The Functional Centrality of the Gospel

How does the gospel function as the central doctrine in our Christian walk? Mike Bullmore has been particularly helpful to me in answering this question. In an article I read recently, he informs his readers as to how the gospel functions as the central thing in our Christian life.

Defining: Gospel Truths and Gospel Conduct

In answering these questions we need to first understand the difference between “Gospel Truths” and “Gospel Conduct.” Bullmore says, “Gospel [T]ruths are specific, concrete doctrinal implications of the gospel.” Whereas “Gospel Conduct” is the connection the Bible makes between the gospel and our behavior.

Scriptural Evidence: Gospel Truths

“Gospel Truths” are concrete doctrinal implications of the gospel that take their shape from the gospel itself. In other words, because of the gospel, we have peace with God (Rom 5:1). Because of the gospel, we are not condemned (Rom 8:1). Because of the gospel, God will graciously provide for us (Rom 8:32).

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom 5:1).

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 8:1)

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom 8:32)

Scriptural Evidence: Gospel Conduct

“Gospel Conduct” is the connection the Bible makes between the gospel and our behavior. In other words, because of the gospel, we are to flee sexual immorality (1 Cor 6:18-20). Because of the gospel, we are urged to forgive one another (Eph 4:32). Because of the gospel, husbands understand how to love their wives (Eph 5:25). Because of God’s generosity in the gospel, we are to be generous (2 Cor 8:7,9; 9:12-13).

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor 6:18–20)

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph 4:32)

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” (Eph 5:25)

But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also….For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor 8:7,9)

For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others,” (2 Cor 9:12–13)

Implications of the Functional Centrality of the Gospel

When we see that “Gospel Truths” stem from the gospel itself, and when we meditate on those truths, our mind is renewed and we experience peace, no condemnation, and assurance God will provide for our daily spiritual and physical needs.

When we see that “Gospel Conduct” stems from the gospel itself, we begin to understand the power for change does not simply lie in our own power. Were it not for the gospel working in our lives, we would not be able to flee sexual immorality, forgive others, love our wives correctly, or be generous with our money and time.

Conclusion

The gospel is at the center of our Christian lives, and from it stem both “Gospel Truths”, which work to renew our mind, and “Gospel Conduct”, which works to renew our actions. Were it not for the gospel, our minds would not be renewed, nor would our conduct change. As a result, the gospel must always be proclaimed as the way to change. Without it, we are powerless and are not able to change or grow in our Christian walk. This means we must always ground our imperatives in the indicative. For if we do not, then we are teaching our people to be moralists.

Resources

Blog: The Primacy of the Functional Centrality of the Gospel in Paul’s Letters

Article: How Should the Gospel Function in the Life of the Local Church

Image: Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Advertisements

What is the Gospel? Rethinking its Content

In the first installment of this series entitled, What is the Gospel?, I introduced the series and gave readers a brief sketch of where we are headed. In this second installment, I turn our focus to the content of the Gospel message.

If you ask most Christians today what the content of the Gospel is, you will most likely hear John 3:16 quoted. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” After which you may hear an explanation that goes like this: God sent His Son to die on a cross for our sins, in order that we might have eternal life. Our job is to believe that Christ is our Savior and we will be saved. While this is correct, I will argue that John 3:16 is only part of the Gospel.

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe John 3:16 is a crucial part of the Gospel message, but I don’t believe John 3:16 represents the entire message.  Rather, it is the climax of God’s redemptive plan. In order to understand the full content of the Gospel we have to zoom out, way out, and look at the whole counsel of God’s Word because the Gospel traverses from Genesis to Revelation.

Tracing the Gospel from Genesis to Revelation

The Proto-Evangelion

Starting with Genesis 3:15, we are introduced to the proto-evangelion, or first gospel. After Adam and Eve attempted to subject God to their rule in the garden by disobeying God’s commandment to not eat from the tree of good and evil, ultimately showing that they rejected God’s rule and understanding of what is best for them, God provides hope for a restored relationship through the promised defeat of Satan. We read, “He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” Here hope exists in the midst of punishment and despair. God has promised to defeat Satan one day through one man’s actions, which restores God’s relationship with both man and creation. As Scripture unfolds, we learn more about God’s plan of redemption.

