The Gospel Story
Good News Concerning God & Humanity
After the resurrection, Jesus reinstates those who deserted Him and gives them a kingdom mission to: preach the Gospel to all nations, make disciples, baptize believers, and teach everyone. Before Jesus ascends to heaven, He promises to send them the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit comes, He begins to unify people in Christ (Pentecost). The Disciples (now Apostles) passionately preach the good news of God’s coming and kingdom. The Spirit convicts people of all nations and draws them to repentance. Jesus’ ministry on earth continues through His followers, but at great cost. Intense persecution comes at the hands of both Jews and Romans. The Apostles are seen as enemies of religion and the state, declaring that a new King has come. They are mocked for being Followers of the Way and Christians (little Christs). Like Jesus, many of them, including Peter, John, and Paul, suffer intense beatings, rejection, and martyrdom. Despite all opposition, Jesus’ followers continue to multiply thanks to the faithful witness of the Apostles who saw the risen Christ with their own eyes. The Spirit comforts those who are suffering.
The community of Christ followers becomes the Church, the new people of God. They gather together at least weekly in homes to devote themselves to: Jesus’ teaching, the sharing of a communal meal, prayer, healing, and cheerful giving to one another. People worship God now not by religious temples and offerings, but by the Spirit and in truth. Christians are characterized by their unusual but attractive way of life to the least, last, & lost (especially to women, children, and slaves). Many are added to their numbers daily.
The Church becomes a safe place for people who want to seek God. Those who accept Jesus’ life-giving kingdom invitation of salvation are baptized into the faith community (most often publically). People are welcomed to come as they are, but not accept where they are. Followers of Jesus, under the guidance of the Spirit, encourage one another towards Christlikeness in every area of life. As a result, believers in Christ love God by loving/forgiving others and their enemies. All of this is done through spiritual gifts that the Spirit pours out upon His own for the purposes of ministry. Each gift is a continuation of a different aspect of Jesus’ ministry. The sacrament of communion becomes vital for the Church; through the bread and the cup, they proclaim the Lord’s death and favor until He returns. God uses the Church to bring light out of darkness.
The most powerful metaphor God uses to describe His relationship with people is marriage. Jesus is the bridegroom who loves His beloved and lays down His life for her. God’s people are the bride who submits out of love to Jesus. The bride is first made up of the true Israel, children not of physical descent but of the promise (Jews). Then after Jesus appears, the bride expands to include the Church, people of all ethnicities and nations (Gentiles). Members of the bride have been adopted into the family of the Father by their marriage to the Son. Like Jesus, God’s people are now children of the promise, sons and daughters of the Most High. Those who belong to the family of God are His forever; their salvation is sealed, marked by their perseverance in the faith. God’s heart breaks when His beloved prostitutes themselves to idols, thus cheating on their lover. But like the prophet Hosea, God patiently continues to care for His own in spite of their wayward ways, longing for the day when they can be united together forever.
Part 5 Coming Soon