Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What is the Gospel

Not a bland theism or general pantheism.
Only Jesus is the name by which we can be saved. Jesus alone reconciles us to God.
“The gospel is not preached if Christ is not preached,” but not just the person of Christ, but his atoning death and resurrection.
God raised Christ Jesus from the dead.
God’s purpose was for Christ to die and rise, not mere death, but that he died for our sins, and rose for our justification.
God’s wrath against sin.
Our sin problem is personal.
God pronounces the sentence of death against sin.
God is the one whom we have offended, who must be appeased. And what makes God most angry is idolatry, the “de-godding” of God, the putting of something else inGod’s place.
God is still jealous.
Repentance is necessary because the coming of the king brings judgment as well as blessing.
Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and was raised according to the Scriptures.
Listen to the sequence of pronouns Paul uses in 1Cor 15:11 “Whether it was I (an apostle) or they (the apostles) this is what we (the apostles) preach, and this is what you believed. I, we, they, you. This Gospel is apostolic. (Carson credits J.R.W. Stott for this sequence of pronouns)
1Cor. 15 specifies both Jesus’s burial (death) and resurrection. Jesus’s death and resurrection are tied together in history. Any approach that attempts to pit them against one another is silly.
The manner in which we access the events of Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection is the same as we have with any historical event: the remains and writings of those who were there. This is why the matter of being witnesses was so important.
The central Christian claims are irreducibly historical.Unlike all other religions, the historical uniqueness of Christ is non-negotiable, not just the historicity of the man Jesus, but the historical claims of his death for our sins, his burial and resurrection. God does not give a revelation to Jesus which Jesus passes on, rather Jesus is the revelation of God. The revelation cannot be separated from Christ. To attempt to do so is incoherent. This is a historical revelation, and there are historical events that cannot be separated, chiefly his death for our sins, burial and resurrection. These are truths of history.
The word “historical” is sometimes slippery. Some think that it means those events which have causes that are located only in natural things. Such a definition excludes the miraculous. We insist that historical means events that took place in history, whether from natural causes or through God’s supernatural intervention in power, operating in history.
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are not merely historical events, or merely theological precepts. They set forth a way of personal salvation. Paul says this is the gospel which you received and on which you take your stand. This is not an abstract. It is personal.
The gospel is a comprehensive vision of a new humanity drawn from every tribe and nation. It is not universal in that it includes everyone without exception; but it is universal in the sense that it is for all ethnic and other groups.
Some of the blessings Christians receive are blessings of the last day brought into our time. Among these are justification – we are justified (fait accompli) and we will be justified.
We look forward to an eschatological fulfillment of the transformation that has already begun in us. We cannot focus only on the blessings those who are in Christ enjoy in this age, but there are greater fulfillments yet to come.

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