The Gospel is a Message of Hope
The gospel is a message that gives hope to humankind who are in a hopeless situation without having something or someone to lean on.
The situation humankind is facing in recent years is bleak and painful. Three years of the novel coronavirus infection (hereinafter referred to as COVID-19) pandemic. The world is calculating the fatality rate and, publicly releasing the number of confirmed cases and deaths every day. As of August 1, 2022, the number of confirmed cases exceeds 520 million, and the number of deaths exceeds 6.3 million. COVID-19 spread throughout the world as it repeatedly mutated from Alpha, Delta, Lambda, and Omicron. In addition, humankind is in an anxious and nervous state not knowing when another new variant will emerge.
In the midst of this, confrontations between powerful nations for their own interests, countries focusing on developing new weapons such as hypersonic missiles and laser cannons, unpredictable world economy, high inflation rate, a widening gap between the rich and the poor, worsening global environmental issues etc. and because of the uncertainty of the future, people have become even more depressed.
However, even in any difficult situation, there is a message of hope. It is the gospel of Christ.
1. Definition of the Gospel
2. The Future Promised Through the Gospel
3. What Exactly is the Gospel?
4. Let us Participate in the New Covenant Passover
Definition of the Gospel
The English word ‘gospel,’ is ‘εὐαγγέλιον’ in Greek (pronounced euangelion). Literally translated, it means ‘good news’ or ‘blessed news.’ The best news for a person in a war is the news of victory, and the best news for a person who has taken an exam is the news that they passed.
People usually live 70 to 80 years. Some people are unable to fulfill even this and their fate is changed due to an accident. For this reason, a person’s life is compared to a transient life. Life is like the dew on a blade of grass that disappears when the sun comes out. What is the best news for people living in such a fleeting moment? Is it the news that will bring them wealth, honor, and power? We often see examples of people who have fallen into despair while pursuing these things through various media outlets. Even if one obtains wealth, honor, and power, they cannot enjoy it forever, nor can they save themselves from a sudden disaster or an unavoidable death.
All humankind desperately needs a message of true hope. A message of hope that lasts forever, which is not temporary, is near us.
if you . . . not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel. . . proclaimed to every creature under heaven . . .(Colossians 1:23)
The Bible expresses it as the ‘hope held out in the gospel.’ Why did the Bible record the gospel as hope?
The Future Promised Through the Gospel
This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.(Ephesians 3:6)
An heir is a person who has the legal right to receive an inheritance. The more property a father has, the higher the father’s status or position, and the more inheritance his children will receive. There is nothing in the world that can compare with the status and riches of God, who regards all nations like a ‘drop in a bucket’ and ‘dust’ on the scales (Isaiah 40:15, Romans 11:33).
The Bible describes God as “The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you.” (1 Kings 8:27, 2 Chronicles 6:18), the future of the heirs who will inherit this high status and inheritance of God will be bright, magnificent and brilliant.
In 『1 Peter』, the heirs who will be saved are called the ‘royal priesthood’ (1 Peter 2:9), and in 『Revelation』 as the ones who will ‘reign for ever and ever’ (Revelation 22:5). Living like a king means the best treatment and highest respect. The position and glory of a king enjoyed for a short time on this earth is great, then how majestic and glorious must the position and glory of a king, enjoyed forever in Heaven, be? This splendid future is promised to those who accept the ‘Gospel,’ so we must realize what the gospel is and put our hope in the gospel.
What Exactly is the Gospel?
The gospel was preached after Jesus was baptized by John (Mark 1:1, 14–15). The gospel that Jesus preached for three years did not end with the cross, and must be kept until the end of the age.
“and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (for 3 years).”(Matthew 28:20)
We must know what kind of gospel Jesus kept and taught for 3 years. To understand this, we must examine the footprints of Jesus recorded in the Bible. What Jesus said is important, but the regulations Jesus practiced is more important. The reason is, He said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15). The regulations that Jesus practiced are, first, baptism (Matthew 3:13-17), second, going into the synagogue on the Sabbath as was His custom and reading the Bible (Luke 4:16), third, going up to the temple at the Feast of Tabernacles, and preaching (John 7:2, 37), and fourth, keeping the Lord’s Supper on the Passover, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20), all of which are the gospel of the kingdom of Heaven which Jesus taught us.
