A Biblical Exposition of the Gospel: The Good News About God’s King

Steve —  October 29, 2021 — Leave a comment


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Good News: A Biblical Exposition of the Gospel
Pt 4
The Good News About God’s King!

The Bible teaches that the gospel is not only good news about God’s kingdom coming to earth. It’s also good news about God’s King–especially:

  • 6 events he did on earth,
  • 2 descriptions of who he is because of what he did, and
  • 3 promises God now makes to all who follow him in repentance and faith.

In the Applied Theology Series, “Good News: A Biblical Exposition of the Gospel, Part 4” by Drs. John Frame and Steve Childers, you’ll also learn what the Bible teaches is the “highest blessing of the gospel” – and (spoiler alert) it’s not the forgiveness of your sins.


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Chapter 3: The Good News About God’s King

A Biblical Exposition of the Gospel
Drs. John M. Frame and Steven L. Childers

To understand the fullness of the biblical gospel requires an understanding of God’s story in all of history in general (chapter 1) and in the first century in particular (chapter 2). So far, we surveyed four unfolding, gospel events in all of history that reveal the Triune God’s purpose for the whole universe and the human race:

  • God’s creation of the world and humanity,
  • the fall of humanity and the world into sin,
  • the redemption of all things lost in the fall through Christ and by his Spirit, and
  • the restoration of all things, humanity and the world, when Jesus returns to establish God’s kingdom on earth forever.

These historic events can be summarized as the good news that the Father’s creation, ruined by the fall, is being redeemed by Christ and renewed by his Holy Spirit into the kingdom of God on earth forever.

What the King Did: Gospel Events
In the first century, God entered the cosmic battle for the restoration of all things lost in creation in a new and amazing way through Jesus. So we narrow our historic focus from the gospel events in all of history to the gospel events in the first century. Jesus’ apostles proclaimed that these events took place “according to the Scriptures,” meaning through God’s promises given to Israel in the Old Testament. They can be summarized as Jesus’:

  • birth: the eternal Son of God took on humanity
  • life: he lived the life we fail to live
  • death: he died the death we deserve to die
  • resurrection: he was raised from the dead
  • ascension: he ascended back to heaven
  • return: he promises to return to earth

Who the King Is: Gospel Affirmations
The good news is not only about God’s kingdom, it’s also about God’s King. It’s the good news of not only what Jesus did, but also who Jesus is because of what he did. Because of Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension, he is now reigning at the right hand of God as Lord and Savior of the world. In the New Testament this fundamental affirmation is that “Jesus is Lord!”

On the day of Pentecost, Peter proclaims “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God …” (Acts 2:32-33) When Peter refers to Jesus being exalted at the right hand of God, he’s referring to the promise God made to Israel in Psalm 110 to send a Messiah King in the line of King David to rule over them and deliver them from their enemies.[1]

The “right hand of God” at which Christ, meaning Anointed One, now “sits” symbolizes Jesus’ position of supreme honor and universal authority as Lord. Therefore, the climax of Peter’s sermon was “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36)[2]

What the King Promises: Gospel Promises
Peter’s sermon includes not only the good news of what Jesus did (gospel events) and who he is (gospel affirmations), but also what God promises to all those who come to him. At the end of his sermon, Peter promises two free gifts from God to all who will repent and be baptized: “the forgiveness of your sins” and “the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:38-39)

After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Jews gathered in Jerusalem (Acts 2:1-13), Peter quotes their Old Testament Scriptures to remind them of God’s New Covenant promises of 1) forgiveness and 2) the Holy Spirit made to them through their prophets. (Acts 2:14-35)[3]

The Forgiveness of Sins: New Standing
Through the prophets, God reveals both his promised curse on Israel for their disobedience and his promised blessing of a coming New Covenant in which he pledges to keep all his previous covenant promises to make them his treasured people. Jeremiah proclaims God’s promise to write God’s law on their hearts and forgive them:

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah… I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people … For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more (Jer 31:31-34).

The resurrected Jesus told Peter and the other Apostles that “the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Luke 24:47).
We see Peter’s obedience to this command in his preaching: “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out.” (Acts 3:19) “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43) [4]

The Gift of the Holy Spirit: New Heart
But God’s new covenant promises include not only the forgiveness of sin, but also the gift of the Holy Spirit.[5] Through the prophet Ezekiel, God promises us a new heart and new spirit by putting his Spirit within us:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezek 36:26-27).

Just prior to his death, Jesus comforts his disciples saying “I will not leave you as orphans; will come to you” by promising them that he would return to them soon through the ministry of his Holy Spirit whom the Father would send in his name. (John 14:18, 25-26).[6]

Something incredible happens to us when we come to Jesus in genuine repentance and faith. We receive not only the forgiveness of sins, but also the free gift of the Holy Spirit who gives us a brand new nature called a new heart.   John Stott writes,

We must not separate the two gospel promises which God has joined together, forgiveness and the Spirit. Both belong to the ‘salvation’ which Peter insisted was in Jesus Christ alone and both are part of the ‘liberation’ which modern man is now seeking.

