Shalom Aleichem and welcome to my bi-monthly blog!
So far, we have looked at Jesus the Man and His Mission.
Let us now consider His Message - what Jesus actually taught and proclaimed during His brief ministry here on earth.
For many Christians, the Gospel or Good News of Jesus Christ have often been summed up into this simple statement from Acts 16:31 - “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” Or in terms of the popular “Four Spiritual Laws”, which states the following - (1) God loves us and has a plan for our lives; (2) but due to sin, we are separated from God and cannot experience His plan for us; (3) Only through Jesus Christ can we know and experience God’s love and salvation; and (4) we must therefore receive Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord. When we present the Gospel and Christianity in this way, the Bible becomes mainly a devotional book or, to cite 2 Timothy 3:16-17 - “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” God’s Word is reduced to a collection of stories, principles and sayings teaching moral values just like any other religious books, aside from the truth of the simplified Gospel presented here.
While such an approach is in itself not entirely wrong or inaccurate, it is dangerously “un-whole” or incomplete. This is because the Gospel message has been taken out of its wider Biblical context, a context that cannot be separated from its Jewish roots in Israel. Unfortunately though, our largely Gentile Church has built itself on the shallow foundation of this simplified Gospel and as a result, faces the danger of forgetting its Jewish origin and parentage. The Church cannot tell the difference between the Israel as how God sees it in the Bible - the Israel that remains God’s chosen nation and royal priesthood into which the Gentile Church has been ingrafted - and the Israel and Judaism that rejected Jesus according to God’s wisdom and plan. So, by rejecting and cutting Israel off completely and seeing itself now as the only and true Lesser Light of God, the Church misunderstands its own identity and misses its real purpose and destiny.
The truth is, Jesus Himself did not see the Gospel the way many of us do now. For Him, the Gospel was a continuation of a central narrative running through the entire Bible concerning God’s Kingdom rule - first through Israel and now joined (and not replaced) by the Church. The simplified Gospel above may have been God’s Rhema for His people the past two thousand years - in God’s wisdom, it may have indeed been sufficient for the Church during God’s Kairos then to understand the Gospel in this simpler form for its task of evangelising the world; after all, it would have been difficult to understand the Gospel and the Church in relation to Israel, especially following Israel’s disappearance as a nation after the Roman exile in 70 AD. But with Israel’s rebirth in 1948 setting the stage for this final generation to witness the events that would befall Israel, the Church and the world leading up to Jesus’ return, God’s Kairos has come for us to hear His full Rhema and rediscover Jesus’ message as He would have understood it.
Link to presentation.