Monday, August 31, 2009

Good News!

Ephesians 4:11-16 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, (12) to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (13) until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, (14) so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (15) Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, (16) from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

The evangelist is presented in Scripture as underlying to the individual church. The Greek word for evangelize- “euaggelizo” (Strong’s 2097)- is derived from the merger of “eu” (#2095) meaning “good” & “aggelos” meaning “messenger”. An evangelist simply carries the forth the message of the good news of Jesus Christ’s work of salvation. It seems in contrast to the other offices of Eph. 4:11 for it is so simple in nature. But there is a certain timeless beauty in simplicity.

Simplicity is one reason why the good news is so good. Every other religion in the world bases one’s closeness to God on either a man’s knowledge or his works. Accordingly, for them, finding intimacy with God becomes founded on either (or both):

a. the measure of knowledge available to them as well as their cognitive ability to absorb & understand it.

b. the measure of their innate ability to perform good works & not sin.

It is therefore that the followers of the erudite religions, such as Gnosticism, Buddhism, & Christian Science, are so constrained towards constant attentiveness to intellectually growing towards God, while the more work-based religions- e.g. Hinduism, Islam, & Mormonism- are slaves to trying to appease God through performance of perceived righteousness. But the evangelist simply tells them the facts as Scripture shows: that man’s erudition is in fact cognitive dissonance apart from complete contrition to the full spectrum of Christ’s teachings; & man’s works are but smoldering filthy rags apart from the acceptance of Christ’s works as solely salvific.

Isaiah 55:6-11 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; (7) let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (8) For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. (9) For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (10) For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, (11) so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
It is partly in contrast to false religion that the beauty of the Gospel is seen. It is simple. So simple in fact that Jesus taught that we must be child-like to understand it (Matt 18:3). Therefore the haughty intellectual cannot understand it until he loses his slavish requisite for intimacy with God to be borne on the wings of his own cerebral powers. Surely, there are many “deep things” of God (1Cor 2:10, 2Peter 3:16), but just as surely the Gospel of Christ’s salvation is not one of them. You’ve done bad & justice demands punishment, but Jesus Christ did good & took your punishment. That’s it in a nutshell. Anyone with the intellect of a very small child can understand crime, punishment, mercy & grace. It’s in the humbly allowing such hard truth into your proud soul that is difficult (e.g. John 6:60).

Thus, no one can plead nolo contendere on the day of judgment for cause of insufficient intellectual capacity, for the Gospel message so expressly simple.

So the job of the evangelist is to see to it that the Word from God’s own mouth accomplishes that for which He purposed- the salvation of the ransomed of God. As need be, he may well preach the bad news of the sinful nature & its necessary judgment. But that must always be only a precedent to the good news that such a judgment has already occurred for those who can accept it (Matt. 19:11-12); otherwise the supposed evangelist betrays his very title- “messenger of good news”.

The necessary prominence of the evangelist in Ephesians 4:11, preceded only by those who have founded the church corporate (Eph. 2:20) & followed only by the most gifted of the church particular, is due to the necessary prominence of the gospel itself. The gospel is very good news indeed to the one who’s soul is torn & troubled over the bad news- the wretchedness of their sin. The dejection, despondency, & desolation of the bad news is destroyed only by the good news, the gospel of Christ.

Isaiah 51:11 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Jeremiah 31:13 Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.

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