Since the time of Pentecost, the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit are received together when anyone comes to saving faith in Christ. Paul calls this gift “the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5-6).[7] The result of the Spirit’s regeneration is a new creation: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Cor 5:17) [8]

By a miracle of divine grace a new life is implanted in us. And that life is the life of God himself. [9] The good news is that there is now divine opposition implanted in us to counter the power of sin. God has given us a new nature, a new set of desires, and a new set of dispositions to know him, please him, glorify him and enjoy him as our Heavenly Father.

The Regeneration of All Things: New World
However, Peter’s preaching of the gospel promises in Jerusalem includes more than God’s promise of the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit to restore fallen humanity to God. He also proclaims God’s promise of a new world when Jesus returns to “restore everything” that has been lost in creation because of sin.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets (Acts 3:19‐21).

Jesus promises to reward his followers “in the new world when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne” (Matt 19:28). The words translated “in the new world” are from the Greek words meaning “in the regeneration” (ἐν τῇ παλινγενεσίᾳ). This is the same word Paul uses when he describes God’s saving work in our hearts as “the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).

God’s promised new world will come when Jesus returns to make all things new by restoring fallen humanity and creation through the regenerating work of his Holy Spirit (Rev 21:1-3). By God’s grace, he allows humanity and creation to begin flourishing again, according to his original purpose, and toward his ultimate goal of a new heaven and new earth. God’s goal for history is not merely to restore or regain fallen paradise to its original state, but to redirect and reopen it to the future it has always had.

Highest Blessing of the Gospel: Union With God in Christ
The Apostle Paul teaches that all the blessings that flow from all these gospel promises find their ultimate source in the highest blessing of the gospel – being united to the Triune God “in Christ.”[10] He writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 1:3)

From our mystical union with the Triune God flows all the riches of Christ’s redemption and the Spirit’s restoration. This includes our new standing before God as forgiven, our new heart from God by his Spirit, and our new world with God now and in the age to come. It is from our union with God “in Christ Jesus” flows all the spiritual blessings of “wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”(1 Cor 1:30).[11]

We must be on guard against the danger of focusing more on the promises of the gospel than on the Promisor, and focusing more on the benefits of salvation than on the Savior. We’re not saved by believing in God’s promises but by believing in the Triune God who makes the promises.[12]

Footnotes:


[1] Peter is proclaiming that Jesus’ ascension “at the right hand of God” fulfills God’s promise of a new Messiah King “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” (Acts 2:34-35)

[2] Paul proclaims this same good news to the Roman church: “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” (Rom 14:9) And to the Philippian church Paul writes, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:9-10)

[3] Peter saw in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies including Isaiah’s “last days” (Isaiah 2:2) and Joel’s promise that the Lord will pour out his Spirit (Joel 2:28-32).

[4] Later, the Apostle Paul preaches this same promise: “Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.” (Acts 13:38)

[5] When David repents of his sin with Bathsheba, he not only begs God for forgiveness (Ps. 51:1-9) but also pleads that God will give him a new heart (verses 10-12). It is not enough for God to forgive his past sins; God must also give him a new inner motivation, so that he will not commit the same sins again. That comes from the Holy Spirit, and David prays that God will never take the Spirit from him.

[6] This promised gift is also called the Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:9, Phil 1:19, 1 Pet 1:11), the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7, Gal 4:6), and the Spirit of adoption (Rom 8:15)

[7] “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5-6).

[8] See also Gal 6: 15 “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.”

[9] Matthew Henry writes about the Spirit’s miraculous gift to us of a new heart and new nature: “Regenerating grace creates a new world in the soul; all things are new. The renewed man acts from new principles, by new rules, with new ends, and in new company.”

[10] The biblical teaching on our union the Triune God “in Christ” is one of the most important and neglected doctrines in Christianity. John Murray writes, “Nothing is more central or basic than union and communion with Christ. Union with Christ is really the central truth of the whole doctrine of salvation not only in its application but also its once-for-all accomplishment in the finished work of Christ. Indeed the whole process of salvation has its origin in the phase of union with Christ.” Redemption Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids: MI, 1955), 161.

[11] Calvin sees in this verse a two-fold blessing of God (duplex gratis Deus) which all believers receive when mystically united with God by their faith in Christ. This two-fold blessing includes both: 1) our justification, a forensic (legal) imputed standing with God, and 2) our sanctification, our infused new heart by God’s indwelling Holy Spirit.

[12] For example, we’re not justified by believing in God’s promise of justification, but by believing in the Promisor, Jesus Christ, who alone justifies.


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