Abraham through David

Through His covenant with Abraham, the nation of Israel is born and a people are set aside as God’s chosen people (Gen. 12). Through these chosen people, a line is preserved from which Jesus is born (Matt. 1). Along the way, God honors His covenant with Abraham, renewing it with Isaac (Gen. 26) and Jacob (Gen. 28). He also provides the Mosaic Covenant (Ex. 20), in order to inform His people of the way they should live and as a means of removing their sin. He later makes a covenant with David (2 Sam. 7). The Davidic covenant brings promises of an unending royal lineage to rule on the throne of the kingdom. After which, many leaders and kings arose throughout redemptive history, but none were God’s chosen Son who would redeem His people.

The temple sacrifices of goats and bulls were not able to change the hearts of the people either. They were temporary measures by which God’s wrath was appeased. They allowed a Holy God to live amongst an unholy people, but they could not satisfy the wrath of God eternally (Heb. 8-10 see especially 10:1-18).

A New Covenant is Promised

God also knew that His people could not keep His commandments because their heart had not been changed. However, in Jeremiah 31, a New Covenant is promised. One that would put the law of God in the hearts of the people, giving them a new heart, allowing them to enter into a right relationship with God.

Jesus’ Birth to His Return

In God’s perfect timing, Jesus was born to Mary, a virgin. He lived a perfect life, and willingly subjected Himself to a painful death on the cross, in order to pay for our sins. What the sacrifices and Law of the Old Testament could not accomplish, Jesus did, in His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead (Isa. 53; Gal. 3:16-29; Heb. 10). By humbling ourselves and believing that Jesus is our Savior, we are saved from eternal punishment, just as John 3:16 tells us, but much more happens at that time. Our relationship with God is restored (Heb 10:22). And ultimately, at the return of Jesus Christ, all creation will be restored (Is 65; Daniel 9; Rev 21-22). The world will be recreated, and not only will man’s relationship with God be perfect, but God’s relationship with creation will be redeemed and made right (Isa. 65). Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the dead accomplishes much more than giving us eternal life; it redeems all creation, so that man and creation are able to accomplish their God-given purpose, which is to glorify God (Ps. 86:9; Isa. 60:21; Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 6:20; 10:31; Rev. 4:11).

Summary

In summary, the content of the Gospel includes everything from Genesis to Revelation. It is a story that tells of God’s plan to redeem fallen man and creation. It began in Genesis 3:15, climaxes in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and will serve to restore all creation when Christ returns. As one can see, the Gospel includes John 3:16, but it also includes much more.

Resources

In order to help you continue to think through the breadth of the Gospel message, I have attached an article by D.A. Carson on the Gospel.

The Biblical Gospel – D.A. Carson

Looking Forward

In my next post, I will consider The Functional Centrality of the Gospel.

What is the Gospel? An Introduction

The Gospel, or the good news of Jesus Christ, is a life changing message we must seek to understand because it is mankind’s only hope in this life and the next. Without the Gospel, mankind would be damned to eternal punishment, having no hope for salvation. And without the Gospel, mankind could not fulfill their purpose, namely, to exalt and glorify God.

It is only through the death of Jesus Christ that sinful men have access to God. Jesus’ blood redeems mankind, making them holy and repairing their relationship with God. No amount of work or religious activity can restore man’s relationship with God. It is only through the saving power of the Gospel.

Since the Gospel is the only means for salvation and a restored relationship with God, it is important that we understand the content of this message and how we might obtain Jesus Christ’s salvation.

In the series that follows, I will discuss the Content of the Gospel, the Functional Centrality of the Gospel, and how the Gospel provides us with a right relationship with God.

photo © Daniel Steger for openphoto.net CC:Attribution-ShareAlike