A few thoughts that I have put together over a period of many years:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1.1-5).
These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name (John 20.31).
Who is Jesus – and what is the message of the gospel?
Jesus made some extravagant claims:
He claimed to forgive sins (Mark 2.5)
He claimed to be the Messiah and the Son of God (Mark 14.61-62)
He claimed that he will judge the world (Matt 25.31-32)
Jesus reveals his identity:
I am the bread of life (John 6.35)
I am the light of the world (John 8.12)
I am the resurrection and the life (John 11.25-26)
I am the way, the truth and the life (John 14.6)
To have seen me is to have seen God (John 14.9)
Before Abraham was I AM (John 8.58)
I and the Father are one (John 10.30)
Jesus desires a relationship:
Come to me all who are heavy laden (Matt 11.28-29)
Follow me (Matt 4.19)
Love Me (Matt 10.37; Luke 14.26)
JESUS CHRIST – the MESSIAH – the ANOINTED ONE – the LIVING HEAD of the CHURCH – the IMAGE of the INVISIBLE GOD – the prophesied SAVIOUR who died for our sins – who was raised from the dead and ascended to heaven – the REDEEMER who mediates between humanity and the Father – the LAMB without blemish who will RETURN in glory as Lord of lords and King of kings – the WORD of GOD – IMMANUEL – God with us.
The WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE
The BREAD of LIFE – The LIGHT of the WORLD
We live in a society where most people are so busy and so self-centred that they do not consider subjects like SIN, SELFISHNESS, REPENTANCE, GRACE, FORGIVENESS, RIGHTEOUSNESS, OBEDIENCE and SALVATION (which requires a Saviour). Many are walking in darkness! Jesus on the other hand is described as the light of the world!
SIN which can perhaps be considered as “missing the mark or falling short of what God intended us to be” – as a result of selfishness or self interest – causes a breakdown in relationships – a separation from one another – but does it really separate us from God?
Consider the barriers – fear, mistrust, suspicion, prejudice, hatred, resentment, selfishness, criticism etc – barriers we erect so easily which cause broken relationships and the agonising sense of alienation which marks society today! It is at this point for the Christian that the DEATH and RESURRECTION of JESUS and the message of the GOSPEL of SALVATION come into the picture.
Jesus took upon himself the sin and guilt of us all – an incredible sacrifice – as prophesied in the Old Testament – which frees us to know the love and forgiveness of God without any barriers!
Consider the universal truths of the teaching of Jesus, his selflessness and humility – great nobility yet great self-sacrifice – Lord and servant – misunderstood and misrepresented – despised and rejected – the fulfilment of Old Testament prophesy! If the resurrection is true, then beyond doubt, Jesus was a unique figure – the conquest of death – the tomb was empty – Peter and John saw and believed – the disciples were changed!
The GOSPEL is the MESSAGE – the GOOD NEWS about the ETERNAL and REAL Kingdom of GOD – as proclaimed by Jesus – a message of HOPE and SALVATION by God’s GRACE, through FAITH in Jesus – the kingdom has been inaugurated by the saving work of Jesus – the good news which was preached personally by Jesus – of what God has done, is doing and will do through Jesus and the Holy Spirit – reconciling the world to himself and offering forgiveness of sin and eternal life. But many will not listen to the message and will even persecute those who do!
The Bible seems to explain how God chose just one nation – Israel – to proclaim the coming Messiah through the prophets – the Son of God who would come in the flesh and teach truth and forgiveness. Jesus came and allowed himself to be crucified. He left us with the gospel of reconciliation until his return, so that we might be reconciled to God.
What is SALVATION?
There are many metaphors used in the Bible such as new birth, new creation, passing from darkness to light and from prison to freedom, which all dramatically express the difference being a Christian makes – deliverance from the bondage of sin and death (Rom 6.18,22-23) – restoration of a relationship with God which can last for eternity – saved that we can glorify God now – an incredible gift – part of a royal priesthood (1Peter 2.9) – individually and collectively awaiting the marriage supper. It is a gift of God, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not earned by personal merit or good works (Eph 2.8-9). God gives salvation, not only for the present life, but for eternity – the fulfilment of God’s plan and purpose – a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds – who allow the Holy Spirit to produce fruits such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, fidelity, tolerance and self-control (Gal 5.22-23).
GOD’s PURPOSE is that all human history shall be consummated in Christ; that everything that exists in heaven or earth shall find its perfection in him (Eph 1.10 – Phillips).
To be a true Christian is often not easy, and may even bring persecution. Christians often suffer directly as a result of their belief. There is a need to maintain a WHOLEHEARTED COMMITMENT and obedience to what we know, rather than just being INVOLVED. As the Bible puts it we are to be living sacrifices to the glory of God.
For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright and Godly lives in this world, awaiting the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds (Tit 2.11-14).
The importance of COMMITMENT & OBEDIENCE to what we know – a TRANSFORMATION – maybe many TRANSITIONS – there is a cost – a living sacrifice as friends who know what the Master is doing – do we really know? A call to endurance!
All who follow the leading of God’s Spirit are God’s own sons. Nor are you meant to relapse into the old slavish attitude of fear – you have been adopted into the very family circle of God and you can say with a full heart, “Father, my Father”. The Spirit himself endorses our inward conviction that we really are the children of God. Think what that means. If we are his children then we are God’s heirs, and all that Christ inherits will belong to all of us as well! Yes, if we share in his sufferings we shall certainly share in his glory. (Rom 8.14-17).
It’s all part of a life long journey – living loved and sharing that love with one another!