY WITNESSES -11
"Now they, which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as
Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only" (Acts 11: 19) .The
believers were scattered through persecution and that is how the Gospel was taken to different places.
Thus God overrules and uses many attacks of Satan for His own purpose.
One man of God went to a certain village and the people there did not receive him. Before leaving he
prayed for them saying, "Lord, bless them and prosper them". Then he went to another village, where the
people received him very gladly, and heard the word of God. Before leaving he prayed for them also
saying, "Lord, scatter them". Then his co-worker asked him, "How is it that you asked the Lord to bless
those who did not receive you and to scatter those who have received you?" He replied, "Those people
who refused to receive me, will bring only evil if they go to other places. It is better that they remain in
their own place. But if the good people are scattered, they will carry with them the good news".
Throughout the ages, the Lord has used persecution to spread the Gospel far and wide. For example, the
Gospel spread through the believers at Thessalonica because they went through much affliction. We read
about it in 1 Thess.1: 6-8; "And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in
much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia
and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also
in every place...". Through sufferings and afflictions God's word went on spreading far and wide.
Again Paul says in Phil.1: 12, 13, "But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which
happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; So that my bonds in Christ
are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places". These words were written by Paul while he was in
prison in Rome for the Gospel's sake. The believers in Philippi and Ephesus were feeling very sad. But
Paul says, "Don't be sorry for my sufferings. God has allowed them for His own purpose". Through
afflictions the Gospel was taken to the whole palace and to the emperor. When Paul was a prisoner living
in his own hired house, the Roman soldiers had to keep watch over him by turns. While these soldiers
were on duty Paul went on preaching and thus they could listen to the Gospel. One by one those soldiers
must have been converted. Through those converted soldiers, the Gospel was taken to the whole of the
Roman Empire, and even to Caesar's palace. So Paul saw for himself how God had honoured him in
putting him there to be a witness through sufferings. In the early Church the Gospel spread through
persecution. Even so, today if the believers suffer joyfully, -they not only grow spiritually, but the Gospel
also will spread. Wherever there is no suffering or persecution, there is no growth. Instead there will be
strife, division, parties and hatred.
Now though the early believers preached the Gospel, they preached to the Jews only. "Now they which
were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and
Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only" (Acts 11: 19). That is why their
spiritual growth was stunted. But there were some unknown believers from Cyprus and Cyrene who took
the Gospel even to Greece. "And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which when they were
come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with
them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord"(v$.20,21). God's word was thus preached
through them to the Gentiles.