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Thursday, May 05, 2016

The Cosmic Gospel

From the ANE ( Ancient Near Eastern ) context in which the Scriptures were written, we know that the Good News, that Jesus was the Messiah of Israel, was fulfilled through His ministry & that of His disciples! Because of this, many seem to discard the Scriptures as inapplicable, even useless in the world of today; however, much of this reasoning is based on the notion that 'fulfilled' means 'concluded' & has the connotation of 'cessation'. 'Fulfilled', put simply, means '( to be ) filled up'; on one hand, as I have postulated previously, a contract, when fulfilled, does point toward the fact of conclusion & cessation, but a covenant, marriage, for example, is continually being fulfilled!

The Greek 'kosmos', which actually speaks more of the government, or arrangement of the world, than of the world, or globe itself, the sphere, in the context of Scripture, may be seen to refer to the known 'world' of the day, the Roman Empire. The apostle Paul, for example, used this same Greek word when he wrote to the Church at Colosse ( Colossians 1:6 & 23 ) about the Gospel which, he said had been told 'also in all the world'. From the ANE standpoint, especially, the Gospel had been spread from sea to shining sea, so to speak, by the end, or before the end of the first century!

Our modern Western, American mindset tells us, when we read the Scriptures, that they were written directly TO us & so the words of Christ & the apostles are very pertinent to our day! While this is very true in some cases, for the most part, while we may take lessons & make application from these hallowed pages, we must understand that, though they were written 'for' our instruction, etc ( II Timothy 3:16 ), they were written as letters TO a peculiar people, in the first century. Yes, we ARE a peculiar people, we the Body of Christ, but in the 21st, not the 1st century!

Much of what Christ instructed His disciples in the first century is just as applicable to His disciples today, but some of His instructions, though written 'for' our understanding, were primarily meant for His disciples in the first century! For example, when Jesus condensed the 'Ten Commandments', in a manner of speaking, into two 'new' commandments ( Matthew 22:37-39 ), He meant for His disciples of ALL ages, both that present & the one to come, to love God & their neighbor. However, when He told His disciples to 'wait for the Promise of the Father' ( Acts 1:4 ), we can be fairly sure that He never envisioned His disciples from the second century & beyond, waiting in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to descend upon them!

There are many examples in Scripture, most of which have already been illuminated, where Jesus gave instructions to His disciples, some of which are directly or indirectly applicable to us, but for the most part were meant primarily, indeed only, for His disciples who were about to bear witness to the Great Transition! The Gospel, of which we read in the pages of Scripture, was that the Jewish Messiah, who had long been prophesied & awaited, was finally about to 'save His people from their sins' ( Matthew 1:21 ). Though this Good News was fulfilled in the first century, in the salvation of both Jew & Gentile, culminating in the destruction of the Great Wall of Separation, the Gospel is being fulfilled yet today, in that the separation that still exists in the minds of many is being continually torn asunder!

We live in a similar 'kosmos' today, in some ways, to the one which Jesus ministered in, but there are some pretty major differences! Though 'phariseeism' still exists on many levels & in many forms, we no longer must labor under the oppressive chains of that first covenant. We need not wait in Jerusalem for the promised Holy Spirit. The end of that old 'world' has come & gone; we now live, as a New Creation, in a 'new kosmos'. It is through the application of the universal truths of Scripture that we continue to fulfill the Gospel which was entrusted to His disciples of all time!

The Cosmic Gospel of Jesus the Christ, though it came, first to the Jew, then to the Gentile, is a Universal Truth! For ALL time & ALL people, the Good News is that Reconciliation was made & the Creator now dwells with His Creation! That Jesus came as the Messiah of Israel aligns with what the Creator God told Israel of old ( Exodus 19:6 ); 'you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation'. As Israel of old was to minister the Gospel to the nations, the 'world' around them, so we, as the disciples of Christ in the 21st century, are to minister the Good News to those around us: may we ever administer this Gospel in the Strength of the Spirit in which it was given!

Charles Haddon Shank

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