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Sermons & Study Guides

National Church Establishments Pt. 6 - (The Gospel and the Nations 3 — New Testament)

James Dodson

National Church Establishments

(The Gospel and the Nations 3 — New Testament) 

And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name. (Isa. 62:2)

Question.—How does the New Testament reflect the relationship of the Gospel to the nations? Answer.—There  are  numerous  passages  in  the  New  Testament  which indicate that there has been no change in the divine plan for the nations: First, In the various passages at the ends of the Gospels we find confirmation of   the   national   intent   of   the   Gospel   message:   1.)   The   so-called   “Great Commission,”  given  to  the  apostles,  expresses  and  confirms  this  intent  by seeking the discipleship through sacramental discipline of the nations, cf. Matt. 28:19, 20 with Isa. 52:15.  2.) This same commission, in Mark, is to be addressed to every  “creature”  (κτίσει),  Mark  16:15;  a  term  which  is  used  of  every  creation, whether  the  individual  man,  the  family,  or  the  nation, cf.  1  Pet.  2:13  (κτίσει  is translated “ordinance”).  Clearly in the Bible national creatures are subject to the wrath  of  God,  Ezek.  21:28-31.    This  is  confirmed  by  the  words  of  Christ,  Matt. 25:32, 33.  3.) The national intent of the Gospel is reiterated in the commission as it  stands  in  Luke’s  Gospel,  with  the  added  reflection  on  its  beginning  at  the Jewish capital, Luke 24:47.  After all, a prophet cannot perish out of Jerusalem, Luke  13:33;  because  the  message  being  addressed  to  national  authorities,  it  is either received or rejected, and the prophet believed or condemned nationally, in and through her ruling authorities, John 18:35. Second,  In  the  Book  of  Acts,  Peter  makes  his  appeal  first  to  the  Jews  as  a nation,  Acts  4:8-11.    Thus,  the  story  of  Saul,  or  Paul,  begins  with  reference  to Jerusalem because the Gospel message began there and its spread to the nations would  be  accomplished  through  that  apostle  to  the  Gentiles  (ἔθνος),  Acts  8:1; Rom. 11:13; Eph. 3:1.  Acts begins with the story of the Pentecostal effusion of the Spirit which hints at the national dimension of the intention of the Gospel, Acts 2:5-11.  It recounts the calling of Paul who was to take this Gospel to nations and kings, Acts 9:15; a message he faithfully relates in his preaching, Acts 17:26, 27.  Then,  it  presents  the  case  of  Cornelius,  an  Italian  (i.e.,  a  Roman  citizen  and officer), Acts 10:1; and the revelation to Peter that demonstrates to him that God has  no  respect  of  persons  and,  therefore,  of  nations, Acts  10:34,  35.    Next,  it proceeds to the synod of Jerusalem which expounds on this international Gospel intent,  Acts  15:14-17.    It  continues  with  a  chronicling  of  Paul’s  missionary journeys to other nations, Acts 16:6-12; 17:1, 22; 18:1, 18, 19; etc.  So, Acts begins in  Jerusalem,  the  national  capital  of  the  Jews,  Acts  1:4; and  ends  in  Rome,  the capital of the Gentilic powers, Acts 23:11; 28:16, 17, 28-31. 
Third,  In  Paul’s  epistles  we  find  the  same  awareness  of  the apostolic commission and task as a national burden, Rom. 1:5.  Paul accounts the Gospel a message intended for national repentance and reformation, Rom. 15:8-12, 16-18; which he equates with the great mystery he was to make known to the nations, Rom. 16:25, 26.  This national burden is evidenced in his rebuke of the Judaizers, Gal.  2:2;  3:14;  and  in  his  affirmation  of  his  office  and  epitome  of  the  Gospel,  1 Tim. 2:7; 3:16. Fourth, The language employed of those bringing the message, that they are accounted ambassadors, connotes a messenger bringing a message from the King of kings to the kings of the people, 2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 6:20.  Thus, Paul appeals to Cæsar, to bring the Gospel to the king, Acts 25:11, 12; and all in the hope of the Gospel being heard and received by the nations, 2 Tim. 4:17. Fifth,  When  Paul  wishes  to  call  attention  to  the  doctrine  of  justification  by faith alone, he proves it by the example of Abraham who, by believing, was to be accounted  the  father  of  many  nations  not  simply  an  aggregate  of  disjoined  or divided individuals or even churches, Gen. 15:5, 6; Rom. 4:3, 13-17. Sixth, When Paul speaks to the matter of individual election, he grounds his teaching in the established verity of national election, Gen. 25:23; Rom. 9:11, 12; Jer. 31:3, 4; Mal. 1:2, 3. Seventh, Though the apostles sought the restoration of the kingdom to Israel, Acts 1:6; yet, the time of Jerusalem’s down treading was to end when the times of the Gentiles, or nations, is fulfilled, Luke 21:24.  Paul calls this the casting away which would lead to the riches of the Gentiles, or nations, Rom. 11:11-15, 25.  To Paul  was  committed  a  dispensation  of  the  Gospel,  1  Cor. 9:17;  to  lay  a foundation, the preparation of the spirit of grace and supplication, Zech. 12:9-14; even a testimony, for the future conversion of the nations, Matt. 24:14; Isa. 49:7; Rom. 11:32.  Which shall be accomplished when the seventh trump sounds, Rev. 11:15.  Then shall be accomplished the glorious things spoken of Zion, Ps. 87:4, 6. Eighth,  The  Book  of  Revelation  promises  national  power  to  those  who overcome and keep the works of Christ unto the end, Rev. 2:26.  Christ, through his  “two  witnesses,”  prophesies  during  the  times  of  the  Gentiles  unto  the nations, Rev. 10:11; 11:1, 3-9.  As God concludes all the nations in unbelief, they become angrier and angrier against his witnesses and their testimony, Rev. 11:18.  Zion is travailing to bring forth Christ mystical to rule amongst the nations in the persons of godly magistrates, Rev. 12:5; 19:15.  Yet, during the apostasy, the first beast,  of  the  sea,  is  given  power  over  the  nations,  Rev.  13:7.    The  faithful witnessing church proclaims, during this period, the Gospel to every nation, and triumphs  over  the  demise  of  mystic  Babylon  when  she  loses  her  national hegemony, Rev. 14:6-8.  The assured triumph of the Gospel in a national capacity is  affirmed,  Rev.  15:4.    It  is  the  character  of  the  millennium,  as  a  separate  and recognizable period, that Satan would no longer deceive the nations, Rev. 20:3; after  which,  he  shall  be  allowed  one  last  grand  deception  of  the  nations,  Rev. 20:8.  It is the nature of the leaves of the tree of life to heal the nations, Rev. 22:2.