The Gospel: God’s Plan for Mankind
The Gospel is a message of hope and encouragement that highlights God’s love and mercy for everything He has created. It emphasizes His desire for the creation, the earth and all its inhabitants to dwell in peace and harmony with Him. It also highlights the fact that God is actively working out His plan to add children to His family. His plan is fulfilled yet in the future when His Kingdom is once again established over all the creation and all beings are willingly led by Him.
This article is the beginning of a series that will be published periodically exploring and expounding the meaning of the Gospel message for each one of us individually and for the world at large.
The Church of God has long understood that the Gospel can be equated to the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God represents the fullness and totality of what God is in the process of accomplishing with mankind. Jesus Christ made this clear as He began His ministry. Immediately following the temptation in the wilderness and John’s imprisonment, Jesus “came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:14). After John had preached the baptism of repentance, Jesus Christ came to proclaim, or announce, the arrival of the Kingdom of God, by stating “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). In both instances, the Kingdom of God and the Gospel are synonymous. Jesus Christ both announced and personified the Gospel, as the perfect human representation of the Father and a direct representative of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The Gospel message begins at a time in the past when the whole creation existed in a state of peace and harmony. When the earth was created, the angels shouted for joy. There was no hint of conflict (Job 38:7). Imagine what it must have been like, to experience a time where strife, envy, war and violence simply did not exist. The creation was a unified whole under God’s and the Word’s loving rule and authority, exhibiting the very nature of the God family.
As we know, this state of peace and harmony was broken. Heylel (also known as Lucifer), a being who was created perfect (Ezekiel 28:12-14), rebelled against the authority and rule of God. When he rebelled, he attempted to raise himself above God and take over rulership of all that existed (Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:11-19). Heylel became Satan, the adversary of God. From that time the creation has existed in a state of captivity and darkness.
But God’s creation has a purpose. All that we see, and the things that we do not see, were created for a purpose. The plan for the creation, including mankind, has not changed. But when Satan rebelled, the creation became captive under his power until it will be released from that captivity. At the present time, the creation is waiting eagerly to be released from the enslavement in which it finds itself (Romans 8:19-21), so that it can be returned to its original purpose once again.
At a time when the world is experiencing so much anger, chaos, frustration and such a bleak future, this message of hope is more vital and critical for us to understand and apply individually than ever before.
While the Gospel is comprised of many aspects, the core truth conveyed by that message is that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are engaged in a process of reconciliation and the restoration of all things to the state of peace and harmony, which existed before Satan’s rebellion. When the creation is restored, it will once again be aligned with the purpose for which it was created. Central to this plan is for every person to have a direct and personal relationship with God the Father (Colossians 1:19-20), in their appointed time (1 Corinthians 15:22-23), with the express intent of expanding the God Family.
Scripture reveals the exciting work that our Father and our Elder Brother Jesus Christ are engaged in to expand their family to include many children. Paul notes in Romans 8 that God is creating heirs and children (Romans 8:12-17). We, all human beings, were created with the potential to become members of His family. For most of humanity, this purpose remains a mystery. When we are called into a relationship with the Father, through Jesus Christ, we are able to understand this mystery.
His plan and purpose are based on His desire that all people be transformed (Romans 12:2) through this relationship into a new creation and ultimately born into the divine family of God (Romans 8:14-17). The Gospel message will be fulfilled in this age when the Father dwells on earth in the New Jerusalem with His family (Revelation 21: 1-3).
The foundation, or the chief cornerstone, of the Gospel is Jesus Christ. It is only through His sacrifice that mankind can be reconciled and the separation can be healed that exists between God and man (Colossians 1:22-23). Christ’s sacrifice provides the only way for man to be restored to a relationship with God the Father (John 14:6).
The Gospel carries with it personal responsibility and accountability. It is not sufficient to intellectually embrace and support the preaching of the Gospel. It requires action and deep commitment to a walk, or way of life that is a reflection of God, the source of the light. God’s people must repent and believe in the Gospel. It is not a passive endeavor. The Apostle James points out that hearing alone is not enough – for those called action is required (James 1:22). A fuller understanding of the Gospel makes it clear that there is personal accountability needed from everyone who hears and heeds the message. The Gospel is intended to begin at the individual level and expand outward to eventually encompass the entire creation. This is clearly conveyed by the parable of the mustard seed as a metaphor for the Kingdom of God. Just as a tiny mustard seed grows into a large tree that covers what is around it, the Gospel shows that God begins by reconciling a few now but eventually all things will be reconciled and covered by His Kingdom and loving authority.
Those few called to be reconciled now, have a responsibility. That responsibility is to change and reflect God’s way of life in this world as an example. When we are individually accountable and unified with the message so that the Church reflects God the Father’s nature, the body of Christ will be lifted as an example to our Father’s glory. When this occurs, the Gospel will be preached in a way that only He can accomplish – bringing glory and honor to His name.
As a result, the spiritual health and unity of the Church is the foundation of the end time preaching of the Gospel.
For Further Study:
The Gospel: A Message of Hope
The Gospel: The Good News of Salvation
The Gospel: The Kingdom of God
Study Paper: The God Family, the Gospel and Church Governance
Study Paper PDF: The God Family, the Gospel and Church Governance