Apostle Paul preached the gospel which Jesus taught for 3 years saying, “I follow the example of Christ,” “What I pass on to you I received from the Lord,” and “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1, 23, Philippians 3:16–17, 4:9). Let us confirm, in detail, what gospel Paul preached.
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread . . . saying, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, . . . he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.(1 Corinthians 11:23–26)
Apostle Paul is telling people about the regulation that Jesus practiced on the night He was betrayed. This regulation of eating bread and drinking wine symbolizing Jesus’ flesh and blood is the ‘New Covenant.’ Jesus said the new covenant regulation must be observed until He comes again to the world, that is, until the end of the age.
In chapter 3 of 『2 Corinthians』 of the Bible Apostle Paul is called a ‘minister of the new covenant’ and in chapter 3 of 『Ephesians』, he is called a ‘servant of this gospel’ (2 Corinthians 3:6, Ephesians 3:7). Apostle Paul preached the gospel, that is, the ‘New Covenant.’ Regarding the New Covenant, the writer of Hebrews said, ‘Jesus Christ is the “mediator of a new covenant’ (Hebrews 9:15). Then, what exactly did Jesus Christ point out and proclaim as the ‘New Covenant?’
Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer (on the cross). . . he took bread. . . saying, “This is my body given for you. . . he took the cup, saying, “This cup (wine) is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.(Luke 22:8, 14–15, 19–20)
Jesus pointed to the wine on the Passover table and clearly said that it was the “new covenant in my blood.” By comparing the previously mentioned verses; 2 Corinthians 3, Ephesians 3, Luke 22, we can confirm that the gospel is the New Covenant, and the New Covenant is the Passover. For this reason, Apostle Paul, who confessed that his mission was ‘to testify to the gospel,’ was ‘testifying to the ‘New Covenant Passover’ (Acts 20:24, 1 Corinthians 11:23–26).
Let us Participate in the New Covenant Passover
Israel, the nationality of the saints of the Early Church 2000 years ago, was a colony of the Roman Empire. Colonial life was bleak. Israel’s political, economic, social, and religious situation was very unstable due to the tyranny of Rome. The lives of the people of Israel were impoverished and destitute due to the oppression and exploitation of the Roman Empire, and the tyranny of the Israeli leadership who colluded with the Roman political powers. To make matters worse, oppression, intimidation, and persecution from fellow Jews were heaped on to the members of the Early Church which intensified their suffering (Acts 14:1–19, 2 Corinthians 11:24–29, 1 Thessalonians 2:14–15).
However, the saints of the early church did not despair.
if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.(Colossians 1:23)
This is a letter from the Apostle Paul to the saints in Colosse. At the time of writing this letter, Paul was in prison (Colossians 4:18). Although Paul suffered a lot of hardships, the reason he overcame the hardships and lived a joyful life was because he looked forward to the hope he received in the gospel, the bright future promised through the new covenant Passover (2 Corinthians 11:23–27, 15:19, 50–52, Philippians 3:20–21). The faith of the saints of the Early Church was the same. According to Colossians 1:5, the faith of the saints at that time came from the hope for the kingdom of Heaven that God had prepared for them through the gospel.
the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel(Colossians 1:5)
Hope for the future has the power to overcome present sufferings. The reason why a guard standing watch in the middle of a winter night overcomes the pitch-black darkness and cold temperature is because they have the assurance and hope that the morning will come. Today we live on a planet plagued with war, viruses, and catastrophes caused by global warming. Whether rich or poor, various incidents and disasters are taking someone’s life, without fail, every day. Even if we face an uneasy and hopeless situation that feels like it has wrapped itself around us and is circling our minds, we have hope. It is to participate in the New Covenant Passover, the gospel of eternal hope given to humankind by God.
Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ(Ephesians 3:8)
Let us fill our hearts with eternal hope by participating in the New Covenant Passover, the gospel, rather than focusing on temporary hope based on worldly things. The spark of hope that comes from the gospel will light up our hearts, and give us the courage and hope to stand up again whenever we are in despair.
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