Friday, June 26, 2009

What is the gospel? (updated)

That old chestnut!

But what question is more important?

I want to always stay interested and excited above all by God and the gospel so its worth thinking about again.

The gospel is best summarised in one word as JESUS.

In 4 words, the gospel is JESUS CHRIST IS LORD.

JESUS is the second person of the Triune Godhead, the living and true God who is and was and is to come. He is eternally begotten of the Father and was incarnate, made man in Palestine 2000 years ago. He lives for ever as the God-Man. Jesus is uniquely and infinitely worthy and wonderful. He is the Saviour from sin. He offers you rescue from the penalty, power and ultimately even the presence of all sin, rebellion and wrong. He rescues us from the holy anger of God, the wrath which is to come.

He is the CHRIST, the Messiah, God's annointed Son in whom he is well pleased, the chosen, marked out, long expected, special rescuer king who fulfills all God's plans and purposes. He is the crucifed and risen one. He puts our sin to death and raises us to wonderful new life. He is our prophet (who tells us truth about God), priest (who makes us right with God) and king (who rules us for and as God). He is the Proper Man, the Second and Last Adam. He is the fulfillment of all we are and long to be in our better moments. He is right where we are wrong. He is able to rule and subdue and fill and glorify, beautify and mature us and our world, which is his world.

He is the LORD, the creator, master, ruler, king, judge, decider. He chooses rightly, rules wisely, governs kindly. He is the kind of king we want and need. He is Yahweh, the covenantal God of Israel, personal and faithful.

The Gospel can be understood by considering the eternal nature and relations, incarnation, life, teaching, death, resurrection, exaltation, reign and return of Jesus the Messiah.

The GOSPEL is good news, an announcement, proclamation. It is God's offer of peace to rebels. It is our comission in his army. It is his installation of a new king. It launches a wonderful new epoch and age. It is a reality demanding a response, a command, a promise, a call. We must get on board with what God has done, is doing and will do or we will be left behind.

Penal substitutionary atonement is at the heart of the gospel since without it I face condemnation. Justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone, on the basis supremely of Scripture is the delicious abundant fruit of the gospel.

The gospel includes personal salvation, but it is also much more. The Gospel includes the glory of God and the transformation of the world by the Word of God in the power of the Spirit. Jesus is Lord of my heart and church and home and government and the whole universe.

Can you do better? Any changes?


Paul said...

Doesn't that just make you want to worship him?

I guess my only question is 'How is that good news for me?' But I certainly can't do better.

Marc Lloyd said...

Thank you, Paul. Yes, I see what you mean. I have tried to add in some stuff to bring out how brill it is for us. I hope it doesn't blunt / confuse / verbify it.

Ben Walker said...

Good stuff, Marc. I wonder if there is some room to "distinguish" (it's catching!) between the content of the gospel and the nature of the gospel? When we ask "what is the gospel?" it is a question that we generally try to give a content answer to, appropriately enough (e.g. 4 points - God created, man sinned, Jesus saves, you respond). I tried to do a little thinking a long while ago on how the bible describes the gospel rather than fills out its content - perhaps to reflect a little on the bigger picture of presenting the gospel. The following is ripped from an old essay - ignore at will...!

Ben Walker said...

· The gospel is revelation from God (Rom 1:1 & 16; Gal 1:11-12) - that is, it is not man made or constructed but is a message given by and from God to man. This must be borne in mind when presenting the gospel – is this a message we have constructed or one that is legitimately revealed in Scripture. This will lead to cautious use of phrases such as "Jesus loves you" and "Jesus died for you" as well as care when stringing together verses from different contexts.
· There is only one gospel (Gal 1:9). This is something we have dealt with above. The varying presentations of the gospel do not preclude the objective one-ness of it.
· The gospel is about Jesus (Mk 1:1, Rom 1:3). Everything must centre around the person of Jesus – the revelation of God in Him. Therefore, if anything is a legitimate presentation or "reciting" of the gospel it must be about Jesus Christ, no matter its starting point (ie OT) (Acts 4:12)
· The gospel is good news (Euangelion – Mk 1:14-15). Whilst rejection of it, which will happen, will mean judgement for some, the gospel itself is good news. This may not mean that everything said in it is pleasant news, but that the preaching of it is good news. It is interesting to wonder whether one would call Jonah's message to the Ninevites "the gospel", and it certainly doesn't sound like good news, but at the same time, the fact the Ninevites were told of the impending destruction was a good thing for them for it pointed them to a gracious God who gave them a chance to repent.
· The gospel is the power of God for salvation (Rom 1:16) not words of human wisdom (1 Cor 1:17) Intriguingly, whilst the gospel is conveyed by words, Paul thinks of it rather as God's power. Thus, the presentation of it should rest more on the power of the spirit than on the finesse of the argument. The gospel message should point to the glory of God rather than to the reason of man.
· The gospel is theological history. In saying this, I am saying that there are certain events which are central to the gospel which happened in history, notably the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:3-5).However small an emphasis these sometimes get in gospel presentations in the Bible, they are always there (Even in Acts 17 at Athens). The gospel is historically attested to both by the OT Scriptures and the witness of the apostles, and even more, these historical events are always given a theological significance.
· The gospel is eternal and makes affirmations and promises to that effect (Rev 14:6; Phil 2:9-11; Acts 10:36; Jn 20:23; Acts 10:43; Acts 2:38-39). Despite its cultural and temporal expressions and historical outworkings, the gospel is transcendent over time. This means that the objective truths and promises of the gospel are for all time and all people too. Hence, its claims about the authority of God (Stott – to bestow salvation and demand submission), and its promises of the forgiveness of sin and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are truths for all time and to last all time. As Stott writes,
"They concern not simply what he did more than nineteen centuries ago… but what he is today in consequence"
Arguably, given its eternal nature and concern, it relates to the times preceding the incarnation. The promises and affirmations made through the historical "gospel events" of Jesus, had significance not just after but before
· The gospel is truth to be lived in line with (Gal 2:14; Col 2:5-6). The gospel makes demands on the lives of those who accept it. It calls for repentance (Matt 4:17;Mk 1:14-15; Acts 2:38), and a life of faith and love, which comes from hope, which comes from hearing the gospel of truth (Col 1:4-5).

Marc Lloyd said...

Thanks, Ben. An interesting whole other approach. I thought what you said was very helpful.



Bryan Roberts said...

Well done.
I would add provider and sustainer of our righteousness, that through Christ Jesus we are seen in God's eyes as the people we were created to be and not the people we have become through sin.

Marc Lloyd said...

Thank you, Bryan. Indeed.