The Gospel Of Jesus Christ In The First Century -- By: John W. Bradshaw
BSac 59:236 (Oct 1902) p. 744
The Gospel Of Jesus Christ In The First Century
In the consideration of this general theme, four subordinate topics claim attention:—
I. The Constituent Elements of the Gospel; 2. Its Essential Truths; 3. The Motives to which the Apostles Appealed; 4. The Secret of the Gospel’s Rapid Spread.
I. The Constituent Elements of the Gospel
In the Gospel, broadly understood as the initial force which gave rise to Christianity, three essential elements are to be distinguished. They are: 1: A Person; 2. A Way of Life; and 3. A Teaching.
1. Primarily the Gospel, as defined, was a wonderful personality. First in time, transcendent in importance in the inauguration of Christianity, was Jesus Christ. He himself was the initial force through which Christianity was started upon its career. He was the center of attraction by which the earliest disciples were drawn into the Christian life, the living bond by which they were held in unity, the propulsion by which they were sent out to propagate the new redemption, the message which they proclaimed.
It is impossible for us to exaggerate the importance of Jesus himself as the central, vital factor in the beginning and spread of Christianity; and that, not chiefly because of the words he spoke, which might be understood and remembered; not because of the works he did, which might
BSac 59:236 (Oct 1902) p. 745
awaken amazement and lead to certain inferences as to the source of his power; but because of what he himself was in the rich, overmastering influence of his own personality. As we read “In Memoriam,” the masterpiece of the great laureate, and in some measure perceive what Arthur Hallam was to the heart and mind, to the whole personal development, of Alfred Tennyson, we may perhaps be helped to some faint suggestion of the mighty meaning of personality, and of what the supreme personality of human history must have been to the men whose hearts he won, whose minds he illumined, whose lives he transformed, whose spirits he vitalized and inspired. To quote the words of another, “The most important part of the training of the twelve was one which was perhaps at the time little noticed, though it was producing splendid results,—the silent and constant influence of the character of Jesus upon them. It was this which made them the men they became. For this, more than all else, the generations of those who love him look back to them with envy. We admire and adore at a distance the qualities of his character; but what must it have been to see them in the unity of life, and for years to feel their molding pressure.” To those who were his disciples during his earthly life, Jesus himself